Saturday, 18 February 2012

White Peak Circuit

Julien, Andy and Brae on Thorpe Cloud
We'd been planning a great little run over in North Wales, away from the crowds, on hills that don't really seem to get mentioned all that much. It was going to be a brilliant day out, until MWIS said that cloud level was going to be pretty much sea level, and there would be 60mph winds.


Plan B was hurriedly arranged. Not wanting to faff around in low cloud on terrain we are already familiar with in the dark peak, we decided that a jaunt down to the White peak was a goer.
To my mind, the White peak is all rolling hills, dales, not all that exciting in terms of hill running.
Not entirely true, as it turns out.

After a minor amount of trouble finding the place and the carpark, (the shortcut you don't know is slower than the long way you do know...- but its more entertaining) we set out on our run.
Julien commented that statistically, on average, people do not stray further than 200metres from carparks in rural places. Off on the trail, that seemed to be borne out- but perhaps slightly further than 200 metres.
Thorpe Cloud

The main difference to normal running, for me, was the fact we were running along a path. Not a trod, not bashing across a heathery moorland, just running along a path. Covered in greasy limestone. Great. I hadn't thought about footwear before I left in the morning, and had just whacked on a pair of Mudclaws- which, as the name suggests, are really good on mud, not so good on limestone, so I spent a large part of the run hunting out muddy bits to run through. Julien, on the otherhand had a pair of very worn down x-talons- the older, stickier version- which seemed great on the stone, but like skates on the mud- and spent the time doing the complete opposite to me in terms of mud and stone.

View from the top of Thorpe Cloud into Dovetail
We ran up the first part, saw a hill- which was Thorpe Cloud, and Andy said we might as well go up it, get a bit of height in. So we did. And straight back down again, and on with the run.
Julien had planned it, about 20miles with 2 bailout options for 10 and 15 mile routes.

Brae was loving the river, taking as much opportunity to jump in and out as possible.
The limestone formations and caves were very grandiose, and rather remarkable, but the weather wasn't the greatest in which to stop and appreciate them for a long time.

About 8 miles in we saw a sheep swimming across the river, and stop on the otherside, not getting out. Slightly concerning. Watching it, it didn't move. Hmmm. We jogged up the stream a bit expecting it to turn around to get on, but it still didn't move. Damn. We forded the river and ran back down stream to find it. There it was. Not doing anything. Julien stayed back a bit, keeping Brae out of the way while Andy and I jumped down the bank, grabbed the sheep by the horns and dragged it up onto dryland.
I expected either resistance, or a bit of help from the sheep, but it was pretty much catatonic and we hauled it out like a dead weight. Once out, it gained the use of its legs, but it wasn't entirely compus mentis (as much as sheep can be) so we made sure it was away from the edge, and ran on.

There is a picture of the "rescue", but Julien hasn't sent it to me yet.

So have a picture of a natural arch instead
As we trundled on up and around the river it struck me that this was Trail running, as opposed to Fell running. Navigation was easier in terms of staying on one track, but more complicated in that you really can't make it up as much when you aren't quite sure what is going on.
Up on past the drop out points and round the top, going through fields, looking for stiles, and a minor map misreading, but we caught it early. Back down the Manifold valley, following the old railway line which was really rather fun. We also stopped off for a cuppa in a cafe. Well, y'know, we weren't looking to break any records, and on.

Thors cave
Copper mine
We had seen less and less people as we ran around, and there was no-one else around as we crossed the somewhat submerged stepping stones across the Manifold near Beeston tor, but coming back down into Dovedale, there were more and more people, eventually it got hard to keep up a pace because the trail was so clogged with humanity. I must have seen more people on this one run alone than in all my runs in the dark peak put together!
Lime kiln
Coming into the final couple of k we saw Thorpe Cloud... Well, it'd be rude not to go up it again.
Not quite running up it this time, but we overtook everyone else making their way up the slope. My legs were starting to cramp up with accumulated lactic acid, and I just couldn't keep up with Julien, but on the downhill it was grass, my shoes keeping me upright and well ahead all the way down, passing a family at the bottom who were amazed and annoyed that they had just come down the slope on their bums and we had just run down it in about a minute flat.
Beeston tor

At the bottom we came across andy who had decided to opt out of the final hill climb, sitting in the river, cooling off his legs. Having not run for a couple of weeks the distance was a bit of a shock to the system for him.
I was also beginning to get a migraine (still haven't worked out what the trigger is, but it might have been dehydration today) but a couple of asprin began to sort me out.
Andy. Practicing flyfishing. (cooling his legs down)

All in all an entertaining day out on the trails. It was nice to have an eminently runnable run all the way through, though there were more road sections than we would have liked- but you have to use them to link paths up. I can see the use for trail specific shoes- like the new Salomon sense (which I will link wo when I find the appropriate bit on the Salomon site to link to) and Inov8 terraflys. They would probably work well on that kind of terrain, paths and trails, but not so much where I tend to run, in the gnarly stuff. Still, I wouldn't mind being proved wrong.
Money in a tree. I imagine if you went around with a pair of pliers, you might come back with 20 quid or so

Great day out in a new place, we'll be planning more runs down there for definite. There appears to be a lot of scope for large amounts of height gain and loss, if you wish to, and a club run with an easy route through the valleys with a harder route over the hills would be quite a nice prospect to get a number of people out together.

Brae, cooling off
Andy and me. Rescuing a sheep.
Not much altitude, lots of height gain, runnable trails, delightful scenery, and once you get away from close vicinity to the carpark, really rather tranquil. And here is the track, in case you want to have a bash at it. (though there are a couple of places where we may have not gone in quite the right direction... and you don't have to do the sheep rescue detour if you don't have to).

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