In order for anything useful to happen at the area in the table where I was, I needed to have an excellent day and Chris W needed to have a shocker. Any other combination and there would be no change at all.
So a good day or nothing then.
It was bright, cold and clear. Ideal if you weren't totally comfortable with navving on Bleaklow... it can be a challenge even in slightly less than perfect conditions. There were nigh on 200 people entered into the race, so there was never going to be much time when you were going to be out of sight of at least one person.
On dibbing and getting the map, a cursory glance was taken, noting high point controls at Cock hill, James's Thorn and out at Alport head. There were a couple of controls far out on rough ground -but together, they only gave 50 points... I might as well miss them in order to ensure I had enough time to accurately nav through the quarry at Cock hill to get a single 50 pointer and not worry about slogging through groughs to find the ones far out.
Anti-clockwise it was then.
A quick run along Doctors Gate towards 8, and a whole horde of people were climbing the heather laced hill toward the approximate point. I joined them, making sure not too much height was gained, and contoured around to the CP. Done - from here to 9 was really rough ground - but there is a trod on the edge of the hill that runs along a series of butts. It doesn't run all the way along the hill, but it gains some time. That done, past the clough and drop down to another trod I could see that led me to the re-entrant. Bang on
CP10 was next, figuring I could take the trod, or I could just straight line it, I decided on the latter, which was good fun. Not sure it was all that much faster than taking the White Clough trod, but I gained time on others around me. The control was a little sneaky in that it was in another re-entrant, and not around the rocks, which you might assume with a quick glance at the map.
From there, a contour around the hill -it was fabulously clear, so you could see for miles. To be honest, I climbed a bit more than I needed to as I knew where a decent trod to Herne clough was, but I wasn't certain of hitting it at a lower level... should have been, but there you go. Climbed, hit the trod and zoomed straight to Herne, followed by a bit of bashing around looking for a pond. Fell in a bog most of the way up my legs, and eventually found the ice covered pond and associated Checkpoint.
From there, I was astonished to have more than 1.5 hours left, in fact, it was nearer 2 hours... excellent. The checks to the south east of the map were discounted and I headed up around the drainage to Fork stones and around Alport head. The point was on a stone, and after careful reading of the map, it appeared that it was a stone that was not in a grough... a look around and a likely candidate presented itself, lo and behold, there was the checkpoint. Excellent.
From there to the one north of Bleaklow head could have been done on an accurate compass bearing, but having been lost up there previously, the non-potential time-wasting option was taken. Run north west through the groughs until you hit Bleaklow head, and nav from there.
On my way over there was another guy standing on top of a grough in a sea of groughs looking confusedly at his map, the compass and the ground... No real features to be seen - not a great place to be stopped and wondering where you are.
Bleaklow head was gained without too much drama, a bob north to the fence line and a simple 200m bearing saw me bang onto the Check.
Loads of time left. Might as well head to the northerly most CP and curve my way around and get as many of them as possible....
A blast to and along the Pennine Way saw me pass a few club mates, I took the old PW rather than the new one which landed me most of the way up the grough that I needed, dibbed and surged to the quad track around the summut of Glossop Low. Down the track zoe and I had a quick snatched conversation as we dropped to 1, and then the slightly concerning part of the quarries towards the high pointer.
I needn't have worried. The cartography was excellent and the CP was exactly where it said it was going to be. Instead of following others, I read the landscape and ran straight to it... crikey, still more time than I anticipated.
Maybe I can finish the last 4?
Over to check 3 Shittern/Small clough and a contour around to pick up the path towards Dog rock, before diving down the hill to an easily found 5.
Here I *should* have gone a lot more east into the clough and ascended to get the 60 pointer at 6. However, fatigue was taking over a bit, and I was kind of running out of time, having glanced at my map I thought that I had 1 CP left - number 7... so bee-lined it. The ground was horrendously rough and the climb up to Shelf benches and beyond was so energy sapping. I might have to use it as more training - it was horrible!
Constantly checking my watch I was thinking that as soon as it hit the magic 20 mins to go mark I was just going to have to turn tail and head home without getting the point.
|Thanks to Lynne for the pictures|
Hang on. Thee is a point just up the hill from me worth 60 points. Double check.... damn. I forgot about that one! Do I have time? 25 mins left, its 700m away and up a steep bit of hill.... but I know how to get off the top, and I KNOW I can get to the finish from a lot further away in about 20 mins. The CP has to be done.
A lot of people were coming down from there, and I pretty much blindly followed sheep trods up the hill to approximately the right place... 50 yards away from the point I could see it, so I packed the map away, shoved a gel down my throat and prepared for the run off.
Dib the point, timecheck... should be loads of time. Turn and run.
The upshot was that I got back with 8 mins to spare. Very glad that the idiot check was done, without that I'd have finished with plenty of time left, but 60 points down! Valuable lessons learned even in my own back garden.
Overall, 4th, which I'm more than happy about.