It seems the route is generally attempted in summer- or at least not in the depths of winter, and has a nominal "completion time" of 15 hours. The current record is somewhere below 9 hours by the somewhat exceptional Tom Saville. We were not going to challenge this time on nigh on the shortest day of the year in questionable fitness.
|Prep. You got the scotch eggs?|
(full disclosure, if the weather was rubbish, we would have definitely given it a miss- we enjoy bashing about on a moor in the dark and the rain- but not THAT much). We decided on an anticlockwise route which would take us across Bleaklow first- the rougher terrain with the longer distance- about 30 miles, which would (theoretically) leave us with better ground and easier underfoot for the second half.
|How hard can it be?!|
Home to CockhillFairly standard line. No problems- just getting into the swing of running at this time in the morning and letting the coffee wake us up properly.
|Don't expect the quality of photos to get any better|
Cockhill to Higher ShelfStill dark, clag down- waterproof mitts on. The track across the tops was hard to find, so the minor detour of the massive erosion of the quad track was followed. Not the most direct of lines, but it was the place where we were likely to make the fastest progress. Across to Dog rock, fairly standard, and up the Shelf moor race route to the trig. Claggy, but fine to follow.
|See. Told you.|
Higher Shelf to AlportEasy trot to Herne and into the Alport. Clag really down low so we faffed a fair amount with routes in The Swamp. Once on the track, easy going but a bit of faff to make sure we came up onto Alport moor at the right point. Lots of chat about all kinds of stuff, nothing really to note except that it's still dark and fairly grim, low viz and generally good to move over the moor.
|Alport. Trig. Really.|
Alport to Outer EdgeAlong the top of Alport there was a small choice whether to just do the normal route along to Birchen Hat and down the track to the road- or whether to strike across Fagney and down through the plantation... more direct, but more potential to screw it up. We were enjoying the running and decided that due to the low viz and the general nature of the day out (pleasure rather than speed) we'd just take the path with least chance of screwing it up.
Once down in the trees away from the wind we stopped for the first food of the day. A scotch egg each. Grand food! Hunger suitably sated, we went down to the road where it became apparent that we could switch off and stow our headtorches as it had become light enough to at least run along a road by.
Across and over Slippery Stones and up to Bull stones on a long and slow, heathery ascent before we finally came across the trod to Outer edge trig. A couple of celebratory Tangfastics, and we were on our way- daylight now, so easy nav!
|Daylight! At last.|
Outer Edge to Margery HillAcross bog monster territory to Cut Gate and then easy nav to the trig. Shouldn't be a problem. We successfully navigated across to Cut Gate- well, to within 30ft of Cut Gate and I took a doozy of a foot placement and went up to my waist in bog.
Nice. Never done that before, and now, maybe a quarter of the way around a fairly big day, in winter, I was soaked through and mud covered on my lower half. Oh well. Onward and upward. I was a bit concerned about how I might cope over the next few hours in terms of windchill. Thankfully the breeze wasn't too strong (though we were running into it), and it was daylight so there was some hope of drying out. Beyond that, and the clag on the tops, it was easy to get to Margery Hill.
|Margery Hill- post Bog monster|
Margery Hill to Back TorA bit of a reverse of the line we took for the HPM earlier on this year. Didn't really help though, I mean- when you do something backwards it always seems considerably different. A bit of compass work took us to a grough that led us to where I hoped we would get to- alongside a minor twisted ankle. Then over to the main track where we belted along to Back Tor at a ridiculous speed where my hipflexors really started to complain, and I began to wonder just how intelligent an idea it was to do a 55 miler when not really having trained for it.... (how annoyed would Chris be if I said I can't do it, how annoyed would Lynne be at coming to get me/us and how annoyed would I be about not doing it)? Don't be silly- it's just a minor ache. Get on with it.
|A glorious picture of Chris's best side, scrambling up to Back tor|
Back tor to EmlinOff back tor and down into the hollow below it for a quick food break. Pizza! Glorious. Eat when you're feeling good and you'll digest it well. Eat before you need to. So we did, and wow did it taste lovely. Washed down with some haribo we headed north with the wind behind us into the clag to find an indistinct point on the map where we would turn east and vaguely bearing our way across 3km of bog to the next trig. Great fun.
Using cunning and artifice- well, map and compass- we made our way to the right place, took a bearing and used the trod that was going in the right direction. After a while it kind of petered out so we heather bashed, which was fine. Taking into account the hill profile etc we carried on- and then a break in the cloud- about 800m away was a hill that looked the right shape. Took a bearing, decided it was right and homed in on it. Bingo- Emlin moor.
|Emlin- with a view|
Emlin to Rod MoorThis section seems so innocuous on the map, no-one ever really talks about it- but in truth, having battered your way there across bog and heather and everything else from Glossop, there are a fair few undulations that it is worth considering. I'm not going to talk about them though- go have a go yourself, you'll see what I mean.
|Rod Moor- we decided to only take photos where we weren't looking tired....|
Rod Moor to the SportsmanAgain, more undulations than I care to remember, a footpath that was closed due to sewage(?!) which meant a bit of a detour, and finally to the Sportsman.
Crikey- that took longer than we were expecting! I was hoping to be there about an hour earlier, but slow conditions underfoot combined with having to be a bit more involved and careful with nav meant that progress had been a little slower. Not a problem, but it was fairly inevitable we were going to be running in the dark at the end of the day... should still have enough time to get home for the Christmas Party though.... We'd done about 30 miles and had covered all the more challenging ground of the route. From now there were a couple of (by Peak District standards) big ups, but it was mostly decent running.
In the Sportsman we were served by a lovely lady wearing a Dark Peak Runners Hoodie who asked where we'd come from "Glossop"..... oh.?- and where are you off to? "Well, we're running back- can we have a couple of Cokes please?". And when we tried to pay, she declined, saying we'd certainly earned them.
On asking if we could please also get some water, I realised that I'd only drunk about 300ml all morning. Not good. Need to remember to drink more this afternoon- but only had capacity for 500ml. I was sure it would be fine.
|Ah! More than halfway! (but no pint.)|
Sportsman to High NebAnother section where we looked at Tom Savilles line and thought "well- if you're fresh, and it's dry, maybe- but for us... the path". We took the road and then the path past Stanage Pole and along to High Neb with visibility coming and going all along. Navigation easy, though there was one point where I thought a lady wearing a white coat was the trig point which could have ended embarrassingly.
|High Neb- best pic of the day|
High Neb to WinhillThere is a line that goes across to Bamford edge and drops off the hill- again, if you're fresh and know the (dry) ground, then maybe. We weren't and didn't. So with increasingly sore legs we took the reverse of the HPM route along the road and down to the crossroads by Bamford before taking in the glorious ascent that is Parkin clough. For the first time since we started, I took off my waterproof as we sweated our way up the hill before topping out to a lovely clear day over the Hope and Edale Valleys. Sun was dappling Bleaklow. Kinder- where we were headed next, was encased in clag. Nice.
|Winhill- looks like some cheeky sod has painted it in Dark Peak Colours...|
Winhill to BlackdenEasy run down Winhill, contemplating the grimness of the terrain on Kinder, coupled with the route finding amusement of Blackden trig in the clag. It was only about 2pm but it felt like darkness was already drawing in and we were having a discussion as to where we might get to before we needed headtorches again. Up onto Kinder- all uphills had turned to walks a long time back and we looked at water rations- holding up ok- which was good as we needed water in order to finish, but also not good as it probably meant we weren't drinking enough. Up to madwomans stones and then a bearing through a series to groughs in the clag through some pretty rough and crappy ground to attain Blackden trig.
|Blackden trig. Turning for home|
Blackden to Brown KnollNo view. A bit darker, haribo being eaten as main courses, and running through aching legs. We turned south immediately after getting to the trig, with Chris putting on a third layer as protection against the increasingly grim conditions.... "where did this rain come from? certainly wasn't forecast". Along the southern edge of Kinder, not really needing to nav now as we're back on common ground, but racing against the daylight. Down and round past the woolpacks and to the Pennine way and out to Brown knoll as it drops dark. Twilight proper as we go along the out and back- now completely paved, touch the trig, and it is definitely time for headtorches.
|Brown Knoll. Time for headtorches. The camera makes the light seem deceptively light|
Brown Knoll to Kinder LowA jog back to Edale Cross and then a slog up past Edale rocks to the top. Nothing much to say about this apart from finally the wind is behind us- the clag is heavy, but we nav direct to the trig which looms out of the darkness to greet us. The final stretch beckons.
|Kinder Low... let's get this over with|
Kinder Low to Kinder Corner (Sandy Heys)Backwards along the Kinder Downfall route- just ticking off features in the dark, knowing we don't need to concentrate until the fenceline after the Downfall. The funny little steppy bit, red brook, the crazy rocky bit, downfall, the annoying uphill bit, along, and then- the fenceline. Follow up, around, what is that in the mist? Bingo. 14 down, 1 to go. We've been out of "real" food for a while and are down to gels and tangfastics (which, btw I class as real food, but some don't) so we have a short tangfastic break and then carry on.
|Sandy Heys- ok so the photos haven't been that bad, have they?|
Kinder Corner to Harry HutDown the fence line for quite a while (its longer than you think)- before the long awaited downhill section and up to Mill Hill where all but the last 4 Tangfastics are consumed- a shuffle down the slabs towards and past the Liberator wreck continues, we pass the muddy turning to the Grouse butts and the shooting cabin, and take the next right down the final bog section to Harry Hut. I text Lynne to let her know we're on the final bit by Harry Hut and promptly drop my phone in the bog. Arse. Luckily it is a waterproof phone in a waterproof case- but that doesn't mean that I can use the screen when it is covered in bog mush. The reply will have to wait.
|Harry Hut with Chris lurking in the background|
Harry Hut to home (via Royal Oak)Down off the final hill, head torches shining against the fog, we finally come out of the clag about 50 metres from the road. Onto Derbyshire level- well, the climby bit that isn't Level, and the final 4 Tangfastics are shared out. We shuffle along the road and down into Glossop, past the Royal Oak and round the back of the Football pitches, back home.
|Quick- make it look like it was easy!|
Home- 13hours and 12 mins after we set off- about 57.5 miles.
A fantastic day out! Good bogs, good nav, good food. A bit more than we were both bargaining for in terms of the physicality of it, but neither of us is broken. It isn't a particularly fast time, but hey, the idea was for a decent day out, and we certainly got it. Props to the guys who have done it in close to and sub 10 hours though- that is some going!
I got back in time for the party- but spent most of the time drinking water to rehydrate.
Thanks to Chris for suggesting the idea- I suspect it might be a bit easier when you can see exactly where you're going!
|Ok- she's not looking- we can sit down now.|
Inov8 Xtalon 212
Rooster sock and a pair of hilly thin socks
Running shorts- just random ones that have been sewn back together a few times.
Warm Helly hansen top (helly base with merino bonded to the top)
OMM Aether smock
Montane prism mitts with Extremities tuffbags goretex over mitts
Petzl reactik headtorch
buff and hat
salomon sense3 racevest (in which: compass, warm top (berghaus hypersmock), Sol Bivvy Bag, Gopro, small powerpack and leads, 500ml soft flask, a handwarmer, a tenner and some food).
Suunto ambit vertical- which is utter crap and stopped recording gps about 3/4 of the way through, but still said it was recording. I HATE suunto at the moment, but am not prepared to spend more than £500 on a Garmin Fenix 6, so I'll just continue to chunter on about how crap the ambit is).