Sunday 20 March 2011

Saturday 19th March 2011

Not sure what to call this!!
Raise three times in one day- or
The Curse of Billy Bland - or
One man and his NO dogs.. read on

We arrived at Threlkeld by the industrial estate just before midnight. There were no signs of head torches descending off Blencathra. The night was bright thanks to the nearly 100% full moon, but there was more cloud about than when we left Skipton. The rest of the leg runners had arrived then we saw our first sighting of head torches descending on to Halls fell. Something didn't look quite right as the head torched looked to be dropping off into the very steep valley off to the right. This came apparent when they eventually got to us at Threlkeld at around 00:50.
A car was leaving one of the factories and pulled along side of us, and the window wound down and this women asked us 'Are you doing the Bob Graham' and we explained that we were just doing some Recce training. she said 'Oh good, my brother holds the Record for the Bob Graham' and we all shouted 'Billy Bland' in unison.
After a very good and clear ascent onto Skiddaw the cloud came in and made navigation allot difficult and after coming off Halls too early they had to back track and zig-zag to regain the path to descend to us. After they had a quick brew we set off on Leg 2. One of the leg 1 runners(Jim) dropped out and was going to follow the road back to Dunmail to his car and wait for us there.

A good steady pace up the road to Newsham and on towards the Old Coach road and then onwards and upwards to Clough Head in 57 Min's.The winds chill was very cold and now we were in the cloud. The ground in places was frozen and the cloud was now thickening. The brightness of our LED lights just bouncing off and straight back in your face which added to the difficulty of navigating at night. We found that covering your hand over the light intermittently let you see the silhouette (thanks to he bright moon) and make out features like the cairn of Great Dodd. The paths between the Dodds are well defined and combination of compass and Matt who just led us straight to each top with no problems. Once the Dodds were past we had the nice descent down to Sticks Pass and the ascent up on to Raise passing round the patch of snow up to the summit (noticing a dusting of fresh powder snow). We came off Raise down to the South West, slightly below the path. At this point we herd distant barking and the two dogs Henry and Jasper had taken off, not sure if they had spotted something and taken chase. We spread out and with lots of shouting and we back tracked towards the rocks of Raise. Then out of the cloud Henry had returned. More shouting and no sign of Jasper. We layered up as the biting wind ripping through us, it was seriously cold up there. After some time we mad the decision to drop off down to the Hotel at Thirlspot. Owen managed to get a signal and Phone Jim who was now back at the cars at Dunmail to drive down and meet us at the Hotel.
Now the cloud was clearing quickly and now we had a very good view of the landscape thanks to the very bright moon. Still no sign of Jasper.
Arriving at the Hotel Jim was parked up with boot open and was brewing up for us. That was a good moral boost and then the decision was made that Myself, Steve and Owen will back track up the side of Fisher Gill and Sticks Gill up to Sticks pass. While Matt and Alex were to pick up their car from Honister, drive round to the Glenridding Youth Hostel and run up to meet us on Sticks pass and searching that side of mountain on route.
Dawn soon broke and the head torches were redundant, at last I could feel my body warming up and I could take my extra layers off. Soon into Sticks Gill watching as we ascended, shouting out for the lost dog we eventually made Sticks pass and the views were brilliant. Not one cloud in the sky, the Langdales looked very inviting.( Why I didn't have a camera with us) Dropping off Sticks pass out of the wind we enjoyed the heat from the sun. We decided we might as well go to the top of Raise and have a look about while we waited for Alex and Matt. Quickly at the top we looked about when Owen called out and in his arms he had a very cold Jasper in his arms. We dropped off back down to Sticks pass some food was given to Jasper and we tied on some string to his collar (not loosing him again) we set off down towards Glenridding when after only 5 minutes we were all re-united including owner and two dogs. We decided it would be mad not to make something of the day and so continued back up to Raise ( yes ascent number three) and on to White Side. What was amazing was from within an hour of seeing the langdales it was now covered in cloud and the whole sky was now full of cloud building up. Onwards with good running on very hard frozen ground to Lower Helvellyn and to the summit of Helvellyn to be met by an Orange tent (maybe Jasper stayed the night here) Not to hang around in the cold wind we dropped off on to Swirral Edge. Having to tread carefully on the first part as we were descending on Steps of Ice and snow!
As we dropped off the temperature improved and we were quickly on Catstycam and what a descent that was (fast ans very sporting). We were soon down on the Track from Red Tarn and quickly down to the footbridge above the Youth Hostel passing scores of walkers/ climbers starting their day as we were finishing ours.

The plan went out of the window and a happy ending was we were all OK and the dogs Jasper and Henry were safe and back with owner and completed the rest of our new route. Only around 18 miles with about 2302 (7552') of ascent. A good day out.
This was my first run at night starting near to mid night, tiredness first hit me just after the break at Thirlspot ascending back up to Sticks Gill. Once daylight came I felt much better and never had any more feelings of tiredness the rest of the run. A brew was a big boost and they will be very welcome at Threlkeld, Dunmail, Wasdale and Honister.
Another thing to think about his that I need to get as much sleep as possible on the Friday before my Bob G attempt.

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