Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The Fellsman

I love the Fellsman. The route is superb with wonderful hills, views and countryside (almost no road). The organisation is great and so friendly and it just seems a really good value weekend and chance to catch up with so many friends.  I felt rather under-prepared but decided to think of it as my last long run before the NT.

Thanks to all our Runfurther sponsors
By Friday tea time all the flags and banners were up; a task made much easier this year thanks to the sturdy new school fence. More importantly the rain had stopped, the clouds had cleared and the sun had come out. The forecast was good- cold but dry, well maybe not dry from the shins downwards!
The display boards were up inside and I used that as an opportunity to sneak in and be first for kit check. It meant I was able to hand out mint cake and sign up a couple of new members. Suddenly it was gone 7.30pm and time to drive to Ingleton to eat, put up a couple more flags and banners before an early night. I didn't sleep well which was annoying but not all that unusual. Bob met up with Alison and Jo before heading off the man the Whernside CP.
I had plenty of time for multiple toilet visits and catching up with so many friends. It was nice to see Mark Hartell and let him know that Runfurther was still going strong - I even ran with him off and  on as far as Blea Moor. In the hall before the start Julian asked me to be part of an oldies team which was nice. I had contemplated running with others for a social time but the Hardmoors gang would be going more slowly than I wanted and the Lostockers had a neat team of four. I decided to play it by ear and just run the best I could and see who I ended up near.
The start in Ingleton and SUN
As usual the field split into at least 3 groups as we left the playing fields and by the Ingleborough track runners and walkers were well spread out. To take my mind off the climb I chatted to Mark. The top was cloud covered but not the white out from two years ago.
Chatting with Mark who set up Runfurther
A neighbour was clipping tallies and shouted support. I always lose quite a few places descending to the Hill Inn and although the rocks were a little drier this year was no different.
Always a pleasure to see David and Laura of Sportsunday
I must check out the more direct grassy descent at some time because Rachel went that way and caught me. Initially I was thinking "where did you come from? how did you overtake me?" but we ran the rest of the race always within sight of each other, grouped and in quite companionship which was lovely. I felt OK going up Whernside to get my tally clipped by Bob et al. Running up and back down this ridge is always interesting as you see who is ahead of you and who is not far behind. Three ladies, including Carol M, seemed to be going strong and I was pleased there were some younger and faster runners this year. Kingsdale appeared very quickly and I refilled my water. I was eating my own food as I find biscuits and the flapjack too dry when I am running. The route to the gate/stile was well marked and let to a good quad bike track. It was wet underfoot but the whole hillside is and the line was better than more direct ones I have taken in the past. I slowed going up Gragareth and told myself it was OK to conserve energy for later. For the first time in ages the cheerful joking ladies at the CP were able to stand outside their tent and enjoy the views. I found myself alone on the section to Great Coum. I could see runners ahead and behind but nobody very close. It was boggy by the wall and the worst stretches kept breaking my pattern and slowing me up. I went slightly too far right dropping off the hill but it allowed me a quiet toilet stop before blasting down to Flinters Gill and running with Mark again. The rocky track was as bad as I remembered- apparently there is a grassy path in the field so I must investigate.
and I need to check out this short cut (David Chetta going well)
The cheese and onion rolls were very welcome at Dent and the melon and oranges were superb. One third of the race now done.
Dent always amuses
Mark made better time than me along the lane and up onto the shoulder of Whernside although I could still see him. Rachel was not far behind me. I gradually reeled in Mark and two others and we ran together along the now well worn trod to Blea Moor.
Yep, painting the trig!
The valley bottom was wet as always. The marshalls here had been busy and the trig point was painted a bright white. So much felling in the next valley caused some initial confusion so my line was not perfect but I got back on line just below the air shaft and caught two who had gone much too fast east.
pic from Anthony Hall
I ran the lane reasonably well buoyed up by the thought of food and drink at Stonehouse. There is always plenty of support and people with cameras here. The pasta was a struggle to get down but I managed with two cups of tea and refilled my bottle with more Mountain Fuel. I would have liked to have headed up the lane still eating but decided to sit and concentrate on swallowing.
Cheers for the food and photo Fellsman team

I then spent the next section trying to catch up with Rachel again. She reached Great Knoutberry ahead of me but we were together across the bogs that would lead us down to Redshaw. We were over half way now and to my surprise my time was looking OK. Rachel wanted to try to get under 16 hours as she took 16.08 last time and I knew my times were often 15:30 or 15:45.

Still great weather at Redshaw
Redshaw  was the CP I was on last year and this year it was manned by friends Adrienne, Nick, their girls and Jane. Tom refilled my water as I grabbed a sausage, banana and set off again. Snaizholme soon came and went. Being with Rachel made me keep running whenever I felt I could and we agreed on the best line up Dodd Fell.
Bright but chilly Dodd Fell
Our line off the summit was OK on good trods and we found a good route to the bridleway that leads across the the Fleet Moss CP.  Rachel was back off out faster than me here but I stayed and ate etc. Usually by now I am starting to think about who I will be grouped with. Rachel was up ahead but still in sight as were the two guys we left Redshaw with. I was with another three runners. It seemed any of them would be fine although I was slightly worried that perhaps I would be the weak link in any group. The new fence is a wonderful handrail and there is a reasonable trod now making nav on this section much easier. The blue cup has gone but we arrived safely at the stile and were soon on the very wet quad bike track that contours around to the 'new' Middle Tongue CP. The guys there had kindly hung a high viz vest on a pole just to make it even easier. Four of us whizzed our fell track watches (yes on wrists this year rather than the back of tallies) and had our tallies clipped. We were not grouped and all had our own ideas of the best line but were never really far apart. We went through Hells Gap together and then had a joint moan at the pain from the stone track down to Cray. I was ready for food, drink and a brief rest here. It was also cold even in the tent so I added another layer.
at least we didn't suffer this disruption
It was here that all my plans went to pot. I was feeling a little nauseous and was a bit distracted. Chris Davies was pulling out with foot pain. We shared a hug and I hoped he wouldn't have to wait too much longer for transport. Alwyn was waiting to be grouped and moaning at the wait. He was cold and keen to get going but we all knew we needed to stop and refuel. There were 8 of us and we all greed this was too much for one group. I had been feeling a little sick and so worried I might slow people up- in fact I never was sick and should not have worried. In the end Rachel, Alwyn, David and I made one group of 4. We wasted some time as the poor CP guy had to keep rewriting the grouping card  but the two groups set off close together and climbed Buckden Pike together. It was chilly up there but the views were amazing and it was almost a full moon that was starting to show.
Here we parted. The 'second' group shot off at a steady jog and pulled ahead never to be close to again. Alwyn was not just feeling sick but really struggling to move and retching constantly. We jogged a little along the newish flagstones and to the Polish war memorial. David lives in Grassington and so led the group. Rachel and I also felt we knew the way and so we checked the nav was OK. We were soon at Top Mere even after some stumbling along the wet tussocky area before the good grassy path. David and I were setting the best pace we could and Rachel was doing a great job of making sure we didn't drop Alwyn. He wouldn't eat and was getting slower. Park Rash was wonderful- the tent all done up, with a floor and gas heaters. Not moving as fast as we wanted really chilled me so now I added my primaloft. It meant I had on all 3 base layers, the primaloft, my cag and hat and gloves. Alwyn was getting worse and making sure we did not run off needed constant checking. Rachel agreed to keep shouting stop or slow whenever needed. Not being able to run after the initial steep climb was very frustrating. David and I were getting cold and Rachel knew her hope of sub 16 hours was gone.We found the CP hunkered down between the boulders and headed across the the ridge line fence. The next section is never easy as it is so boggy. Rachel and I both knew the trod off right but neither of us were confident in the dark and clag so we agreed to play safe and stay with the fences. This section although a bog fest is down hill and I really wanted to run, if only to stay warm. It was not to be. Safely at Capplestone Gate we could see some other lights ahead and soon caught another group that had a struggling runner.
Great to see the young lads Mike and Barn- they were finished long before me
Mark H was taking it all very calmly but must have been very frustrated. We slowly pulled ahead and after Rachel insisting Alwyn ate something we jogged and walked with slightly fewer interuptions. At Yarnbury we degrouped. Overtaking the other group had put Rachel and I in third place as one of the other ladies had pulled out. I told her to blast the last bit and claim 3rd as compensation for missing sub16. She and David shot off down the lane to Grassington and beyond. I check Alwyn was following and jogged off too.It felt odd to run this section as sometimes my quads are so shot it is a real effort. I even ran most of the way up to the school from the bridge. 16hrs 38 was a PW by almost an hour but hey ho. Poor Alwyn couldn't help being ill and it is the first time in 6 years that the lottery of Fellsman grouping has caused me any issues.
After stripping off muddy shoes. I chatted to Josie who was waiting for Albert, Tony and Mike plus Mandy and Ros who had pulled out at Stonehouse but found there was such a long wait for transport that they had only just got back. Then I wandered to the kitchen where Bob and others were keeping runners fed and watered. After two cups of tea I managed a chilli baked potato before sloping off to the van to fall into bed and sleep. By 8am I was back in the hall and swapping tales. Nick had pulled out at Dent just lacking energy and so had Phil. John V was back and so pleased to complete another event 50 years after his first.
Dick being spoon fed at Stonhouse - another great completion
Dick was still out there but was making steady progress. The prize giving had a bonus for me- Julian's oldies team had won and I was the first counter.

So a trophy and prize voucher to go with the Fellsman necktube despite it all. All that remained was to take down all the Runfurther gear and take Dick back to his car in the quarry.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Kick starting the NT training - or too little too late perhaps

I knew I was going into the Calderdale Hike badly under-prepared. My legs would at least be well rested and perhaps I would be haring to go (perhaps). We had been abroad for the whole block of time since the Haworth Hobble. I had been active with over a week of hard skiing and then over a fortnight of rock climbing in Spain. Hours on my feet but not the same as running. I was climbing harder (for me) this year and was too shattered mentally and physically to run on those days. I did manage a long run on a day we did a via feratta, plus a long run/walk that evening and then a 2 hour run as we broke our journey up through France. Not enough.
The Calderdale Hike is 40 this year and to celebrate they devised a 40 mile route that went back to some of the very original sections.  They were a few options to reduce the distance by using roads and an awful lot of route choice options. I decided The Hike would just have to count as some hours on my feet and to tough it out. I had been over some of the route but it was months ago and I was struggling even to remember it. The other bits I would just have to sort out on the day, or hope that I had company.
Before bed on Friday evening we had met up with Kevin and put up all the flags and banners. The penalty for parking on the start line was being disturbed by the organisers arriving from 5.30am onwards. By 6am Bob had given up and got dressed to go and switch to the short route (sore knee and not fit enough) and by 6.30 I was up and erecting display boards and handing over mint cake. Interestingly all the walkers on the early start left down the driveway whereas we knew we were heading out the back gate. There was plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast, several toilet trips and a chance to catch up with friends and mull over the route options. The forecast was good with only a breeze, no rain and not too warm (actually it got rather hot).

Walkers on the early start
Linden couldn't quite stretch his speech to wait for the church bells at 9am so we set off a couple of minutes early. The men running the short course blasted off at something like my 10K pace or faster.
Didn't need the long sleeves for long- Thanks Nick Ham
After a mile of rather steep and slippery descent we arrived at CP1 on the canal bank and settled into easy running to Sowerby Bridge and then Copley.

Runners on the long route were now settling into a pace and I was with guys that I would spend a fair bit of the day with on and off. I fortunately found a better route up through the woods than on my recee and was soon in Greetland. I left the CP with Chris and was pleased to know the route through a couple of muddy fields and onto the path to Sonoco Mill. We arrived at the CP to find we had been overtaken by Daz, John T, Linda and others who had taken the road option.Distance and time was passing fairly comfortably at this point and we stuck together for a while. At Ringstone Reservoir the group broke up again. I decided that as a local Daz would know the best route and so abandoned my planned route.

 It probably made little difference as by Ripponden Chris who had gone 'my way' met up with us again. I grabbed food here knowing I could eat on the climb out of town. Again I decided to stick with Daz, although this time I am not sure his route was better.

What did work was being with Daz and Chris and so keeping up the pace. On one narrow path suddenly there were two runners flying back down? They had got confused and decided they had missed Ripponden or were making a 180 error. They hadn't and weren't. Simon quickly accepted this and ran with Chris and I for much of the day. The other guy must have run many more miles than me because he kept popping up behind us, overtaking at some speed etc. I would be very interested to see his garmin trace.

As we hit the moor I started to struggle and lost contact with the group. I wasn't too bothered and I knew several ways to get to Cragg Vale and the next CP. I arrived there and topped up my water and Mountain Fuel.

There were no other runners about but as I neared the top of the climb up to the reservoir and Stoodley Moor I spotted Daz up ahead. Again we went different ways and I lost him again.

I had a short break at Lumbutts and even stole a quick sit down to eat my sandwich and then left with a banana.
Spot the photos from my recee when the weather was rather different
I did though forget to top up my water and it was getting very warm. There were several route options here but I stuck with what I knew. It was safer and allowed some fields and soft ground to give my feet some rest from the hard surfaces. I was on my own over Old Royd and down into Todd. I made a slight error here but was soon on my way up to the Edge and the next CP.  Luckily they had water.  On my recee I had not liked the steep, muddy path with slimy rocks so although it was a little longer I took a dog leg and down to the sports centre. Heading up the main road I saw Chris, Simon, John and another cross the road just ahead of me. I hoped to catch them on the steady climb and even though I stopped to fill up with more water and Mountain Fuel as I passed a stream  I did it. Having company again was good. We were all starting to wilt a little in the heat. There was more food and water at Keb Cote but I didn't stop long.

 I jogged slowly down the road eating chocolate flapjack and banana. I knew the others would catch me but it was good to keep moving.

The road section to Great Rock and then on to Jack's Bridge went on for longer than I liked. There were a couple of very short non road options but only one seemed sensible. We reminisced about starting a relay leg up at Blackshaw Edge and sheltering in a runners garage to avoid the rain. The marshalls at Jack's Bridge had beer which seemed cruel. Chris, Simon and I were now very much a group and we set off onto territory that between us we sort of knew at least a bit. Unfortunately we were so busy nattering that we forgot we needed to be on the north side of the valley. As it happened we ended up on a much better track although we did have some unnecessary climb up to Heptonstall. We found the little cliff edge path and suddenly the errant runner from above Ripponden appeared again. Arriving from our direction we found the CP near the church spot on and were soon on the Hobble route down to Horse Bridge. A caffeine gel had perked me up a little and we made quite good time up the hill to Pecket Well. We were a little unsure about the CP location but found it without too much fuss. After a false start up a private farm driveway we were headed up onto the final moor. It is a few years since I have run here and I should have receed this bit. We didn't get it right and couldn't find the nice trod that would take us across the top at the low point. The 'extra miles man' headed off on a contouring route and we did not see him again until we were finished and eating. It seemed daft to waste time and we knew roughly where we needed to be. Chris got his compass out and we searched out as many strips of burnt ground and short grass as we could. There were a few stretched of deep heather and more tussocks than Simon liked. The path along the fence on the northern side of the moor was awful and being impatient to leave it caused our next mistake. We headed off one footpath too early. Our error was soon obvious but it didn't seem worth going back up. It added 500m and some climb but we were now on tracks that would lead us to Jerusalem Farm. The only food on offer was flapjack and I was done with sweet stuff. I could have murdered a hot pie but that wasn't on the menu. The next two miles were mostly downhill but the tarmac and long day were taking their toll so we all took turns to walk a short section. We nattered a bit and Chris especially stayed very positive. We were lucky to get a break in traffic as we met the valley floor and found the canal tow path again. One mile would see us back at CP1. Chris now had the bit between his teeth and was starting to pull ahead. Simon stopped to walk when ever I did, but then found he had to jog to keep up with my walk pace. It made us laugh.  Him stopping also made me run and we reached the CP with Chris. One last mile up hill. We had been able to see the final climb for the last 4 miles as St Peter's church is such a landmark. Chris was now about a minute ahead and I was getting my 'I can see the finish' last minute effort. I was determined to try to break 8 hours. I slowed very slightly in case Simon was not sure of the route to the back gate.

By my garmin it was 8:00:20 but the official time on my certificate says 7:58 so I will take that. Bob had finished the short route and was there ready to take a picture. I was very lucky that no fast ladies had entered the long route and so got 1000 Runfurther points as an unexpected bonus.
You can only beat those who turn up
What a great day out. Lovely scenery, great weather, well organised and fantastic company. I owe thanks to Chris and Simon for their company- it really made a difference especially in those last few miles and also to Daz for the middle section.
It was a good half and hour before I could face food but Bob plied me with cups of tea and then I was ready for my wonderful jacket potato and chilli. It was good to sit with a pint of shandy and cheer other runners in. A number of Runfurther members made it round... Nick, Mick, John T, Kevin, Elise, Jamie and more. Rory Harris won in an amazing 5 hrs 54 closely followed by Ken Sutor. David Chetta was 4th I think. Kevin Hoult was nursing an injury and so did the short route which he won with Mike Sellors in 2 hrs 40. It was good to see Mike and Barney again- they are the future and they have persuaded their girl friends to have a go. Sadly Dick and John V retired realising they would not make the cut-off and were probably just not fit enough to finish.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Haworth Hobble

The first race in the Runfurther series, as usual and the first important race of the year for me. It might be the only 'short' I can fit in so finishing was a must!
I have done some running since my NT recee but not as much or as many long runs as I would have liked in the 3 preceeding weeks. I am not quite sure why just think it was a mixture of weather, climbing and planning other events we are organising.

A 27km run over Totridge and the Bowland Fells was so wet and boggy that it lasted hours but didn't on one section involve much running.

It is one of my favourite areas though and always very quiet if not deserted.

That day I met a friend I had not seen for ages but very few others were out. I did have a 25km faster run over Longridge Fell and the Hodder area where I got icy cold feet in the first 500m and never really warmed up

 but where I explored a new to me path which is always nice and some steep steps for future Hardmoors training.

A run of about 20km from Tockholes with lots of climb up and down through the woods and over Darwen Moor followed this.

Spring was definitely on the way with catkins on trees, snowdrops, crocus swarms  and some very early daffs.

Then I managed to cram in a 40km from Brinscall which was lots of running until I ventured onto Anglezarke Moor and what I hoped was an interesting short cut. I should know by now to avoid the tussocks but the path I was on just seemed to peter out in front of me.

 There was a wonderful run in the snow and sunshine on Longridge Fell when I didn't dare to drive on the snow filled lanes and get to bigger hills. The tracks had a good coating but were very runnable and apart from one mountain biker I had it to myself.

and when everybody in the world seemed to be out running in deep snow and having a wonderful playtime. We rarely get much snow here.

 It was clearly daft to try to recee the North York Moors section of the NT when I had hoped to given the snow and the forecast so we came home and I had a long hard 4 hour run from Southport through Ainsdale to Crosby and back.

 It was ages since I had run here and I had forgotten how beautiful the pine forests and the sand dunes were.

 Yes west Lancs is flat but the dunes also mean there are lots and lots of  (small) hills and soft sand so it is not necessarily an easy run. I did see a red squirrel but was too late for any deer.

Looking back on this and reflecting that the time also included lots of climbing, some gym trips and two hard and fast Street O events perhaps my preparation wasn't so bad.
This would be my 10th Hobble and it where my ultras started. Driving over the moors from Colne involved some interesting lanes with banks of compressed snow restricting the road to single track but we arrived safely and put up the Runfurther banners in the dark before settling down to supper and our bed in the van. The forecast was not great but the rain reduced in volume at dawn and it was milder than in recent weeks. Having erected the flags, set up the display boards and handed over mint cake, prizes etc I wandered round chatting to friends. The event was a sell out again and I know about half the runners I think. As has become the norm I was anxious about whether my 'not a neuroma' would pan out and whether the shoes I have discovered would work out.
The route is ingrained in my mind now and the terrain is very mixed. Even in the first 8 miles or so of the 32 mile route there is a mixture of tarmac, track, gritstone path with rocks, peaty mud, flagstones and loose gravel trail. In total there is 1588m of climb according to my Epson gps watch and with all the recent snow and rain the ground was as waterlogged and muddy as I can ever remember.  Fortunately most of the snow had melted until we were on the last few miles over Top o'Stair and even here it was mostly easily avoided.
The start is a punishing climb up the main cobbled street in Haworth and then out on a short section of road before the track and path to Bronte bridge. I was being cautious here and other runners including Mark Dalton took some big falls. Withins ruin soon passed and then it was the flagstone path down towards Widdop.

At least the stones were not icy this year! I am becoming more and more of a wuss on downhill rock of any sort so I let people past me  but was also starting to suffer with my right glute/quad area. I had to let mark and others race ahead and plodded on towards the CP near the dam. The Bradshaws of SportSunday were out and so that made me smile and run (for the photo)

but I was starting to suffer and feel that I was useless. The climb up onto the moor seemed to drain me and even when it was slightly downhill my leg was objecting. Rachel and Tony ran by and I felt that I was rubbish. Not sure whether I needed to eat more or what? I tried to talk to myself and be more positive and by the time I reached Long Causeway I was in a slightly better place. I grabbed some food and walk/ jogged up the road eating.  A quick chat with Rachel as we passed the muddy farm and the next CP appeared very quickly. Things were improving so I grabbed a sausage and ran on. At long last I felt like I was getting somewhere and I was also starting to trust the grip on my shoes more. I started to overtake people and was complimented on having better pacing- if only they knew there had been no choice! and how low I had felt. The very muddy section before the golf course CP was no worse than usual and I ploughed on to the valley floor. I ate more food on the climb to Lumbutts and was rewarded with jaffa cakes and whisky at the YHA CP. There can't be many races where you can write that last sentence. Last year the race had been used as a trial for a trail team selection and seemed very busy.

Today I was alone on London road and could only see a couple of runners up ahead as I climbed to Stoodley Pike. Mick Plummer emerged from the mist and gave me a quick hug but I was now chasing a young male runner and shouting nav help for him so I could not stop long. We ran well together all the way down to Hebden and up to Heptonstall. Often I am timid on the rocky path down to the valley floor but today I was pleased to run it well. I had caught Alwyn and was determined he would not get away again. I refilled my water at Horse Bridge and grabbed more food. My young friend steamed off but even though I mostly power walked I kept up with Alwyn. The weather was improving and a merino wool thermal plus my cag was getting too much so I had to stop and take a payer off. It cost me seconds which would prove vital later but never-mind. Once over the crest I managed to run well to the final CP and then there is a steep road. Continuing my power-walk I left Alwyn and set my sights on catching others as we headed up Wessenden Moor. I was ashamed not to be running more, especially when I met a friend out supporting, but I was actually catching people. Avoiding the compacted snow took a few more precious seconds and I tried to make up for it as we descended the other side. That was fine all the way down the rocky track and gravel lane but when we reached the tarmac my legs just said' no more'. It was a slow slog up the road to Penistone Hill and I knew that trying to stay under 6 hours was going to be touch and go. I did run the whole of the descent and through the churchyard etc but arrived in 6:00:40. Ah well, another PW on top of last years although in the end only by about 6 minutes. Checking the results later it seemed many times were slower and the gap between me a slightly faster friends had not got any wider so that is some comfort. As I sat drinking tea and eating donuts I had to admit that my foot had behaved and so the shoes seem a success. Shame Inov8 don't make them anymore! I also had to admit that my legs did not feel as tired as they should and often do - ie. I should have been running harder. I did try but from Widdop to Long Causeway I just could not find the energy and on the last slog up to Penistone Hill muscle power deserted me again. I felt slightly awkward accepting my prizes as 1st WV50  (7th W) but I guess you can only beat those who turn up- which was fewer fast runners this year as Edale English Champs race was the next day. Some friends had tougher times and were even more despondant... I guess we are all getting old.
A bit of a rushed report but we have two O events to plan this week, plus a prize giving and we need to pack for skiing and climbing in Spain.
On a Runfurther note... the Mountain Fuel prizes were very well received in addition to the usual goodies from Ultimate Direction and Injinji. The Romneys mint cake also vanished very quickly.
Nick tried the MFuel and liked it so that is another convert. I had it in my water but as it was wet and cold I did not drink enough so a lesson learned there.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Northern Traverse just got real

I had been struggling to find the enthusiasm to do much about this race in May even though it was one my main targets for the year. Until my foot was resolved I had no idea whether I would be on the start line. Now I just have no idea whether I can get to the end! Time to start some recees.
I have plotted the whole route onto OS maps so that I can print out A4 tiles when I want to and I do have much of the route covered by 1:25000 paper maps too so I had spent some time deciding which bits were most important to recee assuming I could not just start at St Bees and do the lot. Most of the Lakes I should know or at least know where to be careful and also towards the start I am less likely to be totally alone- I hope. I should also know the Cleveland Way part but would be happiest if I have time to run this too.
First up was the eastern lakes through to Shap. I had hoped to do Kidsty Pike as an out and back from the end of Haweswater but our evening drive proved tricky and the road was icing over. We didn't want to be stuck there and I also guessed the steep edges coming off the Pike might be tricky too. It will all be thawed and gone in a week or so I expect so it didn't seem worth the risk.
Back to Kidsty Pike from Odendale

There seemed little point running along Haweswater- surely you can't get lost there. It left me with a shorter run from Burnbanks through to Shap.  I did first trek back to the lakes side path just to check it was as I remembered and was rewarded by spotting red squirrels at play. From here moving east the route took me onto new areas and it was good to explore. I started fairly early and much of the ground was semi frozen. Towards Shap I recognised bits from other races and as it got warmer the ground got more boggy.
Shap Abbey from the 3 Rings of Shap
I found it all without any errors but it was good to check some lines and be certain where gates and stiles were. It took less time than I had predicted so I found the van but no husband. Luckily the village toilets were warm and I popped into the New Balance shop. By the time Bob appeared and we had bought each other Valentines presents in the shop the weather had taken a severe turn for the worse.
Shap to Oddendale I know well and Oddendale across the tops to Orton I have done may times as training runs.
One of our favourite van stops and running areas
I had hoped to go up to Orton and run the next bit but there seemed little point doing so in gales and blizzard conditions. Still, a tiny bit of the NT was done and I had made a start. It also meant we were back in time to join Lostock AC for their Horwich Street O event and then after a day of chores to climb on Friday morning and set off again.
The plan was 3 days to do more of the NT. Friday afternoon was planned as Orton (the moor above the village) to Kirkby Stephen. It would be mostly low level and there should be plenty of time before dark even if I moved slowly. I made notes as I ran as this could be dark during the race and knowing to 'aim for the white house' etc helps when you are tired.

Writing little notes slowed me down but I no know this section is pretty runnable even in the dark and I sorted out a couple of dodgy nav bits.

Some was on deserted lanes and farm tracks but lots was on grassy paths that are a feature of this area where the bedrock is limestone. I had done the first couple of miles before but forgotten.

A highlight was the area around Smardale Bridge with views to the viaduct but also to the Howgills and high Pennines.

A fair bit was well signed with finger posts but by no means all of it. Dropping into KS was easy and I found the rugby club with no problems.

I was early after just 21km of running so I explored to Franks Bridge on the other side of this small market town.

I was pretty sure I would recognise it from The Yomp and I did. I was back at the van and changed before Bob reappeared (I had taken a key today). At Franks Bridge was a useful sign - 82 miles done and 108 of the Coast to Coast to go!
Saturday would see me climb into the hills. Sadly the forecast was not quite as good but neither was it awful. I couldn't actually see the hills in the morning and so was unsure how much snow or ice to expect. I made and early start and ditched my kahtoolas in the hope that I could avoid any icy paths on the way up to Nine Standards.

The first few miles were easy nav and up the lane that is a dead end onto the moor. I met a farmer who seemed quite surprised anybody else was up and about and even more surprised that I was on my own and heading to Reeth. The main track had a few icy patches but they were easily avoided. Higher up the path was obscured by snow drifts in a few places. Some of the snow supported my weight but in others I broke through to bog, icy streams of just heather.
Murky and cold on Nine Standards
The vis was pretty poor but the low cloud didn't really produce any rain, it just seemed to wet me from the air. It was chill but not really cold. The next section bothered me a little as I knew the tops were pretty featureless and snow was obscuring the paths. At one point I found the new flag-stone path but then as it twisted round a boggy section I lost it under snow drifts again. In the end I opted for running south ish on a compass bearing and picking up bits of paths the best I could. I knew not to go east into the bog and wilds of Whitsun Dale and knew not to go too far right or I would drop steeply to the road. It worked out fine and as I dropped slowly I found the pillar marked on the map and could see the road down to my left. Then there was a finger post and a shooting track. Even better the track led to a hut that was open. I stopped briefly for food before heading on to Ravenseat which seemed very isolated. I was now out of the murky weather and off the bog- although not off the mud.

 The path into the main valley of Swaledale was slow at first but then as I neared Keld it improved lots and my speed picked up.

 I also started meeting just a few people out walking. After Crackpot Hall ruin the path got smaller again and near Swinner Gill had quite a serious drop into the gorge. Hopefully I won't be there in the dark.

It was a  tough climb out of the gill at first but then I met the new flagstone steps. Nice grippy gritstone ones too!  There was some snow but it wasn't at all icy here. Towards the top of East Grain stream there was more snow but by now I was on a big track which dropped me into Gunnerside Gill. It wouild be easy to get carried away running down the track and I made careful note of the cairns and small path off to the left. Here I met deeper drifts of wet snow and footprints that on me were thigh deep. Fortunately it was a short section. Having crossed the river there seemed to be many paths going up onto the moor. I chose an early one to avoid dropping to the ruins and hoped this would be OK as far as James the RO was concerned.

Towards the top I met posts and cairns so perhaps it was correct. The top was like a moonscape of old mine workings and rock waste.

A big track through this area made easy running and I was soon heading towards the pleasantly named barney Beck. All the buildings here were locked but some did have some shelter and seating. Immediately after crossing the minor road I made a small error (mainly because I was too lazy to dig out the 1:25000 map from my sack). I quickly realised I was too low and close to the river. Luckily there was a stile over the wall and I was able to get back on route and another good path then track that would lead me to the moor above Reeth.
Hard to believe it was the same day after the snowy tops
A walled footpath led me down to the village but again I missed a small path that cut the corner. It was warm in Reeth and The Green which I had expected to be fairly quiet at this time of year was packed. Bob had only just found a parking place for the van. I stripped off my wet socks and shoes and then we went exploring. It is a picturesque village.

 Even better though was the Dales Cycle Shop. We missed Stu Smith by less than 5 minutes but did have a very nice coffee and piece of cake. Not a bad day - some useful notes taken, 37km run and a whole new area explored.
Sunday was shorter and easier in that is was flatter. Knowing that if I started early we could get home before the end of weekend traffic I set off early. It was chilly. Luckily the first section was along a minor lane so I was able to up the pace and get warm. Then there was the ancient path from the ruined Priory up to Marrick leading me up into the sun and more warmth. A strange roundabout but well signed route got me through the tiny village and out onto grassy fields. There were boggy bits but mostly it was good running. The drop down the road to Marske was steep and just slightly slippery where the sun had not reached.

 Then more field paths led me to the limestone cliffs of Applegarth. The grassy paths were a joy but sadly ended and became a muddy track in the final woods before Richmond. In no time I was descending to the river and looking for the final paths to the main road and the side road up to the rugby club.

 It was freezing down by the river- the coldest I had been all day.

The lane up to the CP was steep but Bob had found space to park despite the rugby game. I stopped for a coffee and food - 17km or so done. I only had maps to do another 10km to Bolton on Swale. The paths here were ploughed and a total mud fest. I tried to run but was anxious not to fall and get coated in mud. Luckily as the route diverted away from the river (official diversion to avoid A1 roadworks) I left the fields and joined a lane. It wasn't great to run along the A6136 and over the A1 but at least there was a wide pavement and it wasn't long before I dropped back onto the river side path which thankfully was grassy and not more ploughed fields.

I found the van and stripped off my socks and shoes again. 28km done today and no major nav issues. It would have been nice to carry on to the A19 and the Osmotherly area but I had no maps and it would also be good to get home at a reasonable hour.