Friday, 22 June 2012

Clag magnet

Kentmere horseshoe/Race route

Its amazing how a good downpour and a low cloud-base can turn a pleasant ridge run into a mini epic. Well, not quite epic but more than just a trot around a Lakeland classic that it should have been.

As usual, finding the starting point confuses me. Many thanks to the BMC for signposting Badger Rock, it confirms I am on the right path. Path found. Next feature to find is the re-entrant that heads up towards Buck Crag. This was the old footpath and is now a short-cut or the 'racing line'. It also leads straight into the clag. Bummer.

Once more into the clag, dear friends, once more.
 The racing line below Buck crag

Take a bearing for the wall then keep going and use the fence as a....... catch fence, then follow the main path, 'simples'.
I hit the wall then the fence. This is not how I pictured it to be. The fence is leading me downhill. It is now raining, heavilly. My handrail and only feature that can be seen through the rain  and mist, is trying to trick me. The only thing that is 'simples' is me.

Yet again it's time for the belay jacket of shame to come out. After a few minutes of mardyness, self doubt and anger at myself for being a f##kwit, I get my head together and manage to work out that I hit the wall in the wrong place, meaning that the fence was the wrong fence. Thankfully this means relocating and getting back on track is simple.

This wake up call is a good thing. The Kentmere horseshoe is a relatively easy route to follow for a competent navigator, even in the clag. Two things complicate this: One. I am trying to find the racing line, which at times goes off path following a trod. Two. I am a muppet.

Still sulking about making a dumb mistake and having no views, of what I am sure is beautiful scenery. I slow it right down (yes it is possible to go even slower than my normal pace) and concentrate.

Ignoring the runners trod around Yoke, I bottle it and take the main path over the top. Onwards to the first race checkpoint at Ill Bell, I start to feel more confident. I have a path to follow and now the steep drop into the Kentmere valley on my right, makes a good hand rail. Cool. I even feel brave enough to take the trod around Froswick. 

It has now stopped raining but the vis is still less than 50m. All I can see is the path/trod right in front of me and a  grey curtain of clag. I decide to cut the corner at the end of the valley, missing out High Street.
 Dropping down from Mardale Ill Bell, something changes. Just for a moment the grey curtains turn bright white, and by the time I reach Nan Bield Pass, there is a view. Perhaps I should have visited High street after all.

The cafe at Nam Bield Pass, Not quite as good as Hafod Eryri

180 degrees out eejit

Running back along the eastern ridge of the horseshoe is much more fun, now there is a view. If I had set off an hour or so later, the morning would have been very different. Different not better. Apart from the skylark on Ill Bell, I have had the fells to myself. Yes, I made daft mistakes and struggled in places that, a proper fellrunner/navigator would have laughed at but it was FUN. Well mostly.

The cloud lifting.
 Looking back over to Ill Bell

Back down in the Kentmere valley. Cloud lifted and sun shining.


  1. A fine line in self-depreciation, Steve;-). At least you weren't relying on me to find the route. Nice account - keep 'em coming

    1. Thanks Matt
      The depreciation is easy when you make as many mistakes as me.

  2. easily a muppet too. i love that horseshoe, though ive only ever done it starting up the garburn pass

    1. Tks for the support UC. I am a muppet and proud of it.

      The Kentmere horseshoe is a lovely ridge run. Its definitely one to come back to.

  3. Great photos, my dad will take me to the Lake district again ,

    1. Hi Jake Good to here from you.
      We could see Winter Hill from the motorway, on our drive up to the lakes.


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