Sunday, 8 January 2012

UTLD Recce - Ambleside to Coniston

Well, there haven't been any long distance adventures lately, or much running on trail. I had been struggling with heel pain going into the Sandstone Trail race but it's a pain I've had in the past and it's always just settled down. I knew I shouldn't have run the SST but convinced myself that it would be OK because all my mates were doing it. Silly! After the race I struggled to weight bare for a few days and was forced to rest for over two months with achillies tendinitis.

I'm still waiting to have an MRI scan and find out for sure that I am fit to run but in the meantime I am trying to re-build some fitness, with only six months to go to my first hundred miler. I've been lacking running mojo and thought it might be in the Lakes and so a few emails fired off on Thursday resulted in five runners coming together for a run on the UTLD route from Ambleside to Coniston on Sunday.

9am and Andy Ashton, Nick Wishart and myself headed into a balmy 8 degree, dry Lakeland morning. We'd be meeting up with Dave Douglas and Charlie Sharp along the route. We had a nice jog down through the park until the graunch up past the houses and out on to the fell.

This was great fun and brought back lots of memories from the Lakeland 50...some nice ones and others not so nice. When we came off the fell into the lane by the houses it's not obvious that you go straight on; there is a temptation to turn left. We stopped for a few seconds while I checked the map and confirmed that you do take the right hand fork here, past the houses and you are very soon at the left turn by the little car park.

Down onto the Cumbrian Way towards Elterwater. On race day this was one of my least pleasurable sections of the entire day but it was really good running today.

It was still nice to reach Chapel Stile and get back onto the fellside. I absolutely love this section of the course. The Langdale valley is one of my favourite places and the light was stunning today.

The running in the valley was muddy today but the navigation is straightforward. The only thing to watch out for is the right turn over the little bridge by the New Dundgeon Ghyll Hotel. You need to ignore this and go left up the hill to the stile over the wall.

To the end of the valley and the slog up the hill isn't so much of a slog any more, more like an old friend. Nick and I posed for a quick photo op.

At the top we finally met up with Dave and Charlie. Really enjoyed the run down past Blea Tarn and taking the best line (a very wide one) through the bog meant we survived without our feet getting too soaked.

I started feeling tired on the run down the road to the farm and found the climb on the far side hard work. I started slipping behind and just couldn't hold on to the group. Charlie stayed with me and it was nice to have a proper chat with him. We caught up with the others when Dave stopped to make friends with a hairy highland heifer.

The run down through Tilberthwaite was still pretty tough and the climb up at the other side was less steep and shorter than on race day. The rain was coming down now but the temperature was still perfect. I fell behind again and once again Charlie stayed with me.

The run down to the coppermines was a blast and I ran as fast as my Salomon Crosslights would allow in the wet conditions. When we hit the metalled road I was getting pain on the inside of my left knee, the right groin was twitching and finally I started getting cramp in my right achilles. I didn't want to take any chances so had to walk a few times.

15 miles to the car (which was parked on the road into Coniston) in 3hrs 5 mins. That's the furthest I've run since the SST race so I'm pleased with that but it was a tough day out. Next weekend I'm running the hardest section of the UTLD, 25 miles from Coniston to Buttermere on an official recce day. That is going to be a tough old day out and I'm doing to have to walk lots to get through it. Looking forward to it though.


  1. Great day out Steve! Good write up too! You missed the utter disapointment of the whole group after bigging up these mysterious steak pies that don't exist ;)

  2. another good recce. Not long now .....