Saturday, 19 May 2012

ULTD Recce - Buttermere to Dalemain

This was an official recce day running 33 miles from Buttermere to Dalemain. I had never set foot on this section and looking at the map I had always though it looked pretty drab but after watching John Kynaston's excellent videos ( several times I couldn't wait to get out there.

Stage 5: Buttermere to Braithwaite

This is a really nice section, getting up into some beautiful scenery (though it will be dark on the race). A highlight will be seeing Skiddaw and realising that you've travelled the whole of the Lake District from South to North.
The start of the trail after leaving CP4

After leaving the checkpoint you're climbing straight away so get the sticks out. The path is initially by a pretty stream before crossing a high stile onto the fellside. Follow the path, ignoring the left forks until the the wall breaks away down hill, then start watching for the path on the left. There is a sheep fold away to the right in the bottom of the valley but the wall cutting away from the path is the key marker.

The left fork takes you up hill before levelling and contouring the hill again.

Follow the path around three becks...
Addacombe Beck
..... and then watch out for the left fork. This doesn't look like a path, more a scree gully but there is a small cairn at the bottom (camera was playing up and so couldn't take a photo). The scree does turn into a good path and goes steeply up hill to cross over Sail Pass.

Over Sail Pass with Outerside ahead
Follow the good path around to the right of Outerside then continue towards Barrow.
The good path slowley descending towards the small summit of Barrow
As you get close to Barrow follow the path over the col to the left then descend on a good path to Braithwaite.

The path dropping down to Braithwaite

Stage 6: Braithwaite to Blencathra Centre

Initially this section is pretty dull but at least you can cover lots of ground quickly. The last half makes up for it in terms of really good quality trail running though.

From Braithwaite you run along the main road for a while, crossing the junction at Portinscale then the bigger junction into Keswick. After the Keswick junction keep your eyes open for the footpath on the right leading to the disused train line.

Follow the train line until you hit the road then turn right towards Keswick. Turn into the residential road on the left, next to the car garage then, after a few hundred meters, turn left into Spooney Greeg Lane (get poles out here).
Steep climb at the bottom of Spooney Green Lane
There is quite a long slog up hill here but once you get out of the trees the views south to the Lakes are stunning. Just stay on the main path, ignoring all turnings.

Stay on the main path to the right
On reaching the car park go to the right end, over the stile then turn left and follow the good path next to the wall.

Stunning running up the Glenderaterra valley to the sheep fold at the top then back down south to the Blancathra Centre (turn right at the end of the car park)
Andrew Evans running south on down the valley
towards Blencathra Centre

Stage 7: Blencathra Centre to Dockray

This section was pretty dull but it is mostly good underfoot so a good chance to cover some miles. It starts with some really nice trails by waterfalls then onto the railway line again, running next to the River Greta. This is good running, following the railway line until the big flyover, where you dink off onto the road before quickly re-joining the railway. There is a scrubby section where it would be easy convince yourself that you are off route, on a narrow path with decaying machinery and equipment by the path but you're on the right track!

Once you leave the path the section to climb up to the Old Coach Road is pretty bleak and soggy underfoot. Head for the corner of the woods then turn right and head for the gate/stile in the fence before climbing uphill. Propably worth having the poles out from the point you leave the railway line.
The bleak climb to the Old Coach Road
The Old Coach Road is not too bad. Hopefully I'll be able to cover ground here reasonably quickly. It does go on a bit though! Eventually you come in to CP7 in the car park at Dockray.

Stage 8: Docray - Dalemain

This is a great stage, with superb single track trail running around Gowbarrow Fell, the first glimps of Ullswater then fast lanes to pull you in to Dalemain.

On leaving the CP there is a small section of tarmac, running on a small, pretty lane down to the hamlet of Docray. Onto footpaths through the farms then onto open fell. The trail is good and pretty obvious.
Through the stile into the woods towards Aire Force
There is some lovely running descending down by Aire Force then the path works around the front of Gawbarrow Fell. Watch out for the left turn up hill.

The left turn to start the climb around Gowbarrow
Subperb views as across the central Lakes as Ullswater unfolds below.

The path is obvious, just continue until you reach the small ruined building and head over the stile into the forest at Swinburn's Park. More great running here.
Swinburn's Park
On leaving the woods I had some fun finding the route as it went through the cow fields. The path is not visible on the ground and I'm very glad to have reccied it. Once you leave the fields it's small lanes pretty much all the way to Dacre.

Left turn in Bennethead

When you reach Dacre turn left then look for the footpath on the right to take you onto the L50 route by Dacre castle and on to Dalemain.
Dacre Castle

As well as being able to learn the route a huge part of these weekends is that you get to meet fellow runners. I spent most of the day with Andrew Evans (we discovered that we had finished the L50 last year within two minutes of each other and had run parts of the last few miles together in the dark) and Peter, who I've run with on several recces now. I also had a good chat with Nick Smith and Heidi Lazeby. Hopefully there'll be equally good company on race day to help the miles go by.

I did have pain on the inside of my left knee that was a bit worrying. It started around 25 miles and peaked at 30, when it was affecting my running, but it was easing as I arrived at the finish. Hopefully it's just a lack of conditioning and two months of solid running will sort it our before race day.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for this steve-very helpful & great pics.