Friday, 21 May 2010

The Fellsman (Day)

I'm not sure why, but I've found it hard to get this report written post Fellsman. I keep thinking that much time has passed already and others have beat me to the punch with excellent reports on their perspective of the event - in truth it has only been a week and a few days. Two other reports I would recommend are Disco Stu's run report and ultraploddernick's behind the scenes look. My effort follows, hopefully I'll feel more enthused once I get into it.

I ended up landing at Threshfield at 9:30pm Friday for a last minute kit check after a fraught week of business travel and unhealthy living finished off with an extended journey due an accident blocking the A63 out of Hull. when this artery is blocked it always means an extended country road detour before you even get going. Pie and peas went down well and somewhat eased the stomach issues I'd had the last few days. Not sure if pre-event nerves or a combo of Wednesdays curry and guinness, Thursdays fish and chips and a gutful or between meal cereal bars and such as part of the worst carb load ever was the issue.

Sleep was fitful and uncomfortable on the hall floor and the 4:30 lights were on in no time and sleep was now impossible. Mark and myself enjoyed a more leisurely start than some with a slow breakfast and drive to the start arriving just after 8. Despite getting our kitcheck in the night before there was still a queue to register, not a complaint but a two queue system could help here.

Post-briefing at 9:05 we were off. The long slog up Ingleborough worried me slightly in that the wind was strong at the top and were it to remain like this all day it may start to wear my resolve. On the steep descent the hazards of the course became all too clear as a small rock was dislodged and bounced down the hill about 50ft, not stopping till it hit one poor ladies leg. As I say not a big rock, but the impact made me wince and apparentley the bruising was massive - I do believe she completed the event though.

There was a pleasent plod along paths and fields to Whernside in a reverse of the 3 Peaks race route. The climb up Whernside was also long and a section of two way traffic gave us a glimpse of those upto twenty minutes ahead belting back down. These included Chris and Martin who I'd recce'd Fleet Moss with over a month earlier. The Fellsman claimed its second victim - that I knew about - on the way down from the trig. One unlucky fella detoured from the rocky path to round walkers onto a trickier path and fell hard face first. A few people Immeadiately assured he was ok - I believe he suffered a broken nose and nothing worse.

A rare steady downhill to flat on spring grass followed. Before a misplaced temporary style caused all kinds of havoc with people streaming downhill the wrong side of a barb wire-topped wall. This led to a third grizzly injury as somebody caught their face on wire somewhere around here. You'll be glad to know I heard of no more nasty injuries during the rest of the day. The first "cooked food" stop at Dent was still about 10m away but the CP at the bottom of this hill offered welcome flapjack. The wind was also reducing and some coming out so the sweat-dampened windjacket was stashed away in the hope the weather wouldn't revert to earlier.

Mark and I agreed that Gragareth - the next climb - was a fantastic name for a hill. Sounding almost biblical and it conjured images of a Moses-like character descending with stone tablets listing the "10 commandments" of the Fellsman rules (which are strictly adhered due to the nature of the event). "Thou shalt not degroup after dark", "Thou shalt carry waterproof top/bottoms, survival bag, emergency rations, warm top, hat, gloves, compass, cup and fork at all times", etc.... Anyway, we were soon up high again and at the trig CP, the section that followed was the hardest work in the opening half for me. It was a long undulating drag over a few miles to Great Coum, nothing tough, ok underfoot bar a few muddy bits, mostly runnable, but into the teeth of the wind and I think I was needing the "feed ya face" at Dent as I couldn't keep up a constant run.comfortably. Once this drag was finally complete there was a long descent to enjoy as we dropped from over 2000' to nearly 500' in a few short miles. Some nice grassy hill descents, tracks and then a loose, large stone leg killer for the final painful mile. With the rugged, looming hills around it Dent looked like a pleasent green, sunswept valley. All I could think of at the time was "Greendale" in Postman Pat (which is meant to be in this Cumbria/North Yorks border sort of area did you know? - I didn't, just an ironic fact learnt from the link).

Down in Dent the - apparently an annual feature - hard working "hippy"-like CP food tent staff dished out welcome hot food. A sandwich and cheese' n' onion pasty gave me an immeadiate boost as we plodded on along the valley about 10-15mins later. Because of the sizable descent to Dent the following ascent climbed uk Blea Moor for what seemed like miles and hours. we didn't push it and mostly walked. Our first navigation followed as we cut off the path to continue straight over tussocky moorland. Good line and found the CP at top of the ridge. Another good downhill followed off the hill, through woodland and alongside a dried up stream to the Stonehouse food point. A false dawn occured as we passed somebody firing up a bbq road side, I suspect a walker doing a fry-up for his mates. Good job as energy levels were a bit low, I could feel the stomach tightening as if stepping up fat burning. But overall, ~30m and all's well.

Shock horror! A compulsary for all kit check, I believe this could be a first. Typically all the stuff they needed to see - waterproof trousers, survival bag, emergency rations.... - were stuffed right at the bottom of my bag. Action for next time buy a tough internal bag for all contents so stuff can be slipped in and out easily. After that distraction came the food point I'd most been waiting for. I was not disappointed! Pasta, tomato sauce and cheese, pretty much my standard carb load so I had no problems digesting this stuff and it also feels like my optimum fuel.

Suprise, suprise, out of Stonehouse came a long climb as we reascended above 2000ft to get to the Great Knoutberry CP. A real picture postcard shot as we climbed the path beneath a high viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle railway. Mark and I made a brisk walk up the hill talking to one of many a far flung fellsman I met that weekend - this one from South of London. Almost no time passed before we were descending to another foodpoint. From here a climb up Dodd Fell. Luckily as we grew more tired we seemed to be losing less height before the next ascent. Now past the mid afternoon heat which had been quite warm over 5m back in Stonehouse a kit change was necesitated as the wind started to cool me down fast. On came the wind jacket and a few miles later at Fleet Moss it was time to don Full evening /night gear. For me a warmer base layer, gloves and hat - which I never would have thought I'd still need anywhere in May, its a strange life I lead.


  1. worth the wait..queuing for part 2

  2. Nice write-up so far, DE. I've joined ultra collie's queue. I can hardly wait.

  3. I waited ages for part 1! - where's part 2!