Sunday, 25 February 2007

Kayaks and Cautley Spout

If it's Sunday, it's fellracing day. But before we headed to Cautley Spout, Stu continued his kayak odyssey on Windermere Lake. All went well, backwise, so that's great. The race at Cautley Spout was a new one to the Kendal Winter League circuit, so I didn't know how far, or how high this one went. A rather dry conversation with the guy with the race numbers revealed that it went "oop there" via "a coople of becks to get yer feet nice and wet"...and that was indeed pretty much it. Up 1500 feet, along for a few feet, and back down a precipitous slope. The good news? I think I was the fourth lady home. The bad news? There were only four ladies in the race. Still, the updated League table from 7 races reveals that I'm still second lady overall.

Wet Slate

Saturday dawned a little dankly, but undeterred, we decided on a walk up towards Causey Pike. A lovely walk, but the rain got heavier and heavier. By the time we'd had a splendid lunch of locally-produced cheese, tomato and cob bread with lemon curd and Borrowdale teabread to finish (can you believe all that was cheaper than a garage sandwich?), we were sufficiently wet and cold to decamp to one of the Borrowdale slate quarries to check out some bolted climbs for our summer forays. A fantastic little place, complete with frog-filled lake. The climbs looked well bolted, yet somewhat tricky. Even the 3s and 4s looked a trifle blank...

Sunday, 18 February 2007

The Slippery Slope

Well, Sunday dawned to the sound of me screaming at the computer. What I thought to be a nice, gentle cross country race up Helm Hill just outside Kendal had somehow turned into a 4 mile (well, 4.6 mile), 1200 foot ordeal in the blink of an eye. Oh dear. Having spent rather more time last week exercising (nice, easy race on Sunday...), and bimbling around in the hills on Saturday, I was as ill prepared as I could be. Still. The day was very spring-like and warm. So, the 1200 foot of ascent was broken up into large and small chunks, which challenged the mind as well as the rest of me. It was two laps of of this hilly course, which I do believe was the hardest race to date in the series (I say that every week). I staggered in somewhere between W.G. Grace and Sir Stanley Matthews, in case you're interested...

Sunshine at last...

Well, hopefully that was the last of the Winter of Discontent. Also known as really, really, bad weather for months and months. So in search of a pleasant day in the mountains, we found ourselves doing a 6 mile loop above Grasmere, overlooking the Langdale valley. A clear, windless, bright day, where we were taken over undulating hills with views to both sides. We had a splendid lunch spent watching the animated twitchings of the Herdwicks' ears around us. A day to assuage our mountain thirst, and perhaps most importantly, a day that made us realise we could, in theory, climb outside very soon.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

On the wall

It's a strange thing that aspirations are made of. But one shared by many is that fleeting glimpse of creativity and beauty of climbing well.
Almost by surprise on Tuesday, feeling sluggish after a day at the computer, I pulled off a 6c and several 6bs on the climbing wall. Having spent some weeks hovering at the 6a+ mark, I hardly expected this to happen in such dramatic style...but there we are. The sense of achievement is huge, even though these climbs were done on a top rope. Even knowing it is physically achievable is somehow like punching through a glass ceiling that one day, perhaps, the mental side will also pass through.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Barbon Fell Race

Another hilly course today- 1200 ft of ascent, and perhaps more importantly here, descent. Apparently, it was de rigeur amongst the faster runners to make the descent on one's derriere due to the steepness. Of course, bringing up the rear as I was, I bimbled happily down the mud in rather more dignified fashion.

I should say that running up and down hills is not without its rewards- we've been able to sample some of Cumbria's finest tea shops after the races. Two visits to the tea shop in Grange, where I had the finest Earl Grey imaginable, a visit to Orton, and today, a stop in Dent for some chocolate milkshake. Of course, a visit to Dent couldn't be made without a pilgrimage to the Sun Inn, where a bit of Oakham's JHB was put the interests of research, you understand...

And in case you were wondering, W.G. Grace burnt me off on the first uphill section of the race...sigh...

Messing about on the water

We got closer to an impossible dream yesterday. The weather was foul up here: rain and sleet melting the vestiges of the snow. So rather than a cold trudge around in the melting goo up high on the fells, I suggested we get in a kayak on Lake Windermere. Being wet doesn't seem to matter so much in a kayak...

So we pottled around in boats for a bit. No ill effects from Stu's back, so we're hoping to go further next time. Maybe not such an impossible dream after all.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Fairmile Fell Race

A tough 1400 ft of ascent lay in wait on an otherwise beautiful afternoon last Sunday. Looking up at it, it didn't look too bad, but appearances can be deceptive. Blissfully free of any watch or heart rate monitor, I trooped along at the back, as usual. I did overtake a few people this time, and managed the landmark of coming in before WG Grace and Sir Stanley Matthews.
Unfortunately, the downhill was so much fun that I raced down the slope at top speed, thereby rendering my thighs wobbly and thoroughly uncontrollable at the end of the race. I've been afflicted with acute pain ever since..still, I might be able to walk down stairs in a couple of days.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

A walk at Croglin

Today was perhaps the first real day of wintery weather. We woke up to see pheasants hunkered down in ruts on the frost covered field. We went for a crisp, clear walk over the back of Croglin. As we came down, a low film of cloud rapidly changed the mood of the day, and we watched as the sun filtered through the cloud above Croglin. Quite dramatic.

Birkrigg Fell race

Another weekend, another fell race...well, more of a rough cross country than a fell race as such. Still, it felt hard enough as it was. Birkrigg Common is a lovely area, apparently steeped in prehistoric burial grounds and stone circles. But of course, I didn't spend a lot of time mooching around those.
I'm afraid someone looking like Stanley Matthews joined the throng of those finishing ahead of me...I don't need to say that the W.G. Grace lookalike sped off with a mile to the finish, as usual.