>Saturday morning dawned overcast but bright with the promise of better weather and the prospect of my first decent fell run since January. So how to avoid the crowds on a sun-drenched bank holiday? Run along a totally random route of ‘checkpoints’.
Keith (LAMM partner) arrived early and the plan was to complete around 9 checkpoints taking us from Steel End on a circular route around Ullscarf and surrounding fells. A distance of some 16km point to point and a 1000 metres or so of climbing. A dtstance which would hopefully allow me to build up my distance without risking setting back my post injury recovery and spend some time staring at a map and compass again.
I was a little apprehensive as we left the car park, my best effort recently being a couple of 10km routes compared with Keith who is currently running 40 miles every weekend as he builds up towards his Highland Fling ultra race! Luckily the steepish assault of Steel Fell brought us both to standstill, but it was perfect terrain for getting into the mountain marathon groove. We made steady progress reaching the top in around half an hour and we caught up with a lone runner who appeared to be in BG training mode.
From the tarn on the summit of Steel Fell we dropped down to our second check-point, a re-entrant below Blakerigg Crag before heading across towards Gibson Knott and our third and fourth check-points. From here we turned West, meeting two other runners as we made quick progress towards Calf Crag. At this point we veered North West towards our fifth checkpoint, a sheepfold near to Middle How before heading up towards Greenup Edge.
The views from Greenup Edge were exceptional, the clear air giving allowing all the detail of the fells around Scafell and Great Gable to shine through, with still a few patches of snow shimmering in the spring sunshine.
After a short rest, we turned north on the steady but short climb towards Ullscarf and onto our seventh checkpoint at Low Saddle. We saved the best till last, a discrete and well hidden final checkpoint (Sheepfold) close to one of the many tributaries runnning off Ullscarf.
From there, and still without any noticeable pain (!) it was a steady run back down to Wythburn and Steel End.
If you’re interested the checkpoints for this round are:
1. GR 32051115 Tarn (East End) 2. GR 31331093 Re-entrant 3. GR31901030 Spur 4. GR31601008 Ring Contour 5. GR29551084 Sheepfold 6. GR28551054 Col 7. GR29131215 Summit Cairn 8. GR28801329 Spot Height (656m) 9. GR30231276 Sheepfold