Strong to gale force winds, frequent and heavy showers – falling as snow above 300 metres.
The weather forecast was not the most inspiring but an air of restlessness was building, as was a promise to meet hodge for a motivating fell run to kick start the new year. Today’s route choice, a circular route up and over the Old Man of Coniston, whereby with a little bit of luck the winter jet stream would transport us effortlessly across to Swirl How before we could drop down to the Coppermines.
We left Coniston shortly after 11am and began the tiring climb around the lower flanks of the Old Man. The wind was gusting and the calfs were feeling the effects of too little hill training in recent months. Contouring around the grassy tussocks we soon joined the small path winding its way up towards Goats Water. Hodge was merrily disappearing upwards, I was struggling to keep up.
There was a brief respite as we skirted the shores of Goats Water, but the climbing resumed soon enough, as did the cold wind which was barreling down from the col above. Luckily as we reached the shoulder, the wind came onto our backs and nudged us on towards the summit of the Old Man of Coniston.
The ground was frozen and covered in a light layer of hail and graupel, as we turned towards Swirl How, the wind tore across the summit ridge, making any movement, let alone running difficult but luckily not impossible. Before long, we reached Swirl How, which today was living up to its name as a cold mix of sleet, hail and mist circulated around the shadows of the summit cairn. I quickly scoffed an energy bar in an effort to replenish my flagging reserves before we began the lightning descent down the Prison Band.
Back beneath the cloud line but not quite home, we picked up a grassy trod down towards the Coppermines, fighting one last onslaught from the weather as a ferocious barrage of stinging hail pelted us to a painful halt.
The 2012 fell running season had started.