Seasons in reverse

Little over a week ago I was running through the dry dusty air of a summers day. The only thing of note was that it was March, not June.

Today, with the calendar having flipped into April and I was running through a gusting cold wind with a persistent and heavy drizzle falling in conditions that were reminiscent of last Octobers OMM. I was rapidly chilling, as my base layer battled with the moisture streaming down my shell. Wearing just shorts, base layer and waterproof I had an overriding sense of deja vu. I stopped and donned gloves, keen to avoid any chance of hypothermia.

Leaving Coniston earlier that morning, the weather was dry but with a low cloud clinging to the fells. A steady throng of bank holiday walkers were making their way upwards as I ran up towards the Coppermines. It was cool and a very light drizzle signalled signs of the weather higher up. With Seren choking at her harness we made a steady but reasonably quick progress up the lower flanks of the Old Man.

I opted to stick to the ‘tourist route’; following the old miners track on the basis that its slightly steadier incline would force me to run and therefore provide better training. Weaving past a snaking line of hill walkers as we climbed above Low Water, the ascent began to bite, my stride shortening and calfs pumping as the gradient steepened for the last few hundred metres.

The strengthening wind and increasing intensity of rain heralded my arrival on the summit, 42 minutes since leaving. But today there was little reason to pause and take stock. With visibility down to 50 metres or so and a frenzy of rain being whipped into relentless bursts, I headed north along he ridge towards Swirl How. It had been a while since I had last run along here and I hesitated as I dropped down towards the small col above Levers Water. A quick recheck of the map made me realise it was further than I remembered to Swirl How and so face down, hidden into my hood I made my way upwards to its summit cairn.

Again I didn’t stop, I was cold, not worryingly so, I knew i was soon to be in the valley, but with the weather as it was, I would not be staying high today. I turned towards the Prison Band and picked my way down the greasy rocks and dew laden tussocks, the visibility improving with every step as I descended through the cloud. In less than 5 minutes I was in another world; a few hundred feet lower, the wind and rain had eased, it wasn’t a return to high summer but things felt manageable again.

I decided against continuing on around and over Wetherlam, the extra climbing would have been useful but today I didn’t need any more suffering. I turned south and headed back to the Coppermines.

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About Richard Talbot

An accomplished fell-runner as well as being a keen climber and mountaineer. Since 2005 he has worked for the UK based manufacturer Mountain Equipment and is currently Director of Product. He has worked in the outdoor industry for over 15 years.
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