Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Rhinogs Run

Another quick photo blog following on from Sand Dunes and Sillyness. These were taken on a short run out from the cottage in Wales at Easter...up past Foel Ddu, and to the site of a plane wreck (of which I have no details, yet - on my list to research).

It was glorious to be running in a t-shirt and the ground was quite dry so the usual boggy parts on the run were delightfully dry.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Navigation Refresher

A call came in from Jim, can I help? He's signed up for the Lakes 10 Peaks Challenge, a 73km run/walk with 5600m ascent, and his group are aiming to get round in under 20 hours. Given the arduous nature of the challenge - the route is advertised by the organisers as taking you  "over dramatic rocky crags, across open moorland and through low lying bogs" Jim thought it best to brush up on his navigation skills. A wise decision, as the challenge includes Helvellyn, Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Skiddaw plus six other classic Lake District peaks

Heading out from Glossop I chose an area which has plenty of features to use, observe and test Jim's skills.

Learning how to pace and time distances 
Hand-railing a broken wall
Spring lambs in the late evening sunshine
Walking on a bearing
Jim went off reciting the 5 Ds to himself, all set and feeling much better prepared for the challenge. Best of luck.

Sand Dunes and Sillyness

Sometimes its really satisfying to go running and pretend you're an aeroplane.
I don't mind admitting that.
It's the child inside me that needs to escape.
If you ever run with me on the hill it's something I may mention, or cajole you into doing.
It's fun.
And that's what getting out on the hill is all about to me.

Over Easter I was in Wales and could see sand dunes on the coast about 6km from the cottage we stay at. Even at that distance they look big. Up close they're massive. I've run in sand dunes before but these were by far the biggest I've seen in the UK.

Me and Tim headed down to the beach early, getting there before the families would be down to build sand castles and break the peace of having the beach to yourself. Parts of the beach were comparable in softness to the terrain in the Peak District, but other bits were so soft it made running much harder. What I liked was being able to see our footprints in the sand. My forefoot running technique has really improved over the past four months and stopping to observe footprints made it evident I was sustaining the technique well. My calves have obviously developed good strength with all the barefoot running and calf strengthening I've been doing.

View of the sand dunes from the cottage

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Guided Wreck Run

Low cloud hung over the trig point at Higher Shelf Stones this morning...I can see it from my I knew it was going to be claggy on the tops. With waterproofs, emergency kit and my mudclaws laced up I set off to meet a couple of runners and guide them to the trig, visit the B29 Over Exposed plane wreck nearby, and bring them safely back down to Old Glossop.

As I expected, it was fairly blustery on top with a little moisture in the air from the low cloud, but visibility was fairly good. There's no getting away from the fact that your feet will get wet on the hill - combined with the wind today my toes got a little chilly. As we started to descend back down to Glossop we could see the sunshine on it's way, bringing some welcome warmth to our hands and feet! Enjoy the photos...

James Thorn in the cloud as we ascend up Doctors Gate
Running up Doctors Gate, Higher Shelf Stones are just tucked under a cloud at the far left
Looking back down Doctors Gate and where we came up
Heading along the top of Crooked Clough with the waterfall down below
Approaching the trig point and highest point of the run at 621m
Spot the runner among the plane wreckage
Two walkers approaching the wreck site from a different direction,
barely visible in the low cloud
Is the trig point that way? Nope! Good job I know the way :)
Heading towards James Thorn
Sunshine way below us lighting up Mossy Lea Farm and Shire Hill
Still misty up the top of Doctors Gate as we descend
and now the cloud has lifted off James Thorn
For more pictures at the wreck from a different run up there have a look at this post. If you are interested in learning more about the history of plane wrecks in the Peak District this is a good site to start:

Friday, 25 April 2014

The Humble Buff - equipment review

I've been a massive fan of the humble buff for a long time. In fact on checking my driving license to see when I passed my motorbike test (2001) it transpires that my very first buff would have been bought for my bike lessons in the autumn of 2000. That's a total of 14 years that I've owned this one....

My very first buff
and I still use it.

If you don't know what a buff is, the simple answer is a neck warmer-come-head-gear-item that will quickly become an indispensable item of your gear for the outdoors (and sometimes indoors if you're saving on heating bills).

Since 2000 I've steadily grown a collection of buffs....

standard buffs
headband buff
peak-cap buff....and a bit I chopped off to make another headband
I won this one for coming 2nd in my age category in the Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathons in 2012
I've also got a couple of special buffs too...a winter one with fleece (red/black one shown on left below) and a windstopper one which has a panel at the front to keep really gnarly weather off you (blue/black one on right).

This pair are too hot to run in!
The beauty about buffs is their versatility. I have long hair, and when running I really don't like any of it flapping around my face, so on with a buff and it's all held back in place. There are loads of options for wearing your's my usual options:

My default option...I start with one as a neck warmer and within 5 or 10 mins of starting my run it's folded over to make a headband...which can then easily be pulled over my head/ears when it's really cold.
Pictured here on the 2013 Glossopdale Christmas social run....hence the tinsel around my bumbag.
Worn as a cap with my long hair tucked up at the back during Kinder Downfall fell race 2012. After the climb up William Clough and onto the Kinder edge path the buff was pulled over my ears to keep the wind off.
Headband keeping the sweat off me on a hot run
Pictured here with friend (also wearing buffs as headbands) at Mermaids Pool near Kinder Downfall

My collection definitely has a red and grey theme going on, though I don't deliberately set out to buy red things! If anyone wishes to help me balance out the colour scheme with purples, greens or other colours I won't object ;-)

Here's the official Buff image for the various ways you can wear your buff:

As you can see, I'm a fan. Recently I discovered the slim fit buff and will be buying this version where possible as it is a much better fit for my little head, especially when worn as a balaclava. I think the diameter of standard buffs is my only critique. After using one for a while (I'm talking months and years) they do start to go a little baggy....I'm hoping the slim fit ones will remove this minor issue! Apart from that, I love buffs :)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Easter in Wales

Our Easter break was spent with family in the Rhinogs, Wales. We headed down Friday and returned on Tuesday so had four full days to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet at the family cottage. The company was great and the food plentiful (thanks Sue and Gilly). I spent a lot of time just sitting, listening to the birds, watching the wind blow the trees, hearing the lambs in the surrounding fields bleating. I also took a large quantity of photographs, mostly of lovely little things for my collection - more of those later, but here's a select few to enjoy for now.

Saturday morning recce of the Ras Y Moelwyn race start/finish with Tim
Tim's race report can be found over on his blog, TestedToDestruction

That lovely little bird, perched in the centre of the white stone chimney, is a barn owl. He or she is living in the old chimney at the family's cottage and comes out to go hunting most evenings....we were really lucky to spend over half an hour watching him perched, looking around.  Sorry it's a poor quality photo; it was taken on my phone, through a window and the bit with the owl in shot is actually a mirror tilted on the wall..
Looking back to the cottage from the nearby fields
Buzzard, saw three at the same time one day and could hear them calling 
Peacock butterfly
Lovely flowers with lots of bumble bees buzzing around
Sheep and lambs in fields around the cottage
Spot the chaffinch
Me running with Foel Fras in the background
Long view from the cottage down to the sand dunes and sea
Last morning....early start to have the beach (almost) to ourselves
Along with the barn owl we saw buzzards, a bunny rabbit (on Easter Sunday), wrens (who are the noisiest bird of all), sheep and lambs, cows and calves, red starts, blue tits, great tits, numerous moths and butterfly's, loads of other birds and I heard the local cuckoo off in the distance.