Monday, 20 November 2017

Peak Raid navigation race, Old Glossop

The final race of my Glossopdale Harriers 2017 champs - I needed to do this one to qualify for the overall champs category and I'm glad I had entered. The day dawned beautifully, blue skies and frosty under foot. Less chance of getting boggy feet and ankles with a keen frost, though no guarantee you won't go in a bog monster!

This is a score event (organised by Explorer Events), meaning once you have a map with the check points on you can do as much or as little as you like. I was joined by fellow Glossopdale Harrier Marie and we did the event together - both just needing to finish and get some points to get on the overall champs table, and thus secure a delightful club souvenir at the Christmas Do!

After the usual pre-race faff with kit, pinning on numbers and sauntering the 1km or so to the start point we are ready. First dib at the start, grab a map and spend a few minutes pondering our route choice.  Our aim is to get 5 check points (CPs) and have a good outing. I'm pleased that it looks like we will be able to do a loop route, rather than an out and back.

CP#6, small group of rocks, on rock
We head off towards Mossy Lea and our first CP, CP#7. We see plenty of runners heading south and up the steep bank towards CP#8 - I've been over that way once, and pretty much vowed never again. It's rough, very rocky among the heather and no real trods to speak of. Given our aim, heading for CP#8 and CP#9 would have seriously limited our time and points so we discount them and stay on better ground.

Knowing the area is a massive advantage in these races - there's no place names on the map or contour height markings (the latter I find so odd). Soon enough I'm ditching one of my thermal layers and we are climbing up towards Shelf Benches, along the well worn path towards the pond. Nav is spot on and I'm teaching nav to Marie as we go.  CP#7 is a ruin - one I have passed by so closely many many times yet never seen! That's why I love these events on your own patch, always something new to see.

checking the route
From CP#7 we head up to CP#6.  It's rough ground and we climb~traverse our way to it - being careful not to get drawn along trods that are going away from our tartget. Again, I know roughly where it is but I am glad of a clear day on this one. Low cloud or clag would have made nav more interesting and my approach different. Now on top of Shelf Moor, near The Pike, we are going for CP#5 so it's over to Dowstone Clough then west towards and beyond Dog Rock. I'm pointing out contour features to Marie along the way, this terrain is hard to nav on so not ideal for a beginner but she's picking it up well and reading the ground nicely.

CP#5 is pretty much placed exactly where Tim had hidden his goodie box once so I am familiar with the approach - steep tufty rocky grass....we find a good way down among the rough ground and even include a small bum slide to our advantage. It is meant to be fun after all!!  After dibbing we are climbing back up steeply....our next target is way over in Shittern Clough, CP#3

climbing out from CP#5

From the path along Yellowslacks I know the ground over to Shittern Clough is heather bashing, but also that a way down the path you can then bear right (north-ish) on a burnt patch so we enjoy the free running on the path for a while before beelining to CP#3. We can't avoid the heather completely and it's hilariously deep and holey and still frozen in the shaded north side of the hill as we make our way ever slower into the clough. With CP#3 located in the clough we start the climb towards Cock Hill and CP#2.
CP#3, Shittern Clough - stream, end of path

It's hard to see exactly where CP#2 will be - will it be in the main quarry under the trig or off to the north slightly? We clamber up towards the trig but then head to the top edge of the main sign in there so we continue and easily locate the CP in the next bit of quarry. Safe approach needs us to go along and around to it but I look back to see someone clambering down the small crag! With a quick time check we have ooodles of time to head out to CP#1 and get back without fear of going over the 3 hour time limit (which means you lose some - or maybe all - of the points you have accrued).

CP#2, N Crag Foot (under Cock Hill trig)
The terrain here is best described as lumpy - quarry spoils and rocky little trods mean the going is initially slow then we can run a little as a trod becomes clearer. Closer to CP#1 we meet Andy B and Ian O of Glossopdale coming in the opposite direction, who helpfully confirm we are close to the CP and need to just keep going in the same direction. So our nav was reassuringly spot on.

Our final CP - CP#1 old quarry, on ground

Final CP for us dibbed and we have about 30mins to get back to base....3km later and we're back. The run off is lovely, the sun is shining as it has been all morning and we are back to the scout hut really quick. The final dib at the end sees us completing 6 check points in 2hrs 40 or so and 11km covered. Happy with that given we pootled along, I took photos at each CP and we didn't rush any of it.  A refreshing brew and biscuit is welcomed as we socialise with the other runners and await Tim finishing.

Me (left) and Marie dibbing at the finish, thanks to Explorer Events for the photo.

Thanks to Explorer Events - another brilliantly organised nav event. Shame I can't do the final race in the series but it clashes with another local race organised by a mate, Shittern Santa Saunter - a delightful race starting from Howard Town Brewery in Old Glossop.

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