New Fell, New Shoes

Historical Note: This should have been published about three weeks ago (prior to the OMM Lite), but due to my PhD and generally feeling a bit all over the place, it never was. Either way, this is my account of a new fell, new shoes, and a few lovely photos from upper Eskdale.

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Firstly, I’m sorry for the large gap since the last post. It turned out that after my Byrness – Windy Gyle – Alwinton I had picked up a foot injury which was then exacerbated on the Pooley Bridge Daffodil Run (an excellent run by the way). I was also shifting much more slowly than I would have expected on the Daffodil Run, and the following weekend at Thrunton I failed to even complete a 5km bimble. Breaking point had been reached, and as hard as it was, I had to accept that the only option was to stop.

Until last weekend.

I have family friends who live just above Boot in Eskdale, one of my favourite spots to start from for fell running. With Scafell to the North, Hardknott to the East and Harter Fell to the South, as well as all the associated fell sides and ridges, what more could you ask for?

The answer to that question is a fresh pair of Salomon Fellraisers. After chatting to Lucy, Jim, Kip, and a few more people I can’t list off the top of my head, we’d come to the conclusion that my old Fellraisers had finally bit the dust. A moment of silence please for our fallen friends. I’m glad to say though, that the new pair were just as comfortable as the last (after replacing the footbeds with Inov8 footbeds; sort it out Salomon) and we were soon under way.

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My planned run was an extension of a loop from almost exactly a year before – up past Eel and Stony Tarns, only this time instead of turning round to head down past Hare Crag, I continued up to the summit of Slight Side.

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I’m ashamed to say that this was the first time I’d been up Slight Side, and all I can really say about it is that it was worth every step of the way. At 700-odd meters, it’s no snip of a hill, although it is somewhat dwarfed by its neighbours of Scafell and Scafell Pike. The weather was perfect, after a bit of warming up my running was thoroughly enjoyable, and the views were to die for; I think I’ll let the photos do the real talking.

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All too soon it was time to leave my panoramic eerie, and I decided to descend this time via Burnmoor Tarn. The plan was to head down Broad Tongue and drop directly onto the top end of Burnmoor, but as often happens with my running I got overexcited and ended up contouring around the precipitous sides of Oliver Gill. This added some undesired time to my excursion, but I then had the pleasure of passing a shepherd out at work, and boy can they move! As I arrived at the shore of Burnmoor I turned back, expecting to see the shepherd still making his way along the hillside. Not a chance, he was over the brow of the hill behind and moving fast.

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After a quick jog, and a final consultation of the map, I crossed over Whillan Beck and enjoyed an unexpectedly fast track back down to Eel Tarn and finally Christcliff. From the gate to the top of Slight Side and back to the gate again had taken almost exactly two hours, and I sauntered back up to our friends’ house for lunch feeling better than I had done for weeks.

Interestingly, since having been out on my run, my research seems to have picked up again. Coincidence, or simply wilderness therapy providing a clear head? I’m inclined towards the latter, so the main thing I’ve learnt from the past month or so is – not running is bad for me. Oh, and new shoes make a hell of a difference!

Post by Johan

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