Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Freedom pt2

In my previous post which was aptly named Freedom pt1 I wrote of the romance of running and how we get weighed down with stuff when trying to go for a run.  Most running gear companies will try to sell us the freedom that running gives you.  They give us pictures of smiley people running free, on the trails, in the sunshine and being one with nature.  As most runners know the reality is far from this image.  As a random fell racer once said to me *"I f***ing love fell running, the mud, the cuts and grazes, the sweat, the dried snot and that just the girls!"  He was right, we runners look nothing like what advertising thinks we should look like.  It doesn't matter what we look like though, sometime every once in a while something magical happens on a run that confirms the reasons why you run.

Gate to Lose Hill
Let me take you back to mid February.  A few fellow runners and I went to some talks that were part of the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF, you should check out the trailer).  One of the speakers was Stuart Bond who is a local fell runner.  He talked of his training regime and specifically of his hill sessions on Lose Hill in Hope, Derbyshire. I'm cutting a long (but interesting) story short but basically he would run up and down Lose Hill 5 times in one session.  That's 10 miles and 6000 ft of climb!! Anyway this really interested me because I've run Lose Hill loads of times but always from the Mam Tor side.  So I had a plan, the following Sunday I got up at 6am set off for Castleton where I would park my car.  I parked up jogged the 2 miles from Castleton to the base of the hill in Hope.  It was wet, foggy and freezing but I soon got to the start of the trail and the gate that would be the start of my gate to summit speed attempt (I forgot to mention that Stuart Bond does gate to summit in 13 minutes). Although not fully warmed up I set off running. It was still foggy, boggy and very cold but I'd come here for a reason so I ran as hard as I could and after a few hundred feet of climb I noticed the fog was getting thinner. I could see sunshine and knew I was in for a visual treat.  I'd seen inversions in this area before from Kinder but I couldn't  have hoped for what I was about to see. A few hundred feet of ascent more and bang I was out, I literally had my Feet in the Clouds but the rest of me was in blazing sunshine.

Halfway to the summit
Hope is down there somewhere!
I remember saying f**k me that is beautiful.  **I even forgot I was on a timed hill climb as I reached for my phone to take some photos.  I quickly took a few photos and carried onto to the summit where a 360 degree vista awaited.  Words and grainy camera phone pictures cant explain how stunning the view was.

As I looked towards Mam Tor. Castleton was to my left and Edale was to my right.  Not that you could see them, all you could see was a gently swirling carpet of cotton wool covering as far as you could see.  It left me speechless, in awe and feeling very lucky to be alive.

The Great Ridge
It was still freezing so to keep warm I ran along the sometimes icy and treacherous ridge to Mam Tor summit where another 360 vista awaited.  I could see Rushup Edge, Brown Knoll and Kinder all poking their considerable heads above the fog. I took a couple more photos but all to soon I had to descend back to Hollins Cross and head back into the swirling mist.  It was amazing how quickly I descended back into the mist and by the time I was back in Castleton I was back in thick, cold and damp fog. The inhabitants of Castleton had started to wake up and there were a few of them busily going about their morning business oblivious to what was above their heads.  I wanted to grab them and tell them that 15 minutes running and you'll be in another world, I didn't though, it was my secret.

Me taken with the timer.

This brings me back to the start of the post and the image of running we see in magazines and on TV.  As I said before, the reality for  normal, ordinary runners is far from this image but if you get out there and seek it, you'll find it.  The advertising tries to sell us stuff, sell us the lifestyle, they can sell us expensive running gear, some good some bad but no amount of money can buy you moments like this.  It is free if you choose to look for it.

*Thinking about it, I may use the start of this sentence as a tshirt motif "I F***ING LOVE FELL RUNNING" 
**The time from gate to Summit was about 16 minutes but who's counting.


  1. Thanks for sharing the experience. It's wonderful to climb out over a cloud inversion into blue skies and a landscape bathed in glorious sunshine. Know how you felt!

  2. Beautiful. One of my favourite runs - see you out there!