Posted by: Bruce Duncan | April 2, 2010

Snow Again!!

I have had lots of fun over the past few weeks, after the Helly Hansen race I headed to Scotland to briefly see my brother who was over from Norway for an Orienteering race in the Trossachs.

For the 4 days after this I joined a gold Duke of Edinburgh award canoe trip down the River Spey.  It was great fun, cruising down a glorious river at a very leisurely pace, taking in all the views.  The weather wasn’t brilliant, but we had some good sunshine on day 3 from Craggenmore to Aberlour.  There are some great wee rapids on the river, only grade 2 at best, but in an open canoe these are more than enough, especially when your boat is full of kit.  No one went swimming at any point though, and despite the heavy showers we had a times everyone remained dry and in good spirits for the whole trip.

The highlight was the campsite at Craigellachie, by the bridge over the river Fiddich, there is a fantastic wee pub right by the river.  Called the Fiddich Inn, it is currently run by an 81yr old called Joe, he has been there 50 years, and has a great range of whisky on the shelf behind the bar, and all at a pretty cheap price too.  It meant that that night not only did we stay warm by the toasty fire in the pub, we also slept pretty well too!

Joe the barman in the Fiddichside In

The final days paddle to the river mouth at Spey Bay was pretty tough, with a cruel head wind, and many trees acting as obstacles to make sure we didn’t get stuck in.  Making it all the way from Aviemore to Spey Bay was great fun, a lovely 4 day canoe trip, something I wouldn’t usually do, so it was nice to take time out from my usual training schedule to help people out and to achieve their Gold DofE expedition target.

Getting back from Scotland, I arrived to a damp Lake District, but got straight back into my training.  Wednesday however was a bit different, with about 5 inches of snow falling during the night and then throughout the day it led to a chilly run.  I headed out up over Tarberrel Moss to see how bad conditions were, was lovely to be out in the snow, and it also meant very few tourists were around, so had most of it to myself.

Snowy trees on Whinlatter Pass

The snow soon started to melt however, and despite Phil, Femke and my best efforts we failed to get a giant snowball rolling all the way down the hill to Spout Force!

Thursday turned out to be a brilliant day, but I had to do some work for my adidas adventure race.  It did mean I got to drive through the Lakes though and see some lovely views, before having a lovely lunch at Wilfs café in Stavely with my girlfriend, and then a meeting with the Lake District Park Authority in Kendal in the afternoon.

Langdale Pikes

Today was another lovely day, sounds like some of the best weather in the country.  I set out for a tough road ride as I need to get fit for the Fred Whitton road race in May, a tough cycle sportif over all the major passes in the Lake District.  I dropped down to Lorton, then headed to Crummock Water before the steep climb up over Newlands Hause, dropping into Newlands Valley I bumped into Stuart Holmes who had been out for a rather snowy run over Robinson and Dale Head.

Crummock Water

I wasn’t sure whether to head home, or to turn down Borrowdale and take on Honister Pass too, Stuart and co said I should do it, so with that, I headed round Catbells to Grange and up the valley.  My legs were tired from what I had done so far, having not done much on the road recently, but I gritted my teeth and went for it.  There is no warm up for Honister, its straight into a 25% gradient for a few hundred metres, it’s a killer.  Slowly I churned away at the climb and as it eased off halfway up I knew I’d broken the back of it, spinning away to regain my breath and lower my heart rate from the 184 bpm pounding I could feel, I eyed the last short steep section, got my head down and went for it, with some encouragement from a van driver.

Newland Hause

I’m not sure which is worse on Honister, the climb or the decent down to Buttermere, the road is narrow, with stone walls, blind bends and sharp turns over bridges.  On a mountain bike you have more rubber in contact with the ground, disc brakes and a more comfortable position to hold the brake levers, however the brakes on my road bike are not the best, so suffice it to say I was scared flying down at 70kph.

I made it to the flatter section and started to catch 2 cars, which I quickly over took, it gave me the incentive to push fast down Buttermere to stop them getting past.  With the wind on my back for the final section down to Lorton I managed a healthy pace, and tried to rest my legs before the nasty final climb back up to the house.

On the climb up Honister

I was very tired after my first big hill climbing ride in a while, and getting back to the house was a huge relief, food and drink were there to be had.  That was until I realise Femke had gone out and locked the door, and I hadn’t taken a key!  I had to wait for about 45mins till Phil came home from work, and I was finally able to get inside a recover.

It was a great ride in lovely weather, and I feel good about getting into more road riding ready for the Fred.  As the rain pours down outside and I cook my dinner I have already got tomorrows plans sorted, a nice hill run up Grisedale Pike and some of the horseshoe, and then a kayak on a lake in the afternoon with Helen, perfect.

Grassmoor from Rannerdale


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