Greg and I did LAMM earlier in the year, and after a fairly respectable showing in that we decided to enter the OMM too. This year’s event was held in the Howgills, on the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Second-thoughts did cross my mind as we drove into Sedbergh through snow flurries on Friday night, but a glorious blue sky on Saturday morning soon banished any thoughts of wimping out.
Nevertheless, it was still incredibly cold and the biting wind was to feature throughout the day. Unlike the purely linear courses of LAMM, the C course of OMM is partly-linear but requires you to choose your own controls in the middle of the route. We started day one slightly dazed by the sheer number of people crowded on to the hills, but soon got into the swing of things.
The first few linear controls were dispatched without any major problems, but then I met the sense of nagging self-doubt which was to accompany every control choice made over the weekend. A retrospective analysis of our decisions showed that we made exactly the same choices as the top team, so we can’t have been too far wrong!
After spending most of the morning in the Howgills, we broke east across the A683 and I experienced a major low climbing on to Wild Boar Fell. I’d run out of water and my food choices had inexplicably omitted anything salty; my VMOs cramped up and went into horrible spasm. Greg fed me crisps and I perked up as we turned right at a ruined sheepfold – this was a high point of the weekend, signalling as it did the end of the climbing and the start of the descent to the last control and mid-camp.
Mid-camp proved to be a pleasure, largely due to the vast amounts of food I’d brought with me (a valuable lesson learned from this year’s LAMM). We briefly spotted Chris, but then later failed to find the tent containing him and Lou in the really rather vast sea of canvas. They’d had a good day in the more-hardcore-than-us B class, coming in 20th, and we somehow bagged the coveted 15th place in C class.
The chilly breeze held up until bed time (8PM), but had changed to rain by 3AM. Greg kindly brewed up in the drizzle first thing, and we hung around for a bit until our 9AM start time.
The route for Day 2 was almost a reversal of Day 1 – we climbed back on to Wild Board Fell into the cloud, dropped out of it to cross the road, and then climbed back in to it as we returned to the Howgills proper. By this point the weather had turned really nasty, with rain being hammered hard into our faces by a freezing wind.
With no easy way to link controls without dropping into valleys and climbing back out again, we settled into the day and plodded onwards. Whilst not super-quick, we maintained a decent pace, and felt very pleased with some of our nav. Heading from Arant Haw towards the finish, Greg slipped over on the steep final descent. Being already soaked to the skin, he embraced it and continued to just slide down the grassy slope to the bottom – a strategy which proved quicker and easier than my pained trot/run. With the end in sight, we forced a quick pace to the finish to secure 15th place on day two, and twelfth place overall in C class for the weekend.
We were pretty pleased with that result, and it felt like another valuable learning experience. We both managed food and drink intake better than we have before, and finally proved that our navigation is definitely up to scratch when the weather really comes in (it’s never been truly tested before). With that done, I headed off to the glamour of a hotel in Wilmslow ready for a bleary-eyed meeting the following morning, and Greg caught a lift back to Nottingham. So generally a success, and there’s talk of taking on the Highlander – who could resist the thought of a warm, dry tent at mid-camp?!