Last week was both geographically and topographically varied. From Loughborough to Aberdeen and back gave me the opportunity to fit in some outdoors stuff, so I took advantage and did just that.

Fell / Glen / Creagan / Forest

Written by Haydn Williams

Last week was both geographically and topographically varied. From Loughborough to Aberdeen and back gave me the opportunity to fit in some outdoors stuff, so I took advantage and did just that.

On Monday I broke the trip to Glasgow by stopping for a run over Blencathra. Despite driving past it more times than I can remember, I don’t recall ever actually going up there. I considered Hall’s Fell Ridge, which is a Grade I scramble, but on my own in fell shoes it seemed a little reckless, particularly since a friend advised the same. Doddick Fell provided an alternative in lovely sunshine but a chilly breeze. A quick run across the summit and back down to Threlkeld just as it started to go dark proved quite well timed. Hall’s Fell Ridge and Sharp Edge look like they’d make a nice exciting day out for a future ascent (in the dry!).

Blencathra from afar. © Haydn Williams 2014
Blencathra from afar. © Haydn Williams 2014
Most over-engineered boundary crossing in the UK? © Haydn Williams 2014
Most over-engineered boundary crossing in the UK? © Haydn Williams 2014
Hall's Fell Ridge, Blencathra. © Haydn Williams 2014
Hall’s Fell Ridge, Blencathra. © Haydn Williams 2014
View from Doddick Fell. © Haydn Williams 2014
View from Doddick Fell. © Haydn Williams 2014
Hall's Fell Ridge from the other side - looks great fun. © Haydn Williams 2014
Hall’s Fell Ridge from the other side – looks great fun. © Haydn Williams 2014
I came up the left-hand side. © Haydn Williams 2014
I came up the left-hand side. © Haydn Williams 2014
Looking west from the summit. © Haydn Williams 2014
Looking west from the summit. © Haydn Williams 2014

From Glasgow I had to get to Aberdeen, and what better way than via Braemar? It provided an opportunity to go to lots of places whose names I’ve heard many times but have never visited. I parked at the Lin of Dee and took my bike up Glen Lui to Derry Lodge. I stashed it there and started running, up Glen Derry to the Hutchison Hut, then continued up to Creagan a’ Choire Etchachan at 1100 m with the intention of heading south over Derry Cairngorm back to my bike. From about 950 m upwards the ground was frozen solid and there was a thin layer of verglas coating everything at floor level. I struggled my way to the summit with multiple falls at walking pace, and then had to admit defeat and return to the hut instead. Some food and drink in front of a roaring fire revived me, as did a nice chat with a chap called Jon, and I made the long trip back down the Glen to the bike. By the time I rolled back into the car park, dusk had well-and-truly… dusked. It was at this point I realised I’d left my running poles in the hut! Well, with 10 km of cycling and 21 km of running I certainly wasn’t going back up to get them.

Glen Lui: the first view of the day. © Haydn Williams 2014
Glen Lui: the first view of the day. © Haydn Williams 2014
How bad can it be? It's Health and Safety gone mad. © Haydn Williams 2014
How bad can it be? It’s Health and Safety gone mad. © Haydn Williams 2014
OK, fair enough! © Haydn Williams 2014
OK, fair enough! © Haydn Williams 2014
The upper reaches of Glen Derry, with Sgùrr an Lochan Uaiune behind. © Haydn Williams 2014
The upper reaches of Glen Derry, with Sgùrr an Lochan Uaiune behind. © Haydn Williams 2014
The Hutchison Hut. Behind is Creagan a' Choire Etchachan. © Haydn Williams 2014
The Hutchison Hut. Behind is Creagan a’ Choire Etchachan. © Haydn Williams 2014
Rime on the summit of Creagan a' Choire Etchachan, with Loch Etchachan and Cairn Gorm in the background. © Haydn Williams 2014
Rime on the summit of Creagan a’ Choire Etchachan, with Loch Etchachan and Cairn Gorm in the background. © Haydn Williams 2014
The descent back down Glen Derry, with the Hutchison Hut on the right. © Haydn Williams 2014
The descent back down Glen Derry, with the Hutchison Hut on the right. © Haydn Williams 2014

I was bit gutted about the poles, since they’ve done brilliant service, mountain marathons with me and even been in a helicopter, but after leaving a note on the only car left in the car park that evening I was really pleased to receive this text the following day…

Brilliant text message.
Brilliant text message.

What a hero (and you can read about his trip here).

The long trek back from Aberdeen was broken by a night in Carlisle, and then a ride around Gisburn Forest. We walked the trails there about five years ago, and it was great to finally get to ride them. They’re really really good. They ride well and were nicely drained overall, despite the recent rain. There’s nothing too scary, but the whole lot is technical enough to keep you engaged throughout. Well worth a trip.

This was the only black section I rode. It turns out 30ft berms are quite terrifying! © Haydn Williams 2014
This was the only black section I rode. It turns out 30ft berms are quite terrifying! © Haydn Williams 2014
My bike has 27 gears and front suspension and back suspension and is well fasterer than your bike. © Haydn Williams 2014
My bike has 27 gears and front suspension and back suspension and is well fasterer than your bike. © Haydn Williams 2014
The Forest of Bowland. Damp. © Haydn Williams 2014
The Forest of Bowland. Damp. © Haydn Williams 2014

An action-packed week – I’m knackered now!

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