Thursday, 2 September 2010

Stretton Skyline Recce (1) 01/09/2010

The Clee Hills from the south summit of Ragleth Hill

Yesterday night saw me in Church Stretton again for a recce of the first section of the Skyline route (the race is a week on Sunday, 12th September).

It was a really warm pleasant afternoon and I was suffering a little from spending most of the day out on site and also being a tad dehydrated before I started, but nonetheless I needed to check out the route and see how I could manage with the fairly tight checkpoint cut-offs.

I checked out the finishing field and then walked the few hundred yards to the start just above the cattle grid in Cardingmill Valley. The route follows the road and then path up the valley and forks left at the main path junction off Mott's Road to follow the valley up to Light Spout. 200 yards further on the route start to climb up a side stream towards the road junction at Boiling Well. There's some possible variation of routes at the top of this valley - I went probably too far right and had to follow the road for about 200m. Frome here it's plain sailing up good paths to the summit of Pole Bank.

I went a bit too slowly up the easy section low down in Cardingmill Valley and probably walked a little too much of the ascent either side of the waterfall, so made the summit in 36:45, a little over the allowed time. Lesson learnt - go out a bit faster.

From Pole Bank the route descends past Pole Cottage and onto the wonderful path which winds around Round Hill, Grindle and Callow to the campsite at Little Stretton. A short road section leads to the A49 where there's a footway on the Little Stretton side which is followed for 200m. Across the main road a short bit of side road leads to the well signposted ascent to Ragleth Hill. This probably looks worse than it is, but is walking terrain above the top field fence.

I reached the checkpoint location on the south summit at 1:29:22 total elapsed time (this included about 1:45 resting).

Summit of Ragleth Hill looking north along the route

My overall time (albeit at an easy pace) was too slow by nearly ten minutes. Again I could have pushed more on the long easy descent from Pole Bank and also on the flat section through Little Stretton - I'll have to hope that I can either start early or make up those ten minutes by running faster without doing too much damage to my ability to finish.

I took the very pleasant ridge of Ragleth Hill and the descent to Church Stretton fairly easy, reaching the bench at the bottom of Sandford Avenue in about 20 minutes. I've done the ascent from here to Caer Caradoc in less than 25 minutes (albeit in a race), so I should be able to cover the section from Ragleth Hill to Caer Caradoc roughly in the allowed time.

The second part of the recce (Caer Caradoc, the Lawley and the long reascent of the Mynd to the top of Mott's Road) - is planned for early Sunday morning other commitments permitting. If anyone knows how lenient the cut-offs are or whether 10:30 starts are allowed this year, please comment!

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