Wednesday, 23 February 2011

LMV Recce (part 2) - 23/02/2011

Good day today - off work, and out on the fells.

I met up with Owen Mills, who works in Atkins Leeds office and is planning a BG attempt this summer. We're going to do some recce for that at the weekend, but thought it'd be good to run here first...

We decided not to pound round the first few miles, so set off from the top car park onto Cow Ridge. My poor choice of paths at the top gave us half a mile of heather bashing, but we eventually got out onto the road, and up to Boiling Well to join the race route. This is about 4 miles and 1,250' of climbing into the race, we'd done only about 1.5 miles here, and probably about 870' of ascent. We saved about 2.5 miles and 380' of climbing.

From here, down Ashes Hollow past CP2 and up to Barrister's Plain was straightforward. The descent into  Callow Hollow is initially very steep and was slippery - I stayed on the dead bracken but Owen did a bit of sliding down the slick grass by the path. I find the drag up Callow Hollow quite hard work - the path isn't great and I think it must be steeper than it looks. Thanks to John's excellent lead from the previous recce I found the route up and over Minton Hill down to CP4 nicely and we were soon running down Minton Batch. This is nice - I'd not been on this bit of the Mynd for years...

The hard work starts at CP5, the junction of Minton and Windy Batches. You launch up a steepish ascent of Windy Batch, forking right into a side valley. The section up to the headwall of this was very steep and slick with rain: extremely hard going. We stopped and snapped a couple of pictures. At the top we went between the 395m knoll and Packetstone Hill. Working out a descent from here, I bet wrongly. In the race I'll follow the stream down initially before crossing the spur low down where there's a trod which lead across Callow Hollow in two short strides, on to the ascent of Callow.

Callow is another plod, but with a half decent track. The bottom section is very steep, then there's a slightly more gently graded section which leads to the top (CP6). The way on from here to Grindle is the main route decision on the race. We went for the most direct option, following the path steeply at first up to the flat area at 430m between Grindle and Nills. From here we headed down the stream to pick up the spur to the left. This is a good, quick descent.

At the bottom, going straight over Ashes Hollow leads into the valley between Yearlet and Ashlet. After the gorse we headed up past some hawthorn trees, but traversed too far right on the ascent (it's another killer, but the last big one), and ended up coming out 200m north of the top. Not a mistake to make on race day - that's cost 3 or 4 minutes. It's an easy and very fast descent to the Ashlet col to pick up the green path, which is again a fast way down. This only leaves the 40' pull out of Townbrook Valley and the run-out to the finish.

The GPS has our route as 9.0 miles and 3,530' of ascent. Adding on the distance and height saved by our shortcut at the start would give 11.5 miles and 3,910' of ascent. The official mileage is 11.5 miles and 4,500' - maybe my GPS (unusually) under-read on the ascent, or maybe the race info overstates the climbing. Who knows?

Our time, at a gentle recce type pace and with a couple of very short stops, was 2h:41. At that speed, race time should be about 3h:18, but I expect to be going faster... Based on the Canter race pace vs. recce speed I should be looking at around 2h:48.

Photos and map/profile to follow tomorrow.

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