Coledale Round: Blistering Pace

Coledale Round: Braithwaite, Grisdale Pike, Causey Pike, Braithwaite

Testing Times & Drinking From your Own Bladder

In an attempt to have one big training day this month, prior to and far enough away from from the iROC event, I went to the Lakes and did what is the Coledale Round. I’ve walked this several times this year alone, it’s one of my favourites, taking in the North Western fells of Grisdale Pike, Eel Crag (Crag Hill) Sail and Causey Pike from Braithwaite. The route itself takes all the tops you can see in the photo above, from right to left.

I noted the time I took on the last but one outing was around 4.5 hours for the 9.5 or so miles. The last trip was in a monstrous hurricane and trip times don’t count. This time I was aiming to do it as fast as possible, maybe under 3 hours would be ambitious.

Hydration

The new rucksack, Haglof TIGHT PRO, was as the marketing blurb said ‘hydration system compatible’. What that actually meant was if you spend another £18 you can fit a bladder and a drinking tube inside the sac and use that instead of your trusty SIGG bottle you have had for the last 30 years.

Platypus Hoser Drinking Bladder

I have been a bit sceptical about these, thinking that they were just a gimmick and an expensive way of being somewhat anti social. After all it’s not as easy to share a drinking tube and bite valve amongst friends than passing a bottle around. However I have to say, today it was just the thing. It meant no stopping, drinking and eating on the run.

It was, and my excuse was there was too much weather. The forecast had been for cloudless tops and fine windless day. The windless bit was correct but by the time I was there, 8:00 it was still cloudy and well I got a wee bit lost coming off Hobcarton Crag. Not really lost you understand just enough to stop and get the map and GPS out to make sure I didn’t, get lost that is. Well there’s at least 10 mins I reckon.

The pull up from the car park to the top of Grisdale Pike is steep, it progresses in three sections each getting steeper and I found it very difficult at the beginning. More time lost against the plan, mainly down to pacing myself badly from the start.

From the summit of Grisdale Pike, now in thick mist, the path drops down a bit before regaining some height on the pull up to Hobcarton / Hopegill Head. From there it’s a long run down to Coldale Hause, the col between there and Eel Crag. Finding the right direction in the mist caused a momentary worry and a dive into the ‘sac for the GPS and map just to make sure that I took the right direction, almost due south over Sand Hill.

The next phase of the climb is hard slog, it’s a long pull up and round the back of Eel Crag to the top of Crag Hill and I mean a slog. It’s no where near as steep as the final ridge to Grisdale but the un-remitting length is what drains the energy.

From the summit of Crag Hill, a well defined trig point if ever there was one, the route takes the Easterly ridge down a surprisingly steep and narrow rocky ridge, across the col to Sail and a number of switch back tops to the final top of the day, Causey Pike. This was taken at an almost constant run, stopping only to pat the dog on the summit of Causey Pike and turn around to go back down to the col and head off down the steepest of rabbit runs to crossing of Stonycroft Gill. On from there through Barrow Door, along the steep gradual path alongside Barrow Door Gill to Braithwaite, parting the various groups of family walkers (….and look Emily he’s got special shoes too. )just beginning their day out, at some speed.

The worst bit of the day, the grind up the road from Braithwaite to the car park. It’s less than half a mile but steep tarmac and the blisters had really begun to make their presence felt. Back at the car, 3 Hours 28 minutes and 9.87 Miles, according to the GPS. Verdict: over an hour shorter than previous, not bad, shows promise, could do better. iROC still might be possible.

Improvements to the time, iROC is almost2 miles shorter, but just as steep, no mist (we hope) and its taped so no diversions, I wasted 5 mins off track just after Sail, and well there’s another month’s worth of training to do. Is it going to be enough?

profile of route

Blisters

Over the years I have suffered from blisters. No matter what boots I have bought, how much I have spent or how long I have broken them or my feet in I have always got blisters.

Earlier this year I though I had it cracked, new boots some cheap HiTec bendy boots, light weight and for a time blister free. But it didn’t last long before they too attacked the back of my feet. Then I was advised to use 1000 Mile Socks. What a bloodless revelation. From that point on I have not had any blisters of any significance.

That was until this weekend, I wore one of them inside out on Saturday. That makes all the difference, the technology doesn’t work like that. So I ran all day Sunday with a hole in my foot! Arrrhgg I will not make that mistake again!

For those who wish to look at the gory details see this blisters photo. I do not advise it for those of a nervous or squeamish disposition.

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