Thursday 28 August 2014

Trail Running in Edale and Kinder Scout

CavemanClarke enjoying Kinder Scout
The bank holiday weekend just passed will hold fond memories for me for many years to come. It was pure and simple freedom. As a keen trail runner and reviewer of the latest off-road running gear I was keen to take some of my favourite trusty pieces of kit, along with my newest Suunto toy to the quaint little Derbyshire village of Edale in the Peak District; a trail runners paradise! Living in rural Cambridgeshire leaves me needing hills and mountains, and the Peak District is by far the easiest accessible place for me to get my fix and some decent training in. 

The view from the top of Jacobs Ladder
Since deciding a couple of months ago to invest in a campervan, my wife and I have managed to get away quite a bit at the weekends. Often making a long weekend of it, we take a Friday or Monday off work to make it worth while travelling that bit further. This weekend we managed to work it that we would travel Thursday evening and Monday afternoon, leaving plenty of time to get lots of interesting runs in. So, just before leaving I got my new Suunto Ambit 2R out of the box, connected it to the laptop and begun planning routes for the weekend.

Unboxing the Suunto Ambit 2R
I absolutely adore the Peak District, of which Edale and the surrounding area never fails to excite and satisfy my desire to get out and run beautiful technical trails. This weekend passed was by far the best visit to date. Not too hot, not terrible weather or constant rain, the atmosphere and temperature were perfect for exploring the hills at speed.

Kinder Downfall
It was decided that Fridays route would allow my wife Hannah to get a good feel for the 'Peaks style' of trail running, as she has only run flatter routes in the past. So, I planned a nice little circular route from Edale. It ascended and descended over Mam Tor and into the stunning village of Castleton for a break and a pint, before returning via a different lower route. I have never been so surprised at someone's natural ability to run hills and technical terrain with so little previous experience. I was so proud of the effort Hannah put in, despite suffering a little with a sore ITB. The day was perfect. Time spent doing what I love most with the person I love most. You can't get better than that! 

Hannah and Bella at the summit of Mam Tor
Saturdays route would see me climbing Jacobs Ladder onto Kinder Scout, traversing the Edale skyline and returning via Grindsbrook and the Pennine Way back to the campsite. Hannah would rest this day to allow an epic run for her on the Sunday. It was time to try a route that in the past had left me lost at the top of Kinder Scout in 10m visibility, and so for me, a perfect opportunity to try the 'Run a Route' navigation feature of my new Suunto Ambit 2R. This was the main reason why I got the watch in the first place; to allow trail runs in unfamiliar territory. So, packing some water, food and basic emergency equipment in my trusty Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin Hydro 12 set race vest and pulling on my trusted, grippy Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 2 I was off! 

A view of Edale from the Edale Skyline
This is the point where I cannot hold it in any longer; the Suunto Ambit 2R was faultless! Amazing! Immediately finding the GPS and loading the route, I stuck to the on-screen track I had planned and it directed me perfectly and accurately from start to finish of the route. Yes, I took a map and compass just in case I had any problems, and I always think this is a good idea in unfamiliar territory, but I never once thought of using them. The watch informed me of everything I needed to know (and more) and safely guided me across a previously terrifying route that I had once got horribly lost on. It goes without saying that the rest of the gear I had chosen to run in also performed flawlessly. I would happily say that a run which had previously been labelled a disaster had become one of my favourite trail runs to date. I loved it. 

Sundays route would take us both to see Kinder Downfall, the peat bogs on top of Kinder Scout and then a second visit of the Edale Skyline for me. Once again, Hannah really amazed me. She powered up the hills, admired the views, had a really good go at the downhills and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. And what a fantastic experience it was, once again guided perfectly by the Suunto Ambit 2R's route navigation features. You just don't get hills and views like this in Cambridgeshire!!!

Kinder Scout Summit
Bella loved it too!
Bella takes a drink while I put my hardshell on for a windproof break!
What a blessing to be able to down tools and head to the Peaks to do what I love most. Trail running has brought so much joy, peace and excitement into my life, (as well as a whole host of cool gear!). I have explored beautiful new places, met great people and felt so free and alive. Creation is an amazing thing and trail running is the way I like to explore it. And all the cool gear and shoes? What really defines 'good' shoes and apparel? Well, I would say:

'Good trail running gear leaves you able to focus solely on the activity and experience itself'

CavemanClarke Trail running Kinder Scout
Hannah Trail running Kinder Scout
We decided to have Monday as a rest day due to heavy rain and poor visibility, and so I would try my tired legs on a fast flat route back home in Cambridgeshire farmland later that evening! The hill training certainly showed; a home route that usually takes me 36 minutes was blasted in around 31.....a great excuse to get back to the Peaks soon ;-)

Admiring the view at the top of Jacobs Ladder
Happy running everyone

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