This weekend was the annual Adventure Racing Ball & Social 2012. I managed to get up to the Lake District a bit early on Friday, so Sarah and I were able to go for a run around the FRA Fairfield Horseshoe route. When we met up in Rydal, Sarah said the tops were looking a bit socked in, and suggested that perhaps it might be better to stay in the valleys? I must have looked disappointed at that thought, so soon we were heading up into the fog. It was a slow climb up to Heron Pike, where we took our last views of the lake below us, then got swallowed up in the clouds.
It was straightforward navigation in clear weather, as we had seen on the Open 24 AR back in July 2011. Between us, Sarah and I had covered all of this route, and felt confident we could find our way in the fog. However, when we started heading downhill on a NW compass heading, I knew we had missed a turn to the E over Fairfield, and we backtracked a few steps to continue our circle. By then the wind was whipping itself up into a frenzy and rain was starting to fall, so I was beginning to regret my choice of getting high in the hills. Another almost missed turn at Hart Crag, and then we were back on a good trail heading S, and more importantly, down! Plowing through a few leftover patches of snow had been fun, but unthawing hands and feet was even better.
Once past High Pike and Low Pike, we decided to head straight for the car near Rydal, cutting off a corner of the route by going cross country through a stand of old-growth forest. I can be pretty trail-bound at times, as the UK is my first country with open-access lands, but I am learning to appreciate heading out on my own heading, so to speak! It was only as we dropped lower into the valley that we wondered how we were going to cross the river (which included some infamous gorge jumps in the Open24). We were soaking wet so even swimming wouldn't have phased us, but managed to find a brige instead and didn't complain!