Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

November 29, 2011

{Windy} Little Langdale to Windermere Run/Canoe, Lake District

It was back to extreme weather conditions, as my adventure racing teammate Gavin and I headed out on Sunday from Langdale for a combined day of running and canoeing.  In a bit of car shuffling, we had dropped my vehicle near Windermere Canoe and Kayak, before driving out to the start of our run.  Although the weather forecast showed the gale force winds speeds should be dropping, the morning was still very gusty.  Our plan was to do a long run over to Windermere Canoe and Kayak, then rent a Canoe for the rest of the daylight hours.  We decided to head for the hills first,and hope the winds dropped as we climbed.  Right.  The gusts started hitting us on the climb out of Little Langdale Tarn, as we climbed up {aptly named} Wet Side Edge toward Great Carrs.   The force of the gusts was enough to push me backwards a few times, and we knew we needed to be cautious next to the cliffs on the ridge.  Luckily the trail was wide in most places so we could stay well back from the edge. 

When we turned east to go over Swirl How, the wind completely took control of our progress and swept us onward like leaves in front of a leaf blower.  We linked arms, leaned back into the wind, and attempted to slow our progress to something that resembled a controlled walk.  It was difficult, as the screaming wind was so strong we couldn't shout a word to each other.   I don't think I could have even walked in the other direction, as the compression zone of wind over the crest of the hill was close to a solid wall of force.  Guessing from a few other nasty encounters with high winds (A certain Open 5 back in Febuary comes to mind) that we were fighting up to 70 mph winds and knew we needed to get to lower elevations soon. It was an no-brainer to skip Wetherlam summit and head straight down to Coniston.

Anyway, dipping down over the brow of the hill immediately lessened the gusts, and we could once again communicate and not fear getting blown off a cliff.   It also raised the temperature as we descended, thank goodness.  I had underestimated the wind chill effect and had wet, frozen feet and hands.  This wasn't helped by the recent rains had turned every path into an improptu streambed, with occasional hidden boggy section that swallowed my shoes whole.  My feet were soaked within minutes, but constant new cold water dips weren't helping either.  I was carrying a walking, ok let's be a little more sophisticated here trekking pole, so that helped me feel a few bottomless pits in advance and avoid them.   I let Gavin run ahead of me, so I could also avoid the bogs that he fell into while laughing at him.  Although if the truth be told, I was the only one to really take a slider into the muck that day! 

The trail brought us down past Levers Water, where a sudden gust made me wonder if I had avoided the cliffs only to get blown into a reservoir!  The wind literally pushed water out of the lake and into the atmosphere before swirling it over and down the dam...it was quite a sight to see.  No camera, either...but this time I would have needed video to capture the day properly. 

Once into Grizedale Forest, the weather was no longer an issue, as the wind dropped (finally).  With an hour or so left to run before arriving on the west side of Windermere, Gavin suddenly wondered if the ferry was running today.  I had to confess I hadn't given it a thought, and we gravely contemplated how much longer our run would have to be to get back to the car {since we weren't willing to swim}. 

Lucky us, the ferry was working, although waiting for it just a few minutes chilled us right down.  Total run was 17 miles in 5 hours.   At the car, we added a few layers before renting a canoe and setting off into reservoir.  The water was much calmer now, and we paddled around Belle Isle without much trouble.   Since our major adventure races next summer will require canoes, we hope to get familiar with them (hah!) as much as possible.   What we concluded is that paddling a canoe is a pain in the butt...or should I say knees.  There is no comfortable way to sit, and even the moderate winds on the water were blowing us all over the place.  My GPS said we did 3.5 miles in an hour of paddling, but since that included a lot of lazy S curves I'm sure it was more like 3 miles of useable distance.   Plus we've got to figure out how to strap our bicycles into the canoes for at least part of the race.  Perhaps we should wait for warmer weather before falling into the lake while attempting that maneuver!


  1. Actually it was 17 POINT FOUR-FIVE miles!

  2. well done again Mrs!!! .... I was in the Peak district that day and I too displayed a rare ability to walk at a 45 degree angle!!!

  3. Gavin, you're right, that extra .45 mile is why my legs are still so sore from the run!

    Mike, there's a fine line between "Hey, this is cool", and "Oh, no, I might get blown over a cliff today". Swirl How kind of tips the scales from fun to dangerous...happy to be home safe, and you too.