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Top Five Work-Outs of 2013, Part 4


Number 2) Running the Peak District

Part of the fun of travel for me is the opportunity to run somewhere new. I’ve seen so much of so many cities and towns thanks to my running shoes. But I also try and make a point of getting away from the crowds and the roads when in new pastures – as when I ran up part of the Whitney Portal in the Sierra Mountains in January. This past November while in the UK, inspired in no small part by the Boff Whalley’s book Wild Running (which I reviewed here) and in particular his recounting of the 1932 Kinder Trespass, I squeezed in a whole day in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District, booking myself a night at the Snake Pass Inn to recuperate and recover. My initial goal had been to run the Kinder Dozen, and when that looked like just a little too much elevation even for a mountain goat like myself, I figured I could at least take in a loop of the full rim, part of it the Pennine Way, with my fancy new digital Ordance Survey map app and my iPhone’s ability to track my route and show me exactly, to within about a foot, where I was standing on this great planet.

 

Looking down over Blackden Moor and the A57 around noon. The view of humanity soon disappeared.

Looking down over Blackden Moor and the A57 around noon. The view of humanity soon disappeared.

 

I was brought down to earth, figuratively speaking, by nature, which gave me a damp, misty day with almost zero visibility up top of the Peaks, and also by technology, the GPS use of which put an untenable drain on my phone battery. Erring on the side of caution, I came down from the peaks after five or six miles, and though thereafter I ran closer to the main roads than I’d have liked – and still had need of my compass at one point to get out of the woods, in this case quite literally – the day was non-stop, muddy, wet fun. After all, part of setting out on an adventure is an acceptance of nature: sometimes it co-operates, but when it doesn’t, that’s no reason not to still make the most of it. And on the plus side, the poor conditions gave me just about the entire Dark Peak to myself: only when re-ascending the steep climb to the Seal Stones above the Inn at dusk, did I meet my first pedestrians or hikers of the day. For the rest of the time, it was just me and the occasional sheep or high-flying bird.

Looking up at the Seal Stones at dusk

Looking up at the Seal Stones at dusk

Over five and a half hours, I covered seventeen or so miles, and given the steepness of those climbs, was truly exhausted. The Snake Pass Inn, under new management for the umpteenth time, looked after me like a rock star, with a massive made-to-order vegan meal and some Moonshine. The room in the adjoining lodge was effectively an apartment, with an inner bedroom sealing me off from the noise of the main road, and it was impressively inexpensive. After nine hours solid sleep, the sort I dream of (ha!), the morning dawned cold and cloudless, and what with that perfect visibility and a sense of my bearings from the previous day’s exploration, I could easily have taken in the loop I’d intended, and without much need of the online map app. But that wasn’t possible with my pre-planned schedule – and I had no complaint. Nothing was going to stop me having fun that day I took in the Peaks for the first time – and nothing did.

Click on thumbnails below – and then click again! – to see in larger size. And click once more for full size!

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