There are far too many ‘Rounds’ to mention, although the Bob Graham is arguably the most famous. The Bay Limestone Round (or BLR for short) is a new round, very new, with the first finisher on the roll of honour being the founder Thomas Phillips back in June this year. Since it’s inception a number of friends have also completed the full 55 mile route, solo or as part of a relay.
The start of the round is at Kents Bank Station, only a few minutes over the bay by train from Arnside. From there the route heads north over 13 summits around Morecambe Bay. My amazing wife is incredibly excited about doing the route as part of a relay, and will be running the final leg from the Cinderbarrow miniature railway to Arnside prom, a distance of 11 miles. With only a few weeks to go, yesterday we did a recce of leg 5, and Helen is very glad that we did.
Before we could start the run we had to drive to Arnside and lock my old commuting bike to the railings and then drive to the starting point. Helen had printed off the route instructions and had the route on her Garmin to follow, so how hard could it be?
The first problem we encountered after only running a few minutes was the hidden footpath across the A6. The sign was completely buried beneath hedges. From there it was straight across a field and then diagonally across the next field, although this one was full of wheat, so we did our best not to trample the crop. Up into Yealand and into the woods to find the first summit, Cinderbarrow. We had been warned that it was difficult to find, but we found it without too much trouble. The problem was finding the footpath again. We should have gone back the way we came, which is recommended, instead we spent half an hour getting lost. This is one reason why we were doing a recce. We had a closer inspection on Strava later that day and we were within 20m of the correct path. Once we found the footpath again the route was fairly easy towards Wharton Crag.
There is a very good Bridleway called Occupation Road which goes near to the top, unfortunately we struggled to find the footpath described in the instructions, and our Garmin keep on telling us we were off course, so we just headed upwards until we spotted the beacon. The views from the top were amazing, but you’ll have to take my word for it. Instead, here is a photo of me and Nelly looking at the view.
From here it was downhill all the way to the coast as we headed towards summit number 3 of leg 5, Heald Brow. According to the map there is a footpath across some fields, although we had to climb over a gate and jump a ditch before reaching the bottom of the brow. We managed to miss the path to the summit, although not by much as we dropped inland towards Silverdale. Along with Cinderbarrow, this is another small section that we will probably recce for a second time. The pleasant footpaths followed the fields and down the back of some very nice cottages, before the climb up to King William’s Hill and the Pepperpot.
The Pepperpot was built in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden or Diamond jubilee, depending on which website you look at. Victoria’s reign started in 1837, which would imply it was her Golden anniversary. From the top the route descends through a caravan park and past Arnside Tower, the ruins of a 14th century tower house.
Only Arnside Knott left, which was the busiest that we had seen all day. We didn’t stop long at the top before taking what we thought was the direct route down to Arnside.
The official BLR suggests running directly down to the coast, which probably wasn’t any longer than the route we took. We made our way past the hoards of people and found an empty bench on the prom for a rest. I don’t think either of us had ever seen Arnside so busy, or looking so good.
I was definitely feeling more tired than Helen, although that is my own fault for running 8 days in a row. All that was left was for me to cycle back to pick up the car and return for Helen and Nelly. While I was gone they had an ice cream, but they did buy me some biscuits.
Helen was very glad that we had done the recce in plenty of time so that we can go back and run the difficult sections a second time. Helen also plans on running the whole leg on her own before the relay. On the day we ran a couple of miles extra, but that evening we compared our route with the official route to see where we went wrong.
The BLR is an interesting addition to the running scene and I hope that it becomes established, especially as it is raising money for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and Cancer Care. We will definitely be looking at running more of it in the future.