Run or Ride Somewhere New

It’s not a New Years resolution, more of a life’s motto. Run somewhere new. Ride somewhere new. Over the Christmas and New Year break, me and my lovely wife managed a trilogy of lake runs. First up was Ullswater (read about it here), then Haweswater Reservoir (read about it here) and finally Wast Water (read about it here). All three were new adventures for us.

It can be very easy to run or ride the same old routes, day in day out, and going somewhere new can often mean a car journey or a train ride, but I think it’s worth it. Of course if you’ve ever read my blog you’ll know that I like to measure these things. Fortunately there are two websites that allow this. On the micro scale you have City Strides (read about it here and here), and on the macro scale you have Veloviewer (read about it here). Below are two images from Veloviewer showing where I had run and ridden by the end of 2018, and the second by the end of 2019.

At this scale the changes are not obvious, apart from the trip around Northern Ireland (read about it here), however, by the end of 2019 I added almost 1,000 new tiles or squares. On the smaller scale I have now run over 20% of the roads in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

Neither metric is flawless. Our Ullswater run, while most of it was new, didn’t add any Veloviewer tiles, and City Strides also has a few bugs. Apparently there is a cycling equivalent to City Strides, but it has more bugs than a Trump Hotel mattress. Of course you could just run or ride in new places without having to add it to Strava!

One thing is certain, me and Helen (often with our silly pooch) will continue to ride and run new places, having small and large adventures.

Wast Water

It would appear that me, my lovely wife and our silly pointer have completed a trilogy of Lake District Lakes over the Christmas and New Year period. First up was Ullswater (read about it here), then we walked Haweswater (read about it here) and today we ran around Wast Water.

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Wast Water is the deepest lake in England and was formed during the last ice age. It is also the scene of a gruesome murder. An airline pilot murdered his wife, drove from Surrey to Wast Water and dumped her body in the lake. A search of the lake 7 years later by divers for a different missing person revealed her body, which hadn’t decomposed due to the cold. Her husband initially denied murder, but eventually confessed and was sentenced to four years for manslaughter. FOUR YEARS! How the hell did he only get four years for murder!

My beautiful wife was in total charge of our little adventure, with me not having a clue where we were going until we were almost there. There was a slight change of plan when Helen decided that we should park the car not in the village of Wasdale Head but at the lower end near Nether Wasdale, saving us the drive to the end of the road.

We were both wearing new trail shoes so we were taking it nice and steady, stopping to adjust laces a couple of times. We were running anti-clockwise, with the trail section firstĀ  before heading back on the road. This turned out to be a good idea for a couple of reasons. It rained quite hard on the way back, and because after a couple of miles of gentle trail running we came to the first of many screes that we had to clamber over.

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The photo above doesn’t look too bad, but further on the rocks were much bigger and very slippery, and it probably took us half an hour to cross about 500m of scree. Nelly found it particularly difficult and was as happy as a pointer when we were safely back on the trail. Later, when we were home and had uploaded our runs to Strava, one of Helen’s friends asked if we had crossed the ‘screes of doom’, which is the most apt description ever.

We chatted to a couple of guys walking their dog in the other direction, letting them know how tough both us and Nelly had found it. I don’t think they were planning on walking the whole way round anyway.

Soon we were at the head of the lake where one footpath headed off up Scafell Pike. Not today. Obligatory selfie before starting the homeward leg.

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Once on the road our pace quickened and we were amazed to see how short the scree sections appeared to be from the other bank, especially seeing how much we had struggled.

We followed another footpath that ran alongside the River Irt, which Nelly made the most of. She’s always on the lead when we run on a road or near sheep. She’s not interested in chasing sheep, but a farmer doesn’t know that.

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One small section on the road again before we made it back to our car. Just over ten miles in total. Another brilliant little adventure, and all of it was ‘running somewhere new’, which isn’t a resolution, more a motto. We will be back there in the summer to run over the tops, which wasn’t really an option for us on a wet and foggy January.

A big thank you to my amazing wife, Helen, for organising today, and tomorrow I’m back to work.

The Ribble Way

There are possibly hundreds of named long distance paths in the UK and me and my beautiful wife and our unruly pointer have walked or run sections of many of them. The Ribble Way is one that I only stumbled across a few days ago, and as I’m not back at work until the 6th January there was a window to check out a short section. It would also allow me to continue with my unofficial resolution to run or ride somewhere new (something that I will blog about soon). Resolution isn’t really the right word; motto feels better.

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The Ribble way is a long-distance path between the Lancashire coast and the Yorkshire Dales following the course of the River Ribble. The route begins in Longton and ends at the source of the Ribble near Ribblehead, and is around 116 kilometres (72 mi) in length. I’ve cycled under the Ribblehead Viaduct dozens of times and it never once occurred to me that it’s named because this is where the River Ribble begins (the ‘head’ of the Ribble).

The small section that I opted to run (with Nelly) was from the village of Sawley next to the Ribble to a point upstream where the path once again met the river.

The first km was on a very good paved track with easy to follow signs. The route then was mainly through fields, although one large field had obviously been used for some kind of a festival in the summer, as can be seen in the photo below.

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Lots of gates, a couple of large stiles and plenty of sheep, however the route was easy to follow with signposts wherever one might be required. Through another muddy field and then the path dropped suddenly down as the River Ribble once again came into view.

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We admired the Ribble, before I took an obligatory selfie with Nelly and returned the way we had come.

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As a bonus for Nelly one field was devoid of sheep so she could have a good run for a few minutes ‘off lead’. It was a bit of a drive for a 9km run, but it is very easy to become stale and bored by running the same old routes again and again.

Here’s to more running or riding somewhere new.