The Bay Limestone Round – Leg 2

Last summer my lovely wife, Helen, and four of her friends completed the BLR as a relay team. This year they’re doing it again, but with each of them taking a different leg. Last year Helen did the last leg, which is technically the hardest leg. This year she is doing leg 2, which is the longest leg at almost 14 miles.

Yesterday one of Helen’s oldest friends very kindly drove to the finish of leg 2 so that we could leave our car, and then drove us to the start of leg 2, and on top of that didn’t complain about all the hair that Nelly left in her new car.

The start of leg 2 is near the village of High Newton, alongside the High Newton Lower Reservoir, which is an incredibly tough climb for the end of leg 1.

Anyway, we waved to Lisa as she started her drive back to Lancaster and we started our run back to the car. The first bit of leg 2 was along a road and mainly downhill, which was nice, especially as we knew there would be plenty of climbing later. Off the road and we wound our way through some woods and fields and past Witherslack Hall. After almost 4 miles of very easy running we came to the side of a cliff, which marked the first of the two summits on leg 2, Lord’s Seat at 215m high. As expected the views were amazing, and you can easily see how strong the wind sometimes blows.

Off the top of Lord’s Seat was once again very pleasant running with easy to follow paths, the complete opposite of leg 5. We dropped down to cross the main Lythe Valley road at the very posh looking Lythe Valley Country House Hotel.

Over half way and we were both still feeling good, although the hills started to get a little more frequent and the terrain more uneven. With the sun out we weren’t in any hurry and we more than happy to walk when we felt like it. However, at Middle Blakebank we had our first navigation problem. The route appeared to go straight through someone’s front garden. We backtracked and found the footpath arrow was correct so we looked left and right before deciding just to go for it. Half way through the immaculate garden we spotted another yellow footpath sign, so it was the correct route. A bit later we came to another house where the footpath also went through the garden, but this time the owners had put up signs and arrows so that people knew exactly where the path went. I’m sure the owners of the first house don’t like having a footpath going through their garden, but if you make it obvious where the path goes, people won’t be standing outside your front door for five minutes looking at maps and scratching their heads.

The next few fields were full of sheep and lambs, some very young with concerned Ewes. Across another small road and we were onto Gamblesmire Lane, which was easy running again as we neared our second summit, Cunswick Scar. We followed the official route through Scar Wood, although we think it might be quicker to continue along Gamblesmire Lane rather than the rough field. Anyway, once through Scar Wood there was only a short out and back to the summit before the last mile to the finish.

I hadn’t thought to bring a hat so Helen had lent me her buff to protect my shiny bald head. This was the only time of the day where we had seen more than two people, with families and dogs galore.

The last mile would have been great for running, but my legs were completely broken by this point. In hindsight a hilly 60+ mile bike ride the day before probably wasn’t such a good idea. However, with the wide open spaces it was great to let Nelly off her lead.

A few minutes later and we were back at the car. Full distance was a little over 14 miles with over 2000 feet of climbing. A tough leg which took us just over four hours, but as I said, we weren’t in any hurry. Helen will be much quicker on the day. It was also far easier navigation wise than leg 5. We might head back for another quick recce but I doubt if we’ll do the full leg again.

Strava details can be found here,

and my other BLR blogs can be found here.

Bay Limestone Round – Leg 4

Back in the summer I wrote about a new ’round’, the Bay Limestone Round (read about it here). My amazing wife was part of a relay where she completed the final leg, but we both wanted to have a look at the other ‘legs’. Helen would like to do another relay, but doing a different leg, and she also thinks that I could manage doing the whole thing, all 55 miles of it. I’m not sure about that, but over the winter we’re going to have a look at all of the legs.

Today though, Helen wanted to go for a walk/run, and I suggested Leg 4, although we would have to add on a few miles to get back to the car. Leg 4 goes over Farleton Fell and Hutton Roof, and at 7.8 miles long it is the shortest leg in the round.

We parked up at the ‘official’ start of leg 4 and headed off towards Farleton Fell, which I’ve never been up before. The route skirted round the back taking an easier path to the top. The views were amazing, as we could see across the Bay and the Lake District, with the Howgills behind us. Unfortunately the photos didn’t do it justice, so here’s a selfie with the three of us.

There were great slabs of limestone as we dropped down a bit before heading up to the top of Hutton Roof. The top is fairly flat, but a handy trig point indicates the top. Once again we were foiled in the photography department as there were too many other people there, so we found the correct path and headed onwards. We almost missed the turn taking us towards Burton-In-Kendal, but fortunately Helen is a whizz with navigation.

Dropping down there was a lovely footpath with bushes both sides, making it safe for Nelly to run an ahead. Through Burton, across the M6 and another sheep free field for Nelly, and before we knew it we were at the end of leg 4. Not the end for us though, as we still had close to 4 miles to run to get back to the car, but at least it was flat and safe for Nelly.

Back home and Nelly is asleep in her bed, and me and Helen are planning on doing ‘not a lot’.

Overall impression of leg 4 was that it was much more pleasant than leg 5, and we are all looking forward to having a ‘recce’ on the other 3 legs.

Cinderbarrow to Cringlebarrow

Last weekend me and my amazing wife had a recce for leg 5 of the newly created Bay Limestone Round (read about it here). Helen is very excited about this run and being part of the ‘Scrambled Legs’ team, and definitely doesn’t want to let the rest of her team down, hence doing the recce. It was a good idea as well, because we got properly lost on the first summit, and slightly lost a couple of other occasions. With that in mind we went for a mid week run along the very first part of leg 5, from Cinderbarrow miniature railway up to the top on Cringlebarrow summit. In my previous post I also managed to get confused by the two similar names, and might have suggested that we were running up to the summit of Cinderbarrow.

I have to say that it was much easier the second time around. We found the hidden footpath across the A6 and knew which direction the footpath went across the barley field. Through Yealand and up into the woods, following the path as it makes its way around the back of the summit. At the top we retraced our steps instead of looking for another way down, as we had at the weekend. The footpath took us out of the woods and into a field full of sheep before ending at the road.

First section ticked off, just under 3 miles. No problems. We then jogged back to the car along the road, avoiding the barley field. The farmer might be annoyed at people tramping through his field, although it is a designated footpath. Helen was buzzing at how easy that had been. Early next week we’re going to have a second look at Warton Cragg and Heald Brow, and then Helen is going to do all of leg 5 on her own ten days before she does it as part of a team. She will do brilliantly.

I am loving how the new BLR has already garnered local interest with a ladies Vet 60 team completing it in under 12 hours, and a mens team in under 10. The local tri club, COLT, are also looking at having a go. I’ve put my name down in case there is enough runners for a Vet 50 team.

The Bay Limestone Round – Leg 5 Recce

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.