Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Hathersage Gala Fell Race

The rain had set in for the evening in the Porter Valley, so it was a pleasant surprise on arriving into Hathersage to find it mostly dry. Helen, Sam, Steve and Martyn ran, with Alex missing the start by a few minutes and cheering us on instead. A 4.5-miler with 1000ft of ascent, the Gala Fell Race reaches the dizzy heights of Millstone Edge and Higger Tor above Hathersage village, before dropping steeply down The Dale.

It was a crowded start up the side of High Lees, with Sam and myself really boxed in on the narrow path, and inevitable queues at the stiles. If possible, a quick get-away is recommended to find some space. Having crossed the Burbage road, it's a steep single-track climb towards Over Owler Tor. Once on top, the flattish path across the moor was a challenging mixture of soft peat and gritstone obstacles. The path turns into a blur as you dance along, leaping from rock to rock, through bogs and over heather.

A short scramble up Higger Tor, the high point of the run, then it's over the road to a fast, muddy descent down Callow Bank. The bold go flat out; I held back a little for fear of a face-plant. Alex spotted one of the leaders with blood all over his face, which I consider justification for my caution. Sam had a painful run-in with a stile that looked at him funny (and was a bit slippy). After a short climb to the road down the Dale, it's all downhill back to the village. The sunken tarmac track invites runners to go full pelt, many do, and the finish in the school field arrives before you know it. A great race!

Here's the route as captured by my GPS: http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/n39zlzGpqC8