By Rick Ansell
Well what a week last week was for dot watchers and fell records. Simon alerted to me to all that was happening. First we had Kim Collison breaking the long-standing Lakes 24 hour record, probably the blue ribband record. Kim visited 78 Lakeland hilltops in 23.45 adding an extra peak to Mark Hartell’s record. A few hours later Sabrina Verjee set a women’s record for doing all the Wainwrights, the third fastest time, pushing Simon down the rankings and then American John Kelly, now resident in Bristol took 40 minutes off the Pennine Way record.
Of a similar order of magnitude, perhaps with the addition of a few decimal places, was my own Four Peaks run. These are of course Whiteleaf Cross, Coombe Hill, Aston Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon, a route often walked for charity.
This was the first time since lockdown that I haven’t run from my doorstep. I’ve done the run a couple of times in the past, once with Michael when we left a car at each end and once alone when I left a bike at one end and cycled back to the car afterwards. This time I decided to use a support team and decided to run west to east to have the prevailing wind behind me (yes, alright, that comment doesn’t need making). This was actually a mistake as it was a warm day and breeze in my face would have been helpful.
I was watched dourly by an armed Policeman as I crossed Chequers and then I got lost in the woods approaching Coombe Hill. I was sure I followed the Ridgeway sign, somebody must have moved it and I ended up having to struggle back up the road. I was once presented with a compass that had its needle bent as I used to complain that my own compass never pointed the right way which is why I got lost so much. All these conspiracies set up to thwart me. As I organise a race on Coombe Hill you’d think I’d know my way round there pretty well but I managed to put in an extra loop by returning almost to the carpark.
Back on track I was passing through a gate being held open by a couple out for a walk, trying to look focused and determined and impressive I took a nose dive at their feet. It wasn’t going well.
At the foot of the Hale I met Max and stopped for a drink and to compose myself. I managed a good steady jog all the way up to the top of Wendover Woods and out to the trig on Aston Hill. The end was in sight, well almost, but I still had to get through Tring and then face the tedium of Marshcroft Lane.
Being from Berko I always feel slightly sullied coming to Tring and having to run down the High Street on a hot afternoon wasn’t fun. Head down and I managed a proper run rather than shuffle up Marshcroft and then sat down in the shade for a drink. I did have to have a bit of a walk on the steep bit of Pitstone Hill. I held the gate for a family out walking. “Wow it’s just amazing here isn’t it. We haven’t been here before” I looked up at Incoombe Hole. Yes they were right, it is pretty amazing and a bloody sight easier than climbing Lakeland hills.
“That was good” I said as I finally sat down by the final trig point. But of course what I really meant was, “It’s good that I can stop now”.