It seems that the time runs out pretty quickly these days, It wasnt more than 4 weeks ago that I had just completed the Norfolk Broads.
I struggled for some weeks afterwards, my ankle remained in a state of hot searing pain for anything more than a few miles, a much-needed trip to my wonderful sports therapist some sorted that, with some unknown magic touch it was gone and I could once again pick up running. I ran barely 30 miles in the weeks leading up the Peak District but did make a brief visit to buy lunch for my good friend Ed who has been a massive support through all of this, he kindly took me up some of my route as a pre event recce
The time was soon upon me, it was odd to not be packing my tent and sleeping gear this time and I did feel as if I was cheating a little, 6 days before I was due to start a large wild-fire broke out upon Saddleworth moor I was a little worried at first knowing that last year the wildfires had burned for weeks, but thankfully the hard work of the firebridgade had extinguished this in a timely manner.
To add to the worry, a yellow weather warning had been put in place and storm Freya was due to strike the UK, I gave up watching the weather and just packed for the worst, if anything I packed more kit than previous, having to pack micro spikes and extra warm layers soon filled out the once empty pack.
Mrs Beard had kindly agreed to drive me into Ilam where I was to stay the night at the YHA, a grand old building of Ilan Hall, dating from around the 16th C, the Hall has been bought and sold a number of times with it set to be demolished in the 19thC but thankfully some of it was saved. I can’t recommend the YHA enough for just £13 a night it was a bargain, unfortunately having to stop in a dorm with others ment that I endured a night of continuous snoring saw a poor nights sleep.
5:30am came quickly, I gathered my belongings together as quiet as I could and headed to the toilet to get ready, clothed up and lube sufficiently I ate some raisins (now becoming a staple breakfast feast) and set forth. I was given the luxury of a later start today as I was planning to meet the folk from Derby MRT who had agreed to capture some photo ops on route.
I left Ilam under the cover of darkness and cold and headed along the Manifold trail and onto Coldwall Bridge, the trail was slippy and going was slow to start. I was soon upon the bridge, staring across the border and into an epic adventure. 6:40am Derby MRT txt me to say they were ready and waiting and so off I set.
I followed the trail along the Limestone Way and into Thorpe, nothing was stirring at this time of the morning, it was a relatively short run into Tissington and as I crossed the A515 I could see the flashing lights of the MRT waiting me.
It was such a great site to behold, the guys and girls greeted me warmly and a quick plan made, they had kindly added around 100meters to my route but I was ok with this.
Sandwich between two landrovers and escorted through Tissington and past Tissington Hall was such an odd and fantastic experience, I felt quite important and it was great to have such support and encouragemnet. Across the Tissington trail I went and onwards along the Limestone way went heading over small and large hills before entering the outskirts of Parwich. People were starting to appear as the time moved on and with a short run through the village I was soon taking a footpath over Lombard’s Green, a small path ran alongside a field and a recently fallen tree blocked my way, I side stepped and noted that this path was little used, I got a little lost from the path here, over a stile I went but had gone to the right of the path and had a lovely trawl through a rather damp and swampy field.
Gotham came and went quickly and onto the Pennine Bridleway I went, this was in fact 3 separate trails, the High Peak trail and the Midshires Way, originally a train line designed to carry Mineral and goods. It was a pretty flat route but had a strong headwind for much of the route, I enjoyed the brief periods of warm sun and easy navigation. I trundled along the way until Parsley Hay where a cycle hire centre awaited, a sign promised a warm brew, but alas it was a cruel trick as I found the shop closed. I filled my water bottle via the male toilet and chatted for a short time with the friendly cleaning lady before I was off again.
I left the trail here and set off over farm land, getting lost again in fields where signs pointed in the wrong direction, after 10mins of wandering back and forth and some choice words shouted, found the route and was soon coming upon Moneyash. This time my luck was in, a cafe awaited and I took full use of the fine food. A pint of tea, Lilt and some rocky road went down well before I again set forth, taking another path leading onto the Limestone Way, in and out of Flag I went, stopping briefly to leave a calling card in the local notice board and into Taddington, the wind had not abated one bit since I started out and despite the sun shining I was ever hopeful of the wind dying down and giving me some respite.
I was soon upon Millers Dale, where I entered a moss strewn old and mythical looking woods and down some rather steep stairs, I sat for a brief moment in the quiet of the woodland and took some fuel in. The air was still and quiet with no one around the place retained its magic just for me. Crossing the Monsal Trail I noted the bridge being repaired from underneath, I stopped to take a little picture of the guys swinging from harnesses but was told not to put it on Facebook. The old station at Millers Dale is currently undergoing a massive renovation project and will soon be open as a cafe and visitors centre, but for today no brew or cake awaited me and so on I moved.
A short sharp climb awaited me outside of Millers Dale, I topped up water via a natural spring, thankful that I had a filter bottle to hand, a short section of the Limestone way awaited before once again joining the Pennine Bridleway and into the small hamlet of Wheston.
A section of exposed road awaited me and just after Wheston I felt my energy levels drop rapidly, I began to feel shaky and unsteady and took up a perch on a small step, sesame seed snaps were consumed far in a way only a man in need of sugar could, I drank some water and felt my energy levels quickly increase and so I was off again. I couldn’t really figure how far the end was to Edale, at this point I was some 25miles in, a quick call to mapping centre (my brother) gave me a rough idea, I passed onto Old Moor and tried to outrun the coming apocalyptic weather system heading in from behind me, I made the
decision to quickly stop and done my waterproof leggings before I was caught in a massive sudden down pour, the wind whipped around me and harshly, but no sooner had it arrived then it was gone leaving behind a rainbow just for me, it seemed that I
would be able to reach out and touch it as it appeared no more than few hundred yards in front of me, this little scene of joy gave me some vigor and as I ran, Mam Tor started to appear in the distance.
It loomed in the quickly darkening sky, the weather now turning to one of winter, any sun had truly been stifled away but the grey, looking ominously I strode the short path alongside the path where I was the met with a hail storm and high winds. It beat around me, striking my face with a stinging ferocity, I laughed a little and remarked how daft this was, a quick call home to say I was still alive and down I descended into Edale and my finish for the day.
My knee was now feeling the full force of the many downs, a hot searing pain accompanied me all the way down the hill, I winced and yelled as I went thankful I was the only person there to hear my pain. Edale was a welcome sight and with the ramblers Inn showing welcoming lights in I went to warm welcome and some much-needed food and warmth.
After eating I headed onto my free accommodation kindly provided by the wonderful team at the Old Nags Head, the cottage was warm and welcoming, I was quickly relaxed and settled, eating another meal before falling off to sleep around 8pm.
29 miles were run today over som testing terrain, but it was nothing to what awaited me on day 2.