Jackie Keasley & the Anniversary Waltz
On checking my diary, I realised that a walking weekend staying at a basic mountaineering club hut in the upper reaches of the Newlands valley, 4 km from Stair clashed with this years Aniversary Waltz. Having secured an online entry a few days before, on Saturday I quickly swapped walking boots for running shoes and jogged down on a warm sunny morning to arrive at the start line just in time to see the start of this year’s inaurgural ultra race “A Teenager with Altitude”.
The “Waltz” is 11.5 miles and 3600” taking in Robinson, Hindscarth, Dalehead, High Spy, Maiden Moor and Cat Bells, whilst the “Ultra” is 15.4 miles and 7600′ and takes in Causey Pike and Grasmoor first! Plus, whilst the main races are underway there are a number of junior races U10, U12.. U18.
The village hall was bustling with runners picking up their numbers and ladies serving hot tea and an amazing range of homemade cakes. I happended to mention that the best would be gone by the time I returned, to be told that I could reserve one. So I selected the biggest piece of chocolate cake ever and it was put behind the counter with my name on!
At 11:30 the Waltz got underway, the flatish valley start was avoided as the route took you immediatley uphill to pick up a higher bridle way to the lovely Newlands church 2 km up the valley. The route pulls gradually up below High Snab Bank before climing very steeply (sometimes on all 4s) to reach the rocky NE ridge of Robinson. The summit cairn was a most welcome sight. A gentle down and a much less steep climb up Hindscarth followed. Then another gradual down and a shorter climb up Dalehead (this run was getting easier not harder!). Runners were taking various lines down to Dalehead Tarn so I just followed the most popular route. A steam at the Tarn outflow provided the only drinking fell water of the race (essential to combat the hot sunshine).
Wayne (an ex-Helsby fell runner) was the most welcoming of martials on High Spy. An increase of pace over the very runnable terrain of Maiden Moor was followed by the last push up Cat Bells. A final, leg thumping, clock watching, descend ensured I came in under 3 hours (2:55). The best was yet to come … chocolate cake.
But first there was more, lots of runners were sitting around in the sunshine eating platesful of delicious lancashire hotpot and red cabbage which was being dished out to all runners. Then on entering the village hall to claim my cake there was a bar set up and free Hawshead beer was being served to all! A few pastic cupfulls later and feeling fully fortified I made my way back up the valley to our remote mountain hut (with no shower), bathed in the river and awaited the walkers return to exchange stories of a memorable first proper summer’s day of the season.
Photo – Only Cat Bells to go.