It was about -2º when we woke at 5:45 with a dusting of frost on the tents but the sky was clear and blue. At 6.30 we drove from Turner Hall Farm campsite over to the start at Broughton Mills. Adele, Alison, Charlie, Lindsay and I (with Milo) set off at 7.00 in lovely sunshine warming the beautiful Dunnerdale fells of South Lakeland. We followed an old walled path for 10 minutes but then found our own way up the first two summits in this fairly un-trodden area. I used the schedule that I ran last year and we were bang on time. We were keeping quite a pace and there was no time for stopping at the tops. But this first hour was lovely and peaceful, noone else around and we could see the day was going to be a real cracker. We didn't take the best line up Caw so lost a few minutes. I then checked out with everyone whether our goal was to do this in 12 hours or just to do it. Pow-wow over we left the nobbly Dunnerdale landscape to get onto the more severe Walna Scar edge leading from White Maiden, Brown Pike to Dow Crag. We made up time here as we swung round to Coniston Old Man. Maybe that was because we started seeing runners coming the other way on the Great Lakes 3 day MM, and with the Coniston race starting a few hours later we too got into race mode! Quick chat and photo on the top and then a lovely trot along the ridge to Swirl How, Great Carrs and a lovely descent off Wet Side down to the Three Shires stone on Wrynose Pass. There seemed to be lots of people waiting and shouting us down which was great. All our food, drinks and clothes were laid out ready so it was easy to do a quick stop. Lindsay changed her shoes and socks and I needed thicker socks. We were 1 minute behind which I took off our rest stop. I grabbed some fruit cake and water and food from the others (as I hadn't come prepared for the 12 hour run) and Simon joined us for the rest of the day.
Simon picked a line up to Cold Pike and onto Crinkle Crags with Lindsay close behind him (and staying strong at the front for most of the day). We strung out a bit, digesting the food we'd just eaten whilst making the ascent onto what I see as the big hills of the middle section. We decided to go round the Big Step - a slab of rock to climb (although I happened to mention a GDH runner who fell off it during the Langdale horseshoe!). Charlie wasn't feeling too good but we pushed on to Bow Fell. There were now lots of people around and we had fantastic views of all the peaks in the Lakes. Unfortunately Charlie was still no better and he decided to descend, down through the Langstrath Valley to pick up a lift to the next support stop at Honister. We pushed on up Esk Pike and I ran out of water (having only brought one bottle thinking I'd now be in a cafe, and I hadn't passed a stream). There's always a good supply at the bottom of Great End so I sent Simon to fill up whilst we went up the scree path on the South East side. This was our highest peak but certainly wasn't our toughest climb. We were going really strong and everyone seemed to be really enjoying it. It was here that I started to say "we've cracked it now!" (repeated on each of the remaining 7 summits).
A wrong line was taken off Great End, for some reason into the severe chutes of the 'great end'. A few quick scrambles back up and a decision to get on the easy path to Styhead Tarn. I think we should have taken a NW route off directly toward Great Gable - I will check next time! God forbid we couldn't have got a compass out in broad sunshine with hundreds of people around! Looking over at ScaFell it looked crowded - like a birthday cake with lots of candles. As we ran to the shelter at the bottom of Great Gable I could make out an old man sitting leaning on his wooden stick and I knew exactly who it was. The annoyance of Great End and losing time went and I had a big grin and was more than happy to stop and spend time chatting to Joss Naylor. He was supporting some guys doing his challenge at 50. He thought it was great us doing the Cumbrian Traverse and wished us well. He thought we'd be up GG in 40 minutes - we took 34 - yes! He must have spurred us on. We knew this was going to be a real slog, its such a huge majestic fell. I felt a bit dizzy and nauseous going up but once on the top felt better. The dog was not fine and lagging. We ran on, Ali doing her ace descending as usual down the rocky path to Windy Gap and up Green Gable. It was great we were still running well as we took Brandreth, Grey Knotts and managed to make up 9 minutes. Adele doing amazing after her sub-4 London marathon 2 weeks before. Then the descent to Honister, again Ali dancing down ahead.
Great to see everyone again and fuel up. Adele ate an enormous bagel which I couldn't have stomached, opting for Alison's home made savoury cake. Ten minutes and up we got, we were now only 15 minutes behind schedule . The dog keeled over and got in the back of Rod's car.
The ascent and traverse to the bottom of High Spy was enjoyable but climbing up was a killer. It seemed to go on and on and I felt dizzy again. I realised I'd not had much to eat all day. Once that was over (and 'we'd cracked it now') it was a lovely trot over to Maiden Moor and the final summit of Cat Bells. All the crowds had gone so it was nice to have it all to ourselves, still with the amazing views and lovely sunshine we'd had all day. It was in some way sad to leave the fells behind. We ran the home straight strong, Adele setting a pace that we had to rein in. Through Portinscale, over the bridge and up the high street of Keswick, holding hands in a line so stumbling to Moot Hall. Where were our clapping crowds? It was actually nice to have the final moment together, a huddle of joy, tears, relief, pride, of Glossopdale Ladies having another great day on the hills. And we were 5 minutes up!
Three minutes later and a female BGer runs up in a great 20/21 hours. Right. Thats us next then.
Driving back in the dark over Dunmail and we see three runners just descending Steel Fell and a huddle of BG supporters for their 4th leg up. (The next day I learn it was probably Dave Sleith, the oldest man to complete.) And so it goes on. This amazing fell running thing. These amazing fell running people. This amazing fell running feeling. Pure magic.