Thursday, July 06, 2006

Leg 4: Dunmail to Threlkeld

About 15 minutes or so down leaving Dunmail for Seat Sandal eating a slab of Chris Heys' famous chocolate covered flapjack (thanks, Chris). Seat Sandal is slower than I would have liked, slower than my recces and slower than the schedule then the descent is tricky on steep wet grass and rocks, more than one slip occurs as we make for Fairfield. Cloudbase is well below the tarn and route choices are restricted to easiest to follow (or find in some instances) but the weather appears to relent a little as come off Fairfield in drifting, broken clag but no rain. Dollywagon is reached but almost 20 minutes slower than the schedule.

The weather is deteriorating and our head torches start to create a virtual white-out in the rain as the light just reflects straight back off the rain drops. Nethermost, Helvellyn, Lower Man, Whiteside and Raise are all 'ticked off' but the pace is deteriorating almost as fast as the weather. The Dodds pass in a blur until the drop off from Great Dodd allows what seems like a reasonable trot towards Clough Head and the descent out of the worst of the weather. Now I realise just how slow this leg has been and that if the conditions are as bad on the final leg I am unlikely to be anywhere near the Moot Hall at 08:00.

Reaching in the cars at 03:37 I am 99 minutes down having lost 85 minutes on this leg. Now I know, now I really understand just what the weather can do. The consolation, if there is any to be had, is that the Clayton team took around the same time to reach Sticks Pass and probably did this leg only about 15, maybe 20, minutes faster which must have been a good way behind their schedule too.

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