Leg 3: to Dunmail (August attempt)
Lead Navigator (Mac) arrives at Dunmail just behind Colin Jones
Breakfast done and I am off with Colin Jones (with Mac & Sandy, the trail hounds who will actually do the navigation), Alastair Murray, Phil Cheek and Annette Morris who is going to meet us at Esk Hause with more food and drink. Climbing Scafell is as hard as it was the first time, perhaps harder and although the pace is a little more gentle we are still ahead at the summit where the cold strong northerlies are particularly unpleasant. Despite the effort of the climb I struggle to keep warm and turning at the summit the wind almost blows me backwards over the cairn.
Dropping down to Foxes Tarn gets us out of the wind eventually but I still add another layer because we won't be out of the wind for very long. Phil constantly reassures that the climbing pace is more than fast enough and ensures I am eating and drinking at every opportunity. Back up to Mickledor and into the wind over Scafell Pike and we have just done about 4000 feet in under 3 miles. Broad Crag and Ill Crag are reached easily and the better weather allows us to edge ahead of the June time and stay ahead of the schedule. Great End marks the end of the really rough ground and an opportunity to start jogging again. Turning towards Esk Pike we can see Annette sheltering at the start of the climb as the Langdale Pikes appear on the skyline - another distraction not to be thought about while they are that far ahead.
Bright sunshine accompanies us up Esk Pike as the climb reveals views into Upper Eskdale, surely the very best of the Lakeland valleys. Looking back the Scafells are bathed in sunshine and can the views can be savoured - we've been there and can afford to look long and enjoy it. Bowfell provides a blast of cold air at the summit as if to remind us that we can't be hanging about enjoying the views. By now I think I have eating and drinking about sorted, not too much food at once and plenty of water in between the carb drinks.
Rossett Pike marks a change in terrain, no more rocky ground and plenty of runnable paths and grass between the summits but it also marks the beginning of a long stretch to Pike O'Stickle. This is about halfway now and in June the effort made to get here is begining to tell on my legs. Only a determined effort during the approach to Pike O'Stickle allows me to reach the summit on schedule. Colin senses I am beginning to tire and accompanies me to the summit with words of encouragement. Revived, a little, I get to Harrison Stickle just ahead of schedule and Thunacar Knott exactly on schedule, just as in June. I am slowing down now and can't quite keep up with the schedule. This is a long leg and all the hard(est) work is at the beginning but it is at the end the price is paid. Sergeant Man and High Raise pass without incident and we take a route of Phil's to Calf Crag and now only Steel Fell and its descent are left before Dunmail.
I am not unhappy about slipping behind the schedule; 24 hours is the objective, after all, and Colin reminds me about how good the position I am in actually is. Tiring , sure, but with plenty of time to get along the Dodds before tackling the final three. We are aboout twenty minutes down arriving at Dunmail.