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2010 – Planner’s Comments

Looking down to the overnight camp in Longsleddale

Overnight camp in Longsleddale

My original courses sent all classes out to the north of Wet Sleddale and brought them back via Shap Fells to the south. However, the southern area is managed for the breeding of grouse and the land manager had concerns that breeding might be delayed following the harsh winter and withdrew access to the area immediately south of the event centre. This meant that all Day 2 courses would have to come in from the north and most, if not all would be on or crossing land used on Day 1 which was far from ideal.

Re-routing all Day 2 courses through Ralfland Forest to accommodate the loss of Shap Fell brought concerns from Natural England regarding the number of competitors passing through this area as it is the most successful breeding area in the Lakes for merlin, short eared owls and other ground nesting birds. The end result was a compromise that favoured the birds but gave us limited access for some courses on Day 2.

Natural England was also concerned about a colony of rare mountain butterflies located below High Raise. Rather than make the butterfly location out of bounds an agreement was reached that no controls would be placed in the area and that controls immediately outside it would be placed to “encourage” competitors to gain the High Raise ridge early rather than contour below it. The exclusion of Riggindale was, of course, because of the eagle whilst Blea Water was out of bounds due to merlin and fragile flora.

The constraints detailed above along with the limited (300m) gap between Swindale Foot and Tailbert Head and the even narrower gap between Naddle and Burnbanks (ie the bridleway) produced the shape of all the courses. I would have liked much more variation in leg lengths and more route choice than I was able to give you.

Sadly, control 124 on Gatescarth Pass went missing on Saturday and we have no explanation for this other than vandalism. On Sunday there were allegations that control 127 (bridleway above Swindale Foot) was missing. However, the control was there for both early and late arrivals and was still there, correctly sited, on Tuesday when I collected it. The control was clearly visible on the bridleway junction and not hidden in any way. If you did not find it, you were clearly in the wrong place.

Finally, an apology to Bedafell and Wansfell competitors. A pet hate of mine on mountain marathons is a long stony track run in and I gave you one on both days.

And finally, finally a thank you to my long term mountain marathon partner Joe Howard who became an essential part of the planning team.

Brian Dearnaley