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Planner’s Comments

One of the benefits of planning is the opportunity and incentive to get outside and get to know a beautiful area of Cumbria really well. From the snow and ice of the New Year, (including falling into an icy and orange-coloured bog), sunny but cold days in early spring, back to sleet in April then ‘hot enough to fry eggs’ days in May to the rainy and cold June I have had the pleasure of observing the Wasdale Fells in all their variety and glory. I have discovered and explored small pockets of incredible beauty, watched raptors float around the crags and laughed at new-born lambs staggering around. Listening to the songs of such nationally rare birds as skylarks, cuckoos and yellowhammers, as I drank clean water from the streams I was in awe of the luxury of having such an area on our doorstep.

The limitations of access added to the challenge of planning and forced me to take lines across the hills that I would not have anticipated originally. Avoiding damage and disturbance to sensitive areas made some courses less than ideal from a runner’s and navigator’s point of view, however it is important for both ourselves and future generations that we protect and respect the delicate ecosystems that make this area unique.

For those who might be interested in the planning process here is a brief overview. The course planned first is Wansfell/ Bedafell as this has to take the shortest route to the mid-camp with easy navigation. This places a limiting factor on the start location – hence the long walk this year. Getting the shorter courses out of, and back into, Wasdale Head was the biggest headache. After Wansfell the next course to be outlined is Scafell as this gives the envelope into which the other courses must fit. I wanted as many courses as possible to go round the south of Wastwater to avoid covering the same ground and take the pressure off the north side. This meant a trek through the fields at the south end of the lake for these courses which involved a different kind of navigation. The mid-camp was in a lovely remote location but there are some areas nearby where access was limited so the routes in and out had to go both north and south and use the forest tracks to some extent. I found the hardest course to plan was Carrock Fell and the easiest was Bowfell. Of course, now that it is all over, I would change some of the courses, for instance I would put more route choice in Klets south of the lake. I would be interested to know if anyone on Scafell etc went from 116 to 148/105 via Eskdale. This choice involves very slightly more ascent but is easier underfoot. The planner’s choices showed that I hate contouring and will go up and over every time, so they are not necessarily the fastest routes!

I spent far more time poring over maps at home than I expected to, as each access limitation that arrived required re-planning the courses until we had the final routes accepted. Then it was a case of getting out on the ground again to check control sites and potential map corrections.

The unpredictable weather leading up to the event caused some sleepless nights as we had to decide whether rivers were crossable or whether courses needed to be altered. I added Control 130 (boulder/sheepfold) at the start and finish of some courses to encourage crossing the beck in Mosedale at a safer place. As it was the water levels fell and the promised heavy rain on Friday didn’t materialise. The weather turned out to be perfect so we were very lucky.

We all had the privilege of spending time in this part of the world and I hope that you enjoyed the weekend as much as I have enjoyed the last six months. I would recommend volunteering as planner for the experience and challenge of the event. The thank-yous from competitors at the finish were much appreciated and make it all worthwhile.

Chris Hall, the controller; Brian Dearnally David Johnstone and Mark Hawker and the rest of the team have been a pleasure to work with and I have learned a lot from them about how an event such as this is put together. It is also good to be associated with an organisation that places such importance on supporting local projects and encourages beginners to take up mountain marathons.

See you all next year – but as a competitor this time!

Jane Hornsby

Planner
Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon