Report from the Hon. Handicapper
Thanks to Colin & Judith’s hospitality at their holiday cottage just off the A1, about 5ish miles from Bamburgh I traveled up to Northumberland Saturday afternoon for this 11 miles and 540m fell race from Rothbury. For a fell race those figures don’t seem too tough in terms of ascent per mile but that doesn’t tell the whole story. A mid week covering of snow on the local fells followed by a thaw meant conditions underfoot were extremely wet. After a couple of miles on tracks, the route gets serious with a loop of 7 ish miles of moorland terrain and forest paths where it was a constant battle against the terrain, slipping and sliding across waterlogged paths.
The highest point of the loop is the summit of Simonside at 429m. The section before this proved to be the hardest part of the race, through the heather and an innocuous stream crossing which proved to be anything but, as I sank down, waist deep in the freezing water! Once the Simonside summit was passed the strong side wind was buffeting you off the narrow path. Back along the ridge the descents on the eastern side still had deep snow drifts at least a foot deep. I was thankful when I reached the end of the loop and could descend the outward journey back to Rothbury. Did I enjoy it? hmm afterwards perhaps.. it was hard work, so it was good in a masochistic way!
Race headquarters at the Newcastle House Hotel served Wharfebank beer, so it had to be tested to see if it traveled well.
Full results to the NFR site here., 1st David Beech, NFR 1:26:14, 1st Lady Karen Robertson, NFR 1:43:17: myself 7th (2nd v45), 1:33:18, 71st Colin Best 2:14:39. Photos via the Northumberland FR site here.