Ages ago I bought a small map from Pete Bland Sports with the route of the Tebay Fell Race on it. Tebay village is just off the M6 J38, and doing a run from there looks very convenient as a ‘stop off’ activity en route north or south.
I set off from my home near Perth to visit family in Yorkshire yesterday with a plan to do a run round the race route on the way. As is usual for me, I didn’t leave home anything like as early as I’d planned, and so I finally set off from Tebay onto the hills to the south of the village at about 14:20.
The route was surprisingly hard to navigate in places, and often slow going on very rough grass with some (mostly dried out) tussocky bogs. Even in the breeze my hands felt like radiators as my body pumped them full of blood to lose as much heat as possible. In the more sheltered places I really cooked.
The best part of the run was the path over Black Force, although I managed to ignore the instruction on the map to find the topmost path and ended up on very loose, steep ground before I slogged up to the correct path.
The route has a real sting in its tail, where it drops to the same level as the start, at the confluence of Carlinggill Beck and Weasel Gill, followed by a steep ‘hands on thighs’ climb up to Blease Fell. I got to the low point, but couldn’t face the steep climb, especially as the bracken is now very well established on those slopes. The race takes place in mid June, when the bracken is probably still just coming through and much less of a hindrance. Instead, I followed the western branch of Weasel Gill, which allowed me to indulge in some scrappy Gill scrambling and plunge my feet in the pools to try and control the overheating. By this time my Camelbak was almost empty too, and I took several deep drinks on the way up, keeping the dehydration at bay.
Because I didn’t get to the summit of Blease fell, I ended up heading back to the start over Hare Shaw and Knott, not Powson Knott as the race route goes, but they’re roughly equidistant, so that wasn’t too bad. It was a relief get back to the car, where more water, banana milkshake and peanut butter sandwiches were waiting.