One thing I love about fell running in the Peak District is how the scenery changes with the seasons.
The last couple of weeks has seen an explosion of Cotton Grass, turning parts of the moors into a shimmering, silver sea.
Although it is now fading, the cotton heads being blown away on the wind like huge dandelion seeds, there was still enough to provide a pretty backdrop for the recent Introduction to Fell Running course held in the Goyt Valley.
Four intrepid women wanted to improve their fell running skills and the varied terrain and hills was a great location giving lots of opportunity to practise running downhill…
and back up again!
Watching each other’s individual styles gave us chance to discuss running techniques, race strategy and fitness training; (I delivered the unwelcome news that the best way to get good at running uphill is to spend lots of time running uphill!) Some map and compass work saw us leaving the path and heading across the moors on a bearing and tough running through the deep mix of bilberry and heather. Smiles all round when we found the path we were aiming for.
The grey cloud of the morning gradually gave way to fairer weather as we reached the valley bottom and the pretty stream but it was lunch time for the midges and so we didn’t linger! Escaping the woods brought respite from the voracious little things and we spend some more time looking and listening as we took turns at playing “guess the runner”
The runners all had a go at estimating distance covered – a vital skill for navigating – by counting the number of paces they took. Backing this up with map work; interpreting the contour lines and other features we ran through the Cotton Grass under high, Cumulus clouds until eventually we arrived back where we had started.