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Rough guide to the Long Tour of Bradwell/Oh Dear!

Cave Dale over Castleton, Derbyshire.

Cave Dale over Castleton, Derbyshire.

This weekend is my second race in the last 10 months.  10 months.

In that time I’ve spent most of my days sitting down.  I’m getting really good at it.  You might say that since I’ve spent a good seven days a week sitting/standing about, that I’ve ‘trained’ myself to stay still in the same way I trained for running six days a week last year.

Explains why the Trail Rush was so difficult last weekend.

That was 15 miles.  This weekend is the Long Tour of Bradwell.  This race is 33 miles long.  More to the point, this is the profile.

Good grief.

Good grief.

So I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.  But I’m doing it anyway.  Not fast, not for glory – but to FINISH.

We’ll see how it goes of course, but as long as I don’t DNF like 2012, or bash my face against a wall like 2013, I should be able to walk away with a smile on my face.  It is, after all,  a fantastic course with stunning scenery and views across my favourite part of the world.

Here then, is my quick guide to tackling the LTOB:  Click map to check the route in more detail.

One big 'circle' of hill.

One big ‘circle’ of hill.

From the off – through the cement works, you’ll climb.  Checkpoint one arrives in no time offering a false sense of progress, but take it steady.  Checkpoint two, top of the hill – you cross a stile into Cave Dale.  SLIPPERY(not just the stile either!) take care here, it’ll have you turning ankles and sliding if you go quicker than you are able.  If in doubt – plod.

Castleton – Hollins Cross, just steep up again.  Down the other side, Cows!  Keep your distance, but if you can afford to, head straight through the farm, rather than following the snaking path that takes you wide.  The driveway reaches Edale Rd, but just before you veer right, take the footpath straight on and through a gate, which is opposite another that leads on into Edale Village via a few field and passes under the railway.  FILL UP YOUR WATER REGARDLESS.  There’s no more until after Lose Hill*

Through the village(where I saw Jarvis Cocker walking his dog during the 2012 race) and up the zig zag path on Ringing Roger.  Trod right, round the top of the Clough and level out on the edge path.  When you spot a broken drystone wall to your left, turn uphill and the rough trod swings right, leading you straight to the druid stone and checkpoint 5.  Retrace your steps and when you reach the same junction between wall and edge path, go straight down and off the side of the hill.  STEEP.  careful on those giant steps down the crag and watch those quads during the massive descent.  Easy does it.  Lots of wet grass here that’ll have you on your backside/face.

Once back at Edale Rd, following a snaky track and a stoney driveway it’s right, then left and up the farm road to Back Tor.  This, along with the ridge(checkpoint) to Lose Hill summit will test you further.  Off the hill and through many gates until a left turn comes out at Edale Rd(again) and into checkpoint 7.  *DRINK.

Win Hill doesn’t have to be topped, but it is a winding road section, followed by steep climb(Cows!) around its edge nonetheless.  If you’re less than superhuman, walk until the grassy single track levels out.

Single track on Win Hill.

Single track on Win Hill.

Down again(hurrah) and an eventual right turn(checkpoint) brings you to Ladybower Reservoir.  Halfway point(ish) is soon after.  Veering left and down steps into a field, you cross toward the weir and checkpoint 10 is on the bridge itself.

Normally you’d head up Bamford Edge via the ‘escalator’, a very steep path that turns from gravel to concrete and undulates as it reaches the road to Stanage.  This year there’s a deviation and the route heads round a South Easterly detour and back up to join the route beneath the Stanage Track.

Stanage is the slow hop skip and jump gradually uphill til you reach Burbage.  Then you can start running!  Freshly renovated in 2013, the main path is my go-to route through the Burbage Valley.  Faster and easier under foot with less chance of bog or a good soaking, but you have three choices, left, right or valley bottom.

Then across the A6187 into Padley Gorge.  When you reach a wide section next to where everyone paddles and eats ice cream(I know – crazy), take the high ground so you’re running along the tree line over the stream to your left(you can’t see it, but you know it’s there.  Follow the trod through gates and into a dead end corner, where the gate leads to a steep bank and into the woods.  Turn right and follow the trail.

Another steep drop(nick named the ski slope) and across a bridge over the railway and beyond.  Fields and a nice wide trail/tractor tracks lead to the edge of the River Derwent.  Along this, til you emerge at the B6001 checkpoint.  5 miles to go….

Pass the Plough Inn, take second right and up the ‘shallow’ incline.  Single lane road weaves upward until you take the right fork just ahead of a hairpin left.  this becomes a tractor track and crosses fields, through gates and into wooded rail.  You are now following a narrow trail that undulates and often wets out with ground water from the surrounding hills.  When you eventually reach Stock Ford, a second alteration for 2014 involves walking through the stream to avoid a bridge that may collapse if overloaded.  Ahh well, if you’d kept your feet dry until now, then good for you.

Once this trail has finished taking you up through lumpy bumpy Cow trods(more Cows!), you pass a gate with dangerous metal spike sticking out if I recall(careful) and into Abney village.  Left, along and right onto Duper Lane.  Depressingly uphill, depressingly steep, depressingly slow – if like me your legs have given up the chase.  This year, I expect to thoroughly hate this Lane.

Left at the end, along a dirt track and through a gate on the left in the drystone wall, leading over the last little hill and descending down a wooded single track that lumps and bumps its way down to Bradwell(if it’s been wet, this can be thick mud – clinging to shoes in heavy clumps) and fetches you out after a sudden switch left, onto the road(Edge Lane).  Right through a set of steps to the B6049.  Summon up the last dregs of ground speed as you pelt through the village toward the Pavilion(car park/race HQ), overlooked by supporters/drinkers at the Samuel Fox Country Inn.

You have finished.

Grippy shoes are probably best, as there are plenty of steep sections, mainly off-road and in places very slippery(Limestone’s slippy anyway, but there’s mud and grass that can get pretty slick).

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