Trip Report: The Duddon Short

Trip Report: The Duddon Short

“Ah the Duddon, never really been there.

Me neither, long route or the less long route?

We’ll do the shorter one just incase the weather comes in”

And that was how the plan was formed. A quick message round to make sure the usual suspects were all up for it and with some calendar shuffling we set a date. The Duddon fell race has the option of two routes named the long and short, both taking in a section of fells in the slightly quieter Duddon Valley area of the Lake District, we’d chosen the short due to the forecast, a distinct lack of running prior, an illness just before and also a wine tasting.

With Andy meeting us there, the rest of us assembled at the shop and we were soon loading the car. We set off with a slightly worrying “where are we running again?” from Elliot who also happened to be the one behind the wheel, we did however make to the start of the route in Seathwaite and located Andy.

We managed to start in the dry, making our way up into some classic Lakes low autumnal cloud. Quite a large part of the first half of the short route consists of traversing on trods around the lower flanks of the fells we would later run back along the tops of, this led to a conversation about traversing/contouring and how every member of the group hated doing it.

We were making good progress and then the damp air of the low cloud soon filled with rain and we donned our waterproofs, ate some sweets and set off into the clag. We aimed for ‘the wall’, a place Andy told us with just enough confidence to be trusted, would signal our climb up to the highest point on the route; Dow Crag. The rain grew heavier as we splashed our way to the base of the climb where we were indeed met with ‘the wall’ and we set off upwards, hands on thighs, lungs on fire.

The combination of the rain and a steep climb had stifled conversation, this was soon rectified though by the appearance of Andy’s Wonka-esk bag of never ending trail mix. Sprits lifted, Niamh led us up deeper into the clag, a few false summits later and we were met by the wind. Climbing finished we stood in a line, backs to the wind, jackets flapping like a gaggle of mad geese trying to take off. We were able to make good time across the top of Dow, finally able to stretch our legs and pick up some speed after the climb.

We formed a polite queue at the first of the more craggy sections, each of us taking a slightly different approach to getting over various rocks and gaps. The wind picked up and we were soon bouncing off each other as we picked our way carefully through the boulder field to the shelter just off the summit, a quick blast of downhill got us warm and before we knew it we were adding layers in the shelter.

Some more snacks were consumed and Andy handed over the navigational responsibilities to Christy. Ben the Collie’s woofs soon told us we’d stopped for long enough and we set off down off Dow and along the tops back towards White Maiden. We probably reached our top speed of the run on this stretch as the trail opened up and flowed across the summits.

The established trail soon made way for soft, spongy fell side as Christy kept us locked on the bearing, the rain begins to ease and we were soon getting wetter from the splash of 5 people and a dog than the water falling from the sky.

As White Maiden gave us her summit the rain also reached its peak. It runs off our faces as Christy and Andy discuss the best line to our final summit of the day, Caws. Before long we’re back to bouncing down heavily saturated fell side, jumping bogs with mixed success and stopping briefly wipe the rain out our eyes.

Two figures appear out the gloom, the first people we’d seen all day, we exchange pleasantries but we’re soon back on our own and a familiar topic raises it’s head; what food we were going to get at the pub. This passes some time on the climb up Caws, the trig point comes into view and without a word we all increase the pace and make a triumphant assent of the final few meters.

“It’s all downhill from here…” Absolute classic line.

Niamh disappears into the clag first, we give chase, finally feeling hot enough to take off our warm layers. We regroup and shove layers into our vests, finding a trod we head down, dying bracken hiding mud of a perfectly slippery consistency. The Clag seemingly rises and reveals the valley, a patchwork of deep reds, oranges and greens.

The loose gravel gives way to smooth road, Ben the Collie’s claws tap on the tarmac as we round the corner to the cars, their boots soon filled with wet, muddy shoes and screwed up jackets. Dry clothes on we make our way to the pub and finally put into action the plan we’d spoken about the whole way round.

All in all a great Lakeland day out.


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