The Edale Skyline is a 24 mile circular run around the stunning vale of Edale in the Peak District. With over 5000ft of elevation, the route summits Win Hill, Kinder Scout, Brown Knoll, Rushup Edge, Mam Tor, Black Tor and Lose Hill.
I’d been planning a visit to the Peak District for a few weeks. With Lakes in a Day less than 7 weeks away, I knew I had the distance in my legs but it’s the elevation that’s the real challenge and difficult to replicate living in Worcestershire. Last weekends visit to the Black Mountains was a good test of fitness and the Edale Skyline would prove to be just as challenging.
I was joined by clubmates Nick and Karen – who will also be taking on Lakes in a Day for the first time and Paul, whom I’d got speaking to on the official Facebook Page; ‘RUN it in a Day’. This years event would be his second time, completing the course in 2017. The forecast was a bit hit and miss, with showers and high winds forecast throughout the day – although comparable to what we should expect to see in the Lakes in October.
Our route started at the train station carpark in Edale. Allowing for the 2 hour drive, we arranged to meet at 8am for an 8:15am start. Introductions and kit sorted, we headed out of Edale and started the long climb up to the ridgeline.
The official route takes you up towards Ringing Roger – a popular zigzagged route with well defined tracks. Somehow, we managed to go off-piste and found ourselves following a narrow, muddy trail through heather towards the ridgeline. A tougher route but nonetheless still takes you up to the ridgeline I suppose! It was on this climb that I first started having issues with my running poles and race pack. It was my first time using the two together and on several occasions I felt the poles becoming unattached and hanging down. I’d secure them, carry on for a short while, only for them to unclip themselves. I eventually used the bungee chord to fix them to the pack – a solution of sorts but it meant a right faff if I wanted to use them. As a result, I never did and they stayed attached to my race pack for the entire run. A lesson best learnt in a training run and not an official race I suppose!
Once we reached the ridgeline, we were greeted with spectacular views of the route we’d be running and set off in an anti-clockwise direction towards Kinder Low.
The next few miles were a joy to run. Conditions underfoot were mainly hard packed trails, rocks and stone. Weather conditions had changed however and we were greeted with gale force winds, driving rain and fog. Despite this, we made steady progress as we navigated the trails, crossing rivers and waterfalls before reaching Kinder Low and the boulder fields. There was something mysteriously eerie about this section, navigating through the giant boulders with limited visibility. Conditions underfoot had changed from hard packed trails to saturated grassy tracks with thick muddy sections – which in some places was ankle deep.
From here we headed towards Brown Knoll which at 1,866ft is one of the highest peaks in the Peak District. Conditions underfoot had changed again to moorland vegetation and it was difficult picking up the single-file trails in the landscape and limited visibility.
The next few miles were runnable – and mainly downhill. Underfoot we were greeted with large flagstones which were a delight to run on and we ticked off a few miles just as the sun made an appearance. It felt good to stretch the legs out on this section. Before long we started the climb towards Rushup Edge and Lord’s Seat. It was around here that we bumped into another clubmate of ours – Abi – who was enjoying the trails as part of a group run. It was a lovely surprise and great to see her in her element!
With the fog clearing we were blessed with wonderful views across the ridge with Mam Tor, Lose Hill and Win Hill clearly seen in the distance.
Mam Tor is one of the most popular places to visit in the Peak District and with easy access via the National Trust carpark, it get extremely busy. With the exception of the odd dog walker, hiker or runner, we’d had very little interaction with anyone else up on the fells until this point. The climb up to Mam Tor, at 1,696ft isn’t too challenging with stoned steps marking the way. Once at the summit, the route then undulates on runnable tracks up and over Lose Hill before dropping off the ridge towards Hope.
It was in Hope that we made a slight error of judgement, passing through a gate which took us on the wrong side of the River Noe. After a quick regroup and taking a map bearing, we retraced our steps back to the gate and were soon back on track – no harm done.
The climb up to Win Hill at 1515ft was a bit of a slog. Conditions had changed once again and we were challenged with high winds and heavy rain – the rain only stopping once we reached the summit. From the summit, it was a gentle run for a few miles following a stone wall, across some fields and on hard packed tracks before starting the last climb of the day.
The weather had changed yet again and we were now blessed with gale forced winds and driving rain as we made our way up single file tracks in amongst the heather. The pace had slowed to a fast hike as we made our way back up to the ridgeline. As bleak as the conditions were, I really enjoyed this section with the occasional glimpse of Mam Tor and Lose Hill on the other side of the ridge when the fog cleared. Climbing the narrow trail, navigating through heather and boulders in extreme conditions added to the adventure. It was definitely a heads down, put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward strategy.
Once back up on the ridgeline, it was a mile or so before we reached our starting point and the route back down to Edale.
This time we decended down Ringing Roger which given we had 24 miles in the legs by this stage, was a tough ask on my already aching quads and calves! I find downhill running so much harder than uphill’s!
We made it back to the carpark covering 24.4miles with 5,121ft of elevation in 5.59 moving time.
Fitness wise, I felt fine with both the distance and elevation and felt I had more in the tank at the finish line. My Achilles and lower calf, although aching, didn’t cause me too much discomfort and with plenty of ice and stretching felt fine post run.
Another brilliant day out on the fells with great company.
I’m already planning the next adventure.