Friday, 26 February 2016

Thomas Theyer Fell Race Recce

A little while ago, a friend posted on Facebook about a fell race which was to be held in the local village of Combs in April 2016 - The Thomas Theyer Fell Race.  I instantly pricked my ears as I love running in that area and decided to look into the details.

The race is a 10k fell run from the Whitehall Centre

"The route goes out of Whitehall along the lane towards Whaley, until Wythenlache Farm, right down the lane/track to the end, turn left on to anther lane over ladder hill and left on to track past Tunstead Farm, left on to lane, left through Ladder Hill Woods re- joins the original route but then will turn right through Lower Thorny Lee Farm into Combs village then right through Rye Flatt and back up to Whitehall" 

(map and route summary from the Thomas Theyer Fell Race Facebook page)

The race is being held in memory of Thomas Theyer, an 18 year old fell runner from the Peak District who tragically lost his life while out running in 2013.  

On February 25th 2016 I went on a recce of the route with my friend Helen and her dog Summer.  I borrowed my running dog - Skye (who belongs to my friend Becca) and off we went.  What a beautiful day! Crisp and cold but sunny with a cloud inversion looking back at Whaley Bridge and beyond. 

We set off from the Beehive Pub in Combs village - a good starting point for the parking and a good finishing point for the food and drinks! - and headed towards the hill over to Dove Holes up Ridge Lane.  I had opted for full-on Fell Shoes and was wearing my Inov-8 Mudclaws as a precaution for the muddy sections.  

We soon turned right onto a farm track and headed for the second footpath sign to the right, which headed as the crow flies towards the Whitehall Centre.  Once over a stile we were into a boggy field where I was glad of my sensible footwear!  We crossed a couple of streams over footbridges then headed for the buildings at Broadlee Farm.  We kept the dogs on leads through these field sections as there were lots of preggo sheep around.  

The section through the farm then onto the footpath up to Whitehall was tricky to find and we ended up asking a lady at the farm - I assume this will be well marked for the race.  Basically, we headed towards the driveway of the farm then turned immediately left up a steep hill past the tree and followed the path through 2 gates.  This bit was quite steep and some people will probably walk this bit (I won't!)  We continued in the general direction we had been heading and eventually saw Whitehall, it was really easy going then as we turned right onto Old Road and headed for the cutting in the rocks. Heading through the cutting you can see Wythen Lache Farm and beautiful views of the Goyt Valley to the left as you drop down the hill.

At this point of our run I was wishing I had a pair of Roclites (more of a cushioned trail shoe) as my Mudclaws are a bit hard for the road and my toes were suffering slightly (even with vaselined toes).  We came to Wythen Lache and turned right following the bridleway NE to the gate then down the track to a spring.  This is an excellent track for mountain biking - a favourite route of mine.  We kept following the track to a bottom gate at Thorny Lee when the track turns into a tarmac road.  We followed the road steeply downhill then turned left and headed up another rocky track onto Ladder Hill.  

The views to the right of Combs reservoir are lovely but we had to dodge some massive puddles/fords so didn't spend long view-gazing!  The track continued to be relatively flat and then dropped down a rocky decent to Old Road.  Turning left,  we started the longish climb up the road (with the Goyt Valley now on our right hand side) where we eventually forked left up to the woods.  

Continuing uphill, we came to the top of the hill and descended

over and down through reeds to where the spring was located on the track earlier in the run.  Turning left we retraced our steps to the bottom gate at Thorny Lee and instead of continuing down the tarmac road, we turned right down to a farm and through a gateway (with a squeeze-past-able stone pillar to the left).  This field had a couple of horses in who didn't bother us as we descended down the muddy land towards the bottom gate. 

Once through the gate we turned right and followed the road onto Long Lane which brought us uphill back to the pub.  The route according to Strava was just over 10k and had taken us around an hour and a half max.  On race day I am hoping to do the route in as close to 1 hour as possible, so that will be my aim.

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