NFRC Lockdown Relay Leg 1: Wythop to Torpenhow
It’s been almost a year since we’ve been able to have any proper social runs or get-togethers as a club and instead we have done a series of virtual challenges, the scope of which has depended on the prevailing covid restrictions. Entering the third lockdown in January definitely felt like the worst one yet, but keen to keep running and keep the club motivated, we borrowed the idea of a lockdown relay from other clubs who had done something similar. The initial plan was to run between members’ houses on a specific day in February, but with members widely spread from isolated farms in the fells right out to the big city (Carlisle), it became clear that it wasn’t feasible to include everyone on a single day. Instead, Natalie came up with an order of play, with each runner being responsible for running from their house to the next member’s house with no specific time or day limit, just to follow the order set out until we got to the end (which was also back where we started).
This is the outline of the legs of the relay:
- Wythop Mill to Torpenhow
- Torpenhow to Boltongate
- Boltongate to Oulton
- Oulton to Carlisle
- Carlisle to North Carlisle
- North Carlisle to West Carlisle
- West Carlisle to Southernby
- Southernby to Caldbeck
- Caldbeck to Little Fellside
- Little Fellside to Hesket Newmarket
- Hesket Newmarket to Little Fellside
- Little Fellside to Calebreck
- Calebreck to Skelton
- Skelton to Mungrisdale
- Mungrisdale to Keswick
- Keswick to Wythop Mill
Runners run alone from their own home carrying a covid-secure mascot in a wipeable bag, which would travel around the whole route. The runner with the mascot leaves it close to the next person’s house for them to go out and retrieve. The runner then takes a photo of the mascot and leaves instructions for the next person on where to find it. The mascot is collected, wiped down and then taken on the next leg of the journey. No car journeys allowed. Runners will try to include some of our local Northern Fells where possible (which probably means a few trips over Binsey and High Pike) and the relay will take as long as it takes.
My leg was first which means I got to choose the mascot. I raided the toybox at home and found a plastic bendable Bugs Bunny, gave him a good wash and then made him a Northern Fells vest and shorts using a (clean) old sock. I put him in a plastic bag with a stash of alcohol wipes for good measure.
Next I had to look at the map; fortunately plotting increasingly outrageous long routes from home has become one of my favourite lockdown pastimes and I’d already designed and run a route from my house up to Binsey, the most northerly of all the Wainwrights. It was just a case of making it go a bit further to Jenny’s house at Torpenhow and – since car journeys are not allowed – back again.Our route took us under Sale Fell, alongside Bassenthwaite Lake and then round the Lake District Wildlife Park where we saw wild boar, lynx, flamingoes, ring tailed lemurs and red pandas. Next we traversed a selection of muddy fields to reach the bottom of Binsey, which we summited about 1.5hrs after setting off. Bugs had a quick photo-op before negotiating more muddy fields and bridleways down to Torpenhow.
We made it to Jenny’s in 2hrs 15mins and the distance was 11 miles. Bugs had a quick photo sitting on Jenny’s wall, then I left him hidden at the top of the farm track and began my journey home, which was slightly shorter at 9 miles, meaning my total distance was 20 miles for the day. It’s been a while since I’ve run that far and even the dog was tired (briefly) when we got home. I’m really looking forward to following the rest of Bugs’ route and hope he can bring a little bit of joy to locked down NFRC runners.