The other day I planned a long run around Kinder Scout. I’ve been building my training slowly, in between lurgies, job hunting and driving around the country visiting loved ones. This was to be my first proper long run since Lavaredo.
Weather was set fair but as always I packed a vest with extra kit just in case. Waterproof top and bottoms, my Rab synthetic gilet (possibly the most useful piece of kit I own), and a headtorch.
Why the headtorch? Well….. I’m not great at getting up early and I’d had to do 2 pre-5am alarm calls over the weekend so I wasn’t in a hurry to get up! Which of course has a knock on effect at the other end of the day.
Cheese and pickle sarnies packed, dog in car and we were off. A sharp shower started just as I arrived so I put my jacket straight on. I parked at the bottom of Mam Tor and we were off, straight up the first little incline before whizzing down the other side into Edale.
The rain stopped quite quickly and I got very warm so stopped to take off my jacket as I knew there was a stiff climb out of Edale the other side. The sun was shining and it was glorious up there.
I was exploring a bit today and although I started out along a bit of my favourite Edale Skyline, I was planning to cut across Edale Moor and down towards the Snake Inn.
The plan then was to run along the Snake Path back towards the Pennine Way and then rejoin the Skyline back round to Mam Tor. Sounds easy doesn’t it!
As Mac and I trotted round I realised how windy it was up there. In the live shots of Mac, his ears are flapping madly. But the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.
We successfully negotiated our way round and passed Madwoman’s Stones (no comments please!) and reached Blackden Edge.
I have never been round this side before and it was just as stunning as the Edale side. Lots of wonderful rock formations and yet so much quieter – I saw one person for the rest of my time there before reaching the Pennine Way much later.
Eventually I came to the path I would take down Gate Side Clough towards the Snake Inn. It involved a bit of scrambling over rocks (does that count towards qualifying for one of the Sky races?!) then down a very steep bit of grassy, rocky ground.
There was a faint path though and as the descent became less severe, I started running again.
BAM! My ankle turned, made a horrible snapping sound and immediately filled my body with excruciating pain. I went down on my arse as my other leg slipped out from under me when all my weight was thrown on it.
I think we all know that feeling don’t we. That deep throbbing pain, makes me feel sick in my stomach, and I’m clutching my ankle, thinking the quicker it fades, the less severe it will be…. come on…. come on.
Eventually it eased off. Mac had come to lay next to me, bless him. I lay there for a minute considering my options.
I looked at my watch. 7.5 miles and 2 hours from the car. I looked at my map. I couldn’t be further away from the car if I’d tried! There was no direct route back – I couldn’t see any other direct paths back across Edale Moor and I wasn’t going to be testing the open moorland.
Time for a cheese and pickle sarnie. And my jacket. The wind was unrelenting and I was quickly getting cold. I shared my sandwich with Mac as the nausea was still there and I didn’t fancy the rest.
I also got my medical kit out of my vest and the small, self adhesive bandage kept in there. It was a long way home whichever way I took so I’d need some support. I also took an ibuprofen to stem the swelling.
A good 15/20 minutes had passed. Time to test the ankle and get up. It was sore but ok. Going on definitely wasn’t an option so I had to climb back up the clough. It was slow going but I got there and considered my options again.
Retracing my steps was shorter but also involved descending into and ascending out of Edale. Going on around Seal Edge meant I was cutting the corner slightly from my original, longer, route, but I felt staying on the Edge, which was relatively flat, would be easier on my ankle. I would just hike back.
So that’s what I did. Within a mile I had to stop again though. That wind was cold and relentless and I decided to put everything I had on in order to stay warm. Over trousers, gilet under the jacket and beanie all went on and to my relief I felt much warmer.
As I trudged my way round the Edge feeling very sorry for myself, I began to think What If? What if my sprain had been much worse? What if the weather had been worse? What if I hadn’t been able to move? What were the worst possible circumstances I could imagine, and would I have been prepared for it?
If my injury had been worse, I think I would have tried to continue down the clough to the road and looked for help either from a passing car or the Inn.
If I had been miles from civilisation, I could have called for help. Randomly that one spot on the hillside was the only time I had reception on the phone until I got back round to Kinder Scout.
But what if I’d had no reception? Well, I have set my Garmin tracker to auto start on any activity which is sent through to a designated friend. As it happened that friend was abroad, but realistically, it would have taken them a long time to call the alarm.
And given that the tracker uses mobile reception to send data, and knowing how often my tracker drops because of the lack data in so many of the areas I run in, how long would it have taken them to raise the alarm?
As it happened, I’d sent this friend my planned route purely out of interest so I like to think they would have realised fairly quickly something was up.
What if the weather was shocking? Freezing rain? I definitely wasn’t prepared for that. I was just about ok if I kept moving and was regretting not throwing my gloves in too as my hands were cold.
What if the weather was appalling and I couldn’t move and I had no reception and I had no extra clothing? It’s a scary thought.
All things considered, I think I did ok. How could I have been better prepared? I could have thrown a warm layer in the vest; a bivvy bag and gloves. Basically, the mandatory kit most races ask you to carry.
Of course I made it back to the car (just before the sun went to bed) and I’d managed an extra 13 miles and even raised a bit of a jog across the flagstones on Brown Knoll. And the ankle is grumbling but ok and it will be fine with a few days rest.
So I ask you, dear reader, to ask yourself “what if…” next time you plan an adventure. Ask yourself what if the very worst possible scenario that you can think of happens and would you be prepared for it?