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Fearsome Fellsman Foils Fab Four

May 5, 2017

Peat Bogs, Bean Stew and a Birthday – but Fellsman foils Fab Four

Datum’s fab four have taken on the challenge of a lifetime – only to be foiled by the fearsome Fellsman.

Our intrepid team set off determined to tackle one of the toughest outdoor challenges in the UK but fell 13 miles short of the finish line.

The Fellsman is a grueling event with competitors faced with completing 61 miles and 11,000 feet across the Yorkshire Dales.

Gareth Bradshaw led the Datum team with Chris Fielding Dave Pilkington and Aidan Taylor fresh from the success of their Three Peaks challenges in April.

Read the Datum’s team tale of the Fellsman.

Gareth Bradshaw Fellsman Diary

Aidan, Chris and I decided at the end of last year that we needed a bit of a challenge, so we decided to target the Fellsman Challenge and talked Dave Pilkington into joining our team.

For those of you who may not be aware, the Fellsman is a gruelling 61 mile course over the Yorkshire Dales. It takes in 11,000 feet and is regarded as ” a challenge of a lifetime”.

We had done a little practice run earlier in April over the Yorkshire Three Peaks, so how hard could it be? After all, it was only going to be the same again….plus a bit!

So, the big day arrives and we all meet at  05:00. Mrs B has done full round of sausage butties, kits loaded up and we get a lift to the start point for kit check over at Ingleton. We arrive at 06:00, the kit check goes well and Dave scores some extra points by leaving his new compass in the sealed packet much to the bemusement of the guy checking the kit.

All 373 of us are ready to go, the organisers reiterate some rules and issue an amber warning for “sun-burn” of all things, then the whistle blows and we’re off at 08:30 across the back field of the community centre.

The hard core guys go like bullets out of guns and the walking bunch, like ourselves, at a nice easy pace. Half-an-hour or so in and the line has spread which resembles an ant trail leading into the distance.

The first peak was Ingleborough at 2,373′ and only  3.8 miles in but the sky is clear and hopes are high. We went down to Hill Inn next then off up to Whernside and an impressive 2419′ and 8.9 miles covered. That’s the two of the three Yorkshire peaks done our practice had paid off!

The route then drops us off down into Kingsdale where we fill up on home made flapjack at the food stop then it’s a climb up  Gragareth (2058′) and great Coum (2250′) and our half marathon is up at 13.5 miles.

A bit of down hill thankfully to Flintergill (1150′) and into Dent Village for a well earned food stop of glorious sausage rolls beans and a glug of Yorkshire tea!

Fed and watered, we traverse up Blea Moor (1756′) punch in at 24.8 miles then past one of our old favourite jobs Blea Moor Shaft Ice Summit and then down back into Dentdale for another food stop at Stone House (840′) 27.8 miles in.

From there its a long and slow incline to Great Knountberry at 2203′ where I manage to fall on my backside in the lovely peat bog much to the amusement of everyone else. Pride in tatters its down hill then to Redshaw (1434′) just over half way at 32.1 miles, fill up on hot dogs, cheese and tomato soup before pulling on the extra layers as the night starts to draw in and we hit dusk.

From there its a quick climb up to Snaizeholme fell (1650′) which we hit in the dark, then up and on to Dodd Fell (2189′) though our pace was slowing as darkness hampers our navigation efforts – and we take a wrong turn which cost us an extra 300 metres or so.

Mistake corrected and we enjoy bean stew some 37.7 miles in at Fleet Moss (1910′) and set off through a peat bog where I celebrated my 42 birthday to a full chorus of Happy Birthday!

We reached Middle Tongue (2109′) 2/3 of the way in now at 42.4 miles but there are cracks appearing in the team as the days events take it toal.

We eventually reached the well named Hells Gap (1476′) 43.2mile and our youngest member was retired due to fatigue. Whilst he received a quad bike ride past the rest of us down to the next road stop at Cray (1376′) 44.8 miles where mulled on what to do and decided like the musketeers “all for one and one for all” that we should all retire at this point, some 19 hours after we started out.

A little disappointed,  a little relieved, certainly a little tired, we all climbed aboard the bus back to Upper Wharfedale, for yes, more scran a full English, and a long overdue kip on the hall floor whilst we waited for Mrs B to collect us all.

Would I try it again next year yes and no ? we’ll have to wait and see as after all its unfinished business in Yorkshire !

* See more pictures of the Fellsman’s challenge at Datum’s Facebook page