Navigating

My last run didn’t quite go to plan. I set out late in the morning to do an out-and-back recce of part of the Lakeland 100 route. It’s fairly low-level trails so it should have been easy navigation.

I stuck diligently to the map on the way out and found my paths without too much trouble. But on the way back, tracing my steps was interrupted by tiredness, dehydration and a wandering dog.

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Frank knows the fells pretty well. His Mum and Dad have taken him on many runs in the mountains and he seems to know where we’re going without us talking at all. But Frank is a dog so although it feels safer with him there, he’s not very good at affirming my interpretation of the map.

By this point in the run though, he was pretty happy with the route and comfortable enough with me that he ran further and further ahead. I think I started looking for Frank more than the faint grassy path I was following, but the truth is I was tired and lost my way.

The scary part was I just couldn’t figure out exactly where I was, or where the path was. After what felt like an hour of criss-crossing marshes, I realised the light would fade before I got back to my car even if we did find the path, so we back-tracked to the valley we’d just ascended from.

After calling my boyfriend out last time when we lost our keys on the fells, my pride wouldn’t call for a lift. I spread the map on the road and realised it was only about 12km back to my car and on the road it wouldn’t matter if the light failed. The bad news was it was over the Hardknott Pass.

A red telephone box stood cheerily at the bottom of the pass. There’s no phone signal in the whole of the Eskdale valley. I made a mental note to take coins next time I run. But I could reverse the charges to my parents just so someone would know I was ok when I hadn’t got back from my run. A 10p on the floor outside must have been fate. The vandalism inside almost definitely was. .. I really didn’t need to embarrass myself any further by actually calling someone!

A lovely couple answered my thumb, saving me from the trek over Hardknott, and graciously allowing the muddy collie in their leather-seated car. A few miles on the road under a gorgeous sunset gave a happy ending to an unexpected day.

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