Dave Wotton and Richard Slack have been out on the fells again – this time at Simonside. Richard sends this report:
After a Saturday wine tasting I was well carb loaded for a Sunday fell race. Last Sunday was Hexhamshire Hobble and today was Simonside. The Simonside Cairns race, approx. 11 miles and 1,800 foot of ascent is organised by Northumberland Fell Runners and takes in a beautiful, if boggy (in parts), route from Rothbury over the Simonside hills with a high point of the Simonside Cairn at 430m or in old money 1411 feet.
So Sunday morning dawned with blue sky and light winds as I made my way to the registration at Rothbury for the very civilised 11am start where I met fellow Claremonter Dave Wotton. The race starts and finishes in the middle of the village and heads off over the River Coquet before the first uphill on the road section past the hospital. With a little bit of height gained, the route turns off the road and onto rough track and then bridleway gaining height all the time. Leaving the bridleway after about 2 miles we then head directly uphill onto the Simonside Hills all the while following St Oswald’s Way. With superb visibility the views over the Northumberland countryside were glorious. The route makes it was past Spylaw towards Coquet Cairn through a mix of open moorland and forestry plantations.
Shortly after Coquet Cairn, Simonside comes into view across a boggy area with some duckboards. The duckboards may seem an aide but slippery wood is not an ideal running surface so the advice is to stick to the bog and generally avoid a route of it’s a knockout on the wood. There is a stiff pull to the top of Simonside followed by classic ridge running of ups and down along slabbed ground. Great for us road runners. A few steep stepped downhill sections test the footing before rejoining St Oswald’s Way to retrace the last couple of miles back to Rothbury but this time all downhill! Back at Rothbury for soup for all runners, at the Newcastle Hotel, and then the journey home.
A great day out and pleased with a time of 1.54.21, inside my goal of sub 2 hours.
80th 1:54:26 Richard Slack
96th 2:07:02 Dave Wotton