Sunday, 12 February 2012

Do Kenyans do Kenyan hills?

The snow is melting slowly here. Muddy green patches are appearing on the fellsides and the sledge tracks, which are everywhere there's a slope, are gradually widening. Yesterday morning I was out helping train the mountain rescue search dogs. The car park and path to the fells were smooth sheets of ice, so I was glad I had my micro-spikes with me. These are a brilliant invention: slip-on spikey chains for your feet. Walking in them is just like wearing crampons - but without the front points. Wearing them I was able to scamper with total security over the ice. Even the dogs were scrabbling for purchase as they raced around, play-fighting and bringing us lumps of ice to throw for them. Once in position, I lay on my Multimat, looking out over the misty fells and fields and was periodically jumped on by excitable dogs wearing reflective coats and bells. It's really quite a strange experience. You can hear the bell approaching, then you hear the footsteps and the dogs' panting. In a flash, they're on you and, as these were young ones, they jump all over you and lick your face, delighted to see you. When they bark (which is a very important thing for them to do as it alerts the handle that they've found a 'body'; part of the the body's task is to encourage them to bark) you can reward them by playing with them. This can entail throwing a toy for them to retrieve, or playing with a tuggy toy - which most absolutely love - together with lots of petting and stroking. It's about as fun a way to spend a couple of hours in the fresh air as you can imagine. However, there's quite a bit of lying/sitting about to do, which isn't going to make me any fitter, so in the afternoon I resolved to go for a run.
Which is why you would have found me enjoying a Kenyan Hills session yesterday afternoon. The way to the hill followed an icy path along the river before breaking out into open fell. The snow was full of dainty sheep trails - sheep footprints follow pretty much a dead straight line, giving the appearance of a line of perforations in the snow - and the ground around the sweet-smelling hay feeders was well trodden. The ewes are, of course, heavily pregnant at this time (lambing has started further south) and keeping them in good condition is a vital part of the farmer's work. My hill was free of sheep this time and I contributed to the tracks in the snow by running up and down until a combination of fatigue and 'enough already' drove me back home. It wasn't the most earth-shattering of runs. Just a good, solid, and immensely  satisfying session that made me glad to be alive.
Smileyrating  9/10


  1. I recently bought some micro-spikes but haven't worn them yet. I've had great fun running in Yaktrax, but haven't yet found enough motivation for hill reps.
    Sounds like you'd a great time being a dogsbody for the SARDA dogs again though I'd have thought it was a bit cold for lying around on the fells. Your blood must be thicker than mine. Well done you.

  2. are cornish pasties made in cornwall?