The Dark Peak 15 Trigs

Without doubt the 15 trigs has become a standard for Dark Peak. Conceived by Andy Harmer of Dark Peak Fell Runners (DPFR) in the 80’s, it is a route of about 55 miles with 8500 foot of ascent taking in the 15 trig points on the original Dark Peak Harveys map. The map was produced for the 1984 Karrimor International Mountain Marathon (KIMM) and the first pioneering completion of the 15 trigs was less than a year later in ‘85. Although, not by Andy Harmer but by Peter Jones, Bob Segrove and Alan Yates as part of the Dark Peak Fell Runners 10th anniversary celebrations. Andy later set a record of 10 hours 4 minutes which stood for 22 years.

There are a few guidelines to the challenge. A successful completion is classed as under 15 hours, you are not allowed pacers or support but water drops at various points are allowed and can be essential in summer conditions. The two accepted start points are The Sportsman, Lodge Moor, Sheffield (DPFRs club hut and pub) or The Royal Hotel, Hayfield, with most starting from the former. Finally, the only proper rule set in stone is that the use of the road between Emlin Trig and Back Tor Trig is strictly out of bounds!

Dark Peak 15 Trigs certificate number 2 courtesy of Roger Baumeister. Coloured certificates were only produced for the first 15 completions. 

 

I’ve been considering running the 15 trigs for about three years, but as it was so local there was never any rush. It was on my doorstep and so I could just pack a bag and set off whenever I felt I wanted to have a go. In the back of my mind when out and about in the peak I would be thinking, “This is part of the 15 trigs route.” and “I wonder what the best line from here to there is?”. I’d looked into the records a bit and since Andy Harmer’s 10 hour completion in ‘86 the record hadn’t changed much. Stuart Walker had just pipped Simon Bourne’s 9 hour 58 minute completion by a minute. So 9:57 to beat. Maybe if the conditions were good. Stuart set the record in November with very mixed weather.

2018 was a really dry year and with not much rain throughout the winter the ground was soon bone dry again come March 2019. As the days got longer I put aside a couple of weekends between English and British championship races. The conditions and weather forecast were stacking up good for the 13/14th and I was in pretty good shape having run well at the Howgills fell race the weekend before. On the Wednesday I was out on the Dark Peak club run over Alport and realising the conditions were ideal I decided to bite the bullet and said I was going to go for it that Saturday. This also gave me maximum recovery time before the next champs race in Northern Ireland.

Dark Peak Fell Runners at Alport Trig on a fine Wednesday evening club run.


Come the morning of the 13th of April and I was ready to go, maps printed, route drawn out, bag packed, and water hidden behind a sign near Yorkshire Bridge. A leisurely coffee and a sausage sandwich for breakfast before Issy kindly drove me up to The Sportsman. For some reason I felt a bit nervous; I’m still not sure why. With one hand on the wall of the pub at 8:35 I was off, straight up the road towards the first trig point, High Neb. I’d decided to go clockwise as I thought some of the terrain would be better run in this direction.

I soon got to High Neb, picked up my water at the Ashopton Road crossing and got up to Win Hill in just over an hour. I felt I had woken up at this point, was moving really well and keeping a good pace. Next was Blackden trig, the first of the three trig points on Kinder. I had a good tailwind across the plateau and just stopped briefly to fill my bottle up at the top of Crowden Clough. To my suprise the bogs that had not dried up actually had a thin layer of ice across them. I dropped my pack behind the wall before the out-and-back to Brown Knoll, picking it up on the return. Onwards to Kinder low. I was starting to feel my legs a bit now, and made sure to grab some more water at the Downfall. Although the ground was very dry the main streams still had enough water flowing. A slight lapse in concentration saw me nearly drop off Sandy Heys towards Hayfield before realising I was facing the wrong way. I ate more food and cracked on towards Harry Hut. This was mostly downhill on good paths and flagstones making it really fast running. I felt fairly good still and crossed the A57 Snake Road in Glossop in 3 hours 45.

Dark Peak 15 Trigs Maps with tops and water points marked up. 


I hadn’t prepared a schedule and in my mind Glossop was half way so I was flying. A check of my watch quickly clarified it was not quite halfway but I was still pretty pleased by my progress. I just had to try and keep it up.

Cock Hill is the actual halfway point. My line up was very direct but not the easiest terrain. Shittern Clough by name, Shittern Clough by nature. Though the slog up to the trig did give me a chance to eat some more food. From here to Alport was energy sapping. It was pretty rough terrain and I also had a head wind. This explained why I felt like I was flying on my way to Glossop. I kept up the pace the best I could and soon dropped out of the wind down to Howden Reservoir. The road section up to Slippery stones seemed to take forever and once at the bridge it was the last major climb up to Outer Edge trig. The wheels fell off a bit up here. It was mainly a walk and pizza wasn’t going down very well. On top of this, I also didn’t take note of the map very well and strayed off left to some random rocks. As I approached I realised that it wasn’t Outer Edge, the give away being the lack of trig point. I quickly spotted the real Outer Edge and headed up to get back on route. Not ideal but not the most detrimental error.

From here it was along the bogs to Margery Hill and across the Cartledge Flats. Getting the right line across the Cartledge proved difficult and I was hesitating and checking my map a lot. I had got this line wrong before and ended up way out so getting it right was worth the faf. Once on the flats it was straight along the path to Back Tor. Only two more to go. A rough but direct line to Emlin across the heather and a short sharp climb up to Emlin. I was struggling for water across this section and resorted to a stream just below Emlin with some quite funny coloured water flowing down it. It didn’t make me ill but it was risky by my standards and I’m usually very laid back with things like this. It was a welcome thirst quencher either way and helped keep the twinges of cramp at bay. Now it was just down across the dam wall and up to the last trig, Rodmoor. Maybe sub 9 was possible? Up to Rodmoor was annoyingly runnable but once over the hill the Sportsman was in sight. At the road crossing before dropping down into the valley my parents had come out to offer some moral support. One last push across Rivelin dam wall and up to the Sportsman!

08:52:25

Well that was a tough day out. I am super happy to get under 10 hours but I was surprised to get under 9. My dad even bought me a drink!


All in all a great route and I would recommend the 15 Trigs to anyone wanting to truly explore the Dark Peak.

Thanks to Issy for dropping me off and also to my parents for picking me up at the end. Also thank you to Norman Walsh for the continued support. 

Links:
Strava for my route and stats etc.:
https://www.strava.com/activities/2287345195
Go Far Site for more information on the Dark Peak 15 Trigs and other reports:
https://www.gofar.org.uk/DarkPeak15Trigs.html
Norman Walsh for some top fell running and casual shoes:
https://www.normanwalshuk.com

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