Course planner, Gary Tompsett, has put together a series of useful and interesting briefing notes for competitors ahead of the event weekend.
- The map is the best representation of the terrain that We and Harveys Maps can practically portray, from both reference to latest aerial survey, and ground proofing. It is possible that some smaller tracks have not been mapped, especially in the area of Wanlockhead and Leadhills villages, as there is a very complex (but also very open - unfenced) trail matrix in the old mining areas here.
- The checkpoints matrix has been deliberated for some time. Is it clearable you may ask? Well, you may THINK. If you DO ask, we won’t answer! :-).
- Irrespective of any potential ground detail omissions, the topography will be correct and unchanged.
- For those unfamiliar with Scottish lands: a. You will not find many paths marked/sign-posted, b. Spotting and using paths can be very efficient in otherwise rough ground. c. Use of the Southern Upland Way long distance path could be wise at times. It crosses the event map, and is fully sign-posted.
- Some linear traversing features may appear to be paths, but in reality they are upcast ground for drainage ditches and pipes that did feed water to old mining areas – or ‘leats’.
- Out of Bounds areas are clearly marked. Within some of these it is deliberate to also show the road as OOB. Always for a good reason.
- The large OOB in the centre of the map is an SSSI that we have co-operated to avoid. It contains fragile and rare deep mosses and grasses.
- The other areas of OOB usually relate to walled or fenced livestock ‘in-fields’ and at lower altitudes. We want to keep you ‘on the hill’ for the best wilderness experience!
- The Event Centre has some reception for all networks, it appears, so far. But it fluctuates. Best is EE including 3G, then Vodafone, then others. Worst is O2.
Villages and Residents
- The pathways through the village adjacent to us – Durisdeer – pass near to houses, and particularly for returning 12-hour event runners, we ask that you are careful and quiet (voice and gate closing) and to avoid shining torches into windows.
- In the north of the area, there are the two villages of Wanlockhead and Leadhills. The 24-hour runners might be in this area during the night. Feel free to take routes through the villages (there are no mapped Out of Bounds here) but please follow the requests of above – we don’t want to set the villages dogs barking!
- In Wanlockhead there is a Pub/Inn and a Café. In Leadhills there is a Hotel and Shop …. And a recreational steam railway …. And the wildest Golf Course you may ever see!
- Vegetation Report: The vegetation here is not particularly high. Bracken and Heather has not reached its full height yet. Tussocks exist in places. Avoid soft and delicate deep mosses. Peat hags exist in some places. The map will help you determine the latter.
- Vegetation protection: Consider full length leggings and/or long socks/gaiters if you want to protect your lower legs - heather will rough-up textiles and lower legs / ankles.
- Underfoot report: There has been a dry-ish summer until recently. But expect wet ground.
- Rivers: The Rivers in this area are young. The weather would have to be very poor for river crossings to become a problem. Bridges are marked to assist route planning.
- Water for Drinking: Almost all hill water should be considered drinkable, but avoid water near and below livestock enclosures and cattle feed areas – where there is always more cattle excrement.
- Livestock: The cattle and sheep for most of this event area are not used to seeing runners. Accordingly, we ask that you do not cause livestock to run far. Try to stay clear. Run an arc around them.
- Cattle: Avoid where poss. Do not run between adults and calves. Slow down. If you can stay upwind and the cattle can smell you, this settles their curiosity more readily.
- Sheep: Do not cause them to run far. The sheep are ‘hefted’ and this means that through generations they learn to live in unfenced regions of hillside. We should be careful not to displace them by running them far. Also they can become injured and stuck in bogs when forced to run recklessly.
- Midges: There will likely be midges.
- Ticks: The planner has seen very few deer. Ticks are unlikely.
- Adders: The planner has seen evidence of none.
- Grouse and other ground nesting birds: In the north of the area, are prime grouse lands. Presently there are many fledglings that are not yet confidently ‘on the wing’ (flying). This means that when we disturb them, and they fly a short distance, they become separated from their parents, and can perish. This effect is particularly pronounced in wet and windy weather. If you find yourself in such an area where this affect seems to be happening, then choose alternative ground or tracks/paths.
Fences, Walls, Gates and Huts
- Fences: Most of these are easily climbed. Avoid climbing fences that are high and barbed. Seek gates and better crossing points, mapped or otherwise.
- Walls: Do NOT climb walls. Seek gates and better crossing points, mapped or otherwise.
- Gates: Seek these out and CLOSE after use. Be aware that if you leave a gate open for following runners, they may not realise that it had at first been closed. This is THE most common reason for gate closure problems in the countryside.
- Huts: There are many unlocked small huts – most of which are mapped with a small building black rectangle – and generally located inside walled sheep fields. We are probably not supposed to use these, and you will unlikely ever need. But they are there…
- Damage to any of the above: If you cause damage, attempt a repair, note the location, and please tell us when you finish. It won’t be a wall that you’ve damaged, because you WILL NOT be climbing these J
- Caution: Old mining areas around the villages of Wanlockhead and Leadhills include vertical mine shafts, horizontal adits, steep/loose ground, ruinous unstable buildings, and vertical faces where old buildings and factories were situated. Be careful not to cross a small fence enclosure that might be there to exclude a mine shaft head.
- People working the streams: Gold panners! There is a Gold Rush here you know!
- Wooden cages covered in wire mesh: Larson traps, for baiting carrion birds such as magpies, crows, rooks and jackdaws (not sure how Ravens discriminate!). Let us know if you find one that has a Buzzard or Osprey trapped! Will let you Google.
- Poles over streams that have a wire trap halfway across: Stoat and Weasel (and maybe Rat) traps. These are considered pests – as they eat bird eggs. Birds that are later shot for commercial hunting. It’s a hard life for a Grouse! Will let you Google.
Hope that’s all useful. Have a fascinating time out there!
Gary Tompsett, on behalf of the Event Team
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