A sunny recce of the Peaks Skyrace Route

Originally the plan for the weekend had been to head over to Wales to check out the V3K Skyrunning route. However when the forecast for Snowdon was very wet and stormy, and the Peak District was gloriously warm and dry, it seemed a shame to run from the sun! The change of plan did mean we needed to rethink the route but Anna Paxton, my partner in adventure for the weekend, made the clever suggestion that we swapped one Skyrace for another and went and reccied the Peaks Skyrace route.

So Saturday morning Anna and I jumped in the car and headed toward Hen Cloud in the Roaches to start our weekend of adventuring.

The Peaks Skyrace Route:

Mobile readers, you may be able to see the route better here.

Heading straight up Hen Cloud I’ll admit the legs felt a little tired after a busy bank holiday and the Burbage Skyline race on Tuesday. At this rate, 22 miles was going to be tough! Luckily they soon eased, and I was able to enjoy the stunning views around us. The combination of the sun, gritstone and woodland gave the area an almost alpine feel – it was so beautiful. We even had to remind ourselves to stop taking pictures and crack on with running as otherwise; I think we could have been there all day!


Before we knew it, we were heading off the ridgeline down a fun descent into the trees towards Lud’s Church. This was a refreshing break from the sun and a lovely change of scenery with tricky rocky trails and the smell of the earthy woodland.


From here we crossed the river and climbed a short but steep hill towards Burncliff Top and Heild End Farm where the technical trails turned into limestone paths. Before crossing the road, we took a moment to take in the stunning vista and our next big landmark – Shutlingsloe Hill. It looked some way away! But with the great weather and excellent company, it was no issue at all – I was just really pleased to be out.

Continuing through the fields and farms, it was so lovely to see all the lambs bounding and leaping around. I like to think I have that energy and enthusiasm when I am flying downhill – although I’m acutely aware I have the grace of an elephant!


Out of the fields we hit the road and started the long slog up to the top of Shutlingsloe – this is fairly steep but manageable. After the road, we came to a farm, before branching off onto a grassy track up the steepest section of the climb. However, we were soon at the top and treated to more epic views of the Peak District. Not hanging about too long, as it was quite windy, we got a few a quick snaps before it was time for my favourite bit – the descent. I am not sure which way the route will go on race day, but the downhill off the north-west side of the hill was fun and fast with over-sized steps perfect for leaping down. Reaching the bottom things get even better when we spotted a little wooden honesty box with fantastic homemade flapjack and water in it, courtesy of the children of Shutlingsloe Farm. What a lovely idea – I would love it if there were more hidden treats and tasty snacks around the Peak District!

On top of Shutlingsloe
On top of Shutlingsloe

Refuelled we continued towards Clough House where we branched off the official race route to run alongside the picturesque Cumberland Brook – this was to shorten the route as neither of us were looking to run the full 30 miles in one day, as tempting as it seemed.

After all these beautiful views our day took a slightly dark turn as we entered, what I now know as ‘Dead Sheep Valley’! Without going into too much detail and grossing you all out, it sadly appeared that there was a bit of an issue here as we saw seven dead sheep in very close succession – it was a bit traumatising.

Thanks to Anna for letting me use her photo. Check out her blog if you have a moment - https://alpsoutdoorslife.com/
Thanks to Anna for letting me use her photo. Check out her blog if you have a moment – https://alpsoutdoorslife.com/

Joining the route again, these memories were soon left behind as we descended towards the River Dane on some lovely single track, running alongside the river until we reached Knar. From here it was a bit of a slog until Flash Bottom as the footpaths were all slightly obscure – I am sure however these will be well marked on the day.

Now pretty tired, hot and sweaty it was a relief to see Hen Cloud on the horizon. Picking up the momentum again, we spurred ourselves on by planning our eminent order at the pub – a pint of orange juice and lemonade followed by a Guinness and lots of foood! Our energy levels were also massively helped by the amazing views on reaching the top of Ramshaw Rocks. It was so beautiful both of us found a little more inside to speed along the rocky ridgeline.


Finally descending toward the car we saw the thing we had been looking for all day – the ice cream van! The only downside – it was moving… away from us… To tired to sprint after it, the best solution was to jump in the car and follow in hot pursuit to claim our reward for the day before retiring to the pub and our tents!

Our Recce Route:

Mobile readers, you may be able to see the route better here.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this route, and it was a pleasure to run. Although not extremely technical the setting is just amazing and if the weather is as good on race day you are in for a real treat. Comparing this to some of the other skyraces, it seems slightly more approachable. Unfortunately, on the day itself, I am competing at ‘Ard Rock on the mountain bike (otherwise I would have put an entry in), but I have no doubt it will prove to be an excellent (but tough) day out.

For anyone keen to pop an entry in or looking for more detail I have included the links below:


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