Running in the Peak District on autumn mornings often means setting off in damp grey conditions. The colder nights combined with the still relatively warm ground can lead to early morning mist and fog, especially in the valleys. However if the atmospheric conditions are right this low cloud can burn off giving fantastic views later in the day.
I set off on one such morning for a run around the Burbage and Stanage area. Getting out of the car the air is cold and damp without a breath of wind. Moisture hangs heavy on the branches of the trees, half stripped of their foliage now as November approaches.
Visibility is only a few hundred metres but I set off on the familiar path heading south down the Burbage Valley. I must have run in this valley hundreds of times yet I never tire of it, there is always something that catches my eye as the seasons change and the weather, flora and fauna likewise.
I make my way down to emerge at the road and cross over, through the trees down to the little footbridge over Burbage Brook. The run seems to have awoken my senses and I notice the smell of damp leaves and hear birdsong, clear in the still morning air. Up the other side and across the road again I now head up to Winyard’s Nick hoping for signs that the fog is lifting as I reach higher ground but the blanket of moist air remains. A heavy dew covers the grass, bracken and rush as I take the familiar route towards Mitchell Field, dropping down through the fields in order to climb again up Callow Bank. I pass a couple of isolated trees which emerge out of the gloom as I approach.
Trees above Mitchell Field
I run hard up Callow Bank and as I stop to catch my breath at the top there is a very faint hint that the conditions are brightening. The change in light is barely discernible and at first I think I am imagining it – light headed from my exertion, but it’s real, there is the merest hint of sun in the sky.
Ater crossing the road and taking the path up towards Stanage I stop. The conditions are changing rapidly, visibility is improving and distant features are emerging from the mist. The rocks ahead of me are crisp and clear whilst behind me the fog is fragmenting to reveal some features whilst still cloaking others.
I head up onto Stanage and run north-west along the edge for a while, enjoying the clearer air and the views to the east whilst the Hope Valley is still under its canopy of fog below me to the west.
I would love to run all day but my schedule doesn’t allow and I need to head back. My planned route would drop me down back into the damp blanket of fog so I decide to retrace my steps along the top of the crags in order to remain in the weak autumn sunlight which is now breaking through.
Running along Stanage Edge
Dropping down past the Cowper Stone I pass through some remnants of fog again before emerging into clearer air at Burbage Bridge. The valley below me was in thick cloud an hour ago, now tendrils of mist cling to the flanks of Higger Tor but the sky above is clearing and weak sunshine is reflecting off the puddles and dew on the clumps of rushes.
Remnants of mist on Higger Tor