I love the way being in the mountains can be a roller coaster ride of emotions.
One minute you’re overwhelmed with happiness or excitement, the next fear and pain have kicked in.
Last Sunday I went fell running up Bleaklow Head and Higher Shelf Stones in the Peak District and it felt like a month’s worth of emotions crammed into just three hours.
I started from Old Glossop, ascending through bleak moorland towards the Pennine Way path.
The landscape was a little monotonous and dull while the noise of overflying aeroplanes disrupted the quiet.
But I was beginning to feel relaxed and calm – running always helps me to de-stress – and a sense of anticipation about the summits ahead was kicking in.
An uphill slog was soon over and I arrived at Torside Clough, a beautiful heathery spot that contrasted dramatically with the featureless moors.
The path snaked along the rim, providing excellent views, and it was just one of those places where I felt happy to be.
I hit my stride. I was in the zone – hopping from rock to rock and maintaining both my footing and a good pace.
This was exactly what I wanted from my afternoon out. I felt content.
But I shouldn’t have let my guard down.
I’ve been in the mountains enough to know that they can be pesky tricksters.
They lull you into a false sense of security and then – when you think all is well with the world – everything changes in a split second.
This happened for me at Wildboar Grain.
Just as I was indulging in my positive mood the weather turned.
The wind blew ferociously with a cold bite, sending sleety snow diagonally into my bare face.
My fingers began to freeze, my face numbed and my legs suddenly felt heavier. Hill fog clouded the route and my progress upwards slowed.
That feeling of content had quickly disappeared.
Instead I was cold, wet and tired, with pain my overriding emotion.
But I grit my teeth. These were character-building conditions and I wasn’t going to let them spoil the run.
I pressed on to the summit of Bleaklow Head and – without stopping to enjoy the panoramic views of a total whiteout – continued southwards towards Higher Shelf Stones.
Navigating the groughs was tricky in the snow. My trainers sank into ice-cold peat bogs on several occasions and the steep sides acted like mini travelators from the TV show Gladiators, sapping my energy.
But I made it to the Hern Stones, where I sheltered for a quick drink break, before making the final push for the top.
It was then that I was overwhelmed with another emotion – surprise.
An aircraft wreckage slowly appeared out of the mist. I had no idea it was there and to stumble across it was a memorable experience.
There was an eerie silence. Fresh snow was settling on the ground and the fog engulfed the hillside.
This only added to the bleak and desolate – yet poignant – scene in front of me.
I later learnt that the remains are from a Super Fortress aeroplane which crashed in 1948, tragically killing the crew of 14.
After a couple of minutes taking in the sight, I battled on to the summit of Higher Shelf Stones before quickly descending by the Doctor’s Gate path.
I was feeling very damp and cold so it was a real relief when I escaped the worst of the adverse weather.
This geed my spirits and by the time I was on the home straight to Old Glossop I’d returned to that satisfied state of mind.
I sped along the flat path feeling happy and content.
And I was looking forward with anticipation to the next time I hop on the roller coaster.