The path started smooth, tarmaced and level, or even downhill, so the atypical summer sun was bearable at a moderate jog. As the gravel started the incline appeared, a stealthy attack on progress. Soon the surface was 'improved' with ankle-cracking slate slabs spaced to catch careless toes. An erosion solution with a hidden cost to health? Approaching the valley head progress slowed as rocky steps formed the route, occasional at first but progressing into a staircase too steep for running by city dwellers. Laborious steps and loose gravel formed the barrier to the corrie lip where the cool water was revealed beyond a soft carpet of mountain grass.
A literal dipping of toes was refreshing but all too brief. On this terrain a Grade Adjusted Profile reveals the cautious runners where descent pace is less than ascent. The fear of loose stones and uneven steps precipitating broken arms and teeth decelerates those with more imagination than skill. Short sections of firm trail are an opportunity to make progress ever more so as the curve shallows. The ankle-slabs were fewer whilst retracing steps, so the pace must have been better, or technique quickly learnt. The tarmac though is now uphill, through a village with tourists curious at the flustered runner. Why is the last 100m of a run always uphill?