Fell Running

Clucking Bell, it's the Four Inns 2019.

Yesterday, was that “wonderful” time of year for the Four Inns Race. A time of excitement, trepidation, and downright angst. Why? 40 miles from Holmebridge to Buxton, mostly off road, and with 7,000 plus feet of climb.

Tony, Jon, and Adam looking down into Edale.

Running yesterday was myself, Tony, Jon, and Adam. This was my fourth time running the race with a new addition in the form of Tony. It is a tough race not simply because of the distance but due to the tough climbs that face you through the route, notably a right bugger at the end when you’ve done 35 miles as you climb out of Errwood Reservoir via Shooters Clough for the checkpoint at the Cat and Fidddle.

It was an early start with the alarm clock going off at 4.30am Saturday morning, with the obligation to pick up Jon and Tony from Jon’s house in Delph. Pickup was successful and off we went to catch Adam at the Holmebridge start. Kit check was 6.16am with a 7.16am start. Yours truly was still in the Land of Nod and operating on auto pilot. Everyone else was busy in the hall, furtively kit checking and packing and unpacking. I alleviated the stress of it all with a Number 2, Weetabix, and cup of tea.

We left at 7.16am and I was still not awake. Great… It was cold and a tad damp (not the mood) as we climbed out of Holmebridge for the first checkpoint on The Isle of Sky Road (Snoopy’s). Pace was good and all happy. We reached Black Hill in quite a fast time and it was clear it was going to be claggy. But your Editor was more than happy because it was not peeing it down or windy, and he was still laden with the trauma of the Trigger and Haworth Hobble.

Approaching the Black Hill Trig.

After Black Hill we hot footed it to Crowden and as we dropped into Crowden the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Little were we to know it’s impact on us. There was a wind as we climbed out of Torside Reservoir heading for “lovely Bleaklow” and the checkpoint at Doctor’s Gate.

Looking away from Torside toward Bleaklow up Torshide Clough.

Doctor’s Gate saw a break and suitable refreshments taken before a notorious slog for two miles down the Snake Pass for the Snake Pass Inn checkpoint. As an aside the checkpoints are “proper” in terms of drinks and food available, support, and emergency measures. It is a major factor on this race.

The climb out of the valley below the Snake Pass Inn via Gate Side Clough is a shocker as you traverse just below the summit of Seal Stones and it was at this point last year that one of the team dropped out and headed back to the pub.

Looking down into Derwent Valley from below the summit of Seal Stones.

From the Snake Inn Pass you simply head to the Kinder Scout Plateau before dropping into Edale as you hit Grindsbrook Clough from in between Upper and Nether Tors.

Edale achieved and you are not quite half way. It is at this point the solider or machine that is Tony needs mentioning. By Edale he was hobbling down hill and bless his cotton socks did not moan and soldiered on. You are then faced with a tortuous climb out of Edale up the Chapel Gate track to reach the Chapel en-le-frith Mam Tor road (Sheffield Road). Climb ticked off and poor Tony cheerful but grimacing we headed to the checkpoint at Chapel. Once achieved you are about 25 miles or there about in to the race. We hobbled off for the next checkpoint.

“Jon Boy” photographing the para gliders from Chapel Gate Track.

The climb from Chapel to White Hall (an outdoor activity centre) is legendary as it is a swine of a slog but one is driven on for the lovely rice pudding and jam they lay on each year, plus a nip of a good single malt if of that inclination.

The safety route card checkpoints you hand in. Note I am runner D of A, B, C, D.

From White Hall you are faced with the drop into the Goyt Valley which is quite a descent to hit the dam wall for the famous Errwood reservoir, which you run along heading for my Bete Noire in the form of Shooters Clough. Basically your legs are shot and you have to climb a few feet over quite a distance as you aim for the Cat and Fiddle pub. Each year if attacks me mentally and physically, and I started the climb apprehensive and at the back…

Dropping down to Errwood with Shooter’s Clough path in the distance, middle of photo.

At this point I will mention the weather. The sun and heat had been a lot stronger than we anticipated through the day, more like summer, and all of us were working our way through lots of water than normal, even though it is an ultra event and you’d expect this. Afterwards at the finish we realised we were sunburnt. By Errwood it was dusk with the sun fading and on reaching the Cat and Fiddle the weather suddenly changed to be incredibly cold, which meant we all dug into the bags to put coats and additional tops on. I myself foolishly let myself get very cold after the tough climb and was covered in sweat that then condensed. I did not really warm back up until the finish when inside. But I was pleased as I’d found the climb okay and made steady pace to the pub. Up Yours Clough Face!

The run from the Cat and Fiddle was mostly walked due to tired legs but the conversation was cheerful as we all knew the end was in sight. It’s true what the Macc Lads said, “No Sheep Till Buxton”.

Finishing was great and a relief as we entered the confines of the local secondary school where the race is based. It was warm and support staff kindly made us a brew as we removed shoes and just plain relaxed.

So, so glad to have finished. In the last three miles into Buxton we were all in agreement that we’d had enough, whilst enjoying it, and just wanted to finish. Nearly 12 hours on your feet in mixed weather takes its toil. What an achievement though! And hats off to Tony! What a beast.

The Four Inns

Have a look at https://www.derbyshirescouts.org/fourinns/ which is provided by Derbyshire Scouts who run the event. It is a strongly recommended event for those who like their ultra, with varied and beautiful scenery; we were very lucky yesterday seeing the Peak District in all its glory. It is a challenge though and must not be under estimated. Some of the off-road climbs are brutal, very much so on knackered legs. Am I doing it next year? My fifth attempt? YEAH BABY!

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2270280272

Flick: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmCDfQZj

The many names of the "green thing".

The weekend just gone was an adventure, a big adventure, plus a few arguments as we set sail in our new campervan. The VW T6 Transporter 2017, converted by the lovely people over at Camperversions in Darwen. What though ought to be it’s name?

On Friday we had arranged to head over to Darwen to pick up the campervan, and this meant a busy day for me as I worked hard, with Claire returning from school as soon as she could; so armed with Ted we set off as soon as we could to beat the rush hour traffic and be there for 4/4.15pm. We set off later than planned and made it by 4.45pm and Mark the salesman kindly hung on. Excited was not even a description…

Mark briefed us on the van and its various bits, which went in one ear and out of the other in the excitement, especially the bit about the “Captain’s Chair” at the front and how it swivels around. More on this to come. And so I was off, driving a LWB T6 through rush hour traffic on a Friday back to Mossley with Claire following in Pierre the Peugeot with Ted riding shotgun… Stress was high.

We made it back and then proceeded to throw items for an overnight stay into the van - name yet to be decided. Were we mad? Both were dog tired and it would involve a night drive to North Lees campsite just north of Hathersage, a favourite place of ours in the Peak District National Park. A drive across the Snake Pass to arrive in the pitch dark…

Saturday morning, Ted and the T6 in the distance.

By the time we arrived it must have been around 9pm, it was dark, and people were bedding down for bed especially the group of DOE/school children next to where we settled down. We were both tired and it had been an arduous journey down the Snake Pass in the dark especially with a twit of a tailgating car behind us. The drive had been stressful and I was at my wits end. We had tried to contact someone to let them know of late arrival but to no avail. On arrival the T6 found it’s berth and we began to sort it out.

The main bone of contention was the loss of Ted’s lead (found by neighbours) and the flamin’ swivel seat. I was trying to swivel it the wrong way and had not learnt the knack of doing so, and caused some slight scrapping on the side wall. Words were exchanged but we eventually got there. By now it was 10.15pm, and we had probably disturbed the people next to us with constant banging and door opening.

One thing I had not mentioned was the fact we’d not eaten, and I’d not eaten all day… There was hangriness in the air. So off we tromped armed with a Ted and headtorches across the fields to old Hathersage and The Scotsman’s Pack pub, accepting it was crisps only.

On arrival, the landlord was able to sell us a large pork pie and sausage roll. Food! We drank and chomped away. It is a lovely pub that we have been in before, the only downside that night being some local drunks who wanted to play with Ted, which is a big no no; something Claire pointed out only to get some verbal abuse. Sigh… The lovely landlord though made up for this, a nice caring chap. A walk back on the fields and it was into bed.

A wife, a dog, and no room for me.

Sleeping was non-existent as it was the first night in the van on the M1 bed. Claire constantly rolled into me, and Ted sneaked between us and took my pillow. The bed? Really comfy and plenty of room; just need to sort out the bed companions.

We were greeted to the morning and brewed up and this was when the van came into its own, as we were watched by the cold tent people who also had to drop their tents in the damp.

We drove into town and had a nice breakfast at the Colemans Deli, again a favourite of ours.

It was then time to don the walking gear and head out into the hills. The sun was beaming and it was hot, a beautiful morning as we decided to walk a loop out to and near North Lees and than back, with Claire then heading out for a swim whilst I “Ted sat”.

It was a great day out and allowed me to pick up a Mother’s Day present for later on when Mum and Mike headed over for a dinner cooked by Claire on Sunday. There was no way we were able to get back in time to park the van at Mossley Caravan Storage, where we’d arranged storage, so on return we loving stowed the gear and cleaned the van to then store it at a local business called Rivergate Developments who had kindly given us the code to their gate. Van stored, it was onto dinner at Steve and Sally’s in Delph with tired body and mind, which turned out to be a belter of a night and a great way to relax. We said goodbye, headed home, and weary bones hit the sack. I was and am fond of my bed at this point.

A tired PC climbed out of bed Sunday for a run in the hills with Tom Osman (who pealed off at Ashway Gap), Jon Allen, and John Haigh. It was an 8.30am start for us to run the Saddleworth Round and I was apprehensive to say the least on tired legs and still exhausted. It was a cold and windy start, and the wind continued all the way to Laddow Rocks, but dropping down to Cotton Famine from Black Hill saw the wind quell and the sun come out and us witness a bright, warm moorland afternoon.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2254490839

It was back home after coffee at the Cross Keys Pub where we started from, to help Claire get the dinner and house ready for Mum and Mike. Thankfully Claire had managed to get out on her bike.

The meal was excellent and all of us had a nice relaxed time by way of closing off the weekend.

Deciding upon the many names of the “green thing”

So far I have referred to the campervan as the T6, Campervan, or Green Thing. But it is also called Sid Snot (in my homage to Kenny Everett), or the Dadmobile. Claire has used the Green Goddess. We have both used Minty McMint Face… Which one, which one?

69... Anyway up, Meal for Two, A Favourite of mine.

Yesterday evening saw 15 Saddleworth Runners gather for the 6.45pm Pete Hartley Memorial.Liver Hill fell race from Rawtenstall’s Marl Pits Sports Centre in the hills of Lancashire. A great race put on by Rossendale Harriers.

I also learnt something about Bingo nicknames, for my 69 race number. Snigger, snigger, and look it up.

Your author and editor wearing his dubious race number.

The race is classified as an BS (with no GPS), and to the uninitiated a fell race is classified in hardness from C to A, and whether short, medium, or long.

Category “B” should average not less than 25 metres climb per kilometre, and should not have more than 30% of the race distance on road.

A category “S” (short) race is 10 kilometres or less.

So this was a medium hardness but short race. If you are keen, interested, bored, or can’t sleep like the author have a look at: https://www.fellrunner.org.uk/documents/FRA_rules_for_competition.pdf

Richard “Gee Man” Gee picked myself up from Top Mossley (never call it upper) and had just picked up Ruth Hutchison aka “Smiler” from Bottom Mossley (never call it lower). And thus we were off to beat the traffic with it being an early evening start after work. It was nice not to be driving for a change. I think Gee Man and Smiler liked my excited banter.

We arrived at the sports centre and the first impression was the cold, despite it having been sunny earlier and en route, but there had also been hailstone and the temperature was probably around 4/6 degrees C. We registered and saw other SADDS gathering for what would be a Club Championship race and local Run The Moors race. It was going to be an interesting one.

Speaking of interesting, as Gee Man and I headed back to the car to kit up after registration, was the dress code of a stalwart of the club, James Sheard aka “Numbers”. Gee Man and I were astounded and amused at his adoption of the Flasher fashion statement before the throng. One did wonder if he was hiding a thong under there…

Man alive.

On the drive over we had mulled over just how many of us would be out. Smiler went for 10, me 12, Gee Man 15. It was after all an after work race. Gee Man won with 15 of us; it was going to be a hard fought race. Editor’s amendment: Gee Man pointed out that Smiler said 15 Sadds, he 10, the Editor 12. So 1-0 to the girls.

Missing Messrs Brandon Greene and Tony Greene Snr.

The race organiser explained in fact that there were 268 runners, and on the race line it felt more like a cross country race than a fell race.

Gathered on the race line at the front were The Gradwell Gopher, Gee Man, The Bullet, and yours truly. In true RO fashion up north the safety briefing was “don’t fall over, watch stiles, be nice to each other, and don’t be a dick” and then off…

The race is fast with total distance being 5 miles, 800 feet climb, and importantly it is an “in and out” to the Liver Hill summit. The pack ran fast to the first small climb with more than one bottleneck after that along muddy paths. It was accidental elbows galore, much to the amusement of Bridget Lancashire aka “Bob” who was chortling along. I was glad we’d trotted up earlier to look at the start and I was able to take a couple of short cuts. You then climb up steadily to Bonfire Hill heading for Swinshaw Moor, with the route dropping down over very runnable grass and bog. You then climb to Liver Hill along the route coming across some rock from disused dry stone walls making it a bit tricky underfoot. It was eyeballs out to the turn at the summit, somehow on the way up I had passed The Bullet and was chasing Gee Man, who saw me at the turn and then proceeded to “do one”. Surprisingly the route back after dropping off the summit climbs back up to Bonfire Hill, but your mind was taken off this and burning legs whilst dodging fellow runners as you passed them on the way down.

On slightly tired legs from a long one on Sunday, Gee Man was chased down but to no avail. He’s running well and deserved to come in before me and not long after The Gopher who had belted off earlier. I was thankful to have The Bullet (Kevin) up my arse and this pushed me to fast times on the way down to the finish. The last 1.5 miles are fast but you were rewarded with wonderful views in a dusk sunlight over Rawtenstall. On finishing I had to bend over double to get the breath back, before seeing the others come in and getting some much needed water.

By now the sun had disappeared and the temperature had dropped to 4 degrees C. People decided to move on and head to the cars to change into warm gear for the journey home.

Getting out of the office and having a break, restless nights...

Well it is that time of the year again, thankfully. When nights are long, and it got me thinking after a wonderful run in the dusk.

Looking toward Dove Stone from Wimberry Rocks, known locally as Indian’s Head.

When you run your own business you are always busy, as there is a lot to do and as I have discovered you always want to do more. And you can be restless or have “itchy thoughts”. For example it is quarter past four in the morning and I am typing away. I could not sleep and came downstairs, put the fire on, and have been doing work and personal stuff. I like the word stuff. The aforementioned similarly applies to senior people in salaried roles and I base this on personal experience; you have a lot on, it never ends, meetings during the day have taken your time etc. etc. etc.

What is notable is in both cases I have ended up cross eyed, tired and worn out, and chasing my tail as I seek to manage work load, achieve results, and stay on top.

Yesterday had been a busy day, and it is tough trading conditions at present with the Brexit fiasco. So the temptation is to work hard, or maybe too hard and end up frazzled. Question is what are you actually achieving in terms of results, and your mental health? By way of comparison was the run I took at ten to six in the evening after my day’s work.

When I mulled all over on the run, and it is not the first time I have been here, I remembered that you need a break from work, even if you have a lot on or have to park urgent work.

Diminishing economies of scale - remember this and read on…

“Diseconomies of scale refers to a point at which the company no longer enjoys economies of scale, and at which the cost per unit rises as more units are produced. Diseconomies of scale can result from a number of inefficiencies that can diminish the benefits earned from economies of scale.”

I want you to think about diseconomies of scale from your perspective. Are you trying to work when you should not? Think in terms of work productivity and mental productivity. Think of diminishing economies of scale not from its traditional sense in manufacturing, but from you imagined as a company or production line. What impact it constantly working having on a) your productivity, b) your personal “infrastructure”?

  • Running your own business and occupying a senior role require work, hard work, it comes with the territory.

  • It does not get easier. You will always have your ups and downs, that is business at the top end.

  • But you get used to it. You really do, and I say that after a number of years and my being the ripe old age of 47. Somehow I wished I had learned this earlier.

  • Workloads will always be there, no matter what.

  • Nothing is really that important that it cannot wait until the next day.

  • Rest or simply having a break makes such a difference to productivity. I do believe that setting hours of work, e.g. 9-5.30pm and sticking to them means you focus your activity, the time is utilised correctly, and you avoid stringing tasks out where you in theory have unlimited time. Often the plague of the salary man and woman.

  • But also give yourself flexibility, if you are in the mood for working then work - your frame of mind is important and you can leverage it.

  • Conversely if you cannot work, don’t want to work, or plain cannot be arsed then don’t unless it’s needed, urgent, deadline etc.

  • Remember when you revised, most of us will. You took breaks. For some reason this does seem to go out of the window when in work as an adult in a senior role.

A break, like my fell run yesterday, allows you to relax physically and mentally and be more productive. It also puts into perspective work, something that does not become life controlling. And in this day and age we put work before personal, when it should be the polar opposite. We work to live and not the other way round. What a break allows you to do is to recharge the brain, and nothing is not that important that it cannot wait until the next day. The mental side is probably more important than the physical side (it’s all physical in one sense) as its degradation affects all areas. Have you noticed all tasks end up taking longer, lethargy, snapping at people? And so the list increases. Being fresh enlivens you and others, and makes you realise “it’s only work”, “it’s only a job”. Cliched but true.

Looking down Ashway Gap toward Dove Stone.

My break drew closure to a long working day and one that involved a lot of concentration when on phone calls. I had been tempted to not run and continue working as there is always a lot to do. But this harks back to the economies of scale quote.

I was glad that I ran, it was a wonderful evening and allowed me to forget about work (mostly) and let my brain relax, get out of the work environment, and free up thinking space of all matter of stuff. It is so important. Did I have to push things into the following day? Yes, of course. Were people bothered? NO. And if they are? So be it.

STRAVA: https://www.strava.com/activities/2240246076

Wolf's Pit Fell Race 2019

Today saw the 2019 Wolf’s Pit fell race from Shatton by Bamford in the Hope Valley in the Peak District. One of my first ever fell races, that I last ran in 2015. The weather was changeable to say the least, it was only a week ago since the 32 mile Haworth Hobble and I was not sure how my legs would hold up…

Registration before the race.

It was a big turn out for the Saddleworth Runners being a Club Championship race and a Run The Moors race (area championship). It was clear it was also a club race for other clubs, and a race for a Notts area fell racing championship, so approximately 400 runners were all rubbing shoulders in a muddy field.

Normally the field would host car parking but with the deluge of rain today and especially yesterday, well to be honest all week, meant no one was parking on the field. So setting off early with Ruth Hutchison, Helena Butler, and Brenda Roberts all in the Batmobile we arrived at 10am with time to bag a road spot next to the Hope Valley Garden Centre (more on that later) put kit on and walked the half mile to race HQ. There we met fellow Sadds queuing, wandering, chatting, shivering. Well not Brandon Greene, cos he’s hard.

The cold and damp started to eat in as we registered and waited outside at the start line. Briefings given we were off…

At the start line.

It is a 5.6 mile race with roughly 1.5k feet of cumulative climb with a sting in the tail in the form of a final climb. It does not look much but the OS map does not do the route justice.

It was a fast sprint from the starting field with the author chasing the “Gradwell Gopher” who was well and truly off and away later to be the first Sadd back. No sign of Andy Poole aka “The Plodder” who came second in amongst the Sadds.

You leggit down a lane to turn at a small hamlet down from Shatton with a steady but ruthless climb to the Shatton Moor mast. At this point the legs were tired and I’d noticed I could not accelerate down the field in pursuit of “Gopher”. Hobble Legs? Joining me on the climb was John Haigh aka “Hellboy Haigh” and onward we trudged chasing the bobbing SRC beanie of Kevin Jones aka “Kamikaze Kev” as he climbed solidly like a bullet up the hill. On reaching the mast it was still a climb to Wolf’s Pit on Abney Moor.

It was muddy underfoot as I was blasted by hail pushing hard to chase Kamikaze down. “Gee Man” was clearly in view but surrendered no ground whatsoever. The race is tough due to the up and down, especially the sting in the tail as you lose height at speed and come back on yourself for the final hard climb to the mast again. After the mast it is effectively a mile back with half a mile pell-mell down grassy fields as you chase people trying hard to make purchase on muddy ground with screaming quads. At this point I tried it on with Kamikaze but had suspicions my leg would not hold out. I passed the beast at speed only to hear the beast rev’ up the engine and chase me down the hill. He overtook me before the road stretch and powered on, I had no reserve tank and the legs had gone. All I could do was keep close to minimise the time ahead and thus the slog across the field was a muddy undignified romp for the finish.

Already finished was the “Gradwell Gopher”, followed by “The Plodder”, then “Gee Man”, and “Kamikaze”. Ruddy good runs in the conditions and with so many other runners.

Wolf’s Pit Fell Race RESULTS.

(In 2015 and less than a year into fell running I came 107 with a time of 50:48. This race, four years later, I came 111 with a time of 55:26, so certainly slower!)

We hung around and chatted, whilst waiting for runners to finish, and were treated to excellent tomato soup, tea and cake whilst sheltering in the marquee from the hail.

We headed back through Shatton chatting away but with cold feet, especially after washing them in the river.

Ruth and Jane (note Helena “bottling” it.)

On getting back to the car Brenda let us know she had won a prize (as had Tony Greene) in the form of a voucher for the Hope Valley Garden Centre. So all decided to decamp for cafe drinks and cake, and for Brenda to purchase something from the garden centre.

Footnote for Monday 18th March:

Forgot to write in my missive on Wolf’s Armpit race that Mark Macfarlane did his first ever FRA fell race that day. Well done! Asked him at the end what it was like and he said he was buzzing. Grinning like a Cheshire Cat. See the photos. He chose one heck of a race and day...

Hells bells weather on the 2019 Haworth Hobble.

My third time running the Haworth Hobble fell race wearing the Sadleworth Runners vest, and I can safely say the worse weather I’ve known or imagined. Bravo to all my fellow runners who managed to finish in what were tough conditions.

It was an early start at 5am, and a 6am pick up of Simon Jump and Stu Hutchison to then get to Haworth ready to register, get your running number, for a start at 8am. We met fellow runners from the club and all other entrants in the Haworth Primary School. The weather overcast and 5 degrees C, but no rain. At ten to eight we headed for the start on Main Street and it was raining, cold damp rain, with the wind beginning to howl. People sheltered where they could, especially under the eves of shop fronts. It was grim indeed and people mused and faffed about over kit.

The Haworth Hobble is a 32 mile ultra fell race forming a loop starting and finishing from the scenic Haworth of Bronte fame. An FRA race, popular, hard in normal weather, and to be frank a swine in bad weather.

STRAVA: https://www.strava.com/activities/2201460047

We set off at 8am and the heavens opened horizontally with people drenched by the time we got to the Bronte Bridge along the Bronte Way, only three miles into the 32… I myself had chosen an Inov-8 shell and rued this choice when wet and cold.

Alongside Walshaw Dean Reservoir

It was hard running, very much so in a full head on wind that held everyone back and sapped energy for the first 16 miles of the race. By the time I reached Widdop Reservoir I had/needed to change into my more substantial OMM waterproof and was very pleased to do so. I really ran the risk of getting very cold.

The wind did not abate as Richard Mackey, Simon Jump, and I loosely ran together closely followed by Bridget Lancashire and Chris Roberts, who acted as proverbial Fell Running Rozzers in hot pursuit.

The wind brought you to a virtual standstill, rain was freezing, and loads and loads of hail. At times it was painful on the skin. My time was slower than in 2017 when running as a pair with Simon Jump and that gives a good indication as to the weather.

We pushed on and I more than once dropped back from Return of the Mack, and Jumpin Jack Flash who were both on a mission. Big thanks is due to Simon Jump for leading all the way and dragging people along. Even bigger high fives to Bridget and Chris doing their first ultra and hanging onto the older dudes.

By the time of the climb up to Heptonstall the weather changed and improved and waterproofs were ditched. In the second 16 miles of the race with the tough climbs up Stoodley Pike, Heptonstall, and Hardcastle Crags the wind had started to die down and when blowing blew us from behind in a vicious manner pushing you along in semi uncontrolled fashion. But by then we were thankful for the sun to make an appearance.

At Hardcastle Crags people were clearly knackered, it was pleasant with the sun out, but a slog and a half to the last check point up the seemingly never ending climb. Doughnut City (they always have doughnuts at the last checkpoint) was driving the Cobley on by this point.

Full PICTURES can be found in Flickr.

As we left Dought City the Rozzers caught up with us and it then became a slog fest for the last four miles climbing out of Grain Water Bridge to run up the Calder/Aire Link aiming for the Leeshaw Reservoir and Penistone Hill Country Park for the dash back to the Bronte Church and the finish. It was a good race to the finish with people digging deep and really pushing especially Bridget and Chris. The finish was achieved with no real time between myself, Richard Mackey, Simon Jump, Chris Roberts, and Bridget Lancashire; all of us glad to finish.

After a change of clothes it was grub and hot drinks to revitalise ourselves with nice friendly chat. Much wanted, much needed, much deserved.

Also out in the field of fray today were Sandrine Fraisse, Paul Taylor, and Nicky Torr; battling the elements and the course. All three made it back. Paul Taylor on arrival proceeded to try and single handedly demolish the free food, Nicky as usual was beaming and cheerful, and Sandrine was still out on the course as we left.

A wedding, A fell run, A lunch, A birthday.

A weekend involving a cousin’s wedding, a rather long fell run on Sunday, a lunch with Mother, and a birthday celebration.

Saturday saw a slow start to the day as we readied ourself for heading to Pontefract for my cousin John’s wedding at the King’s Croft Hotel, a lovely venue and a special place and time for Hollie and John. The family clan was gathered, always an interesting affair with some people not having seen others in years.

The wedding went well. Not too many guests and just right in terms of atmosphere. Certainly not in your face and all inclusive. The wedding itself was held in an outside glass pavillion before we returned to the hotel for a sit down meal of fine fare, funny speaches, to then move to nattering prior to the first dance and the fun. A casino had been laid on, good disco, hog roast and paella for evening guests with people chatting and kids playing. We both enjoyed ourselves and whilst we’d driven from Saddleworth did not find this too arduous. We said our goodbyes knowing that we’d see people in a couple of monthsfor another family wedding reception, so all was good.

Flickr wedding photos.

Today meant getting up early to head for a run from Marsden with John Haigh and Alice Mclean. I’d planned a route which was an extension of an original route I’d run a while back with Ryan Townrow. We set off from Marsden heading for the Holmfirth Road by The Huntsman PH, then onto Black Hill, to return via the old Pennine Way route ultimately hitting Black Moss Reservoir, to then head back to Marsden. 18 miles with 2.5k climb in what were not great conditions - cold, bit of rain, certainly damp.

Strava Marsden Loop.

Flickr Marsden loop photos.

I’d picked John Haigh up and then promptly returned him to Greenfield as we needed to be at the Cross Keys Inn for lunch with Mother who was returning Ted from having looked after him over the weekend. Food was good and one tired dog.

Back home for a rest with The Boss kindly volunteering to do the shopping at Aldi. I think it was more a question of her not wanting me wandering around trying to buy chainsaws and other random Aldi gear. Shoping unpacked and then a walk to the Rising Sun pub for drinks and pizza to celebrate Andy Poole’s birthday.

Back home now and relaxing. Soon to rent Black Klansman…

A rather busy weekend, BUT no fell running!

The weekend just gone was action packed in that we were out in the great outdoors in the snow. But no fell running… Due to a fall on ice.

Stanage Edge

Friday was a retreat to bed tired after a hard week and aching on my right side. Wednesday night I’d been walking Ted and went over very hard on black ice on a local path. My feet went under me and I landed on my back, luckily I was wearing my Rab thick down coat and it cushioned a lot of the impact and prevented my head cracking the Tarmac; it could have been very bad. Since then my ribs on my right side have prevented me running with moving, especially sleeping, painful indeed.

Saturday saw us gather but not run (me with bashed ribs, Claire with plantar fasciitis) the annual Gerry’s Castleshaw Canter from Delph, renamed in honour of Gerry who sadly passed away recently, a much loved elder statesman of the club. Ted, Claire, and I watched the start, then parked above Delph to watch the runners come in across Ox Hey Top/Broad Lane. We missed out on the running, but what a day for a walk, and for the runners.

Leading the pack was V60 (yes, V60) Mr Chris Davies, with first lady back being Gaynor Keane. Impressive in the terrain, and tricky underfoot snow.

The run was followed by tea and home baked cake at the Torr’s in Delph in their beautiful house, with donations to the club charity. I stuffed my face, not sure about the wife, but Ted is always partial to lemon drizzle cake.

Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmxSm6S4

And we must not forget Super Ted had a belting time in the snow; running about like a young pup, bearing in mind he’s 12 years old.

Later on that evening was the annual Saddleworth Runners presentation bash at the lovely Saddleworth Golf Club. The event sees club prizes awarded (we picked up second male and Claire second female - boom), nice food, drink, and company both old and new. And of course the Wooden Spoon award for the best failure of the last year, won by my wife for missing my by two hours at the Snake Pass summit when supporting me on the 24 mile Marsden to Edale Trigger fell race, and also forgetting my bag of fresh clothes to change into! Matters were made worse by the fact I’d won the spoon the year before and Claire wanted to see the back of it.

Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmv4e8fh

With my side still hurting like heck and playing up on the Saturday night as I laughed I was glad for a nice walk with “The Pigs” on Sunday from Hathersage across Stanage Edge. Whilst bitterly cold at times, it was well worth the effort just to lap up the views.

Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmxVsVkF

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2122430117

It was good to be out with Claire, Ted, Gavin, Steve, and especially Andy who I’d not seen for a while.

Tigger Tor with John Haigh

Sunday was a bit of an adventure running the Tigger Tor, a pun on Higger Tor that sits above Hathersage in the Peak District. Tigger because the 34th race starts from the grounds of Sheffield Tigers RUFC and their mascot is a tiger, or Tigger.

Carl Wark, fort, on Hathersage Moor.

Totley AC, a great club for races and who also put on the excellent Exterminator race, are behind the race which takes in 9.7 miles and 1.6k feet of climb across Hathersage and Burbage Moors. There were 378 runners so a big field for the 34th race.

On arriving after an 8am start from Saddleworth John Haigh and I managed to bag one of the last places at a garden centre walking distance to the rugby club. It was absolutely freezing as we walked over for registration. The kit check was thorough with full kit required and helpers checking right down to your taped seams.

Kit check with a tiger.

We bumped into a cheerful Chris Davies as we registered, only to see him again at the finish.

Chris Davies and John Haigh.

The race started off from the club around 10.20am, so twenty minutes late whilst people were checked, traffic halted. By now we were cold as we waited.

Waiting in the cold.

We got going and soon warmed up as you begin quite a long broken climb up to the summit of Burbage Moor. The wind was howling and it was very cold. All through the race I kept my Alpkit beanie on, unusual for me. You need to be at the front as the race bottlenecks from the start on entering Hathersage Road, then on leaving Hathersage Road a kissing gate onto the fields holds all up. To make it even more tricky when you do get onto the moor you are running in single file trods through dense heather making it very hard to pass people.

Flickr Photos: https://www.flickr.com/gp/petercobley/h957wb

But John and I had decided to enjoy the day and not race. That said it is a tough race, maybe more so in the wintry conditions. The pace was fast and it was hard going in the heather trods, not to mention muddy with some quite boggy and leg sapping areas. There are a few climbs up and down rocky spots on the moors and these were short and sharp and again sapped legs. I honestly felt that the climb was double what we were actually doing. But the views made up for it all, with a clear blue day yielding unparalleled views over the moors.

We ran it back together to get a time of 1 hour 42 and positions 145/6 out of 378 runners, so respectable for the run and conditions.

Results: http://www.totleyac.org.uk/2019Series/docs/Tigger_r.htm?fbclid=IwAR3JcZmP3PsWBP_MqFjVQxLJhstjdPJIMv_kySuls_6fdX_NzYtzwGbMbRE

I was also more than happy as we had not made a recce of the route and did not know what to expect.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2106533592

The Hebden 22, Saturday 19th January 2019

A write up on the Hebden 22 fell race from Mytholmroyd, which saw a number of Saddleworth Runners entering the fray.

Chris, Peter, and Jonny after the race.

It was an early start with the alarm going off at 5.30am and a then a car journey at 6.30am to make sure I was at race HQ for around twenty past seven as cut off for registration was quarter to eight with an eight o’clock start.

On arriving parking was straight forward at a local business park, and it soon became clear the organisers had really put a lot of time into pre-race preparation. Race HQ was the community hall, nice and warm with tea, coffee, and toast freely available.

By the time I arrived the hall was already busy with people registering and getting themselves sorted.

Christobel and Jill.

Just before eight we gathered at the car park for the Good Shepherd Church. It was dark and people were all chatty before the start.

On the right, Monica and Fiona.

And we were off on the adventure. The race is basically a loop from Mytholmroyd around Hebden and taking in Stoodley Pike. The race is varied in the terrain it covers over the 22 miles and 5k feet of cumulative climb.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2088790345

There is a wide variety of scenery and history in the area, especially in old houses dating from the Elizabethan period to former mills at Hard Castle Crags. I think the race challenging as you cannot really get into a pace for most of the route due to all the changes of navigation, the up and down, and the hard work underfoot in today’s conditions. A lot of rain has made the ground sodden and muddy, and snow had come down more heavily that we realised on the high ground.

Stoodley Pike.

I had great company running with Jonny Ullett, Chris Roberts. Well done on Jonnny shaving off an hour from when he last ran the race, and for Chris running his first long fell race with such climb incorporated.

The route does need a recce before hand as it chops and changes over the scenery, and some people did get lost or take a wrong turn. Thankfully I managed to remember the recce of the route from before Christmas with Andy Poole.

Chris and I ploughed on and we left Jonny on the climb to Stoodley Pike, where realised we were making good time and decided to try and go for sub 4 hours just missing it by two and a half minutes. A good effort mind you as we pushed quite hard in what at times were treacherous conditions.

I did manage to get the usual photos: https://www.flickr.com/gp/petercobley/07dx68

We got back to the community hall to hot pies, mushy peas and tea, followed by apple pie and custard. A credit to the organisers who also had well manned checkpoints where they checked on the safety of competitors and cheered you on.

A highly recommended race.

Trigger 2019

The Trigger 2019. Rain, and drizzle, and wind, and clag, and wet, and sodden, and 24 miles, and 5k feet of climb, and Gareth Evans.

Looking back yesterday’s race was challenging and I’m pleased to have completed it. The overall weather was pants to be honest, with drizzle most of the way, clag creating limited visibility, and a very sodden ground underfoot making for hard going, with rivers also in flood.

Marsden Cricket Club Start

The hardest element was the wind which may have been 50/60mph in places, and for a lot of the running was completely in your face. The climb out of Red Clough to the Kinder Plateau was one of the hardest climbs ever for me as the wind pushed you back with footwork on the trods being all over the show as you were buffeted by gusts.

The weather overall was strange, for the most part awful, but interspersed with moments of clarity (see photo below) to then soon be lost to clag.

Navigation was important after Lawrence Edge with the Bleaklow Plain being a right old fug. Visibility must have been down to 20 metres in what is a bugger to navigate in clear weather. Compass in hand we aimed for the Pennine Way, which would take us to the Wain Stones, and from there to High Shelf Stones Trig on Shelf Moor. Leap frogging had to be used and we were pleased as Punch to be bang on with the Nav’. It is at this point I’d like to say a big thank you to the poor sods of Glossop Mountain Rescue manning checkpoints and turning points such as Wain Stones, in blistering wind and rain - they must have been frozen. There were some other hardy (foolhardy?) folks also up there as we passed people heading north completing the Spine race; you really did feel for them.

“Hairdryer” wind climbing out of Red Clough

At the Downfall I have seen the waterfall many times blown backwards up the river, but never with such ferocity as yesterday; if you were not wet by then you certainly were at this point as you became drenched by the spray from the waterfall being funneled by wind.

I'd decided to run with Gareth Evans for some company and am very glad I did as we pushed each other along and kept each other company. Meeting us part way round with encouragement was Ryan Townrow armed with Poppy at the Snake Pass crossing.

(I initially saw Ryan hanging out of van on the Holmfirth Road at “Snoopy’s” yelling “Cobbers” adorned with a superb mustache. I’ve now renamed him Magnum in homage to Tom Selleck from childhood days.)

Ryan and Poppy offering support at the Snake Pass

At the finish we were met by Gareth’s family to cheers, which brought a close a tough old day. Would I do it again? Yes, and I can see why people like the race and it sells out. It is a classic fell race. Beautiful scenery with you pitted against the elements; it challenges you to the point of being proud when you have finished.

Trigger finish after 24.7 miles in Edale

A recce of The Hebden fell race.

Today was a recce of The Hebden fell race with Andy Poole, another Saddleworth Runner. Something we assumed would be straight forward, something that was not.

The fell race covers 22 miles and takes in 5k of cumulative climb in a loop around Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd with plenty of up and down, rarely trod paths within cloughs, on hills, through forest, and fields.

We set off from Mytholmroyd around 11am and cheerfully thought we’d be finished between 4-5 hours even with the run being a non-race and recce. How wrong we were, which led to finishing in the dark, using phone torches for guidance. The total time on our feet ended up being nearly double at approximately 7 hours.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2028450721

The route definitely needs running before racing as it is complex in terms of navigation and very varied making it hard on the runner, not just the 22 miles. The scenery changes frequently to encompass different types of terrain, from grassy fields to rocky steep downhill paths. The running varies from technical to straightforward and does change suddenly. What was most interesting about the whole route lies in not being able to open up and settle into a pace over a distance, you are instead almost stopping and starting. The only real opportunity for getting into a pace was a mile or so running down from Stoodley Pike across the slabs and moorland. It’s hard when it’s like this, plus it is draining. Conditions underfoot were wet and slippy due to the rain and I had borderline grip using a pair of Inov-8 Rocklites. With the route dodging through quite enclosed places, a lot of which are rocky I certainly would not run if a freeze occurred as it would be treacherous.

We were both tired by the time we finished back in Mytholmroyd, it had been nearly 7 hours on our feet with changeable weather conditions, deteriorating toward the end and in the dark with rain starting to come down.

All in all it was a hard recce and I think the race will be hard as well, especially if the weather is not great.

LDWA, Regular Irregular, and The Beast.

After a busy week despite it being the run up to Christmas, the weekend was to be welcomed with the Regular Irregular, but an incipient cold was hanging over me.

The LDWA is the Long Distance Walking Association, an organisation Claire and I are members of, and at times we run at their events. The organisation’s members run a series of walking events that are precise in terms of organisation, interesting in terms of route, and can be challenging due to distance and terrain. Some events are open to runners, predominately fell or trail, who set off after the walkers. As the name suggests routes are long and are a great way of building up the running mileage. One thing about the LDWA is the food and drink laid on at checkpoints and race start/finish locations; varied, hot and cold, and loads of cake - I like cake.

Saturday saw the The Irregulars, one of the LDWA groups put on the Regular Irregular event starting at Brockholes Village Hall.

The event saw myself and Stu Hutchinson aka “The Beast” run as a pair. To run the total event you complete three loops, with your choosing your order. The goal being to run as many loops as possible… Loops are 11.6 miles, 7.2 miles and 4.2 miles (18.5km, 11.5km or 6.7km). So a total of 23 miles if all three are completed. The common approach is to run 11.6, then 7.2, then the 4.2 miles. Stu and I being pushed for time elected to run 11.6 and 4.2 miles and viewed the event as a means of getting miles in our legs. The other Saddleworth Runners chose to run all three loops.

The weather was cool, windy, with a foreboding of rain as we started at 8.30am. We’d registered and had a brew so were happy. I had the start of a cold that came on the night before and was a bit tired and with aches. As we progressed the wind picked up considerably making running difficult at times.

The company was good as Stu and I chatted. Half way into the long loop the weather saw sheets of dizzle and gusts, but then improved toward the end as we headed back to Brockholes with the sun saying hello and it getting warm enough for coats to be taken off. We’d printed off the maps and route description but we were relying on GPX files I’d downloaded for each route. Navigation was a combination of following people, chatting, and using the Garmin Fenix. The loop saw a combination of bridleway, path, tarmac, wood, and was quite varied with approximately 1.8k of cumulative climb: STRAVA. The ground at times was muddy underfoot due to rainfall and my Inov-8 Rocklites did not have much purchase. Water courses were clearly in flood.

On getting back to HQ I was delighted at the sheer selection of food and proceeded to trough and I mean really trough.

Mr Piggy eventually filled his boots and we headed out for the short loop, and this time had a third Musketeer in the guise of Jenny from Rochdale Harriers & AC who’d asked if she could join The Beast and I on the short loop. We did point out we had not dug the map or description out, actually we could not be arsed and explained we were relying on my Garmin Fenix and the GPX. We covered ourselves by explaining a “monkey” was in charge of the Garmin.

Off we plodded and being a shorter route saw changes in the route that were quite precise and not easily read off a Fenix watch. First error led us down a road for about 300 metres to then head back. The second spectacular error saw us head into a forest following a path when in fact we should have continued on down a farm track. After buggering about climbing through bramble and hawthorn and farmer’s field we were back on track. Jenny was polite, The Beast had dug map out and had his head in it. We made it back and correct to Brockholes and managed to add on 0.6 of a mile due to errors: STRAVA.

We chilled out at the HQ and proceeded to eat, or more accurately gobble the food down (me). The highlight for me was hot custard drowning a big slice of Swiss Roll while nattering with Kate Saville, a fellow Saddleworth Runnner. The Beast was meanwhile putting his Sunday Best on.

The cold I’d picked up was by now chipping in and I was tired and aching. It was also clear that I am out of form for longs, and not good with The Trigger and The Hebden coming up in January; additionally my left bum cheek (glute) was wrecking me on the last tarmac stretch back on the long loop.

As we headed back home the weather really opened up and it was raining by the bucket load as we drove over the Isle of Skye road (local name for the Greenfield/Holmfirth Road) with the wind driving rain drops sideward. We thought of and felt sorry for the runners and especially walkers still out there.

Worthwhile, but it has brought home the fact I have to get my arse out and cover some mileage.

Lee Mill Fell Relays (with okay weather?!?!?)

Well, that time of year again when I run in the Lee Mill Fell Relays at Bacup. This year the Saddleworth Runners fielded two teams.

Team Sausage R1: John Haigh, R2: Christopher Roberts, R3: Adrian Sell, R4: Peter Cobley.

Bits and Bob R1: Bridget Lancashire, R2: Kevin Jones, R3: James Sheard, R4: Nick Haynes.

The Lee Mill Fell Relays is a cracking event run across the quarries (now MTB sites) and moors above Bacup, and is notorious for the weather being atrocious on the course and making for challenging running over the 6 mile course and it’s 1.3k feet of climb. It can be boggy in places and capable of swallowing runners whole. It’s a great atmosphere of a race with plenty of clubs participating from local and not so local.

A team is made of four runners and can be mixed and all are usually from the same club, sometimes brave souls run twice! Runnner A sets of, then hands over to B, and so on. The combined times of the four teammates decides who wins, the competition; naturally the fastest.

The event is legendary for the weather being harsh during November on exposed moorland and in past events runners have needed to be rescued or carted off to hospital with hypothermia. So, the new runners to the race were pleased that a cold overcast day was classed as positively tropical when compared to previous years. Below is a photo and video collage from 2015 when the weather was bad, very bad, and I was running. I can be seen 10 minutes into the video approaching the highest point of the course, the trig pojnt at Top of Leach (see the OS map).

We all had a great time and a relay is a good way to meet club members. Legs? Tired…

FLICKR: https://www.flickr.com/gp/petercobley/12D1Wj

STRAVA: https://www.strava.com/activities/1984325813

A trot in the dark.

Tuesday saw one of the night runs kindly led by Irish Alice from the Standedge Tunnel visitor centre. Head torches galore we trotted off into the cold night.

Park Horse Bridge, Marsden

The route ended up being about 4 miles, and for me was interesting as it utilised paths I am not too familiar with up to and around the March Haigh Reservoir. The Strava details can be read as to route, but an OS map screen grab paints a clearer picture.

Full Flickr photos are here.

There is also something compelling and captivating about the long stream of head torches in the night on the run.

Penmaenmawr fell race and Rhoscolyn Beach...

The weekend just gone saw Peter and Claire from Found Us racing in the Penmaenmawr fell race near Conwyn; third time in a row, and never ceases to amaze…

Rhoscolyn Beach at sunset

The Saddleworth Runners piled over to an old favourite venue, Outdoor Alternative, next to Rhoscolyn beach on Holy Island, next to Anglesey, organised by Howard and Jo chambers, and also their way of saying goodbye before they relocate to Greece to live. It was poignant, but good fun, and I think a nice way for Jo and Howard to wrap things up with everyone; it is not a goodbye by any means.

Outdoor Alternative

The Penmaenmawr fell race is a 10 mile endeavour with 1.7k feet of cumulative climb. It is a special race for the Saddleworth Runners who run it every year traditionally in fancy dress to a theme, with this year being cops and robbers. There is a long climb to Penmaen Mawr (a quarried hill overlooking the A55 and sea) from the beautiful village of Capelulo, then a lovely run across the tops to beneath Foel Lwyd, and a lengthy fast undulating grassy run back to the village. There were 152 runners (bit low on previous years) and I finished 30th overall, and 12th in my age category - so very happy, as I had some “juice” left in the legs and had not pushed it to the limit. I was roughly two minutes up on the time last year as well, which was good as we all faced a strong headwind over the tops, that certainly would have affected times.

After the race it was back to the outdoor centre at Rhoscolyn for good company, a trip to the pub via the wonderful beach, then food. Early night for me as I was shattered by 10pm.

The White Eagle at Rhoscolyn

The morning saw a fine 5 mile run along the coastal path to the north of Rhoscolyn with wonderful views, then a clean up, and back home to Mossley.

A half recce of the Landgale Horsehoe; wet, windy, and cold to boot.

As everyone is talking football I’ll describe today’s recce of the Langdale horseshoe with Suzanne, Sean, and Claire as follows. First half involved a pleasant two hour journey up to The Lakes, or specifically the Old Dungeon Ghyll in what was overcast but fine weather. Well it was fine at the start…

We used the official race map from Harveys, a GPX from a fellow runner, and off we went. By the time we reached Ore Gap the Weather was gusting at 50 plus mph with rain, and a wind chill we estimated around 3 degrees C. This was the start of the second half of the "match” and the weather was playing dirty, with yours truly clearly giving it the red card. Basically it was horrific, and a prompt decision was made to head back down as soon as was possible via Rossett Gill and the Cumbria Way. By now the wind was driving the rain hard into our faces and we were all sodden, really sodden. It would have been fool hardy to have headed up to Bow Fell and continued the rest of the route across Crinkle Crags and onto Pike of Blisco, especially as the route would take in “Bad Step”.

We thankfully made it back to Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel as drowned rats and changed into fresh clothing if but to shake off the chill. Food was had and we slowly warmed up. A great adventure, but not one to be repeated. And if the race next Saturday has the same weather conditions, then?

The post match interview with the Saddleworth team and the Weather over the score of Weather 1, Saddleworth Runners 0, led to the conclusion the weather should have been Yellow carded. But hey that’s football…

FLICKR: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmtpgyxA

STRAVA: https://www.strava.com/activities/1890951680

A Park Run, Macclesfield, The Utterley Butterley, and Gerard Campbell.

Considering Sunday’s sunshine and heat, yesterday was positively frigid, with a morning temperature of 3 degrees C. Today being Tuesday is sunny with a crisp feel to the air.

Huddersfield Canal, Uppermill, Monday 24th September with the walking garbage disposal unit.

Huddersfield Canal, Uppermill, Monday 24th September with the walking garbage disposal unit.

So it was Monday and now Tuesday whilst I have been typing away. Monday in Mother’s place in Macclesfield and now Starbucks on the Manchester bound side of the M62 at the Hartshead Moor Services. It was cold outside yesterday, and cold inside as Mum’s combi boiler was leaking water when the heating was put on. Something somewhere has gone very wrong in its innards. Typing fast did not seem to be working as a means of generating heat. Found Us candidates and clients would be most impressed at my fortitude. I now shelter on Tuesday afternoon after meetings in Leeds in Starbucks and it’s warm.

It was a good running weekend all in told. Saturday saw the Park Run at Hyde Park as one of the races for the Saddleworth Runners Club Championship. Never ran this Park Run before, and never really been a Park Run person. Anyway, printed off the barcode, found the venue and off we went. The cunning plan was to follow Kevin Jones (“Bearded Bullet”) or at least keep up with him. In a nutshell this cunning plan failed at the point where I went the wrong way, not having pre-run the route, which led to burning off a lot of puff when pulling back places I’d lost. Not the best finish, one of those things really, but certainly impressed with the new Inov-8 Rocklites. It has encouraged me to do some more Park Runs as they do help with the old running.

Onto Sunday and the Utterley Butterley fell race. A very fast race, more of a trail race that starts from the dam of the Butterley Reservoir then into the moorland by Black Moss and Swellands Reservoirs then back to a finish by Pule Hill. 5 miles with 850 feet of climb and it is fast. Great fun mind you and organised by two of the Saddleworth Runners, Jane and Martyn Hodgson, in order to raise money for the Scouts locally. There were over 100 runners from various clubs and we even bumped into a runner from Hull of all places, over visiting his lad in Manchester. The race is highly recommended, and left yours truly feeing cheerful after Saturday’s Park Run performance. I ran strong despite being tired, kept Bridget Lancashire off, but did not manage to pip Stu Hutchison and Andy Poole, but close to these two fine runners. Overall I came in 21st out of 138 runners with a time of 38.17. Age wise I was 9th.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1860689758

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/petercobley/albums/72157695847102680

Yesterday (Monday 24th) I headed to Macclesfield for two sad events. One was to sign the paperwork with the solicitor as part of concluding he Probate process for father, the second was to then attend the memorial service for Gerard Campbell, one of my old A-Level teachers. A rebel from the LSE who dragged me through History and Economics. Gone, but not forgotten. A great teacher who’s end result, with others, was my getting a Law degree at Lancaster - wonders never cease… An inspiration who also produced three wonderful sons, in the form of Simon, Leon, and Duncan.


A Portuguese Extravaganza.

Typing here in the Limekiln cafe with Mr Ted on my lap. Overcast and it looks like it is going to pour down Biblical fashion. (Now at home and it is peeing it down…)


Well, back into it in terms of Found Us, the fell running, and the weather bearing in mind it got to 33 degrees C in Portugal; more on that below. I was out last night on the Tuesday night session with the Saddleworth Runners and toward the end the rain at Broadstones (Sykes Pillar) was coming in horizontally, thankfully it was not cold.

I’d arrived back from Portugal with Karl in the early hours of Monday having spent four days at his parent’s place at the village of Figueirinha in the hills about an hour from Faro. Remote, hilly, local, spectacular, and all importantly quiet and far from the madding crowds. It was something Karl had suggested and I needed at the Wake for my father. I’d also not seen James and Di his parents in a while, and that appealed.

There were no plans, and it simply became four days comprising a bit of work, relaxation, swimming in the pool, running, and venturing out in the hire car. Notably was a jaunt out on mountain bikes which is something that I’d not done in a while across the tracks crisscrossing the hills. It was much needed. Me, a break from it all, time to have reflection and down time, and a simple break for Carl with his running a business and having a family of four children.

The area is interesting for the simply reason that it holds a barren ruggedness in the the eye of the visitor with its expanse of pine, eucalyptus, and Medronho trees from which a liqueur is made. Temperature? Hot and dry. Best example is the solo run I took on Sunday with the intention of running 10 miles. This was sacked off at 6 miles even before 11am in the morning in a day that saw the heat rise to 33 degrees C.


Flickr Figueirinha photos.

Di and James were on good form and great hosts, and so pleased for them with the house they had built by an artistically led architect. It was a risk, a real risk, but Cristina Rodriquez has delivered.

It was fascinating to see the local way of life which revolves around community and self sufficiency with people literally living off the land as they grow crops, tend bee hives, or hunt wild boar; a way of life James and Di have adopted.

Longlands, Cartmel, Turner Landscape, Grange-over-Sands.

Well we are now in Scotland loving the hospitality of Claire's parents in Hamilton after travelling up from Cartmel, after a morning breakfast in rainy Grange-over-Sands.


Friday saw us head up to Cartmel for a last minute booking via Sykes Cottages at an undiscovered gem called Longlands, walking distance from the village, where we stayed for three nights in the old Coach House. A much needed break after a hectic week which saw Claire and I start to sort Dad's affairs, me work on the business, and Claire help out.

Cartmel is mostly famous for its racecourse and races, and despite this the village does offer a place to wander via curiosity and vintage shops, see the medieval priory, and hark back to an older Lakeland England of narrow streets, cobbles, tea and scones, and not really giving a fig as to the outside world.

Friday night we bedded in and had a relaxed meal at The Pheasant in Allithwaite; highly recommended and Ted friendly, with lovely staff. Saturday was race day for Claire at the Turner Landscape Fell Race from Turner Hall Farm in the Duddon Valley. A Lakeland classic and in the English Champs calendar for 2018, and thus over 300 runners. Roughly 11 miles and 3k feet of cumulative climb on what was a warm day with little breeze. Claire, Sandrine, Monica, Tanya, and Chris all competing from the Saddleworth Runners.


The girls delivered a sterling effort for team Saddleworth whilst Ted and I dragged ourselves up a long Walna Scar Road to watch from Dow Crag, and it was a climb and a half with us both not realising it is over 2k feet climb from Turner Hall Farm to Dow Crag over 3 miles. That said we sat down and enjoyed the runners trotting by, to then make our way back down.


Dinner was fish and chips in an absolutely rain drowned Grange-over-Sands, nice mind you, and then back to the cottage for sleepy Claire to rest her head in the four poster bed that we decided was "indoors camping".

Sunday was relaxed and we commenced a walk to the top Hampsfell that Longlands sits directly under, aiming for the Hospice that was build years ago by one of the previous estate inhabitants. It's a tower with a view, and shelter with a heath for weary walkers and on top you can use the equivalent of a compass to see all the major fells as you look into The Lakes. Cartmel technically sits outside of The Lakes, situated close to the sea and out of the fells. A potter then occurred, with a brief interlude to hide from the rain as we headed for Cartmel to sample the shops and a visiting antiques fair, with a bite to eat and coffee. A cross country walk back across fields saw us back at the cottage with only one incident involved Ted being chased by a cow protecting its calves; it was noteworthy to see how fast Ted can shift when he wants to, mind you it was one big cow that had taken a dislike, and unusually for Ted he did not query or ignore size in this clearly one sided instance.


A dinner at the cottage then saw us bed down for the night, before the drive to Scotland, first taking in breakfast and then a wander in Grange-over-Sands at the rather (but dog friendly, as long as you observe the rules) posh Hazelmere. The wander was good as Ted and I escaped The Boss to bimble off onto the Salt Marshes, chatting to a local, well he comes originally from Milnrow, about the sands and the tides. He explained he was waiting to watch tidal bore and so we waited with him transfixed at what was to come; while all of this was going on (in the rain, but armed with a brolly) we watched as his female collie decided Ted was a sheep that needed herding. Ted was not happy.


The tidal bore, whilst not wild or high, was frighteningly relentless as it moved toward Arnside. A huge volume of water, faster than a man can run engulfed the sands and you would not have stood a chance if out there as the sea would have consumed you or trapped you with its vicious currents. It was fascinating to watch but chilling. It is true what they say about the sands of Morcambe Bay, they are lethal.

Flickr photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmgMez9j