Saddleworth Round

Saddleworth Round 2019

Sunday 4th August saw the Saddleworth Round. It’s a B category Long and in non-fell runner parlance is 16.5 miles long, with over 3,000 feet of climb over the moors of Saddleworth.

Start - very humid

The runners set of from the junction of Running Hill Lane/Running Hill Gate above Uppermill and Diggle, with the Cross Keys Pub acting as race HQ. A wonderful location in what was hot and humid weather.

The runners set off and aim initially for Broadstone Trig, then across to Pots and Pans, down Alderman to Binn Green car park, across the dam between Dove Stone and Yeoman Hey Reservoirs and up Ashway Gap. On the edges the runners head for Fox Stone and drop from there to the base of Indian’s Head aiming for Chew Reservoir road. At Chew Reservoir runners head for Laddow Rocks, then Black Hill, following the old Pennine Way to Holmfirth Road which is crossed to then pick up the Cotton Famine Road to head back via Broadstone Trig and the pub for a finish.

James Sheard was Race Organiser for the day and did a sterling job, pulling all on the day together into a cohesive whole. Prior to the day he’d been a Whirling Dervish of activity, for example heading out at the crack of dawn to flag the route and place the two Racetek units at CP2 and 3.

James Sheard (left) and John Charles Heathcote

I myself (with wifey) was responsible for the registration and results and a little nervous as we did not have Fabian 4 (the wonderful Ellie and Adrian) on site to supervise. I arrived early to be greeted by the even earlier Andy Essex and so we began arranging furniture at the barn next to the pub where Oldham Mountain Rescue are based. Others arrived and all mucked in, with big thanks to Jed Finnigan, Andy Essex, Jill Davies, and Claire Cobley. All went smoothly indeed, and by 10.45am we drove up to the start armed with two Racetek units to allow us to count the runners.

Off they went with success and the Racetek system recording all. Phew. Before an hour was out we counted the runners through CP2 at Ashway Gap, by Fox Stone CP3 we counted 24 runners but not the other 45 - a failure. On picking up the unit after the race we discovered it was off, so could only surmise that a runner had possible accidentally switched the unit off. For future races we intend using a plastic housing over the unit to thus avoid any unfortunate screen or button presses. We are not completely sure, but nonetheless we knew all runners were out, 69 in total. One runner did retire.

It was tough conditions in my opinion due to the heat and humidity, but that did not stop the race record being broken by our very own Chris Phillips of the Saddleworth Runners, who was first runner back with a cracking time of 2 hours 26 minutes and 5 seconds.

Chris Phillips descending Alderman

On the women’s side Bridget Lancashire and her sister Martha Tibbot did the club proud by coming in as first and second ladies.

Bridget and Martha climbing out of Chew Brook

Finish funnel team

In the meantime as the runners ran, we built the finish funnel and waited. When the first runner and subsequent ones went through we noticed all were recorded successfully via the system with results displayed on a monitor. Relieved and pleased, it was a good result, which the runners liked - easy to see times. As people came in the pub started to organise the chip butties whilst runners drank beer and cleaned themselves off via an outside tap. People milled in the outside area.

It was a successful and much enjoyed run by the runners, organisers, spectators, and bystanders who happened to come across the race.

After packing up, Claire and I headed home to change into running gear to then head out with Ted the Terrier to get the Racetek units from CP2 and 3, also collecting flags en route. A beautiful evening in which to finish off.

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.


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?

Recce of Saddleworth Round, Navigational Jinx, and the Cracken Edge Fell Race

Last week saw some action packed running antics, Monday 30th July was a recce of the Saddleworth Round fell race, Tuesday was a navigational race with club members, and Wednesday saw the Cracken Fell Race from Hayfield.

Monday, Claire and I ventured out on what was a hot day, hot with a bit of cloud, to recce the Saddleworth Round, a new fell race being organised by the Saddleworth Runners. We started off above Uppermill and Diggle at Running Hill Gate and Running Hill Lane, and made our way to the summit of Alderman above Dove Stone Reservoir, dropped to Dove Stone, then up Ashway Gap which was hot and humid to then head for Fox Stone, with a fast run down to Dove Stone. Weather still good. The climb up to Chew Reservoir took a while, and so we began to cross to Laddow Rocks, at this point the heavens opened with driving rain, that changeable, which required cags to keep warm. It's a long old drag to Black Hill, and then a long run down from Black Hill via the old Pennine Way route to the Holmfirth Road. You then cross to pick up the Cotton Famine Road to head back, which proved to be quite a long drag on tired legs as the race is over 16 miles with 3k of cumulative climb. A good experience and recce before the race on Sunday.

Tuesday was the traditional club night with a difference. Jim Butt kindly organised an orienteering event around Dove Stone (back there again) utilising the fixed orienteering locations. All in all good fun, but if honest I was out of practice, running solo, and rushing too much which led to some terrible navigation and thus timekeeping within a 1.5 hour allowance, suffice to say I ended up mid-way down the scoring. But had a good run. Matters became complicated on realising as I headed back to the finish that I had lost my mobile phone when taking a tumble at a checkpoint above Dove Stone in ridiculously deep tussocks and grass (note to self, where were the sheep?) I borrowed Ron Gilmour's iPhone to find the exact location and off I ran with fading light leaving the others behind. On getting back to the tussocks it became apparent that whilst I might be in the right location, finding the phone was the proverbial needle in a haystack... Thankfully I remembered my Garmin watch is able to get the iPhone to make a noise. So after wandering about to Bluetooth connect both, I pinged the phone and luckily found it buried in a tussock - very lucky indeed.

Wednesday Ted and I went on an adventure to head back to the same site, with my having lost a Staedtler pen when trying to find the phone; a comedy of errors. No pen could be found and Ted had an ordeal in the grass.


Wednesday, having the taste for running led me to head for the Cracken Edge Fell Race over in Hayfield at 7.30pm in the evening and run by the Kinder Mountain Rescue Team as a fund raiser. I arrived there later than planned and was the last runner to sign up, with a dash to the start, of which I had no clue; by the time I arrived the runners were formed, over 200 of them. I was a good 50 metres away when the horn sounded... I was literally the last runner. There was no choice in stiflingly hot weather but to leg it past runners up an initially tight track. Plenty of "excuse me" and darting between bodies. I ended up finishing 86th out of 220 runners, so I managed to pass 134 runners, all in all quite pleased in tough conditions on a fast race, but I won't be repeating that again. The race is 7 miles with 1.5k feet of climb and as I said fast.



(Whilst all of this was going on, in the background was the knowledge that my father had been in hospital since 23rd August, having picked up a serious infection.)