Long established as a Horwich RMI Harrier’s club run, Coope’s Dozen visits 12 summits on the Winter Hill massif in Lancashire. The route has been refined over the years and date is now established as the last Saturday before the Borrowdale fell race which, generally, means the last Saturday in July. Originally a closed race, restricted to HRMI members, it now attracts the occasional guest as well as runners wishing to join in the fun without subjecting themselves to the rigours and pain the entire 18 mile route would involve.
Thus we gathered at the Upper Barn car park last Saturday for the leisurely start at or around 09:00. The obligatory ‘final photo’ is taken before before the motley crew makes its way to the start line. On the extreme left of the picture I find myself wearing the same vest as I wore in last year’s ‘final photo’ which suggests the weather was good last year too. Introductions to the entire cast would take too long and two of the more important members don’t actually run. Between taking photographs, John’s wife Joan and Ray’s wife Christina meet us at two road crossings to ply us with all manner of homemade cakes, flapjack and other assorted goodies – more on this later. The ‘John’ mentioned above is John Coope (of Coope’s Dozen) and is on the left of the picture in the white shirt. This is one of a few races Pauline and I both run and she is third from the right.
Until the final summit (Healey Nab) is reached the race is run in a group or more recently in a number of groups. By the first summit (Noon Hill) three groups had established themselves. Pauline was in the second group with Nicole (2nd from right) and Ray (extreme right) and they were to chase the first group (myself, Tony (centre, dark blue tee shirt and without his famous yellow hat), Colin (centre, red tee shirt) and Albert who dragged me round last year (hiding behind Pauline). At least, they were to chase us until making a huge route finding error on their way to the final summit. Pauline & Nicole now need a miracle at the FRA Navigation Course later in the year. This is all well and good except for the fact the Ray (the 3rd member) has already done the course and couldn’t help them get it right! This wasn’t their only significant error as Pauline’s GPS trace established they missed Spittler’s Edge summit entirely. We weren’t immune to such errors, they were just on a smaller scale.
The final summit (Healey Nab) lies NW of the large reservoir and the two tracks diverge as they approach the reservoir – the blue track is my group (on the shortest line) and the red track is Pauline’s group which goes horribly wrong.
From Noon Hill the route visits Rivington Pike, Two Lads, Whimberry Hill, Egg Hillock, Counting Hill and then Winter Hill itself before leaving Winter Hill to reach the first road crossing at Horden Stoops where Joan and Christina are waiting with food and drinks. One of their cardboard boxes made us wonder about its contents.
Despite the labelling the contents were delicious and fortified we set off for the second half of the route having just seen Pauline, Nicole and Ray start their final descent to the road crossing.
After a less than optimum route choice we reached Old Adam then Spittler’s Edge and Great Hill where we met a number of walkers and a black spaniel who seemed as puzzled as anyone about why we do what we were doing.
On to Sugar Loaf and another road crossing where we met John before going the wrong way to Healey Nab, the 12th of the 12.
We knew we had gone the wrong way to Healey Nab even before we saw John, who had set off after us, reaching the summit ahead of us. As we set off to leave the summit (in different directions) John couldn’t be persuaded that we knew a better way back to Rivington – fortunately we were right, this time. This final section of the route is fairly flat but involves more road than any of us really wanted but we made it back to the Upper Barn car park in a bit over 4 hours to complete Coope’s Dozen for 2009. To cap it all, as it were, Tony was then persuaded (without much difficulty) to let us see the famous yellow hat he had been talking about almost all the way round – what better way to finish off than this?
Thanks to you all and in particular thanks to Joan and Christina for another great day out on Coope’s Dozen.