Happy New Year!
The “Tan-Cat” is the longest, highest, toughest pub crawl in England – starting at the Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in the country, the route winds south over all the summits that can be found to the Cat & Fiddle Inn, the second highest pub in the country. This is a classic Rucksack Club walk, in summer, and has been completed in winter, by the club’s exacting standards, only once – in 1980. This attempt aims to complete the walk and break the winter record of 61 hours.
West Stones Dale is the very start of the route and before we had completed four miles the first of the rain showers arrived and marked the end the photographs. As the first day wore on the weather deteriorated and deteriorated further as darkness fell. The final two summits before Linton (Buckden Pike & Great Whernside) were difficult because of the 50-60mph winds and by then I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to reach the Cat & Fiddle. Rather than prolonging the agony I baled out at Linton and wished the other three the very best for the remaining 90 miles.
They carried on in conditions almost as difficult and reached the Cat & Fiddle at 17:50, in a total of 56:35, well inside the previous record of 61 hours. Chapeau!
A gentle run out over Great Hill from White Coppice with some Preston Harriers and other fell runners in before retiring to a local hostelry – just like a year ago apart from Pauline coming along this year and the slightly different conditions.
No crossing of Great Hill is complete with stopping to check that Joe’s cup is still concealed in the wall opposite the spring that gave Drinkwaters Farm its name.
Joe, a member of Wigan Phoenix, was one of Lancashire’s true fell running characters well known for his ultra-distance runs over these moors. The spring at Drinkwaters was used regularly by Joe and his companions on Sunday morning runs. The February 1992 Fellrunner magazine contained an obituary where it was observed
“Joe Whitter was one of those essential characters that make fell running what it is. The Anglezarke Moors will be a poorer place without him and he will be sadly missed. Typically, Joe requested his ashes be scattered on the moors he loved, and there are many fell runners who will now be unable to run past Drinkwaters on Great Hill without remembering him.”
Today’s grey, damp dawn suggests today Christmas Eve might not be like last year but things will be merry nevertheless. We’ll have a run over Great Hill later today, Winter Hill tomorrow and a walk with friends to the pub on Boxing Day. Whatever you do to celebrate, enjoy it to the full – have a very merry Christmas and thanks for looking in, today and all year.
Joined Lostock AC on Sunday morning for their annual “Mince Pie” run to the Two Lads and then over the top of Winter Hill. Very sociable morning out with mince pies and a “wee dram” at the Two Lads. Plenty of snow but not quite as dry and crisp as yesterday in the Howgills.
After considering a number of options during the week Colin and I headed north to the Howgills where we were pretty sure we would find some snow and some quiet and beautiful hills – we weren’t disappointed. Climbing out of some low cloud to enjoy warm sunshine while sheltered from the bitter wind. The weather seemed to decide to allow us a couple of hours of pure, unbeatable enjoyment before reminding us that December is winter, after all. The cloud base dropped as we approached our final summit while flurries of snow accompanied us back down to the road but none of this could take away from a wonderful winter outing.
I missed much of the best of Saturday’s weather; after a frosty, pre-dawn run I managed only a stroll across the local fields as the clouds swirled high above Aspull producing dramatic skies. By Sunday, as forecast, the weather closed in and Sunday dawned dark, grey and very wet. A year ago the Sunday of the South Lancs Xmas Walk (SLXW) was cold, crisp and clear. The ground was frozen hard and the sunshine was almost warm. The SLXW is a short (12 mile) charity even we have supported and enjoyed for a number of years. In the past I have run there, run the event and run home but one look at the weather on Sunday was enough to convince me that while running there might be fine but hot soup and a lift would be much better than running home.
The closed golf course gives an indication of how wet the ground is and the fact that it is still raining means it isn’t going to get any better. The route meanders around the north west corner of Wigan as seems, even on a good day, to cross some of the softest fields in the area.
After the start it was so wet I put my camera into a dry bag and kept it there – I should probably just have put it in the car and avoided carrying the weight. The rain was reluctant to relent but, as ever, once out, running and keeping warm it turned into an enjoyable morning. Despite the rain and the conditions underfoot we finished within 30 seconds of last year’s time and we have to be pleased with that. Warm soup, dry clothes and a chance to relive the orienteering event Albert and Mark had done the night before completed the morning.