Monday, 30 January 2012

High Cup Nick – 28 January

High Cup Nick is, according to “Visit Cumbria”, a classic U-shaped valley high on the western flanks of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). A deep chasm on the Pennine fellside, this famous nick, a dramatic geological formation at the top of High Cup Gill is part of the well-known Whin Sill, and overlooks the best glaciated valley in Northern England. Here you can see the grey-blue dolerite crags which also form High Force and Cauldron Snout.

Even for an understated description this pretty low key and doesn’t come close to describing it when we saw it on Saturday afternoon at the end of a run in spectacular conditions – I’ll save myself, and you, several thousand words by posting some of the photos taken after we climbed out of the clouds.





















shap-135High Cup Nick – in case you failed to guess









Monday, 23 January 2012

Bridge 80 & Back – 21 January

This may well turn out to be the mildest winter on record which is a pity as I have pair of new, unused ice-axes hanging in the garage but it seems to be the worst winter for strong winds. This weekend was yet another when the wind was, at least, troublesome. I planned a long route over Winter Hill so that the wind would be behind me on the higher ground however when I saw, on Saturday morning, just how strong the wind was in our garden I realised even my carefully planned route was going to be very difficult. Instead I settled for a long run on the Leeds-Liverpool canal while Pauline headed out to meet her usual Saturday running buddies. Coincidently they opted to follow a route very similar to the one I had planned only to find the wind too strong.

With no real plan in mind I set off to join the canal at New Springs and headed north, into the north-westerly wind. Knowing it would be behind me on the way back I decided to aim for about 10 miles and then see how I felt. The overcast sky started to clear and some sunshine appeared both of which helped hugely.

Bridge_80-1Looking back towards Aspull as the sky clears

Bridge_80-2“Flipper” flipped by the strong winds after losing her bow mooring line at Red Rock

Bridge_80-3A pair of Swans feeding

By somewhere around 10 miles my legs didn’t seem too bad and after a shower or two it looked (again) as though the blue sky and sunshine might be here to stay so I decided the “turn round” mile was 13.1 or just a little over or just a little over to ensure the iconic 26.2 was exceeded by the time I got back home.

Bridge_80-4View north from Bridge 80

Bridge 80 is just over 13.2 miles from our house, according to my watch, and so provides an obvious turn round point. Turning back into the sun with only another 13.2 miles left to run my legs didn’t feel too bad although even I knew they weren’t going to get me home as quickly as they had brought me here.

Bridge_80-5Mormon Temple near Chorley

Bridge_80-6Botany Bay Mill – “Shopping and a world of fun”, according to its website

I finished my “Bridge 80 Marathon” (26.5 miles) in a little under four and a half hours – not my fastest marathon time but the muddy towpath, winter kit, carrying everything and not racing all combined to ensure it wouldn’t be fast. On the other hand it was a PB for the route! It will be good to get out on the hills, in daylight, next weekend and I hope there won’t be a strong wind to battle then.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Winter Hill – 14 January

Before travelling north to celebrate Dad’s 86th birthday I had a run up Winter Hill, mostly in the dark. A clear sky promised an impressive sunrise and it didn’t disappoint.

20120114-winterhill-2Horwich Parkway railway station

Running from home to the top of Winter Hill is possible by a variety of routes, most of which involve a combination of tarmac and mud and require a combination of cushioning and studs which simply doesn’t exist. Most of the year and all of the winter the only practical way is to settle for cushioning and stick to the tarmac. A shameful admission, I know, but needs must. As it happened I wasn’t the only one on Winter Hill before dawn on Saturday. Once on the road to the mast I could see two lights descending from Rivington Pike and I vaguely remembered seeing two hikers a year ago tramping over Winter Hill in the dark. I met them a little later as they too made their way up the mast road. Approaching the Trig Point I could see another torch and recognised Mark setting up a camera to “film” the sunrise.

20120114-winterhill-4Getting ready to film the sunrise

This might not have turned out to be one of Mark’s best but do look out for him and a few others during the Winter Hill fell race next month when they will filming the race. It was too cold for me to stay for long so I headed for home and a hot shower while Mark waited for the sun.

20120114-winterhill-6Almost first light on Georges Lane

20120114-winterhill-9The two bungalows and trees create silhouettes as the sun rises

20120114-winterhill-15Sun reaches Chorley Old Road

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Double – 06 January

By tradition, the first meet in the calendar of The Rucksack Club each year is the linear walk (or run) from Marsden to Edale, a distance of about 25 miles (depending on the route chosen) with about 5000 feet of climb. If done “with style”, and many still do it this way, Marsden will be reached by train and a homeward train taken from Edale after a pint in the Old Nag’s Head. Some consider that it can only be done “properly” if Marsden is reached by walking from Edale and so it was that I made my way to Edale on Friday night to walk to the start of Saturday’s meet some 25 miles north. Eleven set off and of those, 2 would go only as far as Marsden – 1 by design the other by choice on Saturday morning.

The wind was going to remain a constant companion but the evening’s rain did stop at some time during the night and finally gave up just after breakfast making the return leg more pleasant than parts of the outward leg had been.

double-500-100All smiles in the pub on Friday night

double-502-101Alternative route required

Although there hadn’t been much rain in the previous 24 hours the ground is very wet and the rivers are very high – so high that when we reach the first crossing (Fair Brook, a tributary of the River Ashop) we are facing a raging torrent and are unable to cross it. The alternative adds 2.5 miles and several hundred feet of climbing to the original route as well as some concern about the river crossings ahead of us – river crossings were a problem last year.

double-504-102Relaxing on top of Bleaklow

double-505-103About four on Saturday morning – some snap before tackling Black Hill

double-508-104Breakfast at Marsden in the back of Wade’s camper van

double-510-105Julie with her dog, Johnny, (who, almost, “Doubled” after being thrown in a stream and swept away) as Wade looks on

double-512-106Wessenden Reservoir (the black spec is Andy, our leader, who got left behind a bit here as we headed south)

double-519-107Preparing for the Group Photo on Black Hill

Several Group Photos were taken before (another) Andy arrived so it all had to be done again, in fact, it had to be done several times as the first few were taken before everyone arrived.


double-520-108The ‘final’ Group Photo on Black Hill

double-521-109After getting there we need to get off the other side

Johndouble-524-111Johnny being inserted into a rucksack

Johny was carried for a bit so I am not sure if his attempt really counts – on the other hand he was swept away in a river during the night which probably more than makes up for the short carry. At the river crossing in question the river was a little too wide to jump comfortably and too deep to wade through so Julie attempted to throw Johnny to the far bank but he didn’t quite make it and was swept away before anyone could do anything. Happily he climbed out before anyone was able to attempt anything rash – like trying to rescue him.


double-525-112Satellite wreckage on Sliddens Moss

I thought this was aircraft wreckage but when I looked for details of it I found it described as satellite wreckage and I can’t tell the difference.

double-527-113Another river crossing

Will (in green jacket) has just jumped on to the rock in the middle of the river – I tried to snap him in mid-air but failed and then did no better when Dave repeated the feat moments later.


double-530-114Sunshine on Snake Pass provides some late afternoon encouragement

double-532-11519 hours in and Kinder still to cross – you can see what fun we have

With a near-complete absence of navigation errors and a complete absence of serious navigation errors we reached Marsden about an hour later than expected as a result of being unable to cross Fair Brook. Fortified by Wade’s breakfast we didn’t lose time on the return leg, the river crossing were fine and we reached Edale just after dark.


double-535-116The 2012 Doublers with an interloper who stepped out of the pub just in time for the photo

This is the end of the journey but as the first meet of the year it is also an opportunity to catch up with other club members and, of course, some of the “Singlers” in the pub.

double-100-117Andy Howie and Lis

Andy is the “Double” Meet leader and got us safely to Marsden and back to Edale in time for a pint.


double-102-119Lis and another

Lis left Edale with us on Friday night but had enough sense to “call it a day” at Marsden so “Singled” in the other direction.

double-101-118Plans being being laid by, amongst others, Dominic Oughton - current Club President (in black shirt above the  menu)

Huge thanks to Andy for getting us back to the pub safely and to the other 2012 Doublers for making sure the Double happened again.

Finally, Gerrard Cudahy who provided the road support for the Winter “Tan-Cat” soloed the Double. Leaving Edale while we were still in the pub he managed to cross Fair Brook (describing it as ‘difficult’). Once over Bleaklow and remembering how difficult Fair Brook had been decided to go round rather than over Black Hill. We met him at Wessenden as he was starting back to Edale.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Healey Nab – 02 January

Our planned Trig Point ticking in Bowland was severely curtailed by high winds so after 1 low level Trig we retreated to Healey Nab to have our cobwebs blown away by a less threatening wind.


20120102-healeynab-14North west over Chorley



20120102-healeynab-15South East to Rivington Pike

20120102-healeynab-16South East to Winter Hill with Rivington Pike on the right

20120102-healeynab-19South over Anglezark Reservoirs with the lights of the Reebok stadium just visible in the distance 


20120102-healeynab-21Occasional flash of sunshine too

20120102-healeynab-22The Watermans Cottage

20120102-healeynab-48Big sky above Anglezark Reservoir