Monday, 26 March 2012

Edale Skyline fell race – 25 March

For a variety of reasons the Edale Skyline has remained on my “to Do” list of fell races but I decided this year might be the one to change that. The weather couldn’t have been predicted and while the visibility and rapidly drying ground were both very welcome the unseasonal temperature wasn’t. Before turning for Man Nick we saw the edge of an inversion further down Hope Valley and, at Julie’s suggestion we carried on for a closer look.

20120325-edale-204Hope Valley Inversion (1)


20120325-edale-6-EditHope Valley Inversion (2)

Most of the morning mist had burned off around Edale but just sufficient remained to produce a slight haze and only higher up and later in the day would blue sky that might have been expected appear.

20120325-edale-500-EditTowards Lose Hill and Hollins Cross

20120325-edale-501Gathering at the start

20120325-edale-505Up the zig-zags

20120325-edale-506Ringing Roger

20120325-edale-507Lose Hill with mist in the valleys

20120325-edale-510Win Hill summit

20120325-edale-513Climbing to Lose Hill

20120325-edale-517Along the Edge with Lose Hill in the middle distance

20120325-edale-210Recovering in the sunshine

In heat like Sunday is it a hard day and so relentlessly runnable – I had to run up some of the hills! Really well organised, well marshalled and huge thanks are due to everyone involved.  I had hoped to be a little quicker but given the heat and that I hadn’t done it previously I am happy with my time of 04:07:20. Full results are here.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Winter Hill: Coope’s Dozen Recce – 17 March

Coope’s Dozen is a long established Horwich RMI club run that is now open to friends and guests as well as club members. The route is more or less established but a number of variations have been used over the years and there might still be others worth investigating. This morning’s plan is to finally establish the best of the new variations to the summit of Counting Hill and to have another look at the route from Sugar Loaf that Albert took me on in 2009.

The low cloud made finding Rivington Pike tricky so I wasn’t optimistic about the next 10 of the dozen until the clouds started to lift and blow away.

20120317-winterhill-3The “Two Lads” under heavy grey clouds as the last of the lower clouds blow away

20120317-winterhill-7Bolton under high clouds

Far from finalising the best route to Counting Hill summit I found the worst new line of all the ones I have looked at over this winter. As with almost all of them it starts out looking very good, becomes a little vague and finally disappears – this one didn’t finally disappear until it was in the middle of, what will be in July, the worst of very bad bracken. This was disappointing, not least, because the whole point of this it to avoid the bands of bracken or find a way through them. This needs yet another recce.


20120317-winterhill-12Belmont Village

20120317-winterhill-24Finger Post on Great Hill points to Darwen Tower which can be seen in the distance

After Counting Hill the route over Winter Hill, Old Adam, Spittlers Edge and Great Hill is fairly straightforward. Sugar Loaf seems to float on a peat bog – especially if you are running down to it from Great Hill. From its summit faint and not so faint paths radiate out in almost all directions. I knew roughly the direction I wanted and I also knew Albert had some trouble find the route so I set off following a faint trod running in the right direction. Before long I realised why Albert had route finding problems here – there isn’t a route. Eventually I decided it would be better to cross Hurst Hill than to try and contour round – I also hoped I might be able to see the farm at which I should join the road. It might have been better crossing Hurst Hill but it wasn’t good, the ground is quite difficult.


20120317-winterhill-26Twin Cairns on Hurst Hill with Winter Hill in the distance

Beyond the summit the ground is no better and quad bike track I followed added a mile or so to the route and completely convinced me I won’t be coming this way again on my own. 0/2 for route finding this morning but I haven’t been on Hurst Hill before and hadn’t seen the cairns so that was fine. The above shot of the cairns was quite pleasing so I felt I had enough useable photos and thought I might just add one of the Waterman’s Cottage at Heapey.

20120317-winterhill-29Waterman’s Cottage at Heapey overlooking a somewhat depleted reservoir

Standing by the wall looking at the cottage I thought I saw something move just below me. A second glance revealed nothing and just as I had convinced myself there was nothing to see, I took another look, just to be sure and . . . .


20120317-winterhill-28A weasel has another look to see what I am doing

Monday, 12 March 2012

Haworth Hobble – 10 March

The “Hobble” is a long race even although it is now only 32 miles (the “short version”, the 44 mile longer version is now a thing of the past) and being early in the year is a measure of winter training and a reminder that, for most people, eating and drinking enough is a significant part of the race. The weather, too, plays a big role and despite hints of blue sky it kept providing the low cloud remained in place until after lunchtime. A tiresome headwind made the first 18 miles or so more difficult than most of us would have wished – it is a hard enough day, anyway.

20120310-HHobble-2Julie getting ready

20120310-HHobble-4Eager anticipation, at this stage

20120310-HHobble-302Walking down to the start – to turn round and race back up the wet cobbles

20120310-HHobble-303Karen and Wendy

20120310-HHobble-301The Haworth Hobble it might be but doorstep deliveries still take place

20120310-HHobble-304Climbing towards Mankinholes

20120310-HHobble-307Climbing towards Stoodley Pike as the clouds begin to lift

The clouds did lift and we enjoyed a tailwind and sunshine after Stoodley Pike. By that time however I was keen to see if my carefully executed steady start had left enough in my legs to press on a bit so no more photos – just the battle with weariness.


20120310-HHobble-205I am not the only one with a camera at the finish

20120310-HHobble-211Enjoying the sunshine afterwards – two runners in yellow vests (behind) are just finishing

Huge thanks to Brett, all marshals and everyone else who makes this happen. I managed to eat and drink enough to avoid the previous years’ disasters and my slow start allowed me to take about 5 minutes off last year’s time and still be running (fairly) strongly at the end so, perhaps, it was too steady a start?


20120310-HHobble-206What it really feels like at the end of “The Hobble”!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Winter Hill - 03 March

An early start in an attempt to beat the rain to Winter Hill didn’t work – the rain was almost there as I turned to descend to Pike Cottage. The low clouds swirled around at about the same height as the Two Lads meaning it was possible to drop below the cloud base from time to time but most of the route was going to be in or just below the clouds. There were no grand vistas to be seen and very little colour but even mornings like these have their own pleasures. The first Lapwings and Curlews of the year and a small Woodpecker were all seen and heard so Spring can’t be so far away.

20120303-winterhill-1Pike Cottage at the end of badly eroded path and below the cloud base

20120303-winterhill-4Log chopping area at Pike Cottage

The piles of sawdust and chippings produced an effect almost like a golden sunbeam shining through the clouds and striking the ground. This was probably the only colour until the rain clouds blew away several hours later when I was almost finished.

20120303-winterhill-5Pigeon Tower at the corner in Georges Lane

After Winter Hill and Rivington Pike I headed north to Great Hill and the woods near Brinscall before heading back to Horwich over Healey Nab for just over 20 miles, most of them in rain and clag. This year’s High Peak Marathon started last night and the fastest team would be just about thinking about dropping into Edale and finishing – I doubt the conditions were any more enjoyable for them and I spared them a thought as I ploughed through more peat bog.


20120303-winterhill-7Ruins of Drinkwater’s Farm on Great Hill

20120303-winterhill-12Sunshine on the Devil’s Staircase

20120303-winterhill-14Sunshine through the woods above Horwich

Perhaps this weekend will signal the end of the worst of winter – snow fell on the Peak, the Cumbrian fells and the hills further north but it doesn’t look like it will stay for any length of time. Next weekend is the 32 mile Howarth Hobble which will be a testing day even if the weather is fair. I have a terrible record of not eating enough, not drinking early enough and not pacing the early miles but this year I am going eat enough, drink early enough and start steadily, honest.