Sunday, 25 November 2012

Winter Hill – 23 November

20121124-winterhill-28-EditDarwen Moor and the Tower


20121124-winterhill-1-EditThe Reebok and Fiddlers Ferry power station in the distance

In complete contrast with yesterday’s sunshine, even in Manchester, Saturday dawned damp, grey and misty with much of Lancashire enveloped. Winter Hill was above the low lying clouds but beneath an unbroken blanket of grey. The ground is close to saturated – Thursday’s deluge simply ran off the moors, they couldn’t absorb any more water – I know, because we were out running as the surface water drained from the moors. While many walkers, cyclists and runners enjoy Winter Hill and the surrounding moorland as a playground others are trying to eek out a living from the same moors. Regrettably, interests are not always shared and, at present, the differences are on the increase.

20121124-winterhill-4-EditVehicles between the quarries

20121124-winterhill-11-EditOne of the quarries

20121124-winterhill-6-EditTrees between the quarries

The quarry operator wishes to expand into an adjacent quarry which would remove these trees and the footpath alongside them – in doing so it would deny direct access, from Horwich, to a great swathe of Winter Hill. Perhaps as much as a quarter of the hillside would be isolated by the expanded quarry. Any expansion beyond this would threaten, or consume, part of the “Two Lads” fell race route.

I was going to write that the Winter Hill fell race too is under threat because of new fences erected to reflect recent changes in farming practises but the situation has deteriorated further so that parts of the route are now blocked by these fences. Discussion with the landowner, United Utilities, hasn’t been particularly helpful and while I have no wish whatsoever to make the situation more difficult I am disappointed that the landowner is unable to suggest anything other re-routing the race over existing tracks and footpaths. I appreciate it is a privilege to be able to run and race over this land but I had hoped that a formal approach concerning a race that has been run over these moors for more than 25 years might have been treated more sympathetically. As things are right now there is little prospect of the race taking place.

20121124-winterhill-16Watery winter sunshine and some of the masts

20121124-winterhill-25-EditThe Pigeon Tower

The loss of the Winter Hill fell race would be a significant one and as things develop I will endeavour to post updates here. Fingers-crossed that a more empathetic approach might result in the race taking place over its existing route in 2013.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Tour of Pendle – 17 November

It is a few years since I shuffled round the Tour of Pendle and, in fact, my last attempt was a DNF with a badly turned ankle. The four previous finishes, part from one, also included injuries serious enough to prevent me from running for at least a few days and in one instance, a few weeks. So it was with some trepidation that I set off along the tarmac for the first of the many climbs up Pendle Hill. The low clouds meant I took fewer photographs that I otherwise might have and because this is the start of some “serious” winter training I was torn between racing and finishing injury-free. I don’t think I did enough of the former but I did achieve the latter – my second injury-free finish in 6 attempts.

20121117-ToP-3This and The Pendle Inn (below) will have to wait until afterwards

20121117-ToP-2The Pendle Inn


20121117-ToP-105Milling About (this takes place before the Warm Up)


20121117-ToP-107Milling  About (2)

20121117-ToP-106Hugh (a Bowland FR club mate. Bowland vest?)

20121117-ToP-102Warm Up

20121117-ToP-101Synchronised Warm Up (not mandatory)



20121117-ToP-111One of the smaller climbs in the second half

20121117-ToP-112Bowland Fells – welcome distraction from the worry of the last climb


20121117-ToP-113Looking up the last and the biggest climb (wish I could have caught his expression)

20121117-ToP-1Post-race washing facilities


20121117-ToP-51-EditPost-race Recovery

Huge thanks to Keiran Carr and everyone else who helped make the Tour of Pendle 2012 happen.

Special thanks to Ian Roberts for the best boiled potato in the world, en route.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Winter Hill – 10 November

After lots of weekends away and more chores outstanding than you can shake a stick at it is time for a weekend at home. A pre-dawn run up Winter Hill was planned to leave enough time to finish sorting, processing and publishing photos from last week along with other less fun stuff. A fault with our internet connection wrecked the plan and even the visiting Engineer left without being able at tell us what, precisely, the fault is or, indeed, when it might be resolved.

20121110-winterhill-2-EditHorwich Parkway station

20121110-winterhill-3-EditFirst light on a misty morning

20121110-winterhill-11-EditClimbing out of the low clouds to a clear sky

20121110-winterhill-13-EditMast Road

20121110-winterhill-15-EditWater droplets on long grass

20121110-winterhill-28-EditSpire of St Peter’s Church, Belmont

20121110-winterhill-23Looking back to the Two Lads

20121110-winterhill-29Towards Belmont

20121110-winterhill-33Towards the Two Lads, a little later

20121110-winterhill-36Lone walker

20121110-winterhill-39Mast Road

20121110-winterhill-46Horses and a spider’s web

Mallorca, travel home – 03 November

With an afternoon flight out we booked an evening flight home with half a plan to have half a day on a small hill.  However we had to take Dad to the airport for an early afternoon flight home to Glasgow so we settled a lazy morning on the way to the airport and a long lunch afterwards. A wander through Fornalutx and Biniaraix on the way to Valdemossa for hot chocolate gave us our last look at the valley around Soller.

20121103-ma_12_I-1096Tiles on a house in Valdemossa

20121103-ma_12_I-1098-EditShop interior

20121103-ma_12_I-1099-EditThe rest of the same shop interior

20121103-ma_12_I-1105Breakfast – adding cream from the coffee to a croissant




20121103-ma_12_I-2087-EditStill at the airport

20121103-ma_12_I-2089-EditFrom the train home

Mallorca, Alfabia Ridge – 02 November

With another day of sunshine forecast the hills beckoned but unusually we have a time constraint in addition to the hours of daylight. For almost a year and half we have been posting photos to a daily journal on Blipfoto and amongst the journals we follow, from around the world, is one created by a photographer in Soller and we have arranged to meet her for coffee late in the afternoon.

The Alfabia Ridge wasn’t on our original itinerary and we were on part of it yesterday but the route does start and finish in Soller and the views are magnificent. While it might require more time than we have and although we have done it before we have always struggled to find part of the ascent route. At worst we should be able to reach the main summit and retrace our steps if we run out of time.

20121102-ma_12_I-1032Early morning light on the Port

20121102-ma_12_I-1035Puig Major across the valley

20121102-ma_12_I-1039Carved and painted stone on the ascent route

20121102-ma_12_I-1043-EditSa Serra farmhouse high above Soller

20121102-ma_12_I-1047-EditSoller beyond the drifting clouds

20121102-ma_12_I-1048-EditLooking towards Puig L’Ofre and Puig Major (obscured by clouds)

20121102-ma_12_I-1049Alfabia summit – photographing each other

We made reasonable time to the summit having found the correct route, for the first time, and decided we had enough time as long as we could keep up with the guide book times. These turned out to be very generous because the ground is rough and the route poorly marked in places until the top of the Barranc. From there we could have run down but that wasn’t necessary and after another fantastic day in the hills reached Soller in time to meet Sollergirl and her boys.

20121102-ma_12_I-1059Low clouds swirled around the ridge as we continued to the Barranc

20121102-ma_12_I-1070Puig L’Ofre

20121102-ma_12_I-1072Soller from the top of the Barranc

20121102-ma_12_I-1088-EditStreet lamp in Soller