Friday, 31 July 2015

Longsleddale – 29 July

Up out of Longsleddale to bag a Birkett and a pair of Outlyers on one of those rare days when the forecast is worse than the weather. The ground around Skeggles Water is slow going but this remains a favourite part of the Cumbrian Fells.


20150729_001_longsleddale-1-EditWad’s Howe farm

20150729_002_longsleddale-5-EditSkeggles Water

20150729_003_longsleddale-15-EditFell Ponies above Skeggles Water

20150729_004_longsleddale-31-EditLooking North West from Brunt Knott

Monday, 27 July 2015

Coope’s Dozen – 25 July

After an absence last year (when I soloed it out of a sense of tradition) Coope’s Dozen returned for 2015. A fairly large group set off at the usual time of 09:00 ‘ish after the obligatory start line photos (these and some others can be seen here).

20150725_001_horwich-11-EditThe Finish Line at the end of the final stretch of track

20150725_002_winterhill-3Rivington Trig Point freshly painted for 2015 and sporting a Red Rose on each of the two Lancashire faces.

Almost subliminally, a ‘fast group’ emerged from the peloton and Andy & Christa I made way along the traditional route from Noon Hill, Rivington Pike, Two Lads and Whimberry Hill to Egg Hillock. The route selection to Counting Hill is like a multiple choice question without any right answer. We weren’t tempted to tackle the bracken head on by following any of the usual direct routes and went on to Shaly Dingle and fought our way through the bracken from there.

Andy retired at Hordern Stoops to save his legs for two “Bob Graham” legs on Saturday night. After some refreshments provided by the man himself, John Coope, Christa and I headed towards Old Adam’s Hill which offers another selection of dreadful routes to and from the summit. After Spittlers Edge, Great Hill, Round Loaf and Hurst Hill (which doesn’t count although it could be used to make a “Coope’s Baker’s Dozen”) followed quickly as we made our way to Waterman’s Cottage where John was waiting for us.

With a PB for Christa looking very likely we didn’t hang around there or on Healey Nab, the 12th of the 12. The run in after the last summit is often a bit of a struggle but not today and Christa achieved her PB!

Thanks for the company Christa and Andy. Thanks John for the support – it really makes a difference.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Steve’s Joss – 18 July

It was a privilege to join Steve Cliff on his “Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge” attempt. Walking up to Sty Head under a heavy sky and into a cold strong wind made us appreciate just what a performance Steve was putting in to be about 40 minutes ahead of his schedule when he arrived.


20150718_004_SC_Joss-11Best China tea service being readied by the Stretcher Box

20150718_005_SC_Joss-15Best China tea service being enjoyed by the Stretcher Box

20150718_012_SC_Joss-35Down Red Gully

20150718_015_SC_Joss-40Immediately after finishing with a sub 14 hour time Steve begins to enjoy the moment


20150718_020_SC_Joss-54A quiet word or two

20150718_028_SC_Joss-68Congratulations from Paddy Buckley


20150718_031_SC_Joss-79Joss, Steve & Wynn

Let me use Steve’s own words to explain a little background -

In July 2014, I was diagnosed a coeliac. This explained a long term decline in my fitness, over the previous 8 to 10 years. Within 3 months of being diagnosed and going on a gluten free diet, I started to return to full fitness.
In October 2014, I then started to experience other odd behaviours in my speech. After months of tests I was diagnosed with Progressive Bulbar Palsy, a form of MND in April 2015. Reading the blog pages on the MNDA web site, I realised that because MND is such a rare disorder (effecting 2 in 10,000), there is very little research into it. It was also clear from the blogs, there are many diagnosed with this illness that have little support from their friends and family; despite the awful prognosis.

What it has meant to me
The impact of a diagnosis of MND on oneself, friends and family cannot be explained. It forces decisions to be squared up to that one only ever expects to have to face in the darkest of moments. It draws closure to everything. The “end of the tunnel” is what one is not looking forward to. However, my strong family support, fantastic friends, and focussed approach to life meant that I very soon wanted to make a difference and to use time wisely.

My Plans
An immediate decision was made to use my running to raise funds for MNDA. Grant Lee, a good friend at work, organised “co-ordinated 5k runs” in London and New York.
I organised to run a Joss Naylor Challenge. Joss Naylor (MBE) set the course – a 48 mile run across 30 tops in the Lake District climbing 17k feet in a fixed time (15 hours for a 58 year old); the completion of the challenge must also include raising money for charity. The support Grant and I have received from friends and family has been nothing short of amazing for both of the events.

To date, in just over 3 weeks, we have raised more than £12,000 for MNDA and the figure is rising daily.
One can sense the depth of feeling just reading the kind words and generous gifts provided by donors.
When I used to think about “life’s bucket lists” in lighter moments of life, and on those rare occasions when the speeding train of life slowed, my first thoughts were of remote islands; sandy beaches; mountains and fast flowing streams. All of these thoughts continue, however, I now realise that all is nothing without friends and family.
The love of friends and family is a great solace and healer of wounds. My bucket list is greatly simplified.

Steve’s “Just Giving” page is here:

Monday, 13 July 2015

Winter Hill – 11 July

Having managed a 50+ mile week last week I thought it was time to get back to proper long runs on a Saturday morning. I hadn’t been to Healey Nab for a good while so I thought Healey Nab, Great Hill, Winter Hill and the Two Lads would make a proper long run. It is a proper long run and while I got round it I needed longer than I really wanted but I am not doing 16 mile runs regularly and normally Friday would have been a rest but I had an hour or so on a bike instead.

It was a delight to see a young deer feeding in the woods near the Waterman’s Cottage and it was great to be back out for a long run on Winter Hill. The weather improved throughout the morning and by the end I was wishing I had taken a camera instead of just my phone although it would probably have taken me even longer :)


winterhill-6-1Young deer at Anglezark

winterhill-13-2Towards Belmont

winterhill-14-3Towards Egerton

Friday, 10 July 2015

Winter Hill – 09 July

During the last couple of weeks I have started cycling again – nothing ambitious and on an off-road bike, mainly as a way of recovering without any impact on my knee. The initial results seem encouraging and my knee is better than it has been for very many months. My Dad has been staying for a few days which meant getting out when I could and doing whatever could be fitted in. By Thursday I felt ready to try Winter Hill from home, again, for the first time in months I felt it could be do-able at the end of a week’s running rather than at the beginning. The weather was encouraging too and with an early start meant I reached the Trig Point just after 7 o’clock to enjoy the early morning sunshine.


20150709_001_winterhill-8Sunshine on the Mast Road

On returning home I was delighted to find I had run 50 miles in the week for the first time in over a year – it almost seems like progress.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Dad’s Visit – 07 July

As is the tradition, around the first weekend after the end of term my Dad comes down from Glasgow to stay for a few days. This year we suggested a “between weekends” visit but it doesn’t suit his hectic weekday schedule. He has been retired somewhat longer than we have and his schedule is somewhat more established than ours so the usual arrangements stood. This is a “photo a day” set to recall where we went and although I didn’t plan it the sequence is, quite appropriately, bookended by two shots of Customer Service staff at Wigan North Western station.


20150702_001_wigan-37-Edit How Can I Help You?

Waiting to meet the train from Glasgow and I wasn’t unhappy that I didn’t need to seek assistance – perhaps she was just having a bad day. Who doesn’t?

20150703_002_lytham-3-EditIce Cream with Red Sauce (or Monkey Blood as it was known locally)

A proper hot summer day when we wandered along the prom, took some photos, had an ice cream and finished the day off with fish and chips on the way home. Just what hot summer days are for.


20150704_003_coniston-22-EditSmile, for the camera

Another warm day, this time at Coniston for a cruise on the Steam Yacht Gondola. Before sailing we watched many many people hire self-drive motor boats and each had to be fitted with and in some instances helped into a life jacket. This seemed, without exception, to require a photograph as if to prove they had managed to master the life jacket.


20150705_004_belmont-2-EditLonely Bar

Just time for a swift one before Sunday Lunch and the rain which arrived more or less together – fortunately both were expected and plans made accordingly.


20150706_005_salford-26-EditSalford Quays

A short day out for a wander round the Quays before retiring to the tennis on TV to avoid the rain.


20150707_006_wigan-25-EditCustomer Services Again – not as fierce but, perhaps, more insistent

Back to Wigan North Western to finish where it all started and to conclude, coincidently, with the ever present Customer Services staff. As always, it was great to see and spend time with Dad. Walking away from the station I couldn’t help thinking and hoping that I’ll still be around and travelling independently as I approach my 90th Birthday.