Saddleworth Band Contests

Whit Friday.  Off to Saddleworth, as every year.  We’ve settled on Greenfield, though the setting for the actual contest is not as pretty as Dob Cross.  We’ve tried a lot of the other venues; Greenfield wins because the bands have a long march along Chew Valley Rd, the main village street; and because, half way along the street is the Methodist Church with excellent pies, tea, black peas, and cake.

Chew Valley Road, Greenfield
Chew Valley Road, Greenfield

And my grand daughter likes the contest venue; as well as the band there’s a great permanent children’s playground and, on band contest days, bouncy castles and a roundabout.  Though it’s not steam driven.

This year my daughter’s band is not taking part, so quite a few band members have come to watch.  While a good few of the others are moonlighting with various other bands who have entered.  So there’s quite a crowd of them at Greenfield.

Not as many foreign bands, it seems, this year; I only spied one German and one French band.  But the coaches were still queuing to get into Greenfield when we were leaving, so maybe that’s where they all were.

Regrettably the rain came down from about 8 p.m. which certainly scared off some of the spectators.  But we had a fine day of it, and we will be back, as usual, next year.

Gorpley Reservoir Circuit

Another Wednesday – another pack run.  And another fine evening.  And we’re going to end up at the social club with another decent supper and more good beer at £2 a pint.  What more could a man ask?

Well – to avoid this killer climb for a start.  Somebody constructed this road (The Naze); it’s all cobbles (largely overgrown with grass now) and it continues on and on at about a 1 in 2 gradient.  Hopefully the pack animals coming down here did not have big trailer loads behind them . . . . .  The mind boggles.  It’s not a pack horse track; they have a single wide stone.  This is cobbled.

easier going down
easier going down

We started down by the canal.

Never mind the animals – what about my screaming thighs?  as we go up.  And up.  And up.   But it is a nice evening.  The remains of a ruined house.  You can still figure out the fireplace.  What a place to live.  They did have grand views.

Eventually we arrive at upland meadow.  We go past a couple of farms.  Then strike up off the track and continue up.  And up.  I actually manage to run some of this.  To a trig point.  From the high point a very gentle downhill.  Bliss. Then strike off to the right towards a distant marker post.  Tussocks and boggy stuff.  Happily the weather has been dry recently – otherwise we’d probably be up to our knees.  Some broken downhill track – better running on the adjacent grass; softer on the feet and legs and a lot more forgiving if you fall over.  And down to a house above Gorpley Reservoir.

Not obvious how we go on from here; a bit of foraging around, and not too many fences climbed.  And we’re on the dam wall, then down the grass to the track at the bottom of the dam.

This reservoir is not much visited; not overseen by any road.  But it leads us down to a jewel; Gorpley Clough, a beautiful spot which on this May evening has carpets of bluebells too.

Finally down to the main Bacup road; don’t want to run along the road, so straight up the other side and along paths and tracks back to Gauxholme and down to the social club.

Brilliant route, good evening for a run.  Here’s to next week.

Calderdale Way Relay Leg 3

2016 Up the Nab

First, here’s a picture of the Up the Nab.

No – you can’t see me – we’re a couple of hundred metres into the race and I’m behind all this lot.  But it was a lovely day.

As it was for the CWR.  Leg 3 is the shortest leg – suitable for old, knackered and generally clapped out runners.  Essentially all uphill; starts at perhaps 150 m, ends at around 330 m, but there’s more total climb because there are a couple of quite marked descents on the way.  In 7.5 km.

Here’s where we ran to.

Blackshawhead Chapel. The welcoming crowd.
Blackshawhead Chapel.
The welcoming crowd.

My partner was brilliant; led me along, running perhaps 50 m in front, which kept me going and meant that I did run bits I otherwise couldn’t; she held gates open for me and generally encouraged me all the way.  Says she enjoyed it, too.  She is quite a bit younger than me.

Just a fraction slower than the last time I did this leg, 3 years ago; that year I was running for the Search & Rescue Team, with the Team Leader; he had never beaten an hour, but he did that day.  This time we just failed to beat the hour.  1.00.35 to be precise.

Nice cake at the end.  And I managed to bum a lift back to the start; total mileage on the clock after I’d driven home was 5 miles.

AND – we sneaked past a pair of Calder Valley Runners in the last 150 m.  That was nearly a disaster; I had thought we were almost at the finish, so I accelerated and my partner did too and we got past; then we had to keep running, and had to turn a corner, and it was uphill, and I couldn’t do it and I walked a few paces.

Anyway, we were still ahead.

So we were 81st of 102 teams in the race.  And our team finished 74th overall in a total time of 9.06.00.  5 seconds ahead of the Search and Rescue team.



Three days in the Lakes

Glorious weather, sunburn, one climb (to Fairfield) through a small snow field, but the walking poles were definitely useful there, good food, pleasant company – perhaps a reward after the election.

Be that as it may it was a wonderful break.  It’s startling how you can walk for miles without seeing a soul, but some areas, such as the route past Angle Tarn, are heaving.

We saw lots of red deer; appropriate, as we were in the Deer Park, but we’d been there before and not seen any.  Also impressive were the landslips; the Lakes, after all, suffered really badly in the flooding just before Christmas – which hit us in the Calder Valley on Boxing Day.  Obviously tourism is of huge importance there and they had made every effort to get back to normal; the current temporary bridge in Pooley Bridge is an example.  I was surprised it had no weight limit.  And I understand the main road at Dunmail Raise is due to reopen anytime soon.


I’m sure you all know this, but just in case; in AD 945 the armies of the Saxon King Edmond and the Scottish King Malcolm joined forces to fight Dunmail, the last King of Cumberland, and won. It is said that Edmond himself killed Dunmail.  His body is beneath the cairn (raise) at the highest point of the pass between Grasmere and Thirlmere – Dunmail Raise.

As Dunmail lay dying he shouted, “My crown – bear it away; never let the Saxon flaunt it” for it was known that whoever wore the crown of Dunmail would succeed to the Kingdom of Cumbria. The King’s personal body guard removed the crown from the head of their dying monarch and with unprecedented gallantry fought their way through the Saxon lines and bore his crown up the fell to Grisedale Tarn, where they threw it into the depths. They said, “Till Dunmail come again to lead us.”

Each year, on the anniversary of the King’s death, his warriors return to the tarn. The crown is retrieved and carried back to the cairn of stones under which their beloved Dunmail lies. In turn, the warriors knock with their spears on the topmost stones of the cairn. From that grave a voice cries out. “Not yet; not yet – wait a while my warriors.” The day is yet to come when the spirit of Dunmail will re-join his warriors and crown a new King of Cumbria.

I came back by train while Joyce had an extra day’s walking with a friend of ours whom we met up with in the Lakes.  My son was out climbing, as he generally does on Tuesdays.  Unfortunately it was raining at home so they were indoors not out.  Paradoxical as the previous days had been just like in the Lakes.

Up the Nab – English Championship

Yes – the election in Tod did go as predicted.  Twice as many votes as our blue challengers, with the others all well behind.  Virtually 50% of the vote.  And there was a Town Council byelection too, where our candidate got over 50% of the total vote.

Very satisfying.

So this was a trip to Glossop for the 2nd English Championship race of the year.   Interestingly it was on the west side of the town, which is counterintuitive as Glossop hugs the western edge of the Peak District.  Glossop is a busy, bustling former mill town and the largest settlement in the north-western corner of the Peak.  I had done the Herod Farm race some years ago, on the other side of the hill, but I’d never been to this area before.

View of Glossop
View of Glossop

The name Glossop is thought to be of Saxon origin, derived from Glott’s Hop – where hop is a small valley and Glott was probably a chieftain’s name. However, the area was certainly inhabited long before the Saxons, with a Bronze Age burial site and other Bronze Age remains.

Glossop has a plentiful water supply so the cotton industry developed rapidly in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; 46 mills were built in this period. The railway arrived in the 1840s and the population of Glossop multiplied by a factor of six in less than 50 years.

A glorious hot sunny day; vest and shorts too much in the way of kit if anything; no compulsory kit to carry, which makes things easier though I’m not entirely sure I approve.

Start?  Uphill.  And more uphill.  Then more uphill, before, at last, some steep downhill followed immediately by more uphill.  You get the picture.  6.4 km, 365 m of climb.  I got past a couple of v70s on the last climb, but not a third, who sped away from me as soon as it went downhill, quite swiftly followed by one of those I’d just overtaken.  But I have high hopes of a few English Championship points; and this is another counter in the Tod championship too.  We’re off to the Lakes for a couple of days walking next, staying in a nice hotel.

Pack Run

Yes!  I did get to the pack run.  Election preparations all sorted, expecting a very convincing result tomorrow, all the ducks lined up; and what a lovely evening.

We’re running from the Social Club on Rochdale Rd in Tod this month; gives us access to three different upland areas, and this week we went out along the Bacup valley, well above the road.  A lovely route, nice tracks, paths. fields, until we were well above Todmorden, then a bit of a dreary track followed by some very soggy ground before we got to our high point just near Flower Scar Hill.

Divert more to wards Todmorden, a short stretch along the Calderdale Way, and back eventually down the way we came up.


Then good beer at £2 (yes – that’s TWO pounds) a pint and a nice chilli.

Certainly back next week.

Bluebell Trail

I did not manage to do this race last year; it always clashes with the Todmorden Boundary Walk, and also with the Coniston Fell Race, so it can be difficult to fit it in.  A nice route, just over 10 miles, and this year once again we were rewarded when we ran through a carpet of bluebells towards the end.  I had been apprehensive that they might not be out, what with the snow we’ve been having and some cold nasty weather.  But I turned a corner, ran past another of the dozens of helpful marshals, and there they were.  Stunning.  I’ve tried, but failed, to find a photograph to download.  Pity.

Stainland Lions put on some excellent races.  Regrettably the Stainland 7 has gone; often described as a fell race on tarmac.  But they immediately replaced it with the splendid Stainland Trail, well worth anybody’s while; and the Bluebell Trail fits the same description.

Some route changes this year, consequent on bridge problem as a result of the flooding; but though this meant an extra straight and level road section the organisers had overcome the difficulties just as well as one would expect.

The route climbs up over 864 ft Beacon Hill which over looks Halifax from the East.  There’s a working replica of the Beacon Pan, a signal to warn neighbouring townships, which was used at the Queens Jubilee. Prior to that, Beacon Hill was the site of the last public executions in the town in 1783.


And here’s the view.

It can still look more or less like this.
It can still look more or less like this.

I wear fell shoes for this race, as there is one particular descent shortly after Beacon Hill on wet sloppy cobbles with a thick covering of leaf mould (and several other sloppy descents) and this year again the fell shoes proved their worth.  I’m not much of a descender so the joy of hurtling past other runners who really were finding the wet descents difficult is not small.

Just a bit of easy downhill path in Elland Park Wood.
Just a bit of easy downhill path in Elland Park Wood.

Stainland describe the race as ‘this unique course incorporates some of the most scenic views within the heart of Yorkshire and a refreshing river crossing to finish’.  Dead right.  Deep water; they construct, each year, a temporary hand rail across the river, then you climb out over some tree roots and make a dash for the finish – maybe 100 m.  The water was refreshing alright, if by that you understand – cold.

I shall miss the pack run again this week – shame.  But we have a local election the very next day, which I think is kind of important to prepare for.


Orchan Rocks 2016

This was no. 20 last year.  The weather was not as good this time; cold wind.  And 2 of us flagged the race during the afternoon and while we were putting the flags out we briefly got a shower of sugar cube size hailstones.  Happily they did not recur in the evening.

Here’s how we see the rocks as we ascend.  (I nearly put – run up beside them.  But that would be inaccurate, for me, anyway).

Orchan Rocks from below
Orchan Rocks from below

I see I was complaining about walking too much last year – same old problem this time.  And I did try to catch a couple of Tod Harriers on the long final descent (actually, I’d been trying to catch them for a long time before that) but to no avail; they just accelerated and left me even further behind on the downhill.

Anyway, another pleasant evening, another race done, and this time it’s a counter for the Tod Harriers championship. I made sure I wore my Tod vest again for this race; the major crime category may be reintroduced, if our secretary has anything to do with it.  There are some voices opposed.

It seems I did not publicise the major Tod Harriers error which was committed a few weeks ago; they elected me as President at the AGM.  An honorific post, which is held for two years.  I did mention other names who, I thought, had a greater claim on this position than myself, but to no avail.  I trust the club manages to continue from strength to strength despite this.  It does mean it’s a touch difficult for me to put a case for or against the ‘compulsory Tod vest’ rule.

Unfortunately I won’t get to the pack run tomorrow; I’m in Liverpool all day and won’t get back in time.

Beautiful evening for a pack run

And so it was.  The previous Wednesday I did something I have never done before – turned up for a pack run, turned back, and went home without running.  It was cold; and just going between the car and the pub (less than 100m) had me soaked.  I did appreciate it would ease off later, and so it did; but I couldn’t face the prospect of setting off, thoroughly soaked, and being out in the cold for an hour or more.  So I went home.

Not like that this week.  A lovely evening, blue skies, excellent visibility, light wind, no rain.  Rather soggy underfoot still – but no matter.  We were out for over 90 minutes and had a really lovely run.  From the Lane Ends pub above Hebden Bridge (Hare & Hounds) at Old Town, initially up to High Brown Knoll.  Here it is.

Wadsworth Moor. Approaching the trig point at High Brown Knoll from the west.
Wadsworth Moor. Approaching the trig point at High Brown Knoll from the west.

Then down and over the Haworth road and to Lumb Falls

this picture doesn't do it justice
this picture doesn’t do it justice

before running down Crimsworth Dean; then up the Calderdale Way to Pecket Well, after which, as time was pressing, back along the road to the pub.

And veg chillie & chips and a pint – just the job.

Wardle fell race

I certainly remember this race last year; wind blasted from the start, quite debilitating.  Today we had sunshine and a very light breeze.

My daughter’s baby arrived a couple of days ago; I had a bit of a spring in my step in consequence.  A little girl, 3.4 kg, very well after a bit of a hairy time.  So it’s a great relief as well as a pleasure that she’s here.  They’ve called her Alice.

I was running in amongst other runners all the way today – perhaps there were more runners this time?  Anyway, I did not have the long, lonely, anxious stretch where I was worried I had gone off route and wasn’t sure whether to turn off.  And I recognised a portion towards the end as being part of the Sheep Fell Over race, which was reassuring as well.


This shows the imposing registration building; the race starts & finishes just outside.

Another counter in the Tod Harriers championship, so a few more points; and that’s about it really.  But I did see Julie, the lady who made the blanket & cushions and presented me with them at Shepherd’s Skyline; and she told me she reads this blog; so I do have one reader anyway.   Not just typing away for entire oblivion.

Just re read my last effort; readers may feel I have some criticism to make of our esteemed Prime Minister; that is indeed the case, and is accentuated obviously this week.  If this poor little rich boy can’t think of a good story to tell about his massive inheritances from his parents, his family’s efforts to pay less  (or no) tax where possible, and his generally over privileged position; then what the devil did he learn at that expensive school and during his expensive university education?  Apparently even more stupid than one thought him anyway.  No way are we ‘all in it together’.  We can only hope it’s the turn of his various chums next.

Panama; here's where Mr Cameron's dad kept his money
Panama; here’s where Mr Cameron’s dad kept his money

And we have completed lambing, and we have some nice looking lambs; the early morning routine of getting up to see if there are new lambs, and especially if there are new lambs in trouble, is over for another year.