Mt recce runs over the Christmas holidays with a very damaged foot were slow but fun days out in good weather. I could run the even ground but suffered badly on the rest. What really stuck in my memory was the mud. Come 1st Feb I was wondering how much I would be able to run and how much grief my foot would give me. A late Street O run around West Houghton on the Wednesday suggested my foot was steadily improving even if not fully mended.
I was first to arrive at the Heritage Centre in Barrowford and as I was putting the flags up by headtorch the warden arrived to open up the premises. Jamie the RO arrived a few minutes later ready for registration to open at 6am.
I handed over mint cake, put up the final banner and then erected the display boards and laid out prizes with the help of Dick. It wasn't long before friends started arriving and there was plenty of time to socialise before our 8am start.
It was chilly but not really cold. The forecast was for strong winds for much of the day and then as these died down for some light rain to move in. I am dreadful for fearing cold and so started with two thin base layers, long tights and a cag. I was too warm for much of the day but never seemed to find time to do more than open the zip and push up the sleeves. With about 10 minutes to go we were herded outside and spot on time we were off. I knew the first path was narrow and so went off a little faster than I had intended. It was good to know the way and not to have to faff with maps or route descriptions. I was even able to shout helpful instructions to others. I could see Lorraine up ahead but knew not to try to keep up with her, in fact at this stage I was a bit bothered to find that Tim C and Martin T were only just ahead of me. The first section was relatively flat by the stream and then just a gradual climb to Admergill. We could see the Tower on Blacko as we started our climb up to Weets and across to our left looking tantalisingly close was Pendle - it would be almost 30 miles before we climbed up that mass. From Weets it is a lovely descent to Barnoldswick (Barlick). I was still not sure I could trust my foot and so took it steady. The forecast wind had arrived but was at this stage on our backs. Just as you are about to enter the village there is a funny little dink to show you the local history- hard to believe it once had over 30 weaving sheds and a big steam mill.
Then a short road section led us up and over Letcliffe Hill before dropping down the other side to the canal. I am not usually a fan of tow path running but this canal twists, has a road crossing and a bridge where the tow path switches sides and some locks and boats so the 3 miles passed very quickly and allowed us to up our mph (a buffer that would be useful later).
As I was faffing with food I met a lady walker who was trying to tell us all we were going the wrong way? I think she knew a short cut and didn't understand our route- I tried to explain as I was worried she might cause others to divert. The field path to the Rolls Royce factory and main road was muddy but much better than it had been in December!
At the church I was surprised to find people running in all directions as they had missed the turning just before the cemetery and so I guided runners across the golf course and then the very wet fields towards Earby. Some easy running led us to the first CP just above the YHA.
Adrienne was manning the CP from the boot of her car and I felt a little mean not stopping to chat. Mill Lane was fine and the fields afterwards were drier than I remembered. We were now quite spread out with a couple of faster runners suddenly rushing past. Chris C appeared as we neared Harden Clough and the moors that would drop us to the pub and another short section on lanes and we ran together for a while chatting. Claire was just ahead. I like the next section as we climb to near the trig point and then steadily drop to Laneshaw Bridge and I was starting to trust my foot more. Chris steadily pulled away but I was reeling Claire in. It meant I was tired when I reached the second CP at Wycoller but I was pleased with my progress.
I grabbed some food and water before climbing to the lower sections of Dove Stones Moor. I had to shout Claire onto the correct path and I know of at least one other runner who went awol here. I do wonder how many took the Bronte Way shortcut too- perhaps a self clip needle punch is needed as you turn onto the big track on the moor. I was having a nice time with my memories- we had orienteered at Wycoller when the boys were still tiny.
The next section in theory should be great running but today it was straight into the westerly wind and what a head wind! We were now passing runners on the 30 mile route and all were finding it tough to make forward progress.
Around here I started running with Steve and I must admit it helped pull me along. The trade off was that I knew the way and so could keep us on track. It seemed to take ages to cut across below Boulsworth Moor but eventually we could see the Coldwell reservoirs and our path left the Pennine Bridleway as we headed on lanes past the Outdoor Ed Centre and on to our third CP. The mud as we approached Catlow was dreadful and the workmen insisted we got the full glory by going to the footbridge and avoiding their digger.
I was glad to wash my feet in the ford afterwards. I had made an error just before the quarry on my reccee but today I got it right and we were soon dropping to Walverden Reservoir before the short steep climb up the other side. I was sure Steve would pull away here but I was still with him as we crossed the road and headed to the golf course. He was faster on the good path but then I caught him as he was a little indecisive on the rough ground. ' Head for the red dog waste bin!' The next section is the least interesting as you use suburban street to drop through Brierfield and then over the railway and the canal.
More memories here of a term working at Edge End school- ugh. The wooden board walk following the river Calder must be the rotting remains of the original from the 1980s. Runners on the 30 mile were picking their way through but I had long given up worrying about water, mud an dry feet. Neal and I were now both looking forward to the CP at Higham and I knew I needed to refuel.
We chatted about campervans and life as we crossed the fields to Pendle Hall and then up the bridleway to Higham.
The CP was a bit crowded, possibly due to the 'bar'. I had a cup of tea and tried to stuff some food down. As we left the CP the forecast rain arrived and I was glad of my cag. The wind was a little less but it felt colder now. Steve pulled ahead and then I lost sight of him altogether. Luckily as I took the path to Tynedale farm House I spotted him in fields below and shouted to him.
We plodded on to Newchurch together.
No time to admire the witches today, instead we headed off up and over to the Ogden Reservoirs. I was struggling a bit and Steve pulled away never to be seen again as he finished 12 minutes ahead of me in the end. My foot was a bit sore for the first time as I sent down through Fell Wood. More memories- of a small child scared to enter the woods in case there were bears! It was very tempting to turn right and drop into Barley as we met the reservoir road but today we had Pendle to climb first.
I overtook a group of what I guess were 30 milers and began to climb into the mist/ low cloud. I was pleased to find that what I had described to Dick and another runner was accurate- small stone way markers after the kissing gate. I know this route pretty well but I must have been going slowly as it seemed to take forever to reach the trig point!
|Thanks to KJ Birch for photo|
I happily dropped to the runners trod and was soon descending out of the cloud and down to Barley. I was amazed to find some walkers on their way up. It was late afternoon, grim, with no prospect of a view and it would soon be getting dark? Even more worrying was the family with young children at the foot of the cobbled steps. They didn't even have waterproofs. I suggested it might not be fun and ran off through the village to the CP in the village hall. I let myself be sucked in my the warmth and promise of toast and tea. I possibly 'wasted' 10 minutes.
I knew from here it could only be about 3 miles or so and wondered how far I could get without my head torch. Steve was gone but Neal appeared and he was moving well. I made a determined effort to stick with him or at least try to hang on the best I could. More memories as we climbed to Whitehough Outdoor Ed Centre- the nights I have spent there with kids on DoE! I was irritated by the runner who had cheated and taken the field path down by the river and then presumably the lanes. Another needle punch needed.
I managed to keep Neal insight down to Roughlee, over the stepping stones and over the last little hill before he got away from me on the very very wet fields that followed. at least they were short and then it was track and lanes all the way down to Barrowford, into the park and back to the Heritage Centre. I did put my head torch on for the wet fields but could probably have managed without, just.
A great day out and a very tough 42 miles. I suspect every year will be muddy but the headwind made it worse. It was good to sit and refuel- beer, tea, sandwiches and cake.
Dick had bailed at 25 miles and so had beaten me back David C and Kevin both had storming runs and finished together. Lorraine beat me by almost an hour.
BUT I was happy- I had finished, my foot wasn't too bad at all and I had enjoyed my day out.
Another beer and lots of chat and I realised it was time to take the flags down and get home.
There were still runners out there but they did not need me and nobody would miss the flags in the dark- I hoped.
Sorry to Janet, Ian and other late finishers.