Sunday, 31 March 2013

No 19 White Bear plus a bit more

After finding the Bowland tops hard work I decided that I needed to pick a route where I could actually run a fair bit. I don't mind being out longer but any speed I had (which wasn't much) is being killed by long slow routes with walking, camera stops and even snacks in the sun.
I did the White Bear Way for the first time last year. It is another of those local and tremendously good value LDWA events. I was hoping I could remember the route and would not have to stop and navigate too much. On the event day I had run hard trying to keep up with a local crowd that knew the way, but that of course meant that I took less notice of the route. It is only 21 miles so I knew I would have to add some. Starting at the far northern end of Anglezarke reservoir gave me lots of options to add miles at the northern end of the loop and despite my late start there was still parking available.
By the top of Healey Nab it was clear that many paths would be muddy and the lower fields would be boggy. The fields to Limbrick did not disappoint and it was almost a relief to get on the canal tow path at Heath Charnock.  I gave Fredericks a miss today but on hotter days I fancy stopping for an ice cream. The canal boaters were up and stoking wood burning stoves and I loitered looking at a two berth wide barge that was for sale. Not convinced I really want to live on one. I navigated off the canal and onto the disused railway track OK but then missed a turn and only realised when I was almost on Wigan golf course. It didn't matter a I would need some extra miles anyway. It was soon put right and I was back on track to Little Scotland and Blackrod. The weather seemed to turn here but it was only temporary cloud and cool. It spurred me on across the fields to the M61 and Bolton services and then on to the edge of Horwich. By the time I was at the Castle on the shores of Rivington Reservoir the sun was back out.

 I then ended up on an unmapped path in the woods but emerged near Wilderswood in the end. There was less snow on the high moor and up at the masts than I expected although a family were still trying to sledge down one random but very full gully.

 The Belmont Road/track was blocked by impressive amounts of snow even though it is now well over a week since it fell- but it was nice and compact for running on.
At Horden Stoops I left the WB Way and stayed high on Spitlers Edge. A first time for dry feet along here today! The flagstones across Redmonds and upto Great Hill were free from snow so I made good time.

After Drinkwaters the lane had a fair bit of snow but it was fine for running until it got steep near Wheelton plantation and I suddenly found myself out of control and going just a bit faster than I was really comfortable with.

White Coppice looked crowded and then I realised why- the club house was open for refreshments, so I stopped for a very welcome cup of tea. I passed my car and carried on along the footpaths above the reservoirs before turning up towards Leadmines Clough and making my way back. The lane near Jepsons farm was open to traffic but had huge banks of snow.

 One car even stopped to ask me if it was safe.  At Manor farm, which I always admire, I had a choice.

I knew the path wood be boggy but I decided it would be preferable to the road. Having made it down the steep section I then did a spectacular tumble and coated myself in mud. All the walkers I met from here back to the car gave me strange looks and a very wide berth. Fortunately it wasn't far. Just over 28 miles and a very enjoyable outing on a day with blue sky, sun and warm weather.

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