Monday, 27 April 2015

The Fellsman

Despite persuading Bob to try the Runfurther series he is not daft and decided The Fellsman would not be his 'long' race. There would not be time to recee it and Calderdale plus it would be too soon after our big Munro adventures. Fortunately he was prepared to come to the event and this meant the rest of the Runfurther committee could go to Threshfield as usual and experience the true delights of the sports hall floor and the early bus  put up flags and banners plus hand over Clif Bars at their kit check. Meanwhile Bob and I would spend the night in the comfort of our van in Ingleton and put flags up there.

 The heavy rain in the night disturbed my sleep a bit but by dawn it was almost dry. With the flags up and my kit check done we went back to the van for breakfast. I should say at this point that the kit check for the Fellsman is one of the most rigorous I have attended- I still remember Sarah Rowell checking the studs on my shoes and the weight of my marzipan a few years ago.

With breakfast over I returned to the community centre to find friends. Andy and Nick appeared on the bus. Tony, Albert and Andy appeared and so many others to say Hi to. It was good to see Mick P again even if he wasn't running.

By 8.20 after several breaks in the gossip for the toilet we were herded outside and down the steps onto the field. It was already raining a bit and the forecast was not good, in fact Jonathon warned us of worsening conditions with a very cold evening and wind chill of minus 5. I had already made my decisions and packed kit for the worst - I was glad of this later. Runners streamed out of the sports field and onto the road leading to Ingleborough. I for once managed to keep myself from storming off too fast and kept a steadier pace even though it meant letting friends like Nigel, Martin D and Carmine go ahead. Wind, rain and poor visibility on the top meant we made a silly error and missed the path down and so did a full tour of the summit plateau. Bill J and I hoped this would not define the day!
Tony, Albert and Andy F
My descent to the Hill Inn was even more pathetic. After 2 bad falls in 2 years I now hate wet greasy rock and am very cautious. It meant Andy and others shot past me.

I scanned my tally and grabbed a biscuit before crossing the road and aiming for Whernside. The rain was getting worse as we headed up the farm track although we all tried to run and smile for the photographers- they must laugh as they see us perk up ready for their cameras. I hate running with my hood up and although the big waterproof inherited from one of my boys meant dry hands the hood was not a good fit. Leaving it down of course meant loads of water down my neck and wet thermals. I was disappointed to feel so tired plodding up Whernside but persuaded myself it was early days yet. I could not believe that the 30 Munros would not be good hill preparation.

The marshalls on the summit were cheerful despite the awful weather- and the camera I smiled at was used in this article
I missed the front runners but was able to see those up to 20 minutes ahead of me running down. It gave me people to chase once we were on grassy ground where I dared to run harder and I caught Mick C.  I was carrying food so skipped the CP food and headed up towards Gragareth. This was a real low spot for me a couple of years ago and I was surprised how tagging in behind Bill J soon got me to the top. Here we found a lovely surprise- the marshall had pitched her tent and the CP in the lee of the wall saving us all about 800m of out and back. The slog along the very boggy wall to Great Coum was next and with wind and rain in our faces it was hard going. In the gloom we heard the radios of the marshalls and homed in. I made the mistake of thinking anyone with a GPS had the correct line and so headed a little too far east on the descent but it probably didn't lose me as much as the rutted greasy lane into Dent. Anne J encouraged me and a cheese and onion pastry perked me up... a bit. I was not enjoying being so cold and wet and thinking it was due to get worse not better. Still the next few miles are easy so plod on and try to catch Bill. Fortunately I did catch him, just before the ruin, and was able to shout 'we need to turn left'  as he missed the trod out into the bog.  I still do not know the best way across the bog of Little Dale Beck or even if there IS a good way. By now the rain had turned to sleet and the only bright spot was that I could see I was gaining on Andy. It was downhill from Blea Moor but the mud in Mossy Bottom was yuk. As I ran into Stonehouse dreaming of a rest, warmth and pasta I met Mick P and Anne out supporting and should apologise for being so grumpy about the weather. Once in the tent I refuelled and was pleased to have caught Tony, Albert and Andy F just on their way out. I also caught Bill and Andy Splatcher. I had hoped to keep my extra layers for later when it would be cold but knew that Anne was right when she said we needed to put it all on now.
All meant all of this except the big mitts and the buff AND included the primaloft that is now in the wash
Dave R stripped to near naked to replace his shorts with long tights and others were shedding layers and replacing them with dry ones. I left Stonehouse with a full stomach of pasta and tea dressed in a short sleeve top, two thermals, a primaloft jacket, waterproof jacket and thick waterproof over trousers. The latter had been zipped up for me by the RO who was there explaining we would be grouped early and encouraging us all the add layers. I persuaded Andy not to drop out but to put all his gear on and come with me. He did but only for a few yards before he decided he was far too cold and wet. Typically as I approached the Artengill viaduct the rain stopped and the sun came out. At this point I had Oz for company and we climbed together for a while. By the top I had sweat running down my back but was warmer, happier and gaining places. I did not dare to stop and take anything off though.
Thanks Anne J
Redshaw appeared quite quickly and I grabbed and hot dog, jam sandwich and some malt loaf. I left with Oz and 2 others. By Snaizeholme it was a different day and our spirits were lifting. True, our feet were heavy but what a difference it made not to have more rain.  The pace set by one guy was just a bit quick for me, I tried to keep up but feared it would kill me off. Oz agreed so after Dodd Fell we let them go and took a different route. Oz must have a good line because by Fleet Moss we were back together. We had been warned of early grouping by here but we made it through in improving weather and good daylight. Refuelled with soup and more we set off again and at a better pace. After the blue cup style we could see a line of runners up ahead and we were gaining. Oz had not been to the 'new' CP on Middle Tongue so I led the way with no mishaps.  Between there and Cray we caught the 'group' and suddenly we were about a dozen in number. Albert was sadly feeling ill and Andy F had fallen so they stopped at the CP. Oz, Dave R, John and I found Peter S at the CP. He had been feeling fragile but grouped with us and we departed for Buckden Pike.
Thanks Marshalls
The bad forecast did not really materialise- it was cold and the stiles got slippery with frost but there was no wind and it was a beautiful evening. As we hauled our weary bodies uphill I stopped to remove my over trousers at last and prayed it would not be a mistake. The views back to the mountains and the setting sun were amazing and the CP staff at the top seemed so delighted to see us.
I ditched my camera but thanks Christopher Street
With still no need for torches we headed off on an agreed line and ran the best we could as a group- we all had bad patches and so there were stretches we had to walk. It can be frustrating but the group were great and I could not have wished for finer team mates. Peter was ill at Park rash and I had to stop eating for fear of throwing it all back up. The early slopes of Great Whernside are a wet mess and Tony's group pulled away and we lost them. Once we were on the rising traverse I really wanted to run and tried to push the pace a little. Peter and I spotted the beacon and CP easily this year- no wind and so need to hide in the rocks. At this point we did not really have a group plan but by default followed the fence line along the crest. It wasn't actually what I planned after my last reccee but I had been that way before. The trod by the fence line was OK and just as we were getting worried I spotted a great little trod taking us SW and out to the track. At the time I was sure we had lost time and made a poor choice but I now know otherwise. We could see torches behind and were determined the next group would not catch us. From Capplestone Gate we ran the best we could and at least the grassy paths were kind to our legs and feet. Glow sticks and beacons led the way and before long we could see the lights of the Yarnbury CP. Yes, nearly there. Despite the banter and care we had taken for each other we de-grouped here and raced to the finish. John shot off ahead with Peter, Dave and I pushing tired legs to stride down tarmac. Poor Oz lost time getting his tally to swipe and then suffered with his back on the jolting tarmac.  Running through Grassington I was disappointed with our time- over 15 hours 30 - but on reflection it was not so bad. As we sat in the corridor exhausted Tony's group arrived. Somewhere after Great Whernside we had overtaken them! Our group was brilliant- Thanks so much guys for your comapny, support and just being there. Carmine had only finished a couple of minutes ahead of me. I would not normally expect to finish with Peter. I had beaten Bill J and a couple of other rivals and the weather had not helped. I guess I will just have to try again another year to get under the 15 hour mark. I had to leave the group as we went for showers. Communal pee stops on the hill are one thing but back in the civilised world we stick to the rules. Thanks to Charmian who collected my bag from the quarter-master for me. A bottle of for goodness shakes barely touched the sides and then it was a lovely hot shower and bed. My thermorest should have felt good but my hips were complaining. I couldn't be bothered to make time to raise mt feet and that was a mistake. It was nice and cool in the sports hall so I slept in skins which meant my morning my legs were OK but my feet felt battered. I fell into bed at 12.55 and must have slept. I was aware of Mick  C climbing into his sleeping bag and some bugger snoring. At about 7 I decided enough and got up for breakfast and to search for Bob and the van. The prize-giving seemed a long wait but is was good to just sit, eat, drink and talk. Jasmine Paris set an awesome new ladies record and Mary G had what would usually be a winning run. I was initially awarded 3rd lady but was sure carol Morgan was ahead of me, unless she had dropped out? No, I was correct she had beaten me. So 4th lady and 1st F Vet. No too bad. It is a great event with an amazing organisation and great to see so many teenagers helping at CPs and in the kitchen.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Post Calderdale recovery.

Although I had persuaded Bob to try ultra running and the Runfurther series he did already have a commiotment to his own personal challenges to celebrate his 70th. All the Wainwrights were completed in the year but he still had 20 Munros to collect. Time for a trip to Scotland. En route we volunteered to help Jon at the Wainstones Hardmoors trail race as neither of us would want to run the day after Calderdale. I have to say we got the best of the deal by racing on saturday in reasonable weather and then marshalling on Sunday in gales and heavy rain.

We were on an exposed spopt where runners climb the road and head out over the moor. Not as bad as Blowith but we had to wind the awning after it threatened to disappear even with the heavy duty tie-down strap attached. The runners were all in remarkably good humour but obviously cold and wet. We dispensed food and drink and in between times sheltered in the van drinking soup!

As the sweepers passed and we returned to Chop Gate the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Then there was the long drive north which always seems to take longer up the east coast. Our hoped for layby was gated and locked so we settled for a less ideal one near Loch Lubnaig. We were too tired to drive further that night.  Monday dawned overcast but dry so we shot up to Tyndrum and headed out on a test run (of gear, snow and weather) along the big track towards Ben Lui but branching off at Cononish to go up Beinn Chuirn. 

There was quite a bit of snow and melt streams in places but we had the summit to ourselves. We returned via the old mines and then the West Highland way path. Bob reminised of his winter climb of Ben Lui and me of the Highland Fling a few years ago now.

We just made it back to the Green Welly for a coffee treat as the rain started. It then rained all afternoon, all night and all Tuesday. we sat in the van reading, drinking coffee and staring outside. I got very grumpy. We did manage a short break in Ballachulish to check the forecast, use the coop and to briefly walk and check the start of our first planned big walk.
We should have believed the forecast and set off a little later but we started in drizzle and the day improved.

  It was a steep pull up Sgorr Dhearg to begin our attack on Beinn a' Bheithir and chilly in the wind. I had all my waterproof gear on plus hat and gloves. The cloud did clear to give some great views and the ridge to  Sgorr Dhonuill was brilliant.

We dropped back to the col to descend into the forest and the only negative was a long walk back on the cycle track and road in big boots. Still two more done and only 18 left. I resolved not to wear my big boots again unless conditions got hugely worse and was so glad we had the katoolas with us so I could wear my fell shoes.
Next it was off to Fort William or more precisely to Glen Nevis. A good meal and sleep had us raring to go the next day.

 The decided on a ring in the Mamores starting with a stiff climb up Sgurr Mhaim, over Devils ridge, out over lesser peaks to Am Bodach and then back west to Stob Ban and lastly Mullach nan Coirean. The weather was kind and we had an great day out.

Stiff tiring climbs but wonderful views.

 And happy feet now they were back in mountain slippers.  Glen Nevis was quiet and we slept soundly before making taking the van up to the end of the road.

 We were soon at the Steall bridge and it was getting warmer and warmer. We got wet feet in the bog fest  before the steep path up An Gearanach but it wasn't cold. This time our loop was anti-clockwise over Stob Coire a Chairn and out to Na Grugaichean.

This last peak looked so simple on the map buit had a nasty sting in the tail! We sat on top admiring the blue skies and cloudless views of the Ben.

For it to have been like that for 48 hours seemed untrue. We descended by the valley and although it was fun exploring and we saw deer it might have been faster to continue over Binnein Mor and bag an extra Munro.
The forecast looked set to hold so the next stop was Kintail. We knew this would give us more than enough Munros for Bob to complete his challenge and I love the peaks on both sides of this valley.

 We camped near Loch Cluanie after checking the forecast at the Inn. The weather was getting even better. The bus timetable showed that we could start at the Inn and finish between Morvich and Shiel Bridge. There were not many buses but I was confident we could hitch anyway. Our last walk on these hills with Chris was NW to SE so it was nice to do it the other way round. First up was Sgurr an Fhuarail.

It was a stiff start and is not even a Munro. This ridge is awesome with rocky climbs, grassy curves and so much fun. We had the sun on our backs all day and caught it on our necks ears and calves. It was a delight to stop and grab some food on every peak and not rush off  in the cold.

 Half way there is respite from the climbs and people started emerging from the car parks down the valley. The last sisters of Kintail are clearly the most popular. I always underestimate just how long it will take to reach the valley floor in Scotland and today was no exception. We then had a mile walk to Shiel bridge to be at the bus stop just in case my hitching did not work. It is a fast road and most were not for stopping but I did get a lift back up to the van and drove back to collect Bob. Thanks to the kind German girl who stopped for me. 15/20 were now completed and all being well Bob would reach the landmark 70 total for the year tomnorrow.
We ate and ate and then slept. This time we decided not to rely on the bus or hitching and left a bike up at Cluanie Inn. We set off for the south ride and ticked them off from west to east so today we had the sun on our faces. From the 1719 battle site we entered the forest and made our way out onto the open moor. A path wound its way round the waterfall and into Am Fraoch-choire. From there we climbed to the col and dropped our sacks.

Creag nan Damh was a short out and back  with no gear to slow us down. This side of Glen Shiel had much more runnable paths and although we walked and the climbs were still big we made good time now we were up on the ridge.

Each peak had it's own character and the corries and crags of the middle section were amazing.It could not have worked out better. The 70th peak was Aonach air Chrith and definitely the best peak on the whole ridge.

 There were two more Munros left on the ridge and they were easier  to gain. Just as well because the relief of completing had done Bob in. At the next col we met a huge bunch of mountain bikers on 'fattys'. We were to meet again later.

Although it was not the most direct route we opted for the stalkers path off to the SW of Creag a'Mhaim and then the gated road back to Cluanie.

 I pushed ahead, ran the 7km of track and tried to hitch. After 5 minutes I gave up, grabbed the bike and cycled to the van. I arrived back at the pub just as Bob was finishing. He thought the bike was stolen at first.  Once we had grabbed yet more food we celebrated with a pint.  Here we learned all about 'fatty' bikes with a guy who had trye/wheel failure and was waiting for a lift. The same bunch had sung to Bob and congratulated him as he came off the mountain. So the challenge was complete. BUT Darren had taled of how many Munros can you do in a week. His first email said his record was 20? then the next text said 26? OK we now had a new challenge.
We drove to the top of Loch Loyne for the night and watched the most spectacular sunset. We agreed on Creag Meagaidh for the next day. We were last there 24 years ago and we skied! A good way to spend our wedding anniversary. The car park and centre at Aberarder were a bit more developed now but we were soon on our own.

It was cloudier but still warm. I nearly made a fatal mistake telling Bob Carn Liath was not a Munro- fortunately he ignored me and visitied the top anyway. These peaks were so much easier and the miles clicked away even though we had more snow to cross than on any other day. The butresses of Stob Coire Ardair were impressive and from the Window to the summit there was a full snow covering.

We were not sure of the best way off Sron a'Ghoire but the footprints made it easy and the snow gave us rapid descents.

It was our earliest finish, we were not trashed and we had time to shop when we got to Fort William. Now it was my turn to chose. I knew that we really only had one more day even though the forecast was good for another 3. I had to be back and rest before the Fellsman. Either my legs were going to be fit and ready or totally trashed. We will see.

 If we only had one day left we should go out with a bang. The 5 Munros at the end of Glen Etive lloked a great circuit so the plan was done. It was a long drive but worth it.

 Ben Starav seemed enormous and I was starting to worry abouit how little we had achieved after 2-3 hours but then once we were up it all came together fine.

 The cloud cleared the tops and you could see for miles. I was using my old LAMM map and having fun remembering our route. We made the long oput and back to Beinn nan Aighenan and just those two would have made a good day but we had 3 more to include.

Descending from Stob Coirean Albannaich got the prize of craziest descent and we were glad of katoolas and me of the ice axe.Meall nan Eun is a huge grassy mound but the fun was not over until we found a way off that was not snow covered, bog ridden or full of cliffs.  Glen Ceitlein was peaceful and a wonderful end to a wonderful week.

30 Munroes in 7 days. We were tired but happy. The weather and mountain had been so kind to us. We slept in Glen Etive again and had porridge in the suinshine the next morning.

 It was a shame to leave for home but it had to be done. What a week. Not ideal preparatin for a 60 mile run but I would not have missed it for the world

The 'new' Calderdale Hike

This event seems to have been a regular fixture as race No2 in Runfurther for the last few years. One thing that I like is that the route changes every 3 years. So despite knowing the area fairly well this was the year for recees, especially as it was all new to Bob. Andy shared his notes from explorations and then we added ours. Nick also went out but mainly getting lost and struggling with what we had written. The middle section would be tricky even without the wind turbine construction site. Fortunately we live fairly close as it took several visits. By race day I knew what all the options were and where I was going.

Another recee
We parked at the cricket ground on Friday night and settled down early to bed in the van in the certainty that we would be woken as the organisers arrived. By 7.30 we were up, fed and had erected banner flags, banners and display boards. Even with registration and kit check it left plenty of time to chat to friends. The weather looked worse than the forecast so I ignored those in shorts and opted for 3/4s and my thicker cag.
Nick CH 2015 02
Thanks to Nick for the photo
 I didn't regret this although it did get warm in the afternoon. Seconds after Linden shouted ‘off you go’ it was chaos. The suggested route went right at the road but a dozen of us turned sharp left.  Andy and I chuckled as we heard to confusion behind us. Bob who was further back said it was comical to watch so many people dithering in the middle of the road. Our route was tricky with steep cobbles and steps that were treacherous in the wet – thank god for the handrail. At the top of the cobbles we met some fast runners ascending from Triangle and I knew our route had been faster. It was now getting warmer- time to stow my cag. We seemed to be flying along and I was anxious that my pace was too fast but I felt fine and even my ribs/intercostals were fine on all but the steepest and rockiest descents. Strange to be doing the whole routre and from the start after basing our recees in Tod and Sladen. After CP2 I thought the field might split again but we seemed to all take the suggested route to Ryeburn Reservoir. By now we were catching and passing many of the walkers who had set off earlier and it was nice to slowly pick people off. The clouds though were gathering and I put my cag back on as the wind and rain started. It was a bit grim on Rishworth Moor with icy rain drilling holes in my forehead but firtunately it did not last long. With relief I dropped to the drainage channel and then even better the dam wall. Sadly the wall ended with a 90 degree turn into the wind- it brought me to a stop. Bob had a lucky escape here when a wave shot over the dam wall and just missed him. People were now settling into their natural pace and race place. Carmine was running well and came past with a cheery wave and we headed off to Windy Hill. I suspected the verge of the A672 would be faster but did not fancy running with the traffic. This allowed Andy to gain 200m and then add 200m. Oh well. Setting off for Blackstone Edge the wind was at a better angle and I tried to pick off runners up ahead. I saw Andy head off west early but I stuck to my plan and watched for the little cairn I had built. A trod took me up gently to the rocks and then a short easy run and I was down on the drainage channel. I was surprised nobody followed me and as I crossed the ditch it was clear I had gained 500m on Andy. We both gained time and saved energy compared to those who went over the top. At the White House I grabbed a sandwich and dropped into Castle Clough. Most runners were sticking to the suggested route but not me. As I left the CP on the canal at Sladen Fold I met half a dozen faster runners coming back to look for the CP; Chris D and Carmen were among them. Andy and I disagreed on the best route for the next bit and he had not caught me up again yet anyway. As I climbed to the moor eating I was surprised that the lost group did not catch me. Instead as I shut the fell-side gate I realised I had almost caught another group. Before I could check who they were or shout they disappeared off left whereas I climbed straight ahead and joined the wind turbine construction road. Not only had the windy and mostly dry weather dried it out they seemed to have steam-rollered it! I could see others floundering across the moor and smiled. I caught the group (Barney, Mike, Irish- but they had dropped Simon)  before Rough Hill and stayed with them for miles.  They were faster than me really but I was determined to keep up.
Recee not race day!
Trough End quickly came and went and we picked a perfect trod to Limers Gate track. Another sandwich and we were off to yet more turbines. I decided it was dry enough to risk the mountain bike area in the woods so we descended together to Cornholme. We split a bit climbing to Mount Cross but their company was great and pulled me on faster than if I had been on my own. The next section was the familiar Haworth Hobble route but although they pulled ahead on the big descent we were almost back together by Lumbutts church. On London Road they pulled ahead again and I tried to imagine elastic from me to them easing me forward. At least there was no ascent of Stoodley Pike today and we were on the home straight. I was on my own as I dropped to the Cragg Vale road and climbed to Hollins Hey Farm but just as I entered the tussocky steep field Chris Davies appeared from behind me. This is not someone I expect to be ahead of in a race but despite nav erros and having no time for a recee he was in good humour. We chatted and pushed on upwards. By Nabb End I suggested he raced on but he was relaxed and sociable and stayed with me even when we met the final road and I was almost begging him to go on alone so I could drop the pace. We ran in to the finish together in 6 hours 43. For him this is likely a PW and he will be faster next year. For me it was a PB and I was very pleased to be first lady.
 Andy appeared shortly afterwards and we were able to sit eating and drinking together before the prize giving.  Food is another thing the Calderdale Hike does well.
I was still talking and eating when Bob finished minutes inside his self imposed 10 hour limit and will now be on the Runfurther leaderboard as V70 with two races under his belt. A good days racing.  It rained as Nick and I took down the flags but nothing could dampen my spirits. Thanks to those I had the fortune to run with – you were good company.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


We began the Easter weekend with our good deed. Our orienteering club was helping the rest of the NW host the prestigeous JK event and we were in charge of the sprint relays on the Friday. Our  role was car park duty which unlike most orienteering events that use muddy fields was a doddle give all the tarmac parking at Lancaster University. Even the weather was on our side and despite dressing for the worst of rain and cold we barely got wet.  After a stress free morning we wandered off for lunch and to chat. It felt a bit wierd being there and deciding not to run but given the winning time on my course it would have been about £1 a minute and neither of us are really sprinters. We had planned a long weekend in the Yorkshire Dales and so set off for Grassington. Half way up the Lune valley the rain got worse but the forecast promised better later. We found a great wild camp spot for the van and waited for the rain to stop. It did and we were able to have an evening stroll along the river, into the village and to inspect the falls at Linton complete with the Archimedes screw HEP scheme.
In the morning it only took minutes to move the van to Threshfield school and meet Nick and Andy. They left one car up at Yarnbury and we all piled into the van once Bob had been reassured that there was a sizable turning space up the the Fleet Moss CP. The three of us were off to recee the Fellsman. Nick and I have done it a number of times but to Andy it was all new.

We talked non stop and Bob was probably relieved to through us out at last on the road high above Oughtershaw. It was chilly and we took a moment or two to put cags, hats and gloves on. Then we were off; down the road to the big chevron sign and onto the trod that only the Fellsman makes.

 It was much drier than I expected and although we took our time and checked our surroundings we made good time across the moor. We discussed kit requirements and food. Andy still fuels on mint cake alone, although in smaller quantities now.

 I was testing out egg mayo wraps again ; if they work for Joss N perhaps they will work for me. Nick and I had slightly different preferred lines and it was interesting to test the variants, especially in the area of the famous blue cup.

Searching for the likely location of the Middle Tongue CP on Yockenthwaite Moor was amusing but we think we know where it is. Certainly we were on the correct trod until 'that area' and afterwards to Hell Gap was pretty straight forward.

It was an easy jog down the lane to Cray which is where I have always been grouped at dusk.

We tested both sides of Cow Close Gill but the north side is definitely faster  and then it was time for wet feet before we hit the main path up Buckden Pike. Bob will not believe me but Andy and I turned round several times here- to check on Nick and to admire the snow on the distant Lakeland Fells.

 I knew the was a chance we might meet him once he had parked in Kettlewell and started his walk. We had time for a photocall at the trig point before setting off to the memorial.

The tricky bit is turning over the wall immediately after the stile near the memorial and then being on easy track all the way to the poorly names Top Mere CP (which is not at Top Mere). Starbotton Road led us across to park Rash and we kept fairly dry feet. This of course changed the minute we crossed the road at started our ascent of Great Whernside.  The slope is such that it is hard to see how a bog can lie over so much of the ground; but it always does. It was a relief to get onto the higher steeper section and drier ground. Apparently ob was close behind here and frustrated that we did not turn and spot him. My phone rang but it was a friend needing directions and not realising I was out running. We stayed on the path just west below the rocks and shelter cairn and reminisced about the year the marshall's tent was hidden in the rocks up near the trig as they sheltered from wind and snow. The decsent off Great Whernside was wet and we had a bit of rough ground getting to the contouring path that would lead us to Clapperstone Gate.

 We spotted that the official map has not printed the trig point here, something I had not noticed before. The end was in sight and almost all was downhill! Nick was suffering with a sore knee and my ribs were only happy on the soft grassy path. Not sure what I have done or how but it would seem like a serious intercostal strain which was probably from climbing last week. Could be a Calderdale Hike high on pain killers. The short nibbled grass on the last stretches were a joy and it was almost a shame to reach Yarnbury. The sun was now out and we had shed waterproof some time ago. Chatting as Nick changed his shoes I lost my concentration and we all climbed into his car. I should have stayed up on the moor as it was my intention to run back to our van in Kettlewell. I felt a bit daft when I realised my mistake at Threshfield but although Andy offered to drive me there I stuck to my plan. It was a lovely afternoon so I ran along the river and then after checking out Conistone Pie I climbed to the Dales Way and jogged north.

I remembered an orienteering event there and also using this section as one of my ultras in the mad 50@50 year. Kilnsey Crag looked impressive but there were no climbers today.

I was tempted to drop to the river path after Scargill House but am glad I didn't because as I entered Kettlewell  Bob arrived from the moor.

We quickly found the ice cream shop and sat in the sun comparing adventures. A great long day with good company at both ends and a nice solitary bit as well.
The plan for Sunday was a trot around Embsay Moor so we had a leisurely drive through Burnsall and on to Barden Tower. Then we found the road was closed. Bugger. A quick check of the map and my memory from Trollers Trot the other week showed we could park at Barden Bridge. We had to wait until the cars disappeared for the night and then had a nice level campsite with the van taking up minimal space as a bonus. I also spotted that the ice cream van was still serving at well after 6pm- hope that is also true tomorrow.

Dawn was misty as we walked up the road past the ruins and the Priests House to gain the track onto the moor. Even though it added a strange loop we agreed to go up to the first reservoir and then double back to the car park we had hoped to use if the road was open.

Signs at the dam sent us round the reservoir and avoiding the fishermen but the brisk walk got our legs turning over.  By the time we got to the road the sun was up and it was clearly going to be warm. I wished I had worn shorts, or at least 3/4. We silently agreed to run the downs and flats but power walk the hills. As we climbed the sky got bluer and the views got better. Apart from a few walkers and a group of mountain bikers, all of whom were going the other way, we seemed to have the moor to ourselves.  Or so I thought. As I peered over the wall to look down to Rylestone there was a huge party of ramblers waiting at a gate.

It was at this point that we realised quite how lucky we were. The whole of Britain to the west was under a thick sea of cloud. An amazing temperature inversion where not even Pendle or the 3Ps poked through the top.

We stopped at the cross and had a bite to eat in the sunshine. We both thought we remembered an old stone cross? but the existing one is concrete from 1995. I need to find out what happened or if our memories are playing tricks.

The path then followed a peaty trod next to the wall passing numerous bouldering sites until we reached the memorial obelisk. We stopped for more food before trotting off round the moor.

 By now you could see some of the Yorkshire tops to the north and certainly the moors to the east. I had a secret cunning plan that if we needed to extend the route we could easily take in Simon's Seat. We soaked in the views and the sun as we completed our tour of the moor and started to head east then south. We came to two big shooting huts- yet they are not on the OS map which only shows old mine workings? It confused us for a couple of minutes but the paths and chimney ruin all made sense?

I explored a trod off east to some rocky outcrops which was fine until the trod turned the wrong way and left  me in thigh deep heather.

I caught up with Bob and we had a wonderful descent on a stony track and then a walled lane all the way down to the valley floor. The fields on the way to Howgill were full of new lambs and all was well until we reached the stepping stones. They were under water and there is now riverside path on the western side. Luckily Bob had his poles and we were able to wade across with nothing worse than wet knickers in the end. It was possibly easier than risking the very slimy looking stepping stones. It was warm and sunny but we had a difference of opinion here. Bob knew the van was only a mile south and announced he was going to change. I was sure the sun would dry me and wanted to go straight up to Simon's Seat.

 We split up. Bob got dry and had an ice cream while I found all the climbers bouldering on the moor. Our texts then confused each other. I ran a lap of the moor exploring every rocky outcrop and then lay in the sun admiring the view.

Still no Bob. I set off down and just before Howgill we met. We walked back up together and had the tops to ourselves as everybody else was leaving.
The woods on each side of the ascent path said private but the tracks were wide and going where we needed to be. We did no harm and emerged onto the moor after the pump houses. A short section across a couple of fields led us the the Dales way by the river. I sprinted just to make sure of my ice cream but there was no need and I was able to buy one for Bob too when he arrived a few minutes later. We sat in the sun as everyone slowly disappeared.  We had not finalised our plans for Monday and were too tired to contemplate anything huge. Neither of us were keen to drive far as it was almost 7pm so we just stayed where we were. The joy of the van!
The mist the next morning was thick! We were in no hurry and had the luxury of a lie in and then a coffee sat reading in bed.

 Even then it was cool when we set off in cag, hat and gloves. The plan was the riverside path south to Bolton Abbey and then to climb est onto the moor and see how far we got. The path on the east of the river was wonderful as it swooped up and down.

The other side which is flatter was much more crowded and was being used for the Easter egg hunt. After the solitude of our path the crowds at the wooden bridge were a shock. we quickly used the toilets and hurried through the mass of parking cars and family tourist groups. Only minutes after the stepping stones we were climbing to Storiths and were alone again. We were still in mist and debated whether it would lift today. As we climbed steadily higher the sun poked through and then we had brilliant blue skies for the rest of the day. The tracks were dry and runnable, although as a recovery day we certainly walked all the ups. I did a little loop out past the weather station to see the shooting house at Rockingstone and then we headed up the wall to Lord's Seat.

I tried exploring but got stuck in heather so soon gave up. After a quick breather on the rocks we decided it was far too early to go back so we explored east along the wall until we reached a green lane that would lead us north and then north west.

 Near Percival Hall we hit tarmac before a path through the campsite led back to the river and the stepping stones of yesterday.

We did not need to cross but were surprised how fast the river level had already dropped. It was an easy stroll back along the river to the van and another ice cream.  What a wonderful weekend with the Yorkshire Dales at their finest.

 It would have
been good to stay but we had loads of washing, wanted to see the boys, had oriewnteering kit to collect and sort before the weekend and needed some rest before the Calderdale Hike. By leaving slightly early we missed all the traffic. Hopefully my ribs will mend by next weekend. They are worst when i lie down and I dont plan to do that during the Calderdale Hike anyway!