Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Will it be enough?

With the next ultra looming that is the burning question. I feel that I have not run as much as I used to or should have if I wish to compete rather than just complete. Having been away for the summer there seem to be things to do at home, jobs for Runfurther, plus it is nice to see the boys and I have visited my mum. Looking back carefully I have run but only at the weekends. I do not seem to have found the urge to run from home- except to check control sites for my street O event which is the first of the season. I think we have also been climbing both more often and at a harder level. In one stretch we managed almost 20 hours at two different walls.  After the Brecon 10 Peaks I had a weekend off and we helped at the Cumbria Way in a Day. it was interesting to see things from the other side and I did also fit in two slow runs- one across to Pike O'Blisco and another up to Lingy Hut. The following weekend was the RAB where I certainly got hours on my legs but perhaps not much fast running.

The area was great, except for the tussock bogs in the far SW corner

and I was pleased to be the only woman and vet to complete the A class and to come in the top 8.

  I also finished early enough to get changed, eat and enjoy socialising with loads of friends.

The next weekend we ran more locally and I did clock up about 27 miles but I was taking photos, enjoying the scenery and exploring as well as running.
Battery death yet again!
I love the West Pennine Moors and they are not yet too boggy from winter rain. Most of the paths were dry, puddles could be avoided on others and only a few sections were really boggy- and they are ones that never dry out.

A new pair of waterproof socks from Aldi kept my feet dry even on the bog approaching Great Hill.
Looking back to Darwen Tower on my first climb
A brief stop to remove a layer and I was off on the giant flagstone path south along Spitlers Edge towards Winter Hill.
The old
I prefer a more natural path but this path was a boggy mess and the flags have helped make it enjoyable again.
The new
Sadly it has also tempted more mountain bikers onto the area even where there are only footpaths, some of which are unsuitable for the bikes.
He wasn't impressed when I showed him the no bikes sign!
I crossed the road at Horden Stoops and found the big old track to the pigeon tower and then Rivington Pike.
Angry face? Would be a great place to live
I didn't quite make it to the top at a run but those steps are steep! Along past Pike Cottage I ignored my usual route  and stayed on the big track for longer before cutting up over Two Lads and then up to the top.
Looking back to Rivington Pike
I met Tony Varley on this section and had a quick chat.The short stretch of tarmac gave me a chance to eat as I ran so I was fuelled up for the run down to the main road. I didn't really push it so was amazed when two mountain bikers caught me up and said they had been trying to catch me all the way.
The Lakes in the distance
The sun was out, the sky was blue and the views were excellent in all directions.

I then went exploring which was perhaps a mistake as I ended up on some un-runable terrain as I wandered my way to Dimple and up onto Turton Heights. The map showed a path but I got stuck in tussocks and kept stumbling even at walking pace.
I even stopped to text Bob and say I would be late back to the van.I never thought I would be happy to be on the muddy path below the pylons but today it was a relief to get there. Turton and Entwistle reservoir was busy as I ran along the shore and headed up to the road at Cadshaw.
It will be a great oak forest in a few decades
I was now back on familiar ground and making good time as I ran up onto the moor and across to Darwen Tower. I met my mountain biker friends here again and they seemed amazed at how far I had gone. Around here my garmin battery died. I ran down to Tockholes, up through the woods, back up on to the edge of the moor and finished on the Witton Weavers Way.

I had time to sit in the sun with a cup of tea before Bob arrived back. A wonderful day to be out.
Others had been out testing the 3 Towers route - a new ultra that I must try next year, It visits Darwen, Rivington and Peel Towers. These hills might not be as impressive as the mountains in the Lake District or those on the continent but I would miss them if I no longer lived here.
The same age as me

Last weekend a birthday party took us to Haworth and so we stayed on Penistone Hill in the van before a run on the Sunday.

 Both of us were keen to fit in a long run before Round Rotherham 50 next weekend. The forecast was good and it was a glorious morning.

I set off early and met few people as I ran up to Bronte bridge and the Withins Ruin. later in the day it would be busy with the Withins skyline race, families and Chinese tourists.

 This is the only place in the UK where I have seen footpath signs in Chinese!  Not sure I approve of the religious signs stuck on the rocks though?

The ground was drier than I thought it might be and I was soon on the flagtone path running down to the Walshaw reservoirs.

  For now I was sticking to the Haworth Hobble route and was soon at Widdop dam and climbing onto Gorple Gate track.

I didn't want to go as far as Long Causeway and the horrid mud at Stiperden House so I explored to permissive path to both Gorple reservoirs. I even had time to stop and admire the old photos and neolithic axe head at the cottages.

Usually it is head down and race so I had never stopped here before. The next section had a multitude of paths and following the Pennine Way seemed too simple so I set off exploring. It wasn't long before I recognised bits from one of the relay races I had done some years ago. Eventually I ended up at Blackshaw Head and my next decision point.
CP from a previous race
I decided I was too tired to cope with Stoodley Pike and so explored again up and down tiny cobble paths on some very steep sections until I met the outskirts of Hebden. The whole area is criss-crossed with bridleways, cobbled paths and history. When I run on the worn down stones in the moorland paths I often wonder how many feet have been that way and where the earliest users were going.
It was ridiculously steep
I have never explored all the paths north towards New Bridge so today I ignored Heptonstall and went walk about. It ended up taking longer than just climbing up to Heptonstall and some of the paths were greasy enough to make for timid running but I enjoyed myself and arrived at the Blue Pig feeling fresh. I should have stopped for water but keen to escape the crowds I pushed on up through Hardcastle crags and towards Crimsworth Dean.

I had no water but there were lots of blackberries to feast on. I ate loads until two mountain bikers teased me. That was it. I was off and they couldn't keep up. I arrived at the top smiling and shot off to Grain Water ridge having stopped to drink from the biggest stream I could find.

 I paid for the pace and was a bit slow heading to the Top of Stairs. I had also made up enough time to tempt me into exploring again.  I should have used the YORM route but dropped lower to the Calder Aire link path instead.

Bits were lovely but some bits were the muddiest of the day so on the outskirts of Oxenhope I turned north to the van. I blagged some water from the end of the Withins Skyline race and did a loop of the hill. Bob was not back at the van so as my garmin battery died I set off for another loop of a mile or so in the last of the sunshine.

Huge grey clouds had been building for a while and as we drove home the rain began. We had been lucky and had the best of the day.
So now I hope I am ready for the 50 miles of Round Rotherham, followed by the fun of the Ullswater Way challenge, then the OMM, Warrington Way and a couple of Street O events in between.

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