Monday, 28 February 2011

Curlew update

As we got out of the car yesterday at Buffers a curlew flew overhead, calling as it went. We saw several on the afternoon run up Beamsley Beacon too, and this morning the fields at Ben Rhydding appeared empty. It looks like spring dispersal is well underway and these fantastic characteristic birds are back on the hill!


Another good weekend of training under the belt. On Saturday me and Stef ran around the Lake, Ridge and Wainwright route in 'mixed' conditions. It was a decent day when we set off from Borrowdale but we ended up in full waterproofs three times through the day as wintry showers caught us as they passed through the district. We managed the run at BG pace in spite of stopping to cover up and jog / walking the last couple of miles due to us being too lazy to dig our headtorchs out

Yesterday afternoon we had a run up my local hill, Beamsley Beacon, after a lie-in, an excellent cooked breakfast at Buffers cafe, Storiths and an hour or so planning the next few weeks training. We re-climbed the main ridge three times to give us 2200ft or so on the the day and 10,000+ft for the weekend. The sun was just setting as we got to the top for the last time and the view over to Pendle Hill was amazing

I ended up a bit short on mileage for the week at around 35, but with my best climbing of the year at 13,000ft+. I'm sure I'm well up on where I was this time last year and feel as strong as I did at the end of last April. My knees are nowhere as bad as they were Wednesday last week and I'm feeling a lot more confident than I was a month ago

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Bottle

Reminds me of the Blue Note club on Sadler Gate in Derby in the Eighties


I gave last night's club run a miss as my knees were really sore but went over to the White Lion for a pint with my friends. One of those friends suggested I had my priorities wrong if I was training too hard to manage a social run out with club mates! Maybe she has a point

My knees feel quite a bit better today for the rest and my tight calves have eased too after some rigorous stretching. I've had three decent weeks of training and, with a long hard run lined up for Saturday, this will be another good week

Ten days in South East Asia starting next Wednesday, although hard work, will mean a few gym sessions at best, and a bit of down time from slogging up and down hills. When I get back it will be time to really get stuck into the training and also sorting logistics for my Bob Graham

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Chevin

I met Geoff, a friend off the FRA forums, last night after work at the Surprise View car park above Otley Chevin for a session of hill reps. We did five up and downs of what looks like circa 650ft on the OS map, starting off in the light but mostly with head torches. About half way through the session we spotted a light near the top of the climb and it belonged to one of my KCAC friends Steve Brock, who helped me on last year's BG attempts, which was a nice surprise. He joined us on a couple of climbs before running over to Otley to meet his wife

The ascent/ descent was mostly done on stone steps and the climb is relatively steep compared to my route on Ilkley Moor. My knees are sore this morning as three out of the last four training sessions I've done have been reps and I've done 11,000ft in the last week. The climbing is good but I don't really want to be doing reps more than once a week; it's just how things have worked out recently, especially with being away at the weekend. I'm looking forward to a more gentle run out now with the club tonight from the White Lion in Kildwick, followed by a pint!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


We have a flock of curlews that over winter in Lower Wharfedale. I've never counted them but have seen estimates of around 200 birds elsewhere on the internet. They roost at night in the fields around Ben Rhydding and I see them regularly now the mornings are lighter, huddled together, usually on the right hand side opposite the playing fields and car wash

The vast majority of curlews travel to the coast in winter time and it's unusual for such a large number of these majestic waders to stay in land all year round. It's with mixed feelings that I look forward to them dispersing very soon up onto the local moors to breed. I'll miss the sight of them lifting my spirits on my drive to work but it will be great to have them back up on Ilkley Moor, Round Hill and Beamsley Beacon and hearing their characteristic bubbling calls when I'm out running

Monday, 21 February 2011

Sunday Morning

The alarm went off just after 6am yesterday and me, Stef and Sam were out running before 6.30. We managed around 9.5ml / 1400ft, including me and Sam racing full on back for the last 300yds or so to his granny's house. The cooked breakfast we had went down well after our efforts on the coastal path including one climb of the hill we used on Saturday for reps. I didn't do too bad for the week considering I was away for the weekend, and ended up with around 26ml / 7500ft for the week. I'm ahead of where I was this time last year in terms of training and feeling strong

Next weekend we're going up to the Lakes on Saturday all being well, and plan to have a run round the Lake, Ridge and Wainwright LDWA route This is something like 21ml / 8000ft (I ran round twice last year and think the distance is less and the climb greater than stated in the route description) and therefore not far off 'a third of a Bob'. Hills reps tomorrow after work, a Wednesday night head-torcher with the club, L,R and W on Saturday and a run out of Sunday should make for a very good week's training

Saturday, 19 February 2011

By the seaside

I travelled down to Seaton in Devon last night after work to spend the weekend with Stef and her family. We've had a full day today starting off with a session of hill reps from Banscombe. We did 8 x 400ft climbs on the steep coastal path before breakfast starting off in the dark but finishing in fantastic sunshine. The sound of seagulls and waves crashing into shingle made for a very different session to Ilkley Moor on Thursday evening. A cracking bit of training with another run planned tomorrow morning with Sam, Stef's younger son, who's a talented young runner

As it says on my profile I'm very much a man of the Midlands and any time spent by the sea is a treat for me, whether running on the coastal path, or eating ice creams in the sun like we did this afternoon at the legendary 1 Scoop or 2. Concensus was rum and raisin is a good option if anyone is passing through Seaton in need of refreshment

Friday, 18 February 2011

Ilkla Moor Baht 'at

Last night I did 4 x 550ft hill reps on Ilkley Moor. I felt strong on the climbs but the ground was very slippery, so I took it easy descending. The rock steps above Rocky Valley were bad in particular and they were taken at a very steady pace. My Walsh PBs are well past their best and this wasn’t helping on the downhills

I’m going to try to do hill reps every week I’m at home and have arranged to meet Geoff, a mate from the FRA forums, next week over on Otley Chevin. It’s a good idea I think not to get stale with training and even though we don’t have the steep ground and long climbs found in Lakeland or Snowdonia, in our area there are plenty of opportunities to make a useful contribution to the 10,000ft per week climbing many think is a good guide to BG success, in the week outside of prime weekend sessions


I was listening to Kilimanjaro, the first Teardrop Explodes album this morning. Julian Cope is a genius. I'm certain he could write ace pop songs like this for fun but he chooses to plough shall we say a 'more interesting' furrow

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Nab

We had another 'informal timed training run' last night. This started and finished in Oxenhope and was organised superbly by Ian Page from Wharfedale Harriers. The course was around 4ml / 760ft and in the opposite direction to the regular race my club (Keighley and Craven AC) put on in the autumn, in memory of Ashley 'Beefy' Bevan

I had a really good run and am starting to feel that the last six weeks increased training is starting to pay off. My climbing has definitely improved and I'm sure losing some weight has helped me move quicker generally

Afterwards we all retired to the Lamb Inn for rather good Timothy Taylors Landlord, brewed just down the hill, and the usual post run analysis and stories from the evening's outing (these invariably revolve around getting lost in the dark). It's traditional to have a 'guess your time' competition and I was five minutes or so under my estimated time, which I took to be a good sign!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


I'm going to South East Asia (Thailand and Vietnam) in a couple of weeks and just starting to think about what I need to take with me and what I have to do to prepare for the trip

Like a lot of regular travellers I have a routine and a series of 'survival aids' for life on the road. Along with obvious things like passport, business cards, credit cards I always carry an iPod and often update / alter the music on it for specific countries. I have a set of films on DVD that I stick in my bag, which include some old favourites like Kes, Withnail and I, and Mike Bassett, England Manager. Perhaps not the most cerebral selection but feel-good, familiar stuff to pass on a couple of hours in a hotel room, and perhaps keep me out of the bar, at least for a while

Last night I watched an old favourite film I'd not seen for a long time: Badlands, starring Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen. I'm fairly certain I first saw this in the eighties, when it was introduced by Alex Cox on the BBC2 series 'Moviedrome'. The photography and soundtrack, along with acting and direction, are all excellent and it's going in my bag when I go away next

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


It's the weigh-in day today for us FRA forumites who are trying to lose weight. I've lost eight pounds since Christmas and couldn't resist King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown to celebrate. This is an ace upload featuring the classic dub plus the original vocal cut by the late great Jacob Miller. Crucial!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Don't fear the sweeper

Me and Stef had a good weekend of training with a combination of getting round the Wadsworth Trog on Saturday (21miles / 4000ft climb) in under five hours, and then having a run out yesterday in Upper Wharfedale for a further 10miles / 3800ft

Wadsworth Trog is a tough old race with a lot of boggy wet ground to cover and although there are no real big 'set piece' climbs, there is a constant procession of ups and downs. The organisation from Calder Valley fell Runners was superb and we were relatively happy with our result after being last (and just in front of the sweepers) at one stage! I think the Trog's reputation goes before it and this, combined with a cut-off, puts off some slower runners, meaning that folk like us who might normally have 20% of the field behind them, are right at the back

Yesterday we parked in Starbotton before traversing the high ground between Wharfedale and Littondale four times (Starbotton-Arncliffe-Kettlewell-Arncliffe-Startbotton). We were out around three and a half hours, which is better than BGR pace, and we were happy with that considering our efforts the day before, plus the fact it never stopped raining the whole time we were out so were both in full waterproofs

I totted up around 38miles and 9500ft of climb between Wednesday and Sunday and am happy with that at this early stage of the year. Next weekend I'm in Devon with Stef's family, but the following one we'll be up in Lakeland, and the serious hard work will begin!

It was great to hear the first Skylark of the year at the Trog and yesterday we spotted three Oystercatchers near Kettlewell. Positive signs that even if spring isn't just round the corner yet, it's not a million miles away


Way beyond genius

Friday, 11 February 2011


I did 6 x 150ft hill reps last night on Beamsley Beacon (the first two fields on the Langbar bridleway). Originally I'd planned to go over to Ilkley Moor and do some 550ft reps from the start of the fell race route, up past the White House and on to the cairn on the skyline above Rocky Valley. These make good Bob Graham training with a mix of terrain and some relatively steep sections, but me and Stef are doing the Wadsworth Trog tomorrow and I didn't want to overcook it before this notoriously tough race

Seven Days

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Kirk

We had a great run last night around Ponden Kirk near Haworth followed by soup, crusty bread and beer at the Old Silent Inn in Stanbury

The run was an 'informal timed training run' of around 3.5 to 4.0 miles with circa 750ft climb. I set off way too fast after feeling strong warming up and as is often the case on these outings ended up off piste, in this case in an area of mini-tussocks and bogs. A group of six or seven of us including a couple of friends from Wharfedale Harriers found the correct path after a few minutes of wandering about, and it didn't seem long before we were all back at the starting point

A very pleasant hour or so was then had by around thirty runners and friends in the Silent, where I had chance, as hoped, to catch up with loads of friends from the FRA forum and various local clubs. After getting home I had the best night's sleep I've had since returning from India, so all told a good evening

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


I'm feeling kind of 'flat' today. I often feel a bit low or down after an overseas trip. You work long adrenaline-fueled days and it can be intense dealing with people when English isn't their first language (proper English isn't really mine as I have a broad Derbyshire accent so have to try to speak much more slowly and clearly than normal when travelling, with added aitches!)

A run out over the moors near Haworth tonight with the headtorch, followed by soup, beer and a good catch-up with friends in the pub should lift my spirits. I've planned to do some hill reps on Ilkley Moor tomorrow night too, which I always enjoy, in a perverse way

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


It was much brighter than the last few days as I drove to work this morning. The sun was rising as I reached the motorway and I noticed a magpie renovating its nest too. Roll on spring I say!

Monday, 7 February 2011


Back home and back to some half decent training. Me and Stef did 14ml / 2200ft around Embsay Moor on Saturday afternoon and 10ml / 3500ft from Littondale over into Wharfedale, up Great Whernside and back yesterday. Our original plan was to re-climb Great Whernside via Starbotton, picking up the Fellsman route at Park Rash. However, it was extremely windy and wet on the tops and we decided that the safest thing to do was get down and back to the car a.s.a.p. Ironically, we had to walk down the initial descent from Great Whernside as the head wind was so strong it was impossible to run down what is regarded as one of the best descents in the Dales!

Tom Drunk

I love this. The title is great, Daddy U-Roy on ace form and it reminds me of an old friend who is sadly no longer with us

Friday, 4 February 2011

Jet lag

Five and a half hours time difference (that is what you have between India and the UK) isn't too bad compared with the eight hours you have to cope with travelling to and from China, which I did three times last year. After going to bed last night and being fast asleep by 10pm I woke up again around 3am and have been awake since. To be honest I find that getting up at the usual hour and going to work is better than sitting around and snoozing, whether you're going East to West or vice versa. Having said that I would love a cheeky hour's nap just now! Hopefully a couple of decent runs (a circuit of Embsay Moor tomorrow, and a longer outing around Littondale / Upper Wharfedale on Sunday) will clear my head a bit and bring me round


I watched the new Wall Street film on the plane yesterday

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Going home

Even though I love travelling with my job there's one thing that give's me a bigger buzz - getting on the plane home, which I'll be doing later this morning. With a bit of luck I will be back in Yorkshire 9pm UK time and it'll be back to proper Bob Graham training this weekend with two runs planned in Wharfedale; Sunday's being 19miles / 6000ft of climb. No more Indian rum and no more chicken tikka for a couple of months at least, but plenty of fresh air and loads of training!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


We've been up North of Delhi today towards the Punjab. One of the things you see from the car in this area is mustard growing in the roadside fields. I wanted to post Mustard Fields by Talvin Singh (from his 'Ha' album), but couldn't find it on Youtube. I did however find this, which seems kind of appropriate anyway