Monday, 30 July 2012

Horace Andy

John Martyn

Cowling Gala fell race

Stef's sons, Tom and Sam, are staying with us this week and on Saturday we all went over to Cowling for the BOFRA Cowling Gala fell race It's a short but quite hilly race (2.75miles / 475feet) up to the pinnacles and back along the same route. Tom doesn't normally do any running but set off quickly before turning round near the top of the main climb and walking and jogging back down. Sam had a great run and finished just ahead of Paul Hindle, formerly of our club but latterly of Wharfedale Harriers. Stef ran well and was fourth lady I think. I felt good and was pushed along for a good part of the race by Barry Scholes, especially on the final descent. It was the best run I've had for a good while and I'm looking forward to seeing the results, which should appear here soon 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Charity Hill Climb

It was the KCAC Charity Hill Climb last night. This used to be a three mile uphill road route from the now I think sadly defunct Willow Tree in Riddlesden, but now it's a three mile plus mostly road with a section of very wet and muddy bridleway too route from round the corner from the Busfeild Arms in East Morton. The target at the top of the hill is still the same: Keighley Gate 

The route is many miles too short for me and completely runnable, but enjoyable all the same. We had over sixty people taking part last night including cyclists of all abilities, walkers, joggers and some very decent runners. Nearly everyone adjourned after the climb to the Busfeild where excellent free food was served, real ales were quaffed (it's a thirsty business running uphill) and raffle tickets were sold. Definitely one of my favourite nights of the year (and we won a bottle in the raffle!)

Sparky's Dream

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Our swifts are still here and we had the privilege of watching them flying around 'screaming' last night whilst sat outside the Fleece with a drink. I doubt they'll be around much more than another week so it was nice to catch them before they went. I always used to think we were borrowing them during our summer from Africa where they spend the majority of their time but it dawned on me recently that they were all born here in the village and as such they are much more local than me!

Monday, 23 July 2012

A weekend in Langdale

I've probably been to Langdale more times than any other valley in Lakeland; partly because it's relatively close to 'home' (be it Derbys or the West Riding), and partly because I love it. Stef and I went over on Friday evening to stay at Millbeck Farm for the weekend. The farm has both sheep and cattle and is situated brilliantly right underneath the Langdale Pikes. Sue, the landlady, was very helpful and we have already booked to go back later in the year!

On Friday evening we just had time to check in and then nip for a pint or two to the Stickle Tavern. On Saturday we walked round the vast majority of the skyline from Chapel Stile up to Silver Howe, on over Blea Rigg to the Pikes, picking up the BG route with added peaks and went round the head of the dale as far as Pike O'Blisco. We called at the Old Dungeon Ghyll for tea and got back to the farm at 9-30pm, which meant we'd been out around 11hours in total and bagged 13 Wainwrights

Yesterday we climbed up to Thurnacar Knott, over High Raise, then went over to Sergeant's Crag and Eagle Crag (two new Wainwrights for us both) before coming back over Stake Pass (and the ODG again for soup and a pint)

Friday, 20 July 2012

Gargrave Cross Country

We had another mad rush to get to a race last night. I'd not done the BOFRA Gargrave Cross Country before although I did pair up the Gargrave Show Fell Race one year with the Burnsall Classic the same afternoon, which made for a hard combination

The Cross Country as the name suggests is not a fell race but best described as a low-key trail race across (in last night's case very) muddy fields. I think there were 29 runners in total and I had a rare top-half finish and won a prize (two cans of lager) as first Male Vet 45 finisher. The five and a bit mile course is completely runnable and made for a hard 45minutes or so. Apart from the midges it was a memorable evening. Results should be posted here soon and photos by Dave and Eileen Woodhead on the Woodentops web-site here 

Joy Orbison

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Widdop fell race

Stef is keen to do as many races as possible at the moment, so we had a mad dash over to Widdop last night for Calder Valley's Widdop fell race. I'm reasonably familiar with the area where we were to run, but I had never done the race before, partly because it's a fair way to go for a 7-15pm start. After a frantic registration we set off together near the back of the field. There were two or three gates / stiles early on which caused bottle-necks but we were soon on on the fell proper with a long tussocky ascent

The plan was for me to run with Stef like last week at Stirton but I ended up about a hundred yards in front and after about a third of the distance decided to just run at my own pace. It was a decent evening for the race and I spotted a golden plover flying by calling not long before the finish. I felt strong throughout the seven miles and finished well for me

Stef had a great run too and is improving all the time. Regular training and racing is certainly making a big difference for her. Ian Holmes won albeit in a fairly slow time due to the very muddy conditions. Results will be up here soon 

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Steel Pulse

And one of 'my' songs from the days of the shared record player. I've got to say this still sounds fantastic thirty plus years later!

Child in time

My twin brother loved heavy rock when we were teenagers. We used to fight over the record player in our shared bedroom. He'd want to play Deep Purple or Pink Floyd, and I'd be wanting to listen to the Clash or Steel Pulse or Lou Reed! This was always one of 'his' songs that I liked. Jon Lord R.I.P.

Monday, 16 July 2012


Stef and I have been in Devon this weekend. We had a fairly quiet weekend but went over to Branscombe to run hill reps on Saturday morning on the coastal path and in the afternoon went for a walk over to Black Hole Marsh. The waders are just starting to return and we spotted five black-tailed godwits, several common sandpipers, a decent flock of curlew and a greenshank. Stef's mum provided us with her usual good fare including an excellent roast chicken dinner yesterday. The other thing we did was go to see the recent land-slips on the local coast including the now infamous 'hole in the road' near Seaton Hole

We've got a couple of weekends coming up in the Lakes and I've just ordered two Harvey Superwalker maps. I think I mentioned in my SLMM write-up how I was impressed with the Harvey map used for the event and I'm looking forward to doing some naviagation on our upcoming weekends away

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Stirton Fell Race

Brett managed to arrange a dry and sunny if a little cool evening for Stirton last night. My right calf was tight and sore so I ran round with Stef. She has been improving rapidly week on week of late and ran very nearly all the way up Sharp Haw the first time and a big chunk of the second climb too. We caught our friend Richard on the final run in and we both enjoyed the run greatly

After a walk back down the road, an overdue catch up with Madeleine and a wash in the local beck we went over to the New Inn. The Ram Tam was on good form and the banter good too. Tea when we got home was bolognese and hummus wraps and in my case the last bottle of Jack Bloor beer from May's race

Robert, a good friend of ours off the FRA forums, is usually at Stirton, but isn't well at present. I thought about him several times through the evening and look forward to seeing him this time next year as usual. Get well soon mate!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon 2012

I'm still trying to get my head round the SLMM; my first ever mountain marathon. I wasn't quite sure what to expect and I'm still weighing up the pros and cons of this type of event generally and last weekend in particular. I've left blogging about it for a couple of days on purpose and I'm still not sure what to write if the truth be known! Anyway below is a list of highs and lows of my event:


Fish and chips on the way there on Friday

Day 2 - less processions between check-points and maybe a bit more route choice

Me marking out the checkpoints correctly (on both days)

Couscous with Dolmio Express Bolognese sauce on Saturday evening and half a packet of Jaffa Cakes for pudding

Meeting some nice folk

No midges!

Harvey maps I've used OS maps for forever and invariably 1:25,000 scale but after a weekend with a Harvey map I was mightily impressed with the look of the thing and the simplicity of it


All the faff involved with the kit and the endless packing. This is a major thing for me because I'm not really into sports kit and hate lists!

Day 1 - it took me ages to get into moving and navigating at the same time and the final quarter of the course leading back to the overnight camp might as well have been taped

Not knowing anyone. It was weird because if I go to a local fell race I know a good proportion of the field even if only by sight but with a handful of exceptions I hardly knew anyone there all weekend. This wasn't a problem but just felt odd

If you'd have asked me on Saturday evening if I'd do another mountain marathon I'd have definitely said 'no' but I might have a go at another. Stef loves these events and Sam enjoyed the weekend immensely (they were very close to the prizes for the second year running and no doubt Stef will be writing about it soon). I still can't make nor tail of it somehow

One step forward

Big tune from Max Romeo; Lee Perry at the controls

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Back o' Swinsty

It's been three runs in three days for me and Stef. On Sunday we had a run up the Beacon in the evening with an added loop over the moor. On Monday evening we ran out from home to Bolton Bridge on the Dales Way (I've never seen the footpath so muddy as is it at present) and back over Pike Haw and through the golf-course. Then, last night we met Martyn, Helen and Dr Mark from over Harrogate way at Swinsty Plantation for an eight mile trail run Martyn calls 'Back o' Swintsy'. It was a muddy, midgey, muggy run and far too runnable for me but we all enjoyed it. We saw around six common sandpipers on the dam on the way back before retiring to the Hopper Lane Hotel for beer and an absolute frenzy of crisps, nuts and pork scratchings!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Our house

Home again

My first ever trip away for business was to Taipei in Taiwan around 2001. My then boss Jim, said the most important thing about the trip was not to get an order; not to build relations with our agent there; not to come back with loads of up to date market information but to not miss the plane home! I've never forgotten this excellent advice and have repeated the tale to folk all over the world many times over the subsequent years

I was in our Bangkok factory on Friday afternoon around 4pm and something made me get my flight schedule out of my bag. I'm not sure what made me do this but it was a good thing I did. I'd got it into my head that my flight was around 11pm and I was going to have several hours hanging around at the airport. I'd even decided where I was going for tea (the Mango Tree). This all changed when I realised I'd got the Bangkok to Singapore leg mixed up with long Singapore to Manchester leg. I was flying from Bangkok at 6-30pm!

Our Thai boss Patrick ran with me to his car and drove brilliantly for the next 50minutes or so. The start of the journey was on minor roads but they were thankfully quiet for a Friday afternoon. The last last 30minutes were on the highway and with the exception of a 10minute queue for a toll gate we again made good time. I must have been one of the last to check in around 75minutes before take-off but I'd made it. I hope Patrick didn't mind the big hug I gave him just after I received my boarding pass 

I was at at the back of the plane and had been given an aisle seat for the long leg but the flight was fine. Between watching three films: Se7en (saw it at the cinema when it came out; even darker than I remembered), Top Gun (hilarious, but the flying scenes always bring out the little boy in me) and the Damned United (seen it several times, Clough is God where I was born, nothing to add) I managed a few hours sleep and was soon back in Manchester

The drive home went really well and I manged to stay awake last night until gone 10pm in spite of a large plate of pie and chips and three pints of Mary Jane in the Swan in the evening. This morning I was wide awake at 4am after waking up first at 2am wondering where the hell I was was and how had Stef got out to Asia to meet me