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It was the last of the Nicky's Summer Series races when I decided to have my first 2017 attempt. Though it was a Monday rather than a Wednesday evening and it was daylight, I would like to suggest that the race did qualify for the status of a Warts' Outing.
There were midges which kept most runners confined to their cars until nearly the start which was at Brogging near Strines dam. David L (the eventual winner) had an unfair advantage, apart from his youth and ability, because his adrenalin levels were artificially raised by the haunting voice from the adjacent semi derelict building, warning he was on private property and was now being reported to the police. Just to ensure that all the relevant information was provided to the police, Andy H helpfully shouted David's name towards the mysterious voice. A late and unknowing arrival (on a bike) at the start provided the remaining waiting athletes with a further entertaining spectacle of voice shock therapy.
Nicky called us to order and set us off down the slope to the root ridden path through the woods to the footbridge. By this time most of the racers had disappeared up the hillside though Tom W who declared he was not racing, was just in front. Surely, 2017 must have been a wet summer to have hydrated the path (dare I call it) to the extent it was lubricated with oleaginous ooze. Tom cheerfully strode through and headed now thankfully over meadow to the Sugworth Folly from which Andy was seen leaving towards the path through the rhododendrons. Night suddenly appeared to descend on us as we headed into these rhodos which were made more sinister by the frantic barking of a ferocious hound guarding the Sugworth Hall estate. Partial gloom accompanied us up the Hall track before arriving at what felt like the bright sunlit road.
Leaving the road, Tom weaved a way through the rushes and provided me with a commentary on the ground ahead. (A note on my map of the bearing, ominously reads "road to ruin 125⁰ "!) A quick glimpse of the view behind was supposed to cheer me up by the height already climbed and the view of distant hills. However, the fast approaching wall of water did little to lift the spirits although reaching the ruin checkpoint mitigated the thorough soaking we were enjoying. A bit of a tussocky crossing of the moor took us to Stake Hill Road where the going was enjoyable (!). The next check point description was "grouse butt 1" but the wind, rain and lack of my glasses to read the map in such detail, prevented clarity. So, to satisfy our integrity, we went to the first butt we saw, then the next but one and then, the one after that. Thus, we visited three out of four butts not really being sure which was the correct one!
We enjoyed the edge of the workings near the ruin as we descended across tussocky and heathery moor to the road and before reaching the Folly meadow. The descent through the now even more glutinous mud gave us a sense of abandon as we plunged through without a thought for maintaining any sense of dignity. Across the bridge and through the dark wood brought us to the finish and the brave, heroic marshals, Keith and Nicky, who had waited patiently for us. Many thanks.
The rain continued and some problems were encountered in changing into warm and dry kit. So securely had Andy's shoes had been tied up, to prevent loss of them in the mud, that it took a sharp knife to cut through the laces of one shoe to release it. There was some rumour that only one trouser leg could be worn before this operation was carried out.
The warmth of the Strines Inn was very welcome to the teeth chatterers returning from the race for the presentation. Keith's handling of results, his lemon cake, his mushrooms and his trophies were, of course, impeccable. The variety of Nicky's cakes given as prizes was truly astounding and generous and they were all greatly appreciated as was Ellie's vegan chocolate cake. It is the first and may be the last time I will ever win a prize for fashion, I was judged to have the best grey jumper of the night! Should I give up fell running for the cat walk?
The midges, the ghostly mysterious voice, the darkness, the mud, the general confusion, the rain, the undo-able shoe laces and the warm pub, I think, all qualify this adventure as a Warts' Outing. What do you think?
After an epic outing I was disappointed that neither of out appointed scribes were present, however Graham, who found us in the pub, has valiantly produced a report from the various tales with which he was regaled:
At the beginning of this Warts' blog, let me make it very clear that there is only a limited amount of truth included (I've listened to too many politicians)! Through the limiting joys of injury, I've been reduced to turning up at the pub to meet the DPFR Warts after their run so it's only possible to have the vicarious pleasure of listening to their post-outing analysis. As Roy, Steve and I waited and waited in the Ladybower, there was some feeling that we might have been in the wrong pub……had the Warts all gone to the Angler's or were they just late? Eventually, the Warts trickled in with talk of visits to cabins…….which ones and how did they get there and what had happened to the Cap'n who hadn't been seen since somewhere near Black Clough? Fortunately, more Warts and more bits of information came dribbling into the pub. I was hopeful that more clarity would emerge, perhaps too optimistically.
On this night, which happened to be the Cap'n's last winter Warts outing, it seems that all started well for the first climb from the Westend car park to the ruined farm house. However, there are accounts, noticeably by the old Scrotes, of some, perhaps the fast ones (?), missing Black Dike to reach the Lower Small Clough cabins but, after the Scrotes. The continuing drift of the post run tales was one of the fast ones doing more "training" by spending longer getting to the check points. The Scrotes, however, suggested this was more a case of mis-navigation than more training. Indeed, Maurice claimed to have spent time star gazing in the clear night sky whilst waiting for and watching the young ones scrabble about in an unknown valley. This time for leisure was claimed to be due to his better contouring route. Who knows where anybody went? With stories from most of the Warts of lights in the distance in valleys and on hillsides, I suspect not many knew where they were or where they had been. Whatever the stories, there was much amusement in the pub when the Cap'n appeared somewhat shamefacedly and sometime after most of the other Warts had arrived. On his way back via Black Clough, it seems that one visit there was not enough, so a further one was made just to check it was still there. Having completed his check, there was then a deal of grough hopping which had also been encountered by Maurice ("Why are there so many effing groughs?").
In the true spirit of Warting, the further post-run analyses were not in any chronological order so following the hut visit, the descent into the Westend was apparently to short-cut the zig-zags and apply a bit of right, though it turned out to be too much right. A "correction" was needed to reach Raven Clough and, in over compensating for this rightness a bit too much left was taken subsequently whilst heading for Black Clough. This may have explained the double visit there but, wait, there was also talk of Fagney Clough and thick forest?…………………………………….So, the Warts navigation seminar continued and, confused, I decided to abandon all hope of understanding the Warts wanderings and went for another drink!
Below is the route taken by John; Moz took an extra detour to the sheepfold, and took Eoin with him ("found an excellent trod, just a shame it went in the wrong direction"). Lots of falling into groughs/holes, in at least one my feet didn't touch the bottom.
A fine evening, 18 finely tuned athletes turned up. The evening started with a lengthy speech from our very former Chairman on Health and Safety matters, following the near demise of Mr Last the previous week! It's fair to say that during my lengthy absence, that standards have dropped in the absence of the Club Safety Officer and Mr Holmes, never one to miss an opportunity, gave a stirring speech on the subject (while we all froze our nadgers off). We used to have a signing in book, I wonder what happened to that? Anyway......suitably chastened, we set off up the horrible drag through what was once a forest and which is now a wasteland towards New Cross (remains of). I'm bound to say that navigation was spot on, even allowing for the fact that there were at least 4 different routes taken! At this point, I began to appreciate that this was a Harmer devised route and as such would involve a great deal of slow, waste high heather and disgustingly steep hills to go up and down and very little what could be termed, running. The wiser of the two groups went round the top of the waterfalls on level ground; the more stupid followed Mr Harmer (me included) and dropped down into Abbey Brook and ended up having to scale a near vertical face to get back up to the top. Such is the price of loyalty to our ageing leader! A fine bottle of Jura whisky was unearthed at Berristers Tor and duly quaffed. The Harmerian experience continued unabated as we dropped to the bottom of Abbey Brook and then back up again to Low Tor. I'm bound to say that I felt as though I had had enough fun for one night, by this stage and the call of the pub was strong. Sadly, not strong enough for Capt. Harmer who decreed that we should visit Howshaw Tor just to prolong the fun that little bit more! A 10 minute paddle and wade through bogs later, we achieved this wonderfully pointless aim and finally set off with much relief (on my part, at least), back to the pub and the welcoming fire. A good night with only a couple more before the Summer runs! And in this post-Brexit age, the run was exactly 6 miles (kilometres, pah.!)
A large group for the pre-Watershed gathering and the forecast pestilence didn't manifest itself, instead we had a calm clear night which only started to cloud over much later. Indeed, the group was privileged to have the company of Jim, the ever flatulent, Fulton who rarely puts in an appearance these days. Good to smell him, as always. The warts seem to have become established into two groups, these days. The younger, more able runners, who invariably disappear into the distance, although often in the completely wrong direction and the more focussed, old Scrotes, whose fast running days are but distant memories in which they were often much better runners than the aforementioned younger group. Very much "the older they are, the better they were" syndrome. This latter group included Clive Last who disappeared off the back at some stage, almost ne'er to be seen again, more of which later. Anyway, it was a good route, into the Alport, across the slightly swollen river along the ridge and up to Bleaklow Stones, where whisky was taken at Knob rock. (see photo, it does look like a knob, Jim, you're right, at least in this light)
It was at this point that Mr Last's absence was noted. The blame was squarely put on Mark Harvey's shoulders, although he wasn't there. He is the Club Safety Officer and should have known better than to let Clive drop off the back of the group! However, we didn't waste the time and managed to put a few fond memories of "Good old Clive" together for the obituary on the way back and then.... a light was spotted about a mile away on the top of some god-forsaken hill at the west end of Bleaklow, completely in the wrong direction. It was this point that made us think that maybe it was Clive, well known for his aimless wondering in previous warts runs! A small search party set out, Dave Holmes and dog, and guided the confused Mr Last back to the group. Ah well, the obituary will keep. From here it was a steady run back through Grains in the Water and due south back to the cars and the Snake pub, where we apparently, nearly drank them out of Moonshine, which, given that they had only had 4 people in the pub before us, all week, is quite a feat! A fun night out, thanks to all!!
After an enforced three year absence from the Warts' blog during which the "Under-Scribes", Messrs Berry and Kitchen valiantly held the fort, I feel that it's time for me to return to my duties as Chief Scribe for the Warts. My thanks goes to them for their efforts and of course, they are very welcome to exercise their creative urges on this blog at any time! Anyway......the pre Champs alternative: six started, five finished, a fair attrition rate for these dark nights. The first snow of the season adorned the fells, the hard going reflected in the snail-like pace of the majority of the outing. I should say at the outset that this was advertised by Capt. Harmer as a gentle excursion, not the arduous 2 and a bit hours slog that ensued. From the pub, the usual route up through the field and to Back Tor, notable only for the sad demise of Clive, who was not at his best and who will be missed! A good snow covering on the tops as young Hawley soon found out by disappearing up to his groin whilst at full speed and attempting to break a leg, Duckie. Fortunately we had a nurse with us, who was able to confirm no more than injured pride but this didn't stop him from moping at the back for some time (youngsters eh?) From here, Poynton Bog beckoned. Disregarding that fact that there was a perfectly good path, Mr Harmer led us over this wasteland towards Cogmans' Cabin with its moderately death defying plummet (how I've missed these). Here the whisky flowed! I must admit that the quality of beverages has improved dramatically in my absence, gone are the days when watered down paint stripper was good enough, now it's Single Malts all round with various comestibles available for consumption too. As was pointed out, there aren't many clubs where runners come back heavier than they went out! The slog up the path to the bottom of Abbey Brook involved a modicum of running but then the worse slog up to Low Tor soon put a stop to that. From Low Tor to the pub seems to be getting much longer and took a bleedin' age when really we should have been tucked up warmly by the fire but there you go, old age creeping up on some of us! A good outing which it's fair to say, Dave Holmes would have hated.
Cap'n Harmer says "Strines Inn usual time. I guess some folks not racing in the champs or want a steady one with Chris/Tim and myself might want to potter along." 18.45 then if interested.
Wednesday evening marked the return of some of the S11 team who were all absent for the previous Wednesday's Hunter Wreck race. At least I had a half reasonable excuse of being on holiday in Kent though it did cross my mind that it might be possible to drive back for the race but I was soon corrected when this was suggested! Having been introduced as new members, the S11 group (Clive, Eoin and me) set off up the track with others (a grand total of 16) for what felt like a sprint to Slippery Stones where it soon became only too clear that there were two groups, the young, fast group and the infirm (old), slow group. This was confirmed as head torches were seen well ahead to the right and off track, climbing towards Bull Stones. There now seems to be a tradition developing of some club members disappearing into holes in the ground, so the Cap'n set the trend a few years ago by falling into an earth crevasse (near the Blackden car park) which swallowed him up. Below Bull Stones, a sudden cry (of pain?) went up. Looking around nothing could be seen apart from Eoin's head and shoulders sticking out of the ground. A brief discussion concluded he would be better with us than not with us so the Cap'n and I grabbed his arms and pulled but to no effect. Whether this was because two weaklings were in charge or because Eoin was jammed in, we weren't sure. Eoin is clearly made of stern stuff as he performed a sort of constrained but controlled backwards flip and he popped out showing his rather handsome bloody shin. We were later treated to another showing of this in the bright lights of the pub, almost too much enjoyment!
Having taken a slightly different route to the Stones, it was surprising to find that the infirm slow ones, despite being held up by the rescue attempt, arrived not long after the young ones. The next stop was Margery Hill trig which was reached by means of a number of slightly confusing paths and stiles. This was not to be the whisky stop so we set off for High Stones. Again the young ones pushed on ahead leaving the old ones trailing on the edge path. It was nevertheless gratifying on High Stones to call the young ones back as they headed at high speed to Wet Stones having missed the High ones. Celebratory whisky was taken before heading off to the rocks on Long Edge and the steep descent to the refreshing river crossing. A great outing capped off by further refreshment at The Ladybower where there was a long discussion on teeth and eyesight. Such is the wide range of knowledge of the DPFR Warts!
A relatively modest fifteen or so Warts assembled at Fairholmes for an unusually early first Wartin' fixture of the 16/17 season - more typically falling (so the good Cap'n advises) on or after the Autumn Equinox. Perhaps Big Bob had forgotten this departure from tradition, failing as he did to turn up; but it was good to see a number of more senior representatives in attendance and moving well - notably Messrs Last and Dalton - and to welcome at least one newbie, I think, with whom I completely failed to converse. Fi, fresh from her brush with the Peris Horseshoe, was the only representative of the distaff side of the club - several others presumably moonlighting with Lucy in some reservoir - whilst Richard Bembridge made a rare foray out from deepest darkest Dronfield, as did tractor boy Ray (from Crosspool).
'Twas a pleasant, balmy evening, a tad too hot in all honesty, and we were treated to a fine sunset and finer still blood orange moon, as twilight slipped into night, and we finally donned our head torches in earnest. The route comprised an ascent of Pike Low from the south-west (ish), from where an early split was agreed, Andy, John and others heading around the top to Lost Lad, Howshaw Tor, and thence to the ruined cabin in Sheepfold Clough. Meanwhile, John Webber, Rich Hunt, Messrs Westgate and Holmes, variously led the rest of us down to the packhorse bridge then up to Back Tor - touching the trig at Dave's insistence (quite right Dave) - and onward via Howshaw to the cabin where we caught up again with our compadres.
Mr Holmes mounted a plausible defence of his general mountaincraft and navigational good sense without being entirely drawn by your correspondent, and in the end was one of only a select handful of experienced Margery Hill alumni to get the correct line to Hancock Pond, the majority of the party dropping way too right and blundering through boggy woodland to the reservoir track where I subsequently encountered Eoin bringing up the rear of the party.
The erudition in the Ladybower Inn thereafter (sporting a recent makeover of sorts), was most distinguished by the suggestion that we organise some kind of Dark Peak Paralympics race, to complement the Olympic race from Blackden, with categories open to, for example, the growing number of club members boasting a heart condition (naturally we would have to ban Mr Winterburn from taking part), or the visually challenged. We were also pleased to encounter an injured Moz in the same hostelry.
All in all a most satisfactory first outing of the season, a week early or not.
It was Wednesday Warts' world authority evening from Doctor's Gate on the Snake road. Despite posted warnings of the absence of the Shelf Brook bridge, seven of us (not all world authorities) from Sheffield and one from Glossop, set off expecting a warmish run but in the gathering mist and an increasingly strong easterly wind, more rather than less clothing was needed. The wind accelerated us on our way to the first target of Cabin Clough though a bit of extra distance, call it training (?), was needed to avoid some agitated Canada geese and their chicks. Whilst two cabins are marked on the maps, they no longer exist but the Clough, in due respect, nevertheless has kept its name.
The name for a particularly steep ascent near Ashton Clough out of Shelf Brook is yet to be established on the maps but, like Bob's Rock and Tom's Tree, recognition for Penny's Scree must be inevitable. Watch for these landmarks to be included on the next issues of Dark Peak maps. Much to Penny's relief, her scree was not climbed from the Brook up to the pond below James Thorn. At the pond, Tom claimed to be a world authority on locating this pond and, furthermore, his identification of a piece of agglomerate brought back from Scotland by Bob, also confirmed his world class geological credentials…….a double world authority.
More was to come as world authority navigator Andy lead us through the thick mist and the now, unhelpful wind, to Shelf Stones and then on to the Superfortress wreck. It was Tim Ray's suggestion that the aircraft engines scattered around the site could be restored, along with all his tractor bits, that made him, in my view, another world authority.
From the wreck, Mark took us down Hern Clough and then off to the right into a deep and dark grough where he found and proudly presented a bit of fabricated metal, identified as stainless steel, thereby staking his claim to world authority membership.
All this excitement caused both Penny and I to have hunger pangs on the way back to the car park so Richard very graciously gave us a Cherry Burst (?) which made all the difference and got us both back to Doctor's Gate. The Snake Inn's usual hospitality provided further stimulation to end yet another splendid evening.
My mother-in-law's 95th birthday party was not to be missed. It was to be held in Cambridge on Sunday the 8th of May, the day of the 57A race. So in the interests of family harmony and of still submitting a race time, Tom Westgate (RO) was duly informed of my proposed Saturday attempt. The 57A bus no longer goes to Langsett so a bit of delving showed that the National Express coach to Liverpool, number 350 (?), left Sheffield bus station from platform E2 at 8.45 and arrived at Langsett at 9.15 on Saturday morning. This half hour trip was posted as "Fastest" by National Express and indeed, it was punctual, calling in at Stocksbridge on the way. The mountain forecast was for early mist to dissipate by mid-morning followed by some cloud, sunshine and a north easterly breeze. Temperatures were expected to be about 6⁰ initially and then rising to 15⁰ or so. With my experience of hypothermia in the latter stages of last year's 57A and the forecast 6⁰, I decided to wear my medium weight Buffalo with a thermal vest underneath. The benefit of this was appreciated going up Cut Gate, having left the Barn and gone around the northern edge of Langsett reservoir towards Mickleden Pond. However, it was the only time this clothing was appreciated and later, all the ventilation flaps were opened and the thermal vest removed. From Cutgate, a small trod conveniently took me across Mickleden Beck and then to the stream which lead to the Pond. Number one check point completed, only eight more to the finish!
Over the largely featureless moor to the next pond (CP 2) behind Outer Edge, spirits were lifted by three sightings of hares, wonderful. On the basis that climbing was to be minimised, a contour was taken to the next check point, above and around the Cranberry Clough tributaries. Initially, this was reasonable going but later turned into a mixture of deep heather and swampy reeds, slow! However, the Long Edge rocks (CP 3) were reached without any late "adjustments", to provide a wonderful view over the Derwent and beyond. There was a steep descent into the river which provided some welcome cooling to the slight astonishment of nearby fishermen and walkers.
By now, I needed to turn over to the next half of the Harvey map and after some complicated refolding (there must be a better way), a steep climb and a contour I arrived at the wall stream junction in Ridge Clough (CP 4). It was now sheltered from the wind and it was hot, even for me. The crossing into the Westend provided a bit of cooling wind and the shade in the woods leading to Westend Moor gave some relief from the sun. There was more moor to reach the Alport river which gave a degree of refreshment. Climbing out of the Alport and up the ruined wall in the heat, thoughts turned to the four Scouts who died of hypothermia near here. Their memorial plaque (CP 5) is a sad and sobering reminder of the possible dangers of bad weather in the Dark Peak.
On this trip, I had been watching when a phone signal became available so a text could be sent home, usually from hill tops. There was no signal at the Oyster Clough hut (CP 5) and the door was secured with a twisted wire or rope so I assumed there was no Richard Hakes cake. Instead, however, my marmalade sandwich substitute was helpful after a precipitous descent into the Snake Inn (CP 6) which felt busy after a largely unpopulated crossing from Langsett. The good weather had encouraged many people to explore both Fairbrook and Kinder so the remainder of the run was not lonely. So far, I had carefully noted all the bearings needed for the moors or critical sections but had not bothered to do so for the crossing from the top of Fairbrook to the Kinder river. The combination of this, the much transformed terrain, now all grassed over and the possible magnetic effects of the couple of pound coins in my back pocket (!), I managed to overshoot the river and needed to carry out an "adjustment" to recover. Just after reaching the Kinder summit cairn (CP 7) by following the Kinder river, I received a text message from my wife asking whether I was anywhere near civilisation; "Near Edale" I replied. Following a stream bed to Crowden, I then had an uncomfortable section on the paving stones towards Grindslow Knoll and then, thankfully, turned off them towards the two ponds (CP 8) and the final steep descent into Edale and to the hubbub of the very busy station (CP 9). The train was late but it gave time to savour the last drop of water in my bottle and the last jelly baby.
Thanks to Tom for creating and organising the challenging 57A race which never disappoints. The routes and the variations in the weather, from snow through driving rain and heat waves, is testament to Tom's creative spirit. Long may the race continue and its name should remain despite a challenge from National Express 350 coach. Later, I learnt that it was even hotter on the following day of the race so my congratulations go to all those who were brave enough to set off in those extreme conditions.
Well done to all!
The spirit level was low reported Paul S to the whiskey monitor, John G, so a last minute arrangement was made for a Wednesday night replenishment by the whiskey appreciation team services (another of Maurice's mnemonics). Whether this counts as a Warts' outing is up for debate, particularly now that we were in British Summer Time, torches were only used in the last quarter of an hour or so and the weather was not wet and windy but sunny (yes, sunny!). Not only were we graced with the presence of Paul and John but also Richard H (photographer and whiskey Sherpa for the evening) and Clive making a return from the southern hemisphere. Setting off from Strines, also with Moz, John D, Tim H and Mark H, into the blinding sun made us appreciate the benefits of the dark winter Warting weather. As is routine, a faster group emerged (Tim and Mark) so we let them speed off to Gravy cabin whilst we continued to Back Tor and Lost Lad where there was much posing for photos.
In the continuing spirit of the evening, a variety of routes to Sheepfold Cough emerged with the Club Championship Handicap winner (JG) showing his mettle to arrive there first via the main path. However, the rest of us felt we had the moral high ground by going the direct route across the moor from Lost Lad and arriving just behind. At least we had the benefit of glimpsing a pretty little waterfall on the way down. More routes were taken up to the top of the opposite hill where more photo posing was enjoyed together with some whiskey reorganisation and, of course, tasting. A message was left in the book there, before a spectacular sunset lit descent into the upper reaches of Abbey Brook. As we spread out to reach the Low and Howshaw Tors, what seemed like the whole local population of white and semi-white mountain hares (we estimated about 20) came out to watch our impressive athleticism across the moor or was it just to see the glow of Moz's high visibility outfit. Hares were seen all the way back to Strines and some head torches were resorted to. In the pub, the spirit of the evening encouraged much reminiscing which covered a wide spectrum of experiences from the use of a condom protected sausage for a baton during a Pennine Way relay, the distress of sheep being vomited over by one member of the relay team and the Man v Horse race recently in a celebrity TV show. So, quite a classic, spirited sort of Warts' evening.
A new definition of Warts emerged on the last outing before the clocks went forward for British Summer Time. Thanks to Maurice, We All Regularly Turn Stupid was coined after an interesting return from the run from the Snake Inn.
It all started well, as we left the Snake through the woods to join the foot of the Fairbrook ridge. The quad track encouraged some speed work at the front of the group (Tim, Rob and Dave) thus enabling the lingerer (me) to have a magical view of a string of lights ascending the final climb to the Naze in the semi darkness. In good tradition, the Naze's mushroom stone was climbed (by Rob's friend, newcomer Gus??) and then the first decision on choice of routes was made. The fast group, including Fi and shorts clad Tom, headed for the Downfall with an option later for Mermaid's pool. The remaining others set off for Seal Stones with the intention, once there, of descending the path to the Snake Inn, following the route of the Triple Crossing. This latter group included Sarah, Kev and Willy who had impressively completed an eight hour Kinder Round the day before and were having an easier, warming down run. John, who was rationing his running in preparation for a cycle trip to a Mediterranean island, Maurice and I also joined this group. It is quite a long way (nearly three kilometres?) from Fairbrook Naze to Seal Stones and the path appears and disappears particularly near Fairbrook itself where some scrambling was to be enjoyed. The edge path then introduced an effect which warps time and distance particularly when a full moon is rising, as it was. Such was the warp effect that it was decided that a cluster of rocks was Seal Stones (it turned they weren't!) so it was, therefore, the time and place to descend, which we duly did. There was a gradual splitting towards the left for one set and towards the right for the other set (Willy, John and I). The right leaners realised that the descent path still had not been reached so more right was applied, now making the leftists disappear out of sight. Crossing both pasture, Harmerian deep heather and Bob's spring, we continued to descend, eventually reaching another quad track linking numbered shooting butts until we found the track which was enjoyed for about as much as a hundred yards to the Fairbrook stream crossing. To our astonishment, the faster leftist group followed us in having enjoyed the pleasure of descending one of the Seal Cloughs into Fairbrook itself.
It was in the car park when the route analysis started, that Maurice voluntarily came up with the new definition of Warts. This was also based on the experiences of several winter Warts seasons where wanderings of some sort always occur. Back at the pub, there was a bit of a wait before the Mermaids arrived, having visited the pond, the Sandy Heys trig, the northern edge and the Naze. As always, the post run pub discussion ranged far and wide from Fi's admiration of a mobile home in the car park, through politics, Maurice's further attempts at warping, this one on the measurement of temperature and time (ask him!) and a long rant about dogs and their owners.
All in all, a classic Warts' outing and a grand finale to the 2015 2016 season!
Cap'n. Harmer has suggested a run from Windle Edge (up North tha knows), I assume at 18.45 as usual. Nothing arranged yet for the Southern branch, it's probably best to watch this space or at least check with Andy or Mark nearer the time for any updates.
Winter was clearly not over as we gathered in the sleet at the waterlogged Hagg layby, all displaying our best waterproofs, ready for all that the weather could throw at us. The steep start through the woods soon warmed us, until we reached open ground where the strongly windblown sleet refreshed us, (all ready for the Watershedders?). Here, the character of the rest of the run became apparent as there were at least four (maybe more?) groups heading for Crookestone Knoll. We did manage to congregate there, or at least near there, as the wind was challenging on the top. The now, routine splitting gave two groups, the fast and the old, the fast, heading for the spot height of 444m (or 442m depending on the map) and the old, for Hope Cross and then on to Telegraph Hill. It emerged fairly quickly that the fast group was too fast for some members like me and, after a brief stop somewhere in Jaggers Clough we became a set of individuals going our separate ways. It soon dawned on me that the terrain was not right for 444m and, happily, a few of us now got together (Bob, Lucy, Fi and Tim) to retrieve our wanderings. Having by now missed 444m, an easterly bearing eventually brought us back to the quarry and down to the big track back down to Jaggers Clough. The shout for us, was also Hope Cross where, because of our extensive meanderings, we decided to go directly back to the cars using a pleasant forest path to rejoin the main, very rocky track back to the river bridge crossing. Some of the other groups, the remains of the fast and of the old, did manage Telegraph Hill though the Cap'n reported his lonely diversion through some difficult brambles. His reputation remains intact.
All this wandering was revealed at the Ladybower Inn where an ad hoc meeting of the bog rescue committee (Moz, John D and the Cap'n) provided rather graphic information of their intimate acquaintance with life threatening bogs. It appears that, for self-rescue, it is necessary to perform a backstroke, on the basis it may help flotation and it's better to go backwards to the solid ground just left behind than to go into the unknown swamp in front. So, there you have it, advice (hopefully useful) from senior and experienced members of DPFR. In contrast, this committee also recounted their circle running experiences, not around the stone ones, but in difficult places like Totley Moor and the Crook Hills where footprints in the snow initially provided some comfort that someone else was there, until it was realised they belonged to themselves. Hey ho, we've all done it and, as the man said, "Someone who has never been lost has never been anywhere".
Accidently, I entered Bob's Mam Tor race which was organised in his absence by the Cap'n. There was an alternative non-racing group of Pete G, Moz, Lucy, Penny and Sarah who set off before the race started so I thought this was the group to join. However, having failed to catch them up I returned to the start to be told that I'd been entered (by Tom) in the race anyway.
So, Tim H and the Cap'n set us off from Odin's Mine with the advice that left or right ascents and descents were acceptable but straight on was definitely not an option. Being left to the young lions and tigers of the club, it became very quickly apparent as they disappeared into the darkness that I was not in the right group. The majority chose the left hand side ascent which started on a narrow, twisting path near a stream before emerging at the old crumbling road. From here lights could be seen heading up the left hand edge so, ploughing on, there was an opportunity to cheer the leaders and all the others on their way down.
Some chose the full round of Mam Tor and descended on the opposite side whilst the others having sort of recce'd the route on the way up, stayed on the same side. Apart from a couple of steps and a bit of greasy grass this descent was low on the Harmerian scale of difficulty and chastisement (from the Cap'n) for these descenders was the order of the night on the post-race and run analysis.
The daytime record from a few years ago, was about 13 minutes and, in the dark, David L managed to get up and down in about 14 minutes closely followed by Neil N. The ladies were solely represented by Clare who duly took first place. The warm down after the race was a direct line over to Winnats followed by a spectacular crossing of the pass. A former club chairmen was heard to comment that it was a pleasant change to be running on soft pasture in the White Peak. Clearly, he was having some sort of hopefully, temporary aberration and it is only hoped he has by now recovered. Willy even went so far as to suggest the possibility of blackballing him from the club.
Thankfully, no such action was taken and all was forgotten afterwards in the conviviality of the pub where the routes of the three groups were compared and contrasted. There was a visit to the Mam Tor pond which involved some gnarly ground and the "early" group had managed to include a trip to Horsehill Tor. The post-racers also managed a trip to a pond of such small dimensions that Willy was not prepared to dignify it with his presence. This group managed a further trip to the Mam Tor summit which gave us a fine view of the rising full moon. Another spectacular evening despite being in the White Peak!
The Loxley Lads were busy chasing Landmarks so missed the delights of the Westend on a moonlit night largely free of any rain or snow. The eight Westend Warts included Fi F and Pete G who were both back after a bit of a lay off due to coughs, holidays and, in Pete's case, a rather impressive cut of the knee (we were shown it later in the pub!). Stewart was also back, taking time off from his campaigning.
Bob took charge as we headed for the Alport trig via Fagney Clough. On the climb across the moor, we either talked too much so we walked too much or was it visa versa? Whichever, the trig point appeared out of the darkness giving us the chance to catch our breath after all the talking. Just a bit east of north was the next call, towards the tributaries of Black Clough. On the ridge, Pete and John D decided to go for home (the car park) directly, leaving the remaining six to head for a thigh deep crossing of the Westend river. Thanks to Sarah and Penny for making the human chain across the roaring river…. well, if not roaring, it was certainly deep, wet and cold! Gratitude was expressed for neoprene socks and there was speculation on extending the neoprene wearing not just to socks and gloves but to full body cover, as finely modelled by Rob Davison at the previous week's Priddock Wood outing. The conversation then took a turn to the dark side with mention of zombies and Pulp Fiction. Staying on the dark side, there was some road running up the zig-zags, though thankfully this was short lived as we escaped them and went eastish up to Black Dike. To make up for the early walk-talk episode, a good speed, with no talking, was achieved along the dike. Turning off it (southish), we reached the fence before descending into the trees to drop into the carpark. All in all, it was an agreeably good two hours' outing.
Priddock Wood is fun I told myself as we set off from the Ladybower Inn. Even before the climb, there was fun when crossing the stream, with some managing to keep dry feet via a precarious scramble and a leap and others going for a reviving semi-immersion over their knees. The fun continued up the steep, wooded, brambly, muddy, unstable and mossy hillside. Please think of any other descriptions (not rude ones) you would wish to apply to this epic start to a run. It was all topped off with an exciting clamber across the boundary between wood and moorland. Even at this stage, the group was now splitting, with at least three sets of lights heading for the Jarvis Clough rest home.
Here, now all regathered, time was called on togetherness and the less slow group set off into the night leaving the more slow group in the rest home. The stone circle was reached using an uneventful track and with the guidance of the lights of the faster leading runners. Reminiscences of races held round the circle on runs from the Sportsman brought a touch of sentimentality to the discussions (we must have been going slowly to be able to "discuss").
Crossing Cutthroat Bridge, the next target was the Derwent Edge path and then on to the Coach and Horses (not a pub) where there was some respite from the cooling wind. By now the Cap'n and John had wisely decided to return to the real pub and the rest of us including Bob, Mark, Graham and the newly recruited Leicester man, Steve Jones, dropped down Grainfoot Clough to the edge of the wood. Prompted by some health statistics from Bob that 15% of older runners were likely to have some heart problem, there were further discussions this time on mortality and the way to go, in both senses, before climbing all the way back again to the path leading to Ladybower Tor.
We practiced yet more dispersal by taking at least three different routes back to the pub, with some claiming the moral high ground by going further and climbing more. This was, of course, nothing to do with losing the way back. We were all checked in at the Ladybower Inn where Leicester man, Steve, revealed he was not driving back but was bivouacking somewhere near Win Hill and then, in the following morning, checking out the route of the Margery Hill race. As always, another good Warting/discussion outing.
A very loose definition of the original French word "flaneur", is to wander around aimlessly. There was a fine example of DPFR flaneuring on Wednesday night from Upper North Grain. Even the car parking can need a bit of wandering with some of us parking in Nether North Grain and the others in the Upper park which has room for only one or two cars. Fourteen of us congregated at the DPFR calendar designated Upper North Grain car park to head for the hut which from the near distance looked quite cosy as we approached its now torch lit window. There was a quick reminder of this being the check point for the running of the tenth anniversary of the race from King's Tree in 2024. Shortly after leaving the hut and after Mark commented that the Warts' pace had slowed to a walk since he last came out, it was decided that the pensioners' group of Moz, Stewart, Chris, Andy, John and I should be left to our own devices. And what devices we had! Besides maps and compasses there were two GPS/map devices which were in use fairly frequently over most of the remaining part of the run. Whilst initially not being a strict flaneur because we had a possible aim to go to Bleaklow Head, it became a flaneur when we changed to possibly Hern Stones. This less ambitious aim was because of our slow progress through the snow and our unanimous declaration that we needed to save ourselves for the Margery Hill race on Saturday. So, we set off on a northerly bearing but drifted westerly and discussions on the best bearing resulted in, "north with a touch of east and west". At least we had the sense not to also include a touch of the south which would have sent us round in circles. But wait, the shout then came for a southerly(ish) heading. As John's track shows, it would later enable us to complete a circle. At this stage, GPS/map devices emerged to tell us where we were, possibly near a tributary of Hern Clough? Now moving slightly northerly, we reached the Pennine Way which was followed up Hern Clough. Here we decided that we had passed Hern Stones (we hadn't as the track shows) and it was therefore time to go back, initially following Hern Clough and then going due south, to nearly reach the hut again thus completing not just one "circle" but two. The general conclusion was that we hadn't really been anywhere which qualifies the outing as a good flaneur.
Our reward was at the Snake Inn where there was some thoughtful discussions including Moz's suggestion that the sweepers on the Edale Skyline should all wear high vis. jackets with the words "Grim Sweeper" emblazoned on them. If that doesn't encourage the tail enders to hurry along, I don't know what would. Also, it was felt that a special institute should be established with the specific aim of finding a simple, non-strenuous and cramp free method for removing wet socks at the end of a run. So, as always an interesting run and apres run for the pensioners and for the non-pensioners too, who went to the far reaches of the Alport ridge under Lucy's precise guidance.
To pretty much everyone's surprise, Tim H and Dave H managed both to agree on their route finding and avoid any undue confrontations with farmers, whilst leading us all a merry dance around the sites of the upper Loxley Valley. Your correspondent was a tad disappointed that there was to be no trip up the Limpopo, but on a clear starry night, with a wee nip in the air, it was nevertheless a positive pleasure to be tripping along the footpaths of Bradfield Parish. Good also to see the newly doctored Ella (congratulations doc), with Laurence and newbie Matt in tow, on her usual cheerful form, notwithstanding pulling up short with a dicky knee half way around. And a welcome appearance from Russ B too. Other than that, not a great deal to report really. A goodly night out.
A fashion show of the latest and retro waterproof elegance greeted us at the start of the Warts' Blackden outing. The price and source of the waterproof tops and bottoms were also keenly discussed in the sleety Blackden layby. Whilst all of this was truly edifying, only secondary importance was granted to where we were going this night. Mark had suggested on the website a trip over to and then up Grindsbrook followed by a crossing over Hartshorn and a descent over the Wicken. However, Mark was unable to make the outing and alternatives were daringly put forward. The Cap'n wanted to revisit the crevasse under Cowms Edge which nearly swallowed him whole, two or three years ago but in the end, Bob suggested Blackden trig, Ollerbrook, Druid Stone and Dean Hill. Should Mark turn up later, a note was left thoughtfully on the car for him to catch up.
Leaving behind the waterproofs chatter, we descended the mud slide to the bridge over the full flowing river from where we strolled up, breathlessly, on a southerly(ish) bearing to the edge path. There was talk of a full barbecue on the fairly newly constructed patio around the trig point but as always with these fantasies, the weather, now snowing, gets a little in the way and disappointingly there was no equipment and very little food. In any case, the thought of barbecued liquorice allsorts and jelly babies also contributed to our decision to move on to Ollerbrook. Again we headed off roughly southerly for the eastern side of Ollerbrook on Tom's recommendation. Thankfully, this was nicely gnarly, tussocky and rocky in places but was spoilt after we descended to, and left the bridge, on a smooth grassy track. (I suppose we can't have it all our own way!) Tim, Bob and Fi lead us off the track to climb back up to the edge for a dash in the snow to Druid's Stone. Liquorice from Sarah (prize winner at the Trigger), other sweeties and jelly babies were handed out at the Stone before a northerly trek over the top and a descent to Dean Hill and into Blackden.
The Ladybower supplied us with the post run drinks and crisps which encouraged the Cap'n to describe a previous winter race involving no waterproofs or thermal vests or leggings or hats or gloves or underwear. Such was the graphic and over detailed account of this male only race, involving not only the Cap'n himself but also Willy, that Penny and Sarah had to leave the building looking truly horrified. All talk was cut short at the prospect of more such information on this race and it was agreed that the rest of should also leave. Here's to next Wednesday night!
A gentle shamble out from Fairholmes for my shiny new watch, in honour of which please find the track below.
Fourteen soon enough became thirteen as Clive retired for an early bath. Meanwhile, runners were scattered to the four corners of Abbey Brook, with Big Bob professing little interest in any meaningful order and the rest of us displaying none at all. Things got no better really on our return from Back Tor, a wide variety of lines seeing us all home in time, with your correspondent and Posh Dave fighting desperate rearguard actions, each having been caught short - on the moor and in the woods respectively.
My first run with the warts for nigh on two years after my heart op. Would I be able to keep up with these "athletes", the cream of DPFR?? Anyway....I needn't have worried, the average pace was probably less than 3 mph, much the same as when I last ran with them, come to think of it! Nine such athletes ran a steady run up to Mickleden Pond in the pissing rain. The highlight of this was when Russ accidentally kicked a stone only to reveal the whisky bottle underneath - a fine 14 year old Aberlour, as yet untouched except by Messrs Hakes and Gunnee, the whisky officers. From here, suitably refreshed, we contoured towards Cut Gate onto the turquoise track which Natural England have kindly laid out for the benefit of those lovely gamekeepers and shooters. Well worth a run on it, incidentally, very much like a running track on the moors, soft and forgiving!! From here to Pike Low and the cars. The Nags Head was as welcoming as ever.......seemed like I'd never been away.