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.
The Southern Warts ran from the Grouse, with the aim of going over to Blacka, Houndkirk and back. All was well until, sometime after Totley trig we found ourselves heading west then turning left, much to the surprise of several of our party. The track says it all, but perhaps if our leader had brought his compass with him instead of leaving it hanging on the door handle (sic) it would have been less entertaining.
Somehow trips from the Grouse frequently seem to lead to random 360 degree events (to be fair in this case maybe only 180 degree, so getting better), perhaps a local anomaly, can't possible be the navigational abilities of a bunch of fell runners can it?
As the evening's route from Dennis Knoll was being discussed, developed and decided upon, there was a clear determination to go to at least two stone circles. The initial plan was to do Maurice's race route (from earlier this year) in reverse this time including the pond and, of course, the two circles, one on Hordron Edge just above the Cutthroat Bridge car park and the other, between the quarry on Bamford Edge and Dennis Knoll.
As occasionally happens, plans tend towards fluidity so the visit to the pond was fairly quickly ditched and the group set off directly for Buck Stone at a healthy pace on the main track to Stanage. From the Stone, the next check point was the "bus shelter" near to High Neb on Stanage. This was reached without much incident apart from the impressive Wall Walking Warts' high level climb to the Edge, which proved to give a significant advantage. Beyond Crow Chin, it was decided that there wasn't enough time to visit the Hordron Edge circle so a descent was made through some classic Warting terrain, swamp, rocks, rushes and the usual "stuff" towards Jarvis Clough holiday home! [the editor would like to make it clear that we did visit Hordron stone circle] on the way to the tin-roofed hut.
There was no room to stay there, so one of the Pillars beckoned. The elderly group didn't quite make it and so joined the main group, who did make it to a Pillar, for another fast line to the quarry. Our last chance to reach at least one circle was now with us. Straightforward, was the general view, head north-westish for the ruined wall, follow it to almost its end and then head westish. Well, firstly, the ruined wall was not found although claims of crossing it were made. The fast group made a long northwest passage without finding the circle before deciding to turn around and head for the car park.
The slow group made better progress and whilst getting close to the circle (unknowingly), also did not make it and drifted off to the car park. All this navigation (?!) is available for us to see on the tracks. So after this experience, there may a call for another race to be run over the Bamford and Stanage Edge Monuments including huts, Stones, pillars and circles, all perhaps in the dark (?). Any offers?
What connects a lace fly, a best beard claim and Buffalo tops? It can only be a conversation during a DPFR Wednesday night Warts' outing. Include also a claim that ladders in trains are for accessing the air shaft escape route in the Cowburn tunnel and the presence of a fully certified train signaller and we have the makings of a classic evening out. The plan was for the Warts to catch the train, which was late, to Chinley from various stations en-route, Sheffield, Dore, Bamford and Edale. Some joined at Sheffield, about ten at Dore. From Bamford station, the Cap'n encouraged us to warm up by running the length of the train. John, Pete and Penny drove to Edale station to have a rescue car there in case things went horribly wrong in our attempt to get back to Edale in time to catch the return train.
On board the train, the conductor was a tad overwhelmed by so many people in strange clothes wearing head torches and going to Chinley (why Chinley?) particularly when Fi's description of what we were planning to do was met with some disbelief. "Oh well," Fi admitted to him, "it is a bit of a niche sport". From the station, Penny took us off at speed through the streets of Chinley (road runners!) to the river. I think we passed the sewage works before going under a very impressive rail viaduct. As in most Warts' outings, two groups emerged as we went through Wash so Rob C took charge of the fast group of about six (?) and Pete G and Bob B guided the more leisurely section. Having got us successfully through the Chinley complex, Penny had by now relinquished her guiding duties. As we headed out to open country via Malcoff, various head torch lights could be seen, the fast lot perhaps or, as it turned out, some cyclists. At this point, we began to worry about Steve M who was supposed to join us at Chinley but hadn't yet been seen. Because time was becoming critical (we might miss a pint in Edale), we pressed on directly towards Chapel Gate, when a lone torch light appeared out of the darkness. Thankfully, it was Steve.
At Chapel Gate, the pattern of splitting into further groups continued with Bob, Clive and Fi legging it down the track and the rest of us trotting to Edale, some via a path and some on more road (!). The faster ones managed to get their pints (the early Wart catches the pint), and a couple of us just made the station in time. All gathered to catch the 9.29 train back and with most Warts thoroughly refreshed, the conversation ranged far and wide. Lace flies trapped in the carriage ceiling lights reminded Clive of a time when he bought some to deal with apple tree pests but they hatched prematurely and filled his bedroom! Tim H suggested that Mick M should enter the best beard in DPFR competition whilst the preponderance of sweaty Buffalo tops (Mark H, Rob, and GB) was thought to cause all the condensation in the train. Noticeably, there was a ladder strapped inside the train. What was it for? The beer fuelled speculation concluded it was for escaping from the Cowburn tunnel. Tom's certified hand signalling skills at halting trains could be useful to set up a trial to test this theory, perhaps. Ah……………..the joy and stimulation of rail travel! There was a late call for more refreshment at The Tap at Sheffield station but I've no idea what further enlightened conversations happened there. So here's to the next train outing……..in the summer?
It appeared that Wednesday night was going to follow the serious weather pattern we have grown to love. In the morning there was some heavy rain in Sheffield which lead to some local flooding so things were building up nicely for a wet evening from King's Tree. By 6pm however, there was no rain and an orange moon was rising over the east of Sheffield. This misty moon was to stay largely in view for the whole of the evening outing. Driving up the valley, over the bumps and through the car washing puddles we reached King's Tree having heard on the way of the adventures that Tom, Mark and Bob had in the wilderness of Knoydart at the weekend. A trip from the Derwent valley must have seemed a little tame after their experiences. There were two suggestions for the run, one over to Westend and beyond or the one actually chosen, up to High Stones, Margery Hill and, possibly, Bull Stones. As is traditional, the first climb was up to Cold Side Rocks having first had a refreshing semi-immersion whilst crossing the now swollen River Derwent. The relatively high temperature of about 10⁰C, the lack of wind and the steep climb all mitigated against any serious chilling. The 16 of us regrouped at the rocks before heading for High Stones. There was a fast group of 6 (Tom W, Rob C, Tim H, Willy, Tim Ray and the SO) who sprinted off, found a trod, allegedly all the way along the full route and were never seen again by the remaining 10 who did not find the fast trod (it's half an excuse for our lack of speed). At least, we 10 did have the pleasure of finding a couple of curious stone structures built into the hillside. What were they for, who built them and could they be used as a check point in future races? Then, over the usual tussocks, heather, rocks and some oleaginous peat, we reached High Stones where refreshments were taken. As we left High Stones on the obvious track, the Cap'n presciently warned that though the route may appear to be straightforward, care was needed on the final approach to Margery Hill. Sure enough, having left the track on the final approach, we were diverted to the left, i.e. west, by a large gulley (with caterpillar tracks?). With an adjustment of 90⁰ to the north and a bit more heather, the trig appeared out of the thick mist. The newish fence from Margery then guided us down towards Cut Gate for the final rocky descent to Slippery Stones and on to King's Tree where the group of 6 were waiting, all fully changed and ready to go to the pub. At the Ladybower, there was excited talk of next Wednesday's run using the train (!) to Chinleyand, from there, heading via brown Knoll (?) to Edale for a drink, if there's time, and then back to Sheffield on the 9.30 train. We will see!
And as a post-script, since the safety officer, ex-chair and young Rob were so obviously delighted by their little ruse, the two Tims and I must admit to having happily trotted on past the clag-bound Bull Stones with nary a backward glance, whilst our (mostly) elders and (occasionally) betters hid themselves giggling behind said features. Unlike the pond last week however, I had at least clocked the presence of some vaguely familiar stones and wondered absent-mindedly whether they might be significant.
Penny's idea to run a linear route has found a slot in the calendar at last. The plan is to get the train to Chinley from anywhere convenient on the Hope Valley line, run back to Edale, grab a swift pint at the Ramblers and be back on the 21:29 train from Edale. There will be a backup broom wagon at Edale should it all go horribly wrong, as the ex-chairman seemed to think it would last night - can't think why, after all the Warts' runs always run exactly to time don't they?
Train times, according to Network Rail:
(The train back leaves Edale at 21:29).
It is remarkable that the planners of the Warts' calendar are able to consistently choose a night with grim, challenging, ….choose your own description…., weather for the annual Doctor's Gate outing. So far they have managed three or four (?) outings where mist, wind and rain have all contributed to the general ambience and excitement of the evening. There was no exception this Wednesday when we had driving drizzle and thick mist from start to finish. About twenty of us (honestly, the Safety Officer (SO) did have the accurate count) went south across the road and over a low wall. It was low on the road side but as all in front of me disappeared over the wall, it made me slightly suspicious especially when the SO, siren like, enticed us over with the words "it's not too bad over here". This literal leap in the dark into the head of the Snake proved to be deep but, thankfully, survivable. There was then a climb to the summit of Featherbed Moss. Any aspirations anybody may have had to an alpine type summit, were quickly dispelled as we clustered together, emperor penguin like, on a windswept flattish moor to sort out the bearing for the next check point. The pond below James Thorn had been chosen with the proviso that Penny's scree was to be avoided. (Who was James Thorn and why was this hill named after him?). So we headed back to the road but, what motorists must have thought can only be imagined, as they saw a string of small lights heading across the Snake summit; aliens, aircraft, sheep, too much drink…… but surely not humans in this weather!
Continuing across the moor, we descended via a small stream (Birchen Orchard Clough?) into Doctor's Gate, which, according to a notice in Glossop, was closed until March 2016 for a replacement bridge to be built. There was no one stopping us so we continued for a little down the path before climbing steeply and interminably (most steep climbs go on forever!) towards the pond. As is traditional, despite entreaties to the contrary from Tom W, the group split into three or four groups, left, centre, right and some left and right of centres all aiming for the pond. We did all eventually congregate somewhere and refreshments were taken. Questions were asked of where we were and why had we missed the pond.
Pete G helpfully came to the rescue and pointedly pointed out some water and rushes at our feet; we were actually at the pond! The Shelf Stones summit (better than Featherbed!) was reached en-masse for a descent due south, this time not en-masse, to the Devil's Dike path followed by a touch of left to finish at the car park. Leaving here for the Snake Inn, the mist cleared and clarity was restored on the eastern side of the Pennines.
Once we'd finished, it had yet again been a splendid Warts' outing. Can the Warts' calendar planners repeat the conditions next year?
Complaints to Andy H about the easy weather conditions on the Hunter Wreck race and the forecast for more easy weather on this Wednesday's Warts alternative run, prompted Andy to suggest the more challenging outing of Ouzeldon. In John D's absence, Willy was volunteered to put the venue on the Warts calendar. Recollections of last year's trip to Ouzeldon reminded us (about 20) of the primordial nature of the area so there was a collective will to avoid that part of it at the end of the run.
At least three leaders, Andy, Bob and Ian, took us up the track from the start up through the woods to the Birchinlee Pasture. Over the years I have learned not to be misled by areas named "pastures" which imply smooth and closely cropped grassy fields. Birchinlee proved to be no exception as we wobbled over the tussocks and deep heather. Compensation for the bumpiness, however, was made by Lucy's flights of imagination on future Olympic events, including backwards running which was deftly demonstrated by her for 50 yards. Clive and I both struggled to keep up!! After this athleticism, Lucy disappeared into the night towards the edge path above Alport Castles.
Our descent down the northern end of the Castles led us into its rocky and steep terrain and up to the Tower where refreshments were taken before making the now routine head torch light show on the descent to, and the climb out of, the boulder field.
Regrouping on the edge path, plans were made for the optimum return route to Ouzeldon, avoiding last year's previous excitements. So, a dash was made on the edge path paving stones, causing Toria to twist her ankle. When the time came to turn off the path for Ouzeldon, calls were made by Tom to wait for Toria and Fi F generously became her guardian angel. The terrain returned to the heathery tussocks and the group, including newcomer Fiona (what a first run!), headed towards Ouzeldon. As the way started to become suspiciously steep and rocky, Andy declared we'd cut off from the edge path too early. We then crawled, slid and staggered down through the heather and bracken covered rock garden of the landslip (?) outcrop in Alport Grain. It became increasingly apparent as we waded through the undergrowth that tonight's "run" was neither far nor fast at 3-ish miles and 2 hours! Whilst Andy wisely chose to cross Alport Grain and into the forest, the rest of us ploughed on through the jungle to reach Ouzeldon and, eventually, the track to the cars. Andy arrived at about the same time (slightly smugly??). After a decent wait, concerns were growing for Fi and Toria who were still "out there". Both Tom and Lucy went back up the track looking for them but to no avail and questions were asked about what our health and safety procedure was. As the emergency mobile phones were being brought out, Fi and Toria arrived, smiling, having used the Andy route through the wood.
Will we ever find the optimum route? Should we recce the route in daylight? Who will become the chief pathfinder? Will Ouzeldon generate a Pertex winner? So many questions, but at the moment Ouzeldon wins again!!
Fully 25 warts, including newbies Simon and Richard (I think) x2, enjoyed rather too much running from the Snake Inn over Kinder's freshly sown pastures, in vague search of the ammo box. Having spoken darkly of the need to go suitably equipped onto the hill with map and compass, Cap'n Harmer and Big Bob promptly called a route featuring at least two landmarks for which you will search in vain on any OS or Harvey,s map. Bob's Spring, below Seal Stones, proved relatively straightforward, following which we ascended to the plateau watershed in anything but single-file, with runners strung out across half a mile of grassed-over cloughs and groughs.
With the staller of the warts (Messrs Harmer, Berzins, Berry et al.) performing something of a flanking manoeuvre off to the north, this left the Safety Officer in occasional command of the larger group weaving its merry way in and out of a succession of groughs, heading haltingly westward into the setting sun. For those of us in the know, this was always going to end in tears; and so it proved, as we somehow managed to plough straight across the Kinder River without a pause, simultaneously losing the Safety Officer off the back. So disorganised were things, indeed, that we effected that rarest of fell-running phenomena, separating Sarah B from Penny C for fully twenty minutes of running.
A short while thereafter, a halt was called as it became clear to our international orienteers that, in blindly following the ever enthusiastic Fi, we were now in fact rapidly descending to the western edge of the plateau, having evidently by-passed the ammo box. Sadly, since we had neither a name on a map, nor a map reference, nor indeed (in the absence of the SO) any clear idea as to where said object lay, there was little option but to descend to the edge path, head north to the Downfall and thence east to Kinder Gates, before finally striking out once more over the plateau pastures towards Fairbrook Naze.
In substitution for the setting sun, we now followed a slightly erroneous bearing directly on the rising moon. Knowing no better, one of our new recruits innocently asked what made the moon red, to be met with a volley of more and less probable explanations. It was at about this point that we espied the torches of the earlier splitters group strung out ahead approaching the Naze and lurched drunkenly to our left in hot pursuit. Both parties were more or less reunited for the descent off the Naze, before Lucy struck out on a final heathery line to the left, affording us the classic picture postcard descent into the Snake Inn via river crossing and wood.
The final tracks reveal that we passed only a hundred metres or so north of the ammo box, leaving the field open for our elders (and Penny, and the Safety Officer) to visit the box unaccompanied. Ships in the night, indeed.