The Warts have the usual athletic and navigational powers which are wide ranging, of course.
It seems that the Warts committee (all of the Warts?) must have an unerring ability to control the weather on Wednesday evenings. The Warts have taken the view that the more challenging the terrain, the better. Footpaths, roads and smooth ground are to be avoided. Any Wart trespassing on to such territory will be accused, publicly, of being a road runner, the shame of it! To further add to this challenging feature of Warts’ runs, the committee has decided to add another ingredient, the weather. So, the committee sits at a secret location, a couple of days before Wednesday Warts night to concoct suitably challenging conditions. In the past couple of months, it has set out to produce the wet and windies (WW’s). The pinnacle of this glorious combination, terrain and weather, was achieved by the committee in an outing from the Snake Inn in January this year. It had all the hall marks of a carefully planned challenge with an added surprise which gave a certain piquancy, raising the outing to almost legendary status. The route up Fairbrook was in the usual (for Wednesday night) trench foot condition and the rain and wind were winding up for the crossing of Kinder (congratulations to the committee for its perfect timing). The special going (wet, damp and soft to rocky) along the flowing grough bottoms was particularly enticing and by the time the grough mini-dams were reached we were all in sixth heaven. One member of the group, a world orienteering champion, provided the committee’s surprise by leaping into a dam which was disguised as level peat. Whilst the spectacle was memorable, it took a little while to appreciate it and, several Warts to pull him out. Disappointingly, the remaining Warts decided not to follow but, instead, to delicately balance on the edge of a corrugated, interlocking dam wall, holding hands (!) to cross over. Whilst this was an impressive organizational feat for the committee, there was still more to come with the southern edge of Kinder. With no groughs for shelter from the wind, the southern edge provided the lashing rain which had been eagerly anticipated. There was a sort of whiskey/jelly baby stop, which proved to be one of the coldest, wettest and shortest ones. Next was another crossing of Kinder, this time northwards. We were now on the way back and had been thoroughly acclimatized to the flowing, refreshing waters of groughs, this time in upper Grindsbrook, and to the strengthening south(ish) gale. However, in a tour de force, the committee provided a near vertical descent towards Fairbrook which gave the opportunity for some delicate and elegant slipping before the astringent stream crossing clearly intended to launder our peat stained gear, a thoughtful committee decision.
Other mid week outings have provided some of these classic Wednesday Warts ingredients. Again, the wet and windies had been ordered for a trip from Low Bradfield which included some of the most delicious mud, yes, it was tasted during some of the slides down the manured fields! However, the route also included some road, as planned by the chief anti-roadist, the Cap’n himself. So this did not quite reach the top legend spot. The Three Stones race was a serious contender, particularly since it included a crossing of Hallam Bog but the lack of serious rain ruled this out. Coming up towards the top spot but not quite there, was the King’s Tree outing. On the way there, a recce of the Westend torrent ruled out the originally planned route which had involved a crossing of it. Instead, there was a climb up Linch Clough to upper Lower Small Clough during which the gales and rain ordered by the committee, were exquisite and, whilst a whiskey stop nearly happened, it was postponed until lower down in the Westend. It now seemed warm (!) and by the time the sprint down the track to the road had been done, it felt sweltering. Whist the subsequent overland way back to King’s Tree provided a bit more rain and wind, the excitement was the malicious branch which grabbed our leader’s contact lens. In true Warts fashion, he continued to reliably lead us to the cars through some sloping bog. Whilst this is a strong contender for a classic Warts outing, sprinting on the track keeps it from the top spot.
So what will the committee order next and can they match the legendary Snake Inn outing? It’s probably time for a bit more variety in the weather so, as a plea to the committee, please finish the wet and windies phase and order some slippery snows!