At the webmaster's request, a few summery words to accompany the most eloquent of tracks provided by Messrs Last and Lund respectively (see below).
On a gratifyingly well attended evening from the Westend, some 30 or 40 runners, complete with a number of newbies (welcome Sam, Clare and at least one other I neither recognised nor spoke with), headed out en masse up through Fagney Plantation, down and up the Alport Valley and across the tussocks to Oyster Cabin. All went without incident, aside from the fight some of the more senior members of our party picked with at least one unhappy wasp near the head of the first climb. Even Brother Holmes was on best behaviour, safely tethered to young Rusty; that is until we hit the no-man's land of Birchinlee Pasture on the return leg where, lines of sight briefly interrupted, our cheerful party split asunder, with rag-tag bands of runners disappearing off in various more and less ill-advised directions.
Your correspondent knew on which side his bread was buttered, following Big Bob on the racing line beside Ditch Clough. Others fared rather less well, particularly where they chose to follow Messrs Lund (track below), Holmes (obviously) or Saville. As it happened, no-one can have been following our Kev, since despite his admirable resurgence in fitness, he nonetheless pitched up in splendid cussin' isolation, five minutes later than even the latest of the several Pertex-seekers who returned in dribs and drabs from utterly the wrong direction, along the tarmac via Howden dam, at least fifteen minutes later than the main party.
We fretted just a little whilst a number of the newbies remained unaccounted for, relaxing only once all but Kev were accounted for. To be fair, there was one member of the remaining party (pretty much everyone else having already repaired to the pub) who was actively considering returning onto the hill in order to assist our potentially crooked hero home; and this was not a family member, young Tom having much more sense than to consider such folly.
All in all then, a most enjoyable evening, finished off with an almost 100% turnout in the Ladybower, where Tractor Boy Ray, Barnsley Betts, and Kitmeister Hakes were found prematurely ensconced in the corner with a beer or three. Roll on the wartin' season says I..