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Sheffield was glowing in sunshine as we, the Ecclesall lot, left for Doctor’s Gate near the Snake summit. On the way there, the in-car discussion topic was about the news that the mountain hare population in Scotland had declined to about 1% of its level in the 1950’s. At the Gate, we were joined by the Loxley, Hope Valley and Totley lots, all of us hopeful that some hares would be seen in the Bleaklow area tonight.
The Cap’n had been planning the outing for a couple of days and we were not to be disappointed in his mainly direct line navigational approach to tonight’s little saunter. We could see the sunny golden glow of Sheffield as we aimed linearly for Shelf Stones, crossing Old Woman, Devil’s Dike (surely there is no significance of their juxtaposition?) for an exhilarating climb out of Crooked Clough. At the Stones, we were treated, firstly, to a grand view of an approaching hurricane, according to the Cap’n, and, secondly, to Eoin’s long heroic wail into the westerly wind. At least, he felt better for it. The rest of us sheltered meekly behind the rocks hoping the clouds of rain would just miss us. Alas, of course, they did not and minimal wind and waterproof gear became the dress code with even little used balaclavas being extracted from pockets.
Shelf Stones, Hern Stones, Wain Stones and Bleaklow Head just about lie in a straight line which, of course, was followed, ignoring any paths and decrying anyone who did follow one. The subsequent direct line to John Track Well was taken but sadly a paved track was encountered on the way. Oh, how we suffered! Fortunately, leaving there, through the moss, up the stream itself, through the steep heather gave relief from the paving stones thus making most people happy (?). A lapse into path running as the stream was crossed, was short lived as we were drawn, ruler straight, across Dowstone Clough and Shelf Moor to rocks near Shelf Stones. The expansive view here allowed the final straight line to be planned across the rocky and tussocky Crooked Clough (again) to the cars at Doctor’s Gate.
Changing at the cars was robust in the wind, rain and, by now, semi-darkness. So, this splendid though, sadly, hareless, run was the perfect rehearsal for the forthcoming, proper winter Warts’ excursions.
PG's track stolen from Strava:
Rather amazingly in the calm, warm and humid Wednesday evening, the midges were rare for the outing from Fairholmes. However, this was little comfort as we fought off the flies every time we stopped, instead. We were therefore encouraged to keep moving as we left the Lockerbrook Farm using the Ian W firebreak through the forest. Today’s first mission was to find the cairn in the centre of the bowl below the Alport ridge and south east of the Castles as on Nicky’s Rowlee Zig Zags summer series race. A long trek with not too much running through the tussocks, found a small group of we stragglers overlooking the edge on what appeared to be the perfect line with the cairn directly below us. Perfection, however, is rarely achieved and the near vertical craggy drop emerged as we attempted the perfect line. Discretion therefore selected the route, around the edge of the bowl rather than down the cliff.
Mission achieved, the cairn was somewhat underwhelming and a few stones were added to enhance its rather feeble stature. Here, the fast group, including new member Joszef, was led by Tim T and they sped off, eventually to Green Clough. The next target for the stragglers was the canyon within the Castles, and definitely not the Tower itself. So, we enjoyed a long contour around the few rocky lumps leading to the canyon. It seemed as if someone had been busy polishing each blade of the yellow parched grass on the hillside as we slipped and slithered over it on the line of the contour. It was even a relief to be on the rocks and boulders where movement was a bit more secure. To help negotiate our way through, the Cap’n’s instructions shouted from the top of one of the rocky hillocks, were “Just put one foot in front of the other and you’ll be alright”. So we did, and found ourselves, despite the previous intention, ascending the Tower where, amid the distribution of jelly babies etc., the Cap’n announced that the next winter Crookstone (the 70th) would include a jaunt up it. Thankfully there were provisos, i.e. this section of the route would not be used if there was any significant ice and or snow. Remarkably, some of the cynical, struggling stragglers’ group suddenly remembered their December diary entries and announced that they would be busy that day.
Escaping from the Tower and the canyon, rare birds were seen by twitchers Chris and Clive. From the perspective of a none twitcher who was head down and concentrating intently on not falling over rocks and tussocks, they all had wings and were flying. This sighting and the arrival at the edge path motorway, encouraged more flying (at least that’s what we thought we were doing) back to Fairholmes. Spreading out to race (?) back, we took a variety of ways, including the Ian W and adjacent firebreaks, the “new” plantation to Lockerbrook farm, the long dog’s leg (for extra training, you understand) to the farm and a direct route to the car park.
Analysis of the outing, of course, took place in the Ladybower along with the Dark Peakers from the Bamford Gala race. Who had the best time? Probably, everybody. All round, it was a splendid summer evening experience.
In these desert days of July, we Stalwarts have encountered inexplicable and uncontrollable urges for the long-lost feeling of damp, if not wet feet, in our wanderings over the dusty, dry moors. Expectations for such wetness were therefore low in the sunny evening as we left the lofty and probably temporary cairn/pile of stones at the start of the Broomhead track. In deference to the current might and height of the Ewden rhododendrons and bracken, the chief Stalwart had planned a less robust route for the remaining five underling Stalwarts, by aiming up the track to the left towards to the Dukes Road more permanent cairn. Dodging through the heather to find the best going, Tim, Eoin and I reached the Dukes Road well to the left of the cairn and, as we were making good progress on the Road, the admonishing shout of “Road runners!” arose from the rest of the Stalwarts, Andy, John and birthday boy Clive.
It was all to change shortly afterwards. After a relatively short sprint along the Road, we headed off it to the presciently named Hobson Moss Dyke; that is, we had no choice, the chief was leading (we were willing followers), and both Moss and Dyke gave a possible hint of the upcoming summer delight. There was a strong sense of anticipation as we approached a bank of rushes (through which we did not rush) and we were fully prepared, through recent experiences of similar terrain, for disappointment.But, a squeal, yes, a squeal of delight arose from deep within rushes, “Ecstasy, ecstasy!” It is rare, nay, if not unprecented, for such a cry to be heard on a Stalwarts’ outing. The enjoyment of having the pleasure of both feet being fully immersed in dark brown peaty water after so long, was just too much for the chief Stalwart to control his emotion. In true Hobson’s choice manner, we all followed hoping for the same uplifting result but there were complaints (can you believe it?), “My shoes and socks are wet and dirty, I’ll have to wash them”, “Where are my thigh length waders? This latter query set off a wave of fantasy which, frankly, is utterly unpublishable so it will not be reported and will be left to the reader’s imagination, if it can be stretched to such depths.
The now dark feet, fell runners continued to the HMD stream via a steep, deep brackened descent requiring full body coordination to maintain some level of dignity whilst sliding uncontrollably to the stream. Some chose to go for a further feet wetting experience in the stream waters whilst, for others, the surfeit of the previous excitement was sufficient to warrant a delicate tip toe across the dry rocks. The uncontrollable sliding continued, this time as we tried to climb out of the stream through more bracken and heather. It was all worth it to reach the rocking stone on the corridor route and, of course, we six obliged by rocking the stone. Having enjoyed the HMD crossing so much, it had to be repeated to reach the Dukes Road near Bruston Croft Ridge. This proved to be an exercise in waist high heather wading. It’s useful to occasionally remind oneself of, and to practice such skills which require almost a hurdling style of motion, that being a cross between walking and running with high knee lifting. In the glaring evening sunshine and the deep heather, it appeared that six legless athletes were wobbling into the sunset. A sight to remember and treasure!
Whilst there was some attraction to going to the swamp at the Hunter wreck crater, it was considered to be a stride too far so we took to the path (?) down Oaken Clough and then along to the café (we deluded ourselves) shooting cabin. Having relished the previous deep heather traverses, my heel was beginning to object so, in what was, I hope, a temporary aberration, I (and John) took the track back to the cars rather than the direct line over the moor. John and I did experience the courtesy of a lady who stood aside to let us continue at speed along the track’s soft grassy central reservation. For future reference, the track is only marginally quicker than the direct line.
It was a great moorland outing with a count of four hares and, in the car on the way back to the pub at Bradfield, a ghostly white barn owl flew across the road. A splendid birthday present for Clive!
Bob suggested a run to the source of the Derwent for the Summer solstice, even though we were not sure whether we could somehow fiddle things so that we were at the solstice and not a day early.
Much trudging through heather and bilberry, coupled with a small amount of running got us to Barrow Stones, at which point the webmaster was heard muttering it was getting dark soon and that he would go straight back. being ignored by the assembled crowd everyone ran off to the source, which turned out to be only 150m away - good decision.
A good ridge run, pausing only to visit a patch of Labrador Tea plant got us back to the cars in only about 15 mins over 2 hours, another cracking run.
On a quiet but cool night a small group of 8 warts headed up to Hearn stones and on to Dog rock, which we slightly over shot; while debating the finer points of this behold a vision appeared heading towards us, as it grew closer it was revealed to be the person formerly called the safety officer come to see we were still all right, Mark himself. After a cautious descent into Yellowslacks Brook we trundled happily along but alas some of us were too low to find the pond at James Thorn and had to climb back up to find Dave, Bob, Moz and John already there. Still a whisky stop cleared the mind and encouraged the spirit as with the clag descending we found the Trig point on Higher Shelf stones and sped home only for Moz to struggle to switch on a spare torch which had all of 2 buttons. A grand outing that finished after 9 pm with all accounted for ,including new guy Mike.
The usual select bunch of athletes plus a few impetuous youngsters set out on this cold "blue moon" night. The delights of Piddock wood were mooted but in a rare bout of common sense, it was decided that we should venture up towards Derwent Edge instead. The run started well, although Capt. H. managed to lose his way within half a mile meaning we had to climb a barbed wire topped wall. Nothing discouraged, we set off towards the edge and the now strengthening blizzard which was lashing in sideways causing the ensemble to run like crabs to avoid being well scoured! The snow and wind was too much for the older generation (specifically Mr Holmes) and it was decided that we descend into "Suicide Clough" which was pleasantly deep in snow and slippery as a newly weds gusset! Having got down, we had, naturally to climb a long, long way straight up to the Salt Cellar where the night's whisky was consumed. By this point, we were all getting cold, wet and bordering on the desperate but no... the short way back along the admittedly blizzard swept track was shunned for the true warting experience of the open moorland with its snow filled holes and covered rocks, warting at its finest! Anyway, somehow we managed to get back towards Wheel Stones and by common consent, it was decided that we'd had enough fun for one night and the pub beckoned. We went down the way that we should have come up had Capt. Harmer not had one of his moments. All in all, a classic warts run, snow, wind, descents, climbs and holes to trap the unwary!!
A map of the run, courtesy of John Dalton, is below.
Hot, sunny and a cold blast
Moz had left by the time Stephi, Toria and I had arrived at the Nag’s Head in Edale for Moz’s birthday run on his classic route over Kinder. The 9.45 starters of we three and Andy, Tim W, Willy and others headed up the zig-zags in the bright sunshine to find the edge path to Druid’s Stone. There was ice, snow, an achingly cold easterly wind and even spectators in the form Dave Lockwood, Bob Marsden and Jeff Harrison, to contend with. However, following the advice given by the spectators, i.e. “Turn left and head for the snowy tops”, Andy and I followed a small trod to the Blackden trig and beyond before descending quickly (we thought) to Blackden where we met Tim W at the stile checkpoint. Willy followed a bit later but soon passed us up the hill out of Blackden. Toria and Stephi were well ahead and on the way up to Seal Stones, having used a very fast route from Druid’s, “sprinting” (to quote Stephi and Toria) along a path recommended by Fi over the top before dropping to Dean Hill and down to the stile. By this time the later starters (10.00) led by Dave and then Kirsty, were catching up and passing us along the edge path towards Fairbrook. Then, decisions, decisions, where to cut off to reach Kinder Gates? We reached a reasonably flat bit above Upper Seal Clough and followed the footprints in the snow generously provided by Kirsty’s team.
Though we arrived about 50m upstream of the Gates, we had crossed a few groughs and the possibility of repeating the almost groughless route often used on the Triple Crossing which finished about 50m downstream of the Gates, came to mind. Worth a practice run? From the Gates, we followed the river into the sun. Criss-crossing the icy water was a bit tricky but it took us to the plateau top which had frozen sufficiently hard for us to skip over to Crowden. A lower trod beneath the rocks took us to the edge path for Moz’s Knoll. Even though the sun was beating down and sunbathing might have been considered, the wind was almost violent, blowing us off the track and thoroughly chilling us. Relief came when descending into Crowden though I managed to fully immerse my foot in a deep bog at the stile. To add to the fun, the string on my compass somehow became entangled on the fence. That was truly a first for me; has anyone else suffered from this form of entanglement?
Having been well chilled on Moz’s Knoll, the sheltered, sunlit climb to the ponds resulted in overheating. However, the moderate wind at the ponds restored body temperature and, as always, the view of Edale was most welcome even though the descent was a bit steep to the even more welcome Nag’s Head.
Well done to all those doing this classic run and many thanks, Moz!
A perfect night, weather-wise! Freezing cold, a howling north-westerly and later on a complete white-out blizzard. What more could we ask for on the Capt.'s 70th birthday run! We set out from the pub, avoiding the field, which we never, ever run over and nearly getting killed on the short stretch of road (if the gamekeeper is reading this) to the access gate. From here in true Harmer form, we struggled through the usual waist high heather up to Howshaw Tor, losing Clive on the way, as is the norm! The forecast blizzard made an appearance at this time, rapidly turning into a bit of a white-out. From here, we stumbled down to the stream junction on Bradfield Gate and then back up the top of the Edge. At this point it was snowing like the Arctic and the Capt., showing his age, took us down the Foulstone path instead of the edge path i.e. east instead of south. To be fair on the old bugger, he did correct this grave error after he'd adjusted his monocle and put the compass the right way up and so we returned to the top and continued in the ever worsening blizzard to the Cakes of Bread, where whisky and truffles were taken and a hearty rendition of Happy Birthday was given. From here, it was but a long trudge back to the pub, avoiding the field, as we always do! Unfortunately the S11/S32 softies decided that the weather was too bad for them to stay and join in the birthday celebrations, so they buggered off leaving it to the S6 hard men and Tom Westgate, to attend the party! Driving back, it had to be said, required a change of underwear (on my part at least). However, we managed to celebrate the old Scrote's birthday with a pint of Belgian Blue at the Nag's Head, where it was merely pissing down!
On a very windy night due to the onset of Storm Caroline arriving at ours shores a select band of 8 warts started on a typically Harmerian run by parking at the end of first inlet on the dams up from Fairholmes.
We started on a nice track which very quickly gave up as we started to ascend the Ouzelden valley, really more like river bed. After much toing and froing we eventually found small muddy trod on the left hand ascending bank and proceeded to follow this to the top. It frequently disappeared and was plagued by muddy roots and broken down or blown down trees. We soon heard a couple of voices wondering who else would be daft enough to venture out on such a night, only to be joined by James and Callum.
After numerous slides and tumbles we arrived at the top of the valley and climbed the fence to more open terrain. The next “checkpoint” was a cairn down a steep slope on a small plateau, apparently. So we all set of directly into a very strong southwesterly wind over the tops and then a steepish descent. When we reached a valley and wall we were not where we had intended to be if indeed such a place existed, so we followed the wall for what seemed like an appropriate amount of time then climbed the steep slope that we had just descended but further round the corner. The strong wind now behind us made this ascent slightly easier.
On rendezvousing at the wall the two whippets decided they wanted a longer run than the old men so they disappeared north whilst the remainder of us headed back to the woods via contradictory bearings. On our way over some awful tussocky terrain we came across a previously unknown aircraft wreck and shortly after a small pond which can be seen from google earth.
We resumed following our finally chosen bearing to come across a steep descent to the trees and valley. Tim Ray shouted that it was ok and disappeared. As the rest of us got to the edge of a pretty decent cliff, we all had to take the climb down one at a time using a small rowan tree sticking out of the cliff face as assistance. Once down a nice descent down the valley back to the cars and off to the Ladybower for suitable beverages.
A very typical Harmerian experience.
Once again a "run" that was varied and slow! I say run, it was mostly scramble through waist high heather and dead bracken, although we did manage a run for hundred yards or so. All began well, despite the howling wind and lashing rain, 15 hardy souls set out and even stayed together until the cairn by the Dukes Drive. The next target was the bridge over Oaken Clough; amazingly the group managed to split into two in a truly headless chicken sort of way, one group turning right and the other going left up the track to Flint Hill (duly checked with the use of technology, maps are so last century). At this point, I received a text from Mr Holmes with a screenshot showing where they were, surely an abuse of technology, not to be encouraged on these runs, getting lost and losing people has always been a significant part of the enjoyment of a warts' run. Duly reunited, the group set off down hill towards the bridge, at which point I noticed a bomb shaped thing just at the point where my foot was about to descend!
Brent, our PFR foreign representative, who was with us, duly advised us not to touch, as it had an exposed and, as it transpires, a very active fuse. Turns out it was one of these nasty little devices (below), which had it been kicked hard enough, would have wiped out the cream of DPFR in one big bang! Mr Winterburn was duly informed (can't remember why) and he has informed the Bomb Disposal team. So fun all round! Anyway, after the excitement had died down, we staggered through Ewden Beck, which was a bit floody and up to Fox Stones where whisky and truffles were consumed. Ewden Pond was next and not for the first time, Mr Harmer came off too soon and we got lost again! Once again the technology rescued us and we headed back to the cars via the slimy girders, an adventure in itself and if anybody can enlighten us as to why there is a footpath on the map which suddenly ends next to them, apparently going nowhere, please let us know!
Nine finely tuned athletes set out from Redmires, to avoid the boring bits, including at least one warts virgin. Perfect night for warting, fog on the hills, no moon and as black as the proverbial! Stanage Pole and North Lees pond were the first checkpoints, notable only by the accident prone David Holmes going down a hole and twisting his ankle. This was intended to be a short run because of the Champs at the weekend but turned into a moderate epic because of the fog and the piss-poor navigation by Mr Holmes (until I took over and rescued the night!). DH managed to get us lost within sight of North Lees pond, one of his short cuts he assured us, which unfortunately ended with an 8 foot wall. Never mind, we did all eventually make it to Dennis Knoll (riding through the glen etc. etc.) and thence to High Neb and thick fog. A commemorative whisky was drunk here in memory of our Club president, Eric Mitchell, RIP. Next we sought the bus shelter, led by yours truly. Unfortunately it had moved since I was last up there...and we missed it, comfortably, only to be brought back by the use of Mr Holmes technology. Very strange I'm sure it was over there, when I last ran to it. Shortly afterwards it began to piss down in good old Dark Peak fashion and the navigation team (committee?) led us into the tussocks and eventually, the orange, glutinous bog which appears to have grown since I was last there in the 90s. After much wading and cursing, we floundered into Daffodil Valley and then via a circuitous, figure of eight David Holmes route, back to the cars. Not a particularly long run but a very varied one which encompassed just about every type of terrain available in the Dark Peak!
Midhopestones was the starting point for the northern Warts rather than Monsal Head for the southern Warts. It does beg the question whether running around the polished limestone of Monsal Dale really counts as Warting. However, ignoring such controversy, about a dozen of us, including newcomer Duncan, set off into the cool, dry, breezy night. Despite the lack of really wet and strongly windy Warts' weather, we bravely pushed on through some magnificent bog and heathery rock to climb to the dizzy heights of Pike Low. The landmark known as Tom's tree in Hawthorn Clough was the next target. Tom, however, was concerned about his name being used for this tree so Clive suggested, a la Prince, to rename it as the tree formerly known as Tom's. Honour satisfied?
To reach the tree, a crossing of the upper reaches of Ewden Beck/Candlerush was necessary. It's easy to get into the Beck in this direction but requires a bit of a steep, heathery and slimy climb out of it. There follows a stretch of either deep or burnt heather, the latter requiring some high knee lifts and the former, a degree of balance to avoid being tripped. It's not possible to rush over this terrain, so walking (quickly, hopefully) is the norm. This was also the routine to Margery Hill from the tree. I never thought it was quite so far. The high knee lift walking through the heather continued for quite some time until, with relief, we reached the trig point for whisky, etc. The shout now was for the quickest way back though there was a call for a further foray to Outer Edge or somewhere similar. This suggestion was quickly dismissed and high knee lifting continued until Cut Gate. Which was more challenging, the rocky uneven and boggy Cut Gate or the heathery moor? Climbing up through the heather to the trig point, I looked forward to the path but having got there, the heather seemed to be much more enticing. We regathered part way down the track and then headed off to join a pleasant grassy track which was used for sprint practice by the youngsters to the finish. The rest of us lolloped along to complete the outing in about two hours. In the post-outing analysis at the Nag's Head, values of the calories used were provided by Duncan who had had a slightly extended run and had also successfully managed to extricate himself from a leg-grabbing bog. He commented that he'd not realised just how much walking was involved Warting.
Welcome to the Warts!
The Southern branch had a much easier time of it, a mixture of mud, grass and limestone, even some real trail running - much too fast for this Wart. We did manage to conjure up a real Warting descent though. And the pub was only serving residents, much to Jim's disgust, so we had to divert to Little Longstone for refreshments.
It was suggested that this Wednesday's Warts' night outing should be cancelled until the weather became wet, windy and cold. However, we soldiered on from Rowlee Bridge in the almost clear, rain free evening, with the feeling that the weather was inappropriate. Maybe because the moon was in its gibbous phase, the weather had also gone into a different phase. In case you don't know what the gibbous phase is, well, it occurs just before the full moon. We were all grateful to Clive for providing us with this information at the start of the run.
With current political climate as it was, there was some sensitivity about, to the extent that when I tripped at the back of the car, I fell on to Eoin, knocking him into the boot. Clearly, it was necessary to apologise for this inappropriate behaviour and, fortunately, Eoin accepted my apologies so I was not brought before the DPFR behaviour committee. Phew! The run could continue, therefore, in peace and harmony.
The Cap'n had planned a route via Crookestone Knoll, Coffin Rock, the youth hostel, Kinder southern edge and Madwoman's Stones, most of which had a high content of Harmerian vegetation (HV). In retrospect, the climb to the Knoll was relatively mild with some form of path most of the way up, perhaps this may be considered to be inappropriate HV? However, the descent from Coffin Rock to the youth hostel provided almost the complete set of Dark Peak underfoot conditions. These included knee-high heather, which sometimes disguised chunky rocks, thigh high rushes with the associated swamp, a good dose of tussocky ground, dead and painfully brittle bracken, some serious mud near the stream and a steep climb through some mature bilberry and more bracken. Through this turmoil of conditions, Eoin was heard to make some remark which could be considered to be inappropriate but, to balance things out I forgave him and, thus relieved, he sprinted off like a sprung chicken.
At the youth hostel, a late starter, Willy, had caught us up so making the numbers up to 12. Having remarked that the underfoot conditions might put people off coming out, Bob replied that, evidently, they already clearly had been put off this official Warts outing by the limited number brave enough to make the trip here. The climb from the youth hostel was only blessed with some bracken and bilberry before reaching the edge using a thin and, latterly, rocky path. This climb prompted a detailed analysis of the route of Bob's night race from the Snake Inn (29th November). We were fortified at the edge by whisky, jelly babies, Liquorice Allsorts and some of Penny's Trick or Treat concoctions. We needed all this for the short (?) crossing of Kinder to Madwoman's Stones. Surprisingly for this section of the flattish Kinder plateau, there feels to be significant descents and ascents of the groughs adding up to something which isn't really flat. So, we went up and down grough after grough ploughing through some soft going until 11 of us arrived at some rocks with one lonesome torch at some other rocks. Were we at Madwoman's Stones or not? There was a strong sense of deja vue having done something similar three weeks ago. Nevertheless, with the idea of being a team, we went to join Tim's solitary torch but then having been sociable, we suddenly became anti-social as everybody dashed off to Rowlee Bridge. Even then, some inappropriate behaviour occurred when at least three of us went straight down the quad track to join the tarmac road to the bridge rather than diagonally across country. Dare it be said, I was almost happy on the road! However, overall, it was declared to be a good outing afterwards in the Ladybower where discussions on the most valuable piece of land was claimed to be on Kinder where a patch of un-grassed peat was used as a control for water table measurements. What about relays on this patch for old times' sake? Discussions later drifted into geology (there's a White Peak outing next week) and lectures were given in the car by Tom and Clive on sand dunes and red rocks. Aaaaaah!
Andy has changed the route again, it is now:
As before, starts 6.45 for slower runners, 7.00 for whippets.
The forecast was for wet and windy weather as is the norm for Wednesday night so we came prepared. However, we were almost disappointed. There was a bit of rain but, thankfully, there was enough wind to maintain the Warts' weather record. The ground was thoroughly conditioned from the day's soaking as we grass skied the descent from the Blackden layby to the bridge over the impressively in-flood river Ashop.
A short outing was promised for us by the Cap'n, just up, along and down. Bob's Rock was the first call and, whether it was the head-down-and-think-of-England approach or good navigating, it was reached surprisingly quickly via a high contour. Maybe this was also a bit of recceing for Bob's night race in a few weeks. Confession time; I have to admit to the Warts that, after quite a bit of heather and bog, I did enjoy the relief of doing a bit of road running on the paving stones around the next destination of Blackden trig.
The next visits did seem to affect the collective Warts' sanity although, to a non-Warts, it's questionable anyway. The neck of Kinder we were trotting over seems to have a sinister and mysterious presence as recognised by bygone local residents who have named the rocks here as Druid's Stone and Madwoman's Stones. Should the area be approached from the south east, there is a hint of a warning not to enter from the moor named Nether which is understood to be some sort of ancient monument. However, we did reach Druid's Stone without incident and after a whisky and liquorice stop, galloped along the now significant path (last seen in the summer Crookestone) which goes part way towards Madwoman's Stones whose malevolent influence was now starting to take hold. Apart from one lonely torch which was seen heading off to the right, the remaining group went for the Stones where we discussed whether they were the correct ones. Yes, was the unanimous answer. Meanwhile, the solitary light was now some distance away to the east. It turned towards our now much illuminated stones and arrived to a barrage of "Where have you been?". There was some banter on navigation or suggested lack of it, directed at the solo light. However, afterwards and thanks to John D's tracks (see below), the Warts, despite their joint (over) confidence, never actually reached Madwoman's Stones and the lone light, now identified as the Cap'n, was right. Without knowing this at the time, there followed the usual joyous sprint for the finish over Dean Hill, this time without its Olympic flag to guide us.
The Ladybower provided the after-run refreshment together with the opportunity to interrogate the DPFR FRA relay committee fresh from a meeting with local residents and other interested organisations. I'm still not sure what the outcome was but we will surely find out. Tonight's one hour forty minutes outing was, as always, in the tradition of the Warts which had two recent comers wanting to repeat the experience in future weeks. #
Another good outing.
Just a reminder that we swapped the date of the Warts' Night Race with the Blackden run, so this week it's from Blackden lay-by on the Snake Road. The Night race will be on 18th from Fairholmes, see the route on the calendar.
It seems that, if it is a Wednesday evening, then the weather will be wet and windy for any Warts' outing. So far, for two outings this season, this has proved to be accurate. Following last week's wet outing from Yorkshire Bridge, the latest Warts' adventure from the gas station fitted the pattern. Despite there only being a little rain at the start, there was no doubt in everyone's minds that worse was to come. Most of the ten of us had donned our wet gear in readiness for the coming wind and rain onslaught. Despite this, we were treated to a master class in navigation after we had left the end of the shooting track from the gas station. Although we didn't know it at this time, we were being taken on the route of the Hunter wreck race by the Cap'n. Reaching the first check point of New Cross (remains of), we had a thorough soaking on our left and front sides.
From there, the trek was made across the well heathered and damp, peaty moor on a 330⁰ bearing to the Dukes Road where a stop was made to decide where next. To help the decision making, Liquorice Allsorts were distributed. Perhaps the following sugar rush resulted in the Hunter wreck being suggested. This prompted a range of reactions from complete enthusiasm through degrees of indifference to one of no enthusiasm at all. The wreck, however, won the day and nine of us (one had returned from New Cross) were led directly to the small piece of aircraft spar marking the centre of the wreck site. During this crossing our backs had enjoyed the wind and the rain so, to balance out and to complete the wetting, our right sides were now lashed on our heading on 110⁰ along the corridor route to the Rocking Stone, a guide point rather than a formal check point. Taking whisky and more Allsorts, the continuing worthiness of the Stone's name was confirmed with a four or five-man rock, such fun.
It is surprising just how much heather seed and twiglets accumulate in running shoes though, I suppose, it ought not to be, when we traipse (on 110⁰ again) across the deep heather towards Emlin. On this section and on a vegetation theme, Tom tested the long-held view that bright green moss should be approached with caution. Suitably dressed in shorts, Tom did, in fact, confirm its rather unsupporting, glutinous nature as he required help to extricate himself from it. It is still true, therefore, that caution must be exercised near bright green moss.
Based on previous erroneous wanderings, leaving Emlin for the gas station can be tricky. Contra-intuitively, we retraced our steps and then took a left to pick up a thin path which led to the shooting butt track and the bridge to the finish. Having completed the outing in a time (about one hour fifty minutes) comparable with the night race times, spirits rose and the previous less than enthusiastic feelings were dispelled or maybe that was the effect of the beer at the Plough. A good outing!
It was gratifying for a few old Warts to know that we were useful. Sitting on very high chairs in the Angler's Rest in Bamford, it was suggested that Penny was a bit out of place with these oldies but, on the contrary, she felt young and uplifted (not just by the high chairs) by being in the presence of these much older, retired and almost retired, Warts.
Maybe it was just a reaction to the Warts' outing from Yorkshire Bridge which had started in the semi light and the rain, up Parkin Clough which is always a questionable pleasure. It is a much-debated topic whether the ascent or the descent is the more pleasurable, with the joy of reaching either the top or the bottom being much the same. All gathered at the Win Hill trig point, a sizeable Warts group of about twenty had emerged from the gloom. There was an uncharacteristic, for Warts, dash along the wide track to the forest edge near Wooler Knoll which was duly climbed. There is something strangely mystical about this knoll, it being surrounded by trees and with no apparent exit. However, led by our intrepid Cap'n, we plunged into the forest blackness to arrive magically at a significant and muddy track. Regaled by Tim R's of tales of tractors and tractor enthusiasts, we reached a shore of the Ladybower dam. Even more track (and tractor stories) on a Warts' outing, was tolerated as we zig zagged up the hill through some well-conditioned mud baths to Hope Cross.
There was a plan to descend to the National Trust Barn but the wind and the rain had cooled our enthusiasm for such an energetic diversion. So, ignoring Tom's comment that there was really no route choice from here to Yorkshire Bridge, we set off in all directions in an impressive diaspora. Emerging from the shelter of the forest, the south westerly, near-horizontal rain brought some little needed refreshment which encouraged all of us to make our separate dashes for Yorkshire Bridge. My own route was to go back up the main Win Hill track which seemed to have doubled in length since coming down it. Although I searched for a distinct path which went to a forest gate, I only found a narrow sheep track which seemed to be heading in the right direction. Fortunately, it did join the path, just at the forest gate and the descent to Ladybower was an exercise in ski balance down the mud slopes to the shore. This was probably more fun for me than for others who had descended Parkin Clough!
All of this excitement prompted a serious discussion in the pub about whether Yorkshire Bridge should ever be used again for a Warts' venue. The consensus seemed (although there was no vote) to be no more Yorkshire Bridge, so, have the Warts now chickened out of ever going up and down Parkin Clough?
Watch next year's calendar!
There will be a run, probably in the approximate direction of the Hunter Wreck: park on Mortimer Road near the top of Wilkin Hill (where the bridleway meets the road) for an 18.45 start.
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.
© Dark Peak Fell Runners 2018
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