A most convivial of evenings with some pleasant autumnal mauves in the sunsetting sky, a balmy 11 degrees on the hill, and a remarkable consensus over route choice. Moz was magnificently straight-faced in delivering the new safety monologue, and not one voice was raised in protest. It would appear that these straightened times of austerity have taken all the fight out of us, if not our appetite for the fells. All-in-all, the good Cap'n's honour was once more restored, and it is always good to visit the Nether Moor Quarry. Good also to see a few more unfamiliar faces.
Not sure whether it's the extreme excess of material generated or simply post-traumatic stress which has kept me from the keyboard for so long. Whatever the explanation, you know you've got a job on relaying the sheer folly of a 'run' when Cap'n Harmer himself is heard to opine less than an hour into his own 'route' that "... the consensus is the bracken perhaps makes this not the best line at this time of year". I think this constituted an apology from our esteemed leader; though it may just have been dizziness induced by loss of blood, having cut his finger on a thistle or similar in the first half hour of pointless scrambling. The safety officer will be pleased to learn (as will Chairman Woe), that between the two dozen warts present (our Warfarin imbibing leader amongst them), not one plaster (or first aid kit) could be found ... suggesting we may need to wrestle those shiny orange sacks off Tom and Mark before next we venture on the hill. Through rhododendron, across girders, through bracken, brambles, hedges backwards, a barbed-wire fence or three, heather, some tussocks, more bracken, on all fours through gorse, past a miasmatic pond, through a lot more bracken, then some more and finally thigh deep in more heather, we made our merrily shell-shocked way to Fox Stones.
At this point I would not have been moved to mention our favorite Deepcar Mountain Leader at all for fear of being accused of picking on the delicate flower once more, but I'm told he grumbled about the clag-challenged nav of those in front of him to the Fox Stones, making him entirely fair game for what follows. In a nutshell, young Mr W lead us first to a 'hand rail' wall which he proceeded to lose again within a dozen metres; then he took us down a precipitous descent (most appropriately named 'Gallows Rocher'), across Ewden Beck and back up an equally precipitous and rather hazardously holed bank to regain the heady heights of Bruston Croft. Having singularly failed to locate the small footbridge on Oaken Clough (looking at the GPS track we must have just passed to the west of it), our Ian then tried to pull off the kind of deceit few indeed have the front to attempt, claiming that a newly refurbished vehicular bridge was in fact a replacement for the foot bridge we sought. Thrice he made the claim, each time meeting justifiable disagreement, whilst we downed a fruit jelly or two, and shared whisky (like the first aid kits, in limited supply). Along the quad bike track to the east we thence traveled for fully three hundred metres, before inexplicably veering north - ignoring Clive's protestations that we had inadvertently left the track - whereafter IDP briefly reclaimed control of operations. I say briefly, because in reality we never properly recovered the situation, in the end completing the outing with fully two miles pounding along a vehicle track.
Upon reflection, I should clearly have taken more careful note of Graham B's decision in the pub on Monday night not to pitch up at Ewden (" Andy'll have you floggin' through all manner of **** "), and indeed the webmaster and Moz's decision to put roughly five hundred miles between them and this sorry expedition. All of which said, we happy twenty-four had a ball ... although it remains to be seen how many of the handful of newbie warts will ever return to the hills with the cream of Dark Peak. The more that defect, no doubt, the happier the good Cap'n will be.
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..
Strictly in the interests of gender equality (where were you Mr Cole?), leadership of this evening's Southern Wart from Hathersage Swimming Pool was assumed by Ms P. Collier. Drunk with the power thus assumed, Penny proceeded to frog march us nigh on ten miles around the highways and byways of Eyam and Offerton Moors, at the most frightening of paces, before appearing to lose her sense of direction briefly somewhere near Shatton radio mast. This afforded Lucy a brief opportunity to lead us to pasture over a more familiar contour of tussocks and fallen bracken. The webmaster, meanwhile, had got his excuses in early, suggesting that the absence of a belt for his mini-rucksack would lead to flapping and air-drag; Moz, by contrast, employed a series of more or less ineffective tactics to slow the pace, whilst young Mr Bollinger, on sabbatical from recent travels, gasped occasionally for breath. All in all then, a very particular wart. Perhaps the kindest thing I can say about it is that Cap'n Harmer would have absolutely hated it whilst Penny, rather suspiciously, was nowhere to be seen at pub's end. Evidently she'd appreciated that she may have set back the cause of gender equality within the club by another ten years at the very least.
Meanwhile, on the other side..
Northern Warts Weds 12 March - Great run tonight under a clear and
starry sky! 10 Dark Peakers and the faint glow of IDP in the distance on
one of his legendary night nav courses.
Starting from the A628 we headed along to Lady Cross then to the cairn around Round Hill. From there over to Barrow Stones via Barrow Clough. Bearings were taken but the moonlight guided us fine.
To a sheepfold (large enough for 3 sheep) (and it wasn't on my map..) at Swains Greave and some giant groughs to Swains head. A couple of white hares escaped the studs.
We handrailed Far Small Clough to the Trans Pennine Trail back to the road.
Refreshments were then consumed in the Dog and Partridge.
Highlight of the evening was having a 'blackout' and stargazing for a few moments. I think we may have even re-named a few stars!
So opined the evergreen Mr Fulton whilst bemoaning the fact that he only recognised half the faces in the pub. Meanwhile, a quietly recovering Steve Martin and our antipodean cousin Clive L discussed the dangers of kangaroos - especially if they jump through your windscreen and proceed to disembowel you with their claws; and on my return to the more youthful corner of the pub, the spectacle of Messrs Winterburn and Bradbury pontificating as to the accuracy of assorted plane wreck grid references in the Peak. From the glazed looks on everyone else's face, I was glad to have missed the bulk of this particular dirge.
It is only polite, I suppose, to report that we also went for a run; short, sharp and starry; and that we lost nobody of note (not even what the good cap'n some what provocatively described as 'that elite runner from Grindleford', Mike Nolan, who made a rare and largely cheerful guest appearance). It takes all sorts.
A fairly small group of Warts turned up at the Ladybower, depleted,no doubt, by the prospect of the HPM at the weekend. We started up the infamous Piddock Wood climb towards Jarvis Clough, but much to the Captain's disappointment we missed the near suicidal climb at the bottom, somehow finding a gentle slope - relatively gentle anyway. After that it was very straightforward, and for once it was neither raining nor blowing a gale, so perhaps a pity that some of us opted for a short one, the route of which is below. I've no idea where the rest of them got to, perhaps we will be enlightened later.
The route for the run was carefully planned, Pike Low summit, the Sterling wreck and the big cairn on the Dukes Road. The map references were also given so there was no reason to go astray, except……..the start venue on the web site was at Midhopestones but the intention was to start near the Ewden (Broomfield) so we could enjoy the benefits of the rhododendrons. As the group of six arrived at the intended start, the flashing hazard warning lights of a broken down car felt a bit foreboding particularly when the driver asked where he was. Maps were duly brought out and he was given detailed advice and a few answers, Mortimer Road, Ewden, Broomhead but not Midhopestones where a group of three DPFR cars had gathered. A few phone calls and ten minutes later, the now nine DPFR alternative warts were as one, ready for the rhodos. These had partially been cleared at the start but, further on, were still, as ever, nicely overgrown, slippy and rocky. Only the Cap’n, king of the rhodos, can navigate through them to lead us to the girders where the crawling ritual gave us a downward, head torch lit view of a rushing and turbulent Ewden which set us up for the night. In a master class of strict navigation given by Ian W using map, compass bearing and features, we followed the Cap’n to reach Pike Low. There was no signing in there, nor had there been at the start. The next compass shout was about 210° so on we went, though it felt as if we were drifting rightwards but after some correction by the Cap’n, Candlerush was reached and crossed. Tom’s (W) tree was next and was apparently seen so it could only be a short way to the wreck. Distracted by some white posts, the wreck was not to be found except for a small piece in a tiny gully. It was deemed sufficiently close to be counted as a find! 130° was the next shout and, after a fairly uneventful stretch apart from the lone lady of the group disappearing down a mini sink hole, we were soon sprinting on the quad track towards the Dukes Road. Only three of us made it to the road and then on to the cairn. The others went on the cross country route. Feeling smug about the route choice the three of us had just made, it was only a matter of a short run over the rocky heather to join another track and then on to the car. However………, the master navigation class giver set off at high speed, veered left and disappeared. We also went leftish and, yes, we did find the track but only by the time we were at the car park. Meanwhile, the master navigator had corrected himself, found the track early and was changed when we arrived!
We got round without getting rained upon or blown off our feet and some, though not all, of us enjoyed the tropical conditions. The Cap’n did confess that his navigation was based mainly on very detailed local knowledge of, I imagine, groughs, bogs both green and brown, stream crossings, white posts, one tree and the feel of the terrain. So the night’s outing was a master class in both NS and LK.
Thanks to both the master navigators!
The Warts’ committee had made a determined effort for the Wednesday night run from Blackden. They had even managed to infiltrate the BBC weather forecast by predicting heavy rain, snow and very strong and blustery winds. Such was the trepidation raised by this forecast that the decision was made at the Blackden gathering to go for a lower level route from the Hagg car park.
So, all very togged up for a soaking and a blasting, we scrambled and staggered up through the wind towards Crookestone Knoll which was amazingly calm and warm (?) in its lee. Onwards along the again very wild Kinder edge (remember the Snake Inn outing) and across the foaming Jagger’s Clough to the 444m summit**. Next stop was the quarry (whiskey and jelly babies) where there was much speculation of an EGM if not an AGM. Speakers were invited to stand on the rock block soapbox to propose how the next AGM should be organized at the quarry. Needless to say there was no clear agreement to do so! Discussions were curtailed as we headed down into the valley for a climb up Telegraph Hill, very much propelled by the wind. Returning to the car park and then the pub, there was an air of disappointment because there had been no rain. Yes, the rain and the snow had held off and some rocks on the last descent track appeared to be actually, dare I say it, dry! Whilst this time the committee had not managed to reach the top class weather conditions achieved on the Snake run, they had won a psychological victory causing a change in the route choice.
However, be warned, there is still time before the Warting season ends for the committee to produce a finale of fearsome fury.
** Editor's note: if you are on the OS map it's a 442m summit, Harvey's has it as 444m, in fact both have the knoll/cairn some distance from the summit. It's clearly not an exact science, as I say every time I get lost.
With the rare appearance of the Club Secretary (or perhaps a hologram thereof), the return from St Lucia of Sarah B, and the addition of the newly elevated Dr Piercey to our ranks, it was a distinctly superior gathering that set out from Hagg Farm lay-by (Blackden having been deemed a little too wild). Cap'n Harmer had clearly anticipated the need to stand on ceremony, sporting a shiny new waterproof from Decathalon (a disturbing sight indeed), so all that was missing was the still globetrotting Dave Bollinger and his top of the range Hagloff jacket. May be next week, eh Dave?
But I digress. The route from the lay-by took us up to Crookstone Knoll, via a foot deep pile of slurry (thanks for that, Big Bob), and some slushy white stuff which passed, I suppose, for snow. Graham-the-weatherman Berry was naturally delighted, whilst the rest of us shuffled onward into a stiffish wind, before descending rather more swiftly to the Cap'n's favourite alternative AGM venue - quite a fine little quarry below Nether Moor, it must be admitted. Disappointingly, the Secretary seemed reticent to declare the meeting quorate, notwithstanding the presence of seventeen other warts (at least three club officials included), so we were unable to carry a motion of no confidence in the still absent Chairman Woe (once more, it was alleged, bearing the chains of office a little too heavily at the Sportsman).
Sometime thereafter the moon came out, the wind didn't drop much, and we returned to our vehicles via a brief climb on t'other side of the A57 - all details you can probably survive without. And as for the route of the 'New' Landmarks race next week, well this drew some considerable interest in the pub afterwards - much more interest indeed than it, in the end, warranted. For all those absent friends, well you'll just have to wait and hear it from the horse's mouth next Wednesday. See you all there, for the annual pilgrimage to Trooper Hawley's t-shirt.
Just to add to Graham's wise words below, here's Dave Lund's track of last Wednesday's adventures.
And by way of a coda:
1. I'm still smarting somewhat at Big Bob's broken promise of whisky in an armchair in the cabin in Lower Small Clough;
2. It's gratifying to note the speed with which Brother Holmes is picking up the finer points of dog-handling, this week showing off the latest addition to his armoury of techniques ... 'heel' quoth he, not once, not twice, but possibly once per minute;
3. And even more gratifying to note Rusty's willful response; 'Heel? You must be joking'.
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!
An uneventful run, except for the minor detail that we lost young Lewis somewhere around Yellowslacks, and didn't find him again until we had been back at the cars for some time. No doubt he will have a tale to tell - he certainly has, see below. The rest of us visited Hern Stones, Yellowslacks and the pond on the side of James's Thorn, which bizarrely on my map is shown just as a ring contour, no blue in sight, then returned via the eponymous path. As seems standard at the moment, claggy and damp conditions prevailed for most of the run, fortunately the beer in the Snake Inn was as good as it was last week.
This was going to be your usual light hearted banter about this week's warting. But John has beaten me to it on that score. So I thought some might feel it worth an open and honest account of my own outing on a foggy, wet, blustery and cold January evening. The rest of you will probably be bored by it….so be it.
26 of us set out from the eastern end of Doctors Gate on the A57. Initially proceedings were slow. They must have been, I was near the front frequently! Notable in the first half was the way we managed to split up in to two groups 200 metres apart in the 600 metres between stops in Hern Clough and at Hern stones. After that we headed off to Dog rock, with some debate as to where it was - it only being named on the OS 1:25,000, not the Harvey's map. From there down to Yellowslacks brook.
Here we parted ways! Whilst the main body headed up the ridge line onto The Pike, I contoured round mistakenly thinking that the next clough (Wigan) would be a deep one too. My line took me immediately onto steep, rough ground that prevented me from looking at my map. I knew that I'd lost the lights to my left and already had the feeling that the next spell was going to be something different from the normal wart.
Looking at the map now. I see that I left Yellow Slacks well below where I thought I was. and so was not traversing the edge of The Pike itself. My line took me well west of the appointed pond at 498m below James's Thorn. At the next key point in my outing, I knew I was 100m too low for the pond, but did not know whether I'd overshot it, or undershot; north or south (and certainly below it). Then I saw lights. A group going up above me and a group going down below me. I didn't know what they were doing and after a quick dither decided not to try and second guess them. I elected to head back under my own steam. Staying safe on the ground was an important part of the plan. Visibility was poor and the possibility of a fall not something to contemplate too long.
Crucially, I did not know the next waypoint for the rest of the warts was dropping down onto Doctor's gate, and then to climb out via Crooked Clough - a bit path like for our esteemed leader! I also did not know that terrain. Heading down toward Glossop under the circumstances felt counterintuitive. I elected for a rising traverse, with a constant plan to climb whenever the going got uncomfortable. I'm familiar with the route from Shelf moor Trig down to the Pennine way. I fully relocated myself quite soon and ticked off key features as I went. I had a quick look for the trig, but instead just satisfied myself I was within 100 metres (and picked up the trod off). I got sucked into a wrong trod after crossing Crooked clough, which was actually the grossest of errors I made all night, but as I was close to the road by then it had least impact. I did encounter a clear trod that did not make sense. I chose to stick with my plan - just as well because had I taken it, I would have probably headed in the wrong direction. I popped out on Snake Summit (almost as planned) where the Pennine way crosses just a Richard pulled up (thanks Richard).
The way I came back was slower that the warts' route, but it kept me on ground I was familiar with. It was also consistent - all corrections I made were in the same direction, taking me up onto more level ground.
It was a pretty bleak night out! I'm generally comfortable with my navigation (ha!). But its even easier to make a mistake when you are cold, tired and pushing on, than when you are running in a group, many of whom are very good navigators. I was comforted in knowing I had a good set of survival kit on me should I be forced to stop.
What happened? I probably didn't spend enough time looking at the map in Yellowslacks. I was distracted by watching everyone down to the brook and I was distracted by other people using my map. Then I didn't check to correct once I lost sight of everyone, because I was on steep, rough ground - I stuck with my plan. After that? I now know the lights were people leaving the pond. Some over the top and some down to Doctor's Gate. After that I was reasonably soon fully relocated. I went a bit wayward again at the end just because I was close, cold, tired and pushing on down hill.
I knew I could, but I never felt the urge to head down hill and into Glossop. I always had an expectation of getting back to the car; I just had to cross Crooked Clough safely - which meant high up to me. I figured I'd be missed. If the club had searched for me on the hill, it would have been a long cold night. It was not far off an hour back to where I was last seen. and without communication on the hill, people may have been out for many hours - whether or not I was found. I figured I could not go more than one hour overdue - those at the cars would be too cold by then. The thought of Mountain Rescue being called out made me wince, even when I was feeling bleak about my circumstances. It was definitely less fun than usual and definitely mentally taxing.
After my initial mistake, I'm generally happy about the choices I made and why I made them, right up until I started making mistakes at the end.
I hope the next person to go walk about fares no worse than I…and there will be someone.
I'm happy to be considered for the Pertex, but I might feel the urge to join a more adventurous club if this is all it takes to win it.
After last week's debacle, it was a welcome return to Kinder via Fairbrook Naze, whereupon the weather closed in with a vengeance and we were treated to quite the longest, sloppiest and bog-ridden line across the plateau that Big Bob could muster. Both he and, rather more impressively Pete G, managed to bury themselves a couple of feet deep in the slop, whilst the rest of us trogged around aimlessly and the good Cap'n and the Safety Officer exchanged tales of the First World War. Don't ask.
When it seemed that it could get no worse, we alighted upon the southern edge path, somewhere to the east of Crowden Tower, where Bob and Dave Bollinger quickly declared themselves much too wet and cold for an extended whisky stop (for shame). Fortunately sense prevailed amongst others of our gratifyingly large party of 18, whisky and jelly babies were shared, and thus fortified against the elements we set our faces towards Grindsbrook. The line wobbled a little, but the weather and running improved immeasurably, and we made our way Snake Inn-ward via a precipitous descent off the north edge and a bout of chest high heather hopping, before the final descent to Fairbrook. One of those nights where the more we ran, the better it got ... with a couple of pints of Moonshine in the Snake Inn afterwards merely the icing on the cake.
Not since the infamous trip to Thurlstone have we endured quite so execrable a route as that served up by the good Cap'n this evening. Absolutely no idea whatsoever where we went - hopefully the webmaster will be along in due course with a track to throw some light on the question - but frankly we might have been on any one of the many sh1tty footpaths in the area and it would have made little difference. That said, we all enjoyed ourselves in the sometimes persistent rain, enjoyed young Mr Barber's donation of a flask of Glenmorangie - thanks Chris - and took some considerable pleasure in pointing out to the Cap'n the error of his ways. It's also possible that I'm a wee bit biased in my assessment, Eoin having noted my David Starkey tendencies; but let's wait to see if the webmaster can find anything more positive to draw from the whole sorry experience.
Here's a track so that Willy can see where we went. The webmaster had little idea where he was for almost all the route, but at least he started his gps watch. A quick fiddle on RouteBuddy shows we did > 1.5 miles of road (is this a record?), leaving nearly 6 miles of lovely mud.
The most convivial of wartin' evenings under a black starry sky from the West End via Alport Trig, Ravens Clough sheepfold, Banktop Hey and a final plummet through the pine needles. Twenty six warts' head torches raking the precipitous sides of Ravens Clough is indeed a fine sight to behold. Not much else to add, other than to note the off-again-on-again diligence with which Cap'n Harmer oversaw the inscription of his little red book, and the fastidiousness with which the Safety Officer and Chairman Woe kept a check on our numbers. Very good, nevertheless, to have our beloved Chairman back in tow after injury, with a big healthy grin spreading across his chops.
A baker's dozen of warts set out from Blackden in mild conditions for Ringing Roger via Blackden Trig, finding the latter with relative ease before an atmospheric clag descended to lend proceedings an additional charm; only ever so slightly disturbed by the ever present call of the irrepressible Mr Winterburn.
Six of our thirteen cut proceedings short at the southern edge of Kinder, whilst the more hardy majority continued on to the three trees on t'other side of Grindsbrook, returning via a brief but borderline rock climb, and finally some strong running. Pleasant indeed.
International man of mystery, David Peak McGuinness, performed a first for the warts last night, single-handedly searching and rescuing a frailish little old Stannington lady, found sheltering in a grouse butt, two thirds of the way up the track to Cartledge Flat. It appears she'd taken the bus out to Fairholmes and then become disoriented in the clag on the walk back over Lost Lad. By the time twenty-one thoroughbred warts happened upon her, she'd more or less resigned herself to what would have been a dangerously cold night on the hill.
Whilst Guy S, Penny and Sarah escorted David's most recent find off the hill, our eighteen remaining heroes struck out into the teeth of the gale, up and over Cartledge Flat, across an Abbey Brook in fair spate, and up to Berristers for a quick snifter. Though the good Cap'n questioned whether we were entitled to a nip whilst in full wart, the lure of the Bushmills, and warm glow of our previous heroics, soon ruled him out of court - and indeed it was Andy himself who battled headlong into the wind to retrieve our just desserts. A further headlong struggle into the wind to regain the Brook below, this time crossing in something approaching normal order (Young Betts and the Safety Officer would both have been horrified by the cavalier manner in which we negotiated the first crossing, in twos and threes, strung over 200 metres of white water, and with no-one counting), and thence home via Low Tor (in error).
Aside from David's new lady friend, the evening was otherwise most distinguished by the unnervingly low average age of those in attendance, with newbies (at least two) and old youngies (including the welcome return of Messrs Ashton, Cole and Piercey, and Ms Bryan-Jones) in abundance (still 5 bus passes - don't write us off just yet!) - and a pleasant couple of pints to round matters off in the Inn. Not bad at all for a blustery tussock fest.
A fairly select group of warts, including guest appearances from the Spinks and brother Winterburn, enjoyed a real Harmer classic, battling through head-high heather, bracken, bog and assorted filth, at sub 40-minute mile pace across Hobson Moss and similarly unprepossessing tracts of flatish moorland to a number of largely unremarkable landmarks. Actually, that last bit's not true - we happened upon a rocking stone, which occasioned an ill-conceived episode of seesawing betwixt Tractor Boy Ray and your correspondent, and no conclusion as to who was the fatter; a ruined cabin which Chairman Tom declared 'better than some we've visited' and, after a certain amount of disinterested confusion, the wooden footbridge in Oaken Clough. The more we grumbled, the wider spread Andy's grin and, reluctantly or not, the more we were endeared to his truly awful route. His avowed intention was to reveal to us the mysteries of the 'corridor route' from the Hunter Wreck to Emlin trig; and mysterious it indeed was. So much so that the personal responsibility brains' trust soon swung into session in the Nag's Head afterwards to debate the wisdom of declaring a pair's race or not. No doubt the Cap'n will reach the most enlightened decision in due course, just as soon as he's darned the knees of his Martin-esque Ron Hill trackers. Perhaps time to shut up, before this prose plumbs new depths of opacity ... but not without a brief mention of our very own resident hack, Monsignor Holmes, who was evidently so bored with shouting at his canines by the final mile of the expedition that he chose instead to throw himself to the ground, incurring a variety of injuries to upper limbs. Needless to say, he got little sympathy from his fellow travellers.
A steady 2 hours on Kinder, but no-one chose to visit Mermaid's Pool, which had been originally mooted by Cap'n Harmer. The weather was typical Warting fare, damp and breezy, and a bit claggy on the top. Not a lot of excitement, didn't manage to lose anyone, although if Carl and Tim hadn't warned him we could have lost the good Cap'n over a 10ft drop into the valley by the woods - much shouting and waving of hands got him to a safe spot though.
In the spirit of personal responsibility on the hill – or perhaps just in keeping with standard DP practice – it seems incumbent upon me to share one or two top tips to avoiding schoolboy errors on the Scottish Hills, drawing upon my recent experiences in and around Glen Nevis:
1. Think twice before straight-lining it through a spruce forest, however short the distance may appear on the map; whilst heather will slow you down, Scottish pine is pretty much certain to bring you to a complete cursing halt sooner rather than later (particularly when wearing a large pack with ice axe);
2. When departing a munro summit in clag, should your compass indicate you are travelling in diametrically the wrong direction, do not simply assume that you have once again set your compass due south instead of due north and correct for this by turning the housing through 180 degrees without reference to the map; descending for half a mile down the wrong flank of the wrong ridge in the Mamores cannot be compared with travelling half a mile in the wrong direction on Kinder; it will almost certainly result in a complete change of plan for the day;
3. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you’ll just hang on until the rain stops before halting to get some food out of your pack; this will most likely lead to a bonk before the skies even begin to consider clearing;
4. Still not recognising after the umpteenth time on your arse that steep, green and a bit damp looking probably means darn slippy to boot is, well, a wee bit silly; and
5. If you have to take your mobile phone out of its waterproof cover in order to make a phone call, don’t then replace it, uncovered, into the Gortex pocket of your high quality Patagonia waterproof if said pocket has been unzipped for a period of time; the pool of water it has collected in the interim will wreck your phone, rendering you incapable of reporting the whole sorry story via facebook in real time.
On a more positive note, I cannot recommend highly enough the benefits of hostelling with the Paxmans in the Rucksack Club hut – steak, garlic potatoes and rhubarb crumble on night one, and lamb dhansak on night two, all washed down with respectable helpings of alcohol. So if you fancy joining Jim on his upcoming attempt at the Ramsay Round, well what are you waiting for? More details here.
Worth a note because of the fine Spring evening and the small but perfectly formed number of athletes that turned up. There was a surprising unanimity with the route choice in the first mile or so: essentially up and then veer towards Bob's Rock (named in honour of our esteemed deputy leader). From here, so it was said, we would head for Ringing Roger. Some chance as the "navigators" headed off in completely the wrong direction and ended up about half a mile away. At this point there was the usual muttering about wanting split into the old farts and the even older farts; the former went down into Golden Clough and up the Grindsbrook Knoll, the latter took the easier option and stayed up! There was further disunity as the "real" fell runners decided to go down and then up to get the Hartshorn, while the more senior and discerning members did a bit of rimming around the edge of the clough. From here, the magnificent descent down the Wicker and then to the pub. A glorious night!!
A very healthy turnout for the first "summer" run of the year - somewhere close to 40 runners, I suspect, not that anyone was counting. We were blessed with some fine snow drifts and patterns, a mighty fine sunset, and the usual banter; plus, for those of us foolish enough to take the longer route via New Cross (rems of), a couple of impromptu "personal responsibility ... blah, blah, blah ... full kit ... blah, blah, blah ... someone once fell off a cliff ... blah, blah, blah" stuff from the Safety Officer and his Mountain Rescue second mate. We all listened obediently, nodded sagely, and ran away at whatever speed we could muster. Reunited with the short-run stalwarts, we fair filled the pub afterwards. A very pleasant evening indeed, and good to see so many new faces (well new to me, at least - not that I bothered to introduce myself to any of them).
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