The first official alternative run or the last of the unofficial alternative runs, dependent on your perspective! The instruction was to climb and descend lots of hills so that we could ensure that our new treasurer would not receive a double pertex for his efforts or lack of, in Jura next week....and so it was. The route was up to Seal Stones, back down again to the holly tree or thereabouts in Blackden and then up again to the edge. From here, across to the southern edge and down, damn near to Edale. Up to Grindslow via the manhole cover (which will surely be a checkpoint on a race in the near future!) and then to the Knoll, where whisky was partaken. As night was surely descending, we set off over a hitherto untrodden part of Kinder to the Northern edge to a fine descent. A brilliant evening with perfect weather i.e not unlike mid-winter, so perfect in Harmerian terms.
A large group of finely tuned athletes including a number of Penistonians gathered at Blackden for the evening's fun, around about 25 including the safety officer. The run began by stumbling up Blackden Rind and then up to a notch(?) in the top opposite Seal Stones. From here the group set off towards Hartshorne, Mr Harmer electing to take the long route in a sort of semicircular fashion, the real navigators went straight there! A good old-fashioned bogtrot followed over to Kinder Gates via the river and then with the gathering mist and gloom, back towards Seal Stones, the hardier souls taking the direct route, whereas the more sensible ones went for the edge path. The run off Seal Stones to the cars is arguably one of the best descents in the Peak and they've even put a stile and access sign at the bottom, where previously we thought we were trespassing. What is warting coming to?
Let's hope that that we hear no more talk about there being a drought in South Yorkshire! Messrs Westgate, Harmer, Hawley and Barber were the only intrepids to set out on this the foulest of nights for some time. After struggling across Ewden Beck which had turned into a raging torrent, the run up to Pike Lowe was uneventful just very wet. The wreck, the usual next checkpoint was found without too much fuss and in true GW fashion, rather than heading for home in what was by now, the gathering gloom, we set off to find the Hunter wreck. Unfortunately, our trusty navigator, Capt. Harmer, in whom we place infinite trust, managed to get us hopelessly lost ('nuff said on this matter), somehow we went in the direction of Howden Edge and on encountering some rocks and another raging torrent (the head of Abbey Brook, we now realise), we had to acknowledge that we hadn't a clue where we were - some 2 miles or so from where we should have been. Ah well, put it down to old age and infirmity. By this time the gloom was well and truly gathering and very shortly had turned to pitch black. After much struggling in the dark, we eventually found the Duke's Drive and relative safety but still managed to go wrong in the now, very pitch black and driving rain. Drought, don't make me larf!
I fully intended to attend the officially advertised run from the Sportsman this Wednesday evening past, not least to support Ian Fitz's Skyline debrief, but with my car having just failed its MOT earlier that afternoon (even more of a death-trap than its driver, apparently - which may, or may not, come as a surprise to those privileged enough to have ridden in it), I found myself somewhat vehicularly challenged. A series of panic phone calls to all the usual suspects ensued, including one to David McG, who I'd be glad to report was happily sunning himself in Majorca were it not for the fact that this particular conversation will very likely have cost me considerably more than I had initially anticipated. Anyways, the upshot of said calls was the realisation that no other b****r I knew within a three mile radius of Crookes was traveling this particular evening to the Sportsman, and it was now too late to make it in time for the off under my own human steam. I was left, therefore, with little alternative but to call the Chosen One to see if a lift might be available to the (now here's the controversial bit, folks) Guerrilla Wart from Ouzelden Clough. There was some hesitation on the line as the Chosen One consulted with his chauffeur, the Safety Officer*, before the response came that they were just passing Crosspool and that I had 5 minutes to be ready and outside. This left me with very little faff time, but much to my best beloved's surprise I just about managed to keep to the prescribed deadline, emerging a little haltingly into the Crookes slush accompanied by a selection of kit and vaguely hoping some of it might be appropriate for the adventures ahead. Taking my place in the back seat alongside Big Bird, we descended to Malin Bridge to pick up Ernie, only to find that he had arrived with Bert in tow (or rather had somehow contrived to get Bert to give him a lift), so the decision was taken to travel in convoy to Ouzelden Clough, the SO determining that four passengers in the rear of his vehicle probably constituted an unwarranted risk. Upon arrival at Ouzelden, we were pleased to be joined by Long John Silver and Cabin Boy Jim, together with the ever glamorous Ms Lesley Ash, all kitted up and ready to go - which is precisely what we did. Up Ouzelden Clough and thence via three alternative lines onto a crisply snow-cloaked Rowlee Pastures, we were rewarded with some stunning views of all the surrounding fells, bathed in the white stuff, and some particularly dramatic skies (Ms Ash was to be heard later in the pub opining on the "four different types of light" we'd witnessed; so it seems we can add Constable's eye for aesthetic landscapes to Lesley's many other hidden talents). It should also be noted at this juncture that, whilst Big Bird, myself, the Chosen One and Lesley all took more or less the natural line toward Alport Castles, Ernie led the rest of our merry gang via a more oblique route to the flags which, notwithstanding his subsequent protestations that said flags were covered in a significant depth of snow, only goes to further support the gathering view that he is increasingly gravitating towards road running in the (early) twilight of his otherwise most distinguished fell running career. Having all gained the edge path above the Alport Valley, we were now treated to the sight of a series of spectacular cornices (for this, the Chosen One assures me, is the correct technical term used by real winter fell-types and mountaineers). The temptation to slide forty feet off the lip of one such cornice soon proved too much for the Chosen One who, demonstrating his leadership credentials admirably on this occasion, first gingerly then with gay abandon hurled himself off the edge, closely followed by the rest of our party (with the honorable exception of the SO, who chose a rather more cautious traversing line to the stile to the south-east of Alport Castles). A little whooping and excitement later, we regained the edge path, with Long John Silver and our Lesley demonstrating their own very particular mountain-craft abilities by spending a full five minutes burrowing their way back up the sheer face of a second cornice, to the collective hilarity of the rest of the party. Once back on the edge (or perhaps this was prior to our first cornice slide?), we briefly inspected the jerry-built hide overlooking Alport Castles - erected for the viewing nesting Osprey, I am told, though this would have been difficult to achieve this particular night as the snow had somehow managed to find a way into the hide and fill much of it three-quarters of the way to the roof. It was at about this point that Big Bird announced he felt like staying out in the snow all night ... to which I quickly responded by donning most of the remaining kit in my bag, thick gloves in particular, whilst the rest of the party sped onward to Birchin Hat. The reddening sunset behind Alport Tower, offset by dark and brooding clouds, was truly one of those glad-to-be-alive moments, which may explain why the option to free-sledge down a second cornice on the somewhat longer slope to the north-west of the Tower was ultimately passed up. Furthermore, as the sun began to drop behind the horizon, the temperature rapidly dropped, so we began to turn for home, wading through often knee-deep snow down into Fagney Clough, with young Jim's superior speed soon becoming apparent on the few occasions when real running became an option. As we traversed out of Fagney - or perhaps it was Ditch Clough - our Lesley took up the lead, showing off her beautifully botoxed behind to full effect, whilst the Chosen One and Big Bird, with the occasional intervention from Ernie, haggled over whether the bearing was 130 or 135 degrees. Fortunately they didn't quibble for too long, alighting upon the eminently sensible solution of telling Ms Ash simply to "head for the moon" (which was, like most other elements of the natural world this fine night, looking rather splendid). It was at this point that I did, I confess, begin to regret not having donned neoprene socks for the outing. Fortunately the running began to pick up a little once we'd crossed to the east of the spur of Birchinlee Pastures, and a memorable evening's running was completed with a fine descent to the plantation fringing the reservoir and, with half of the party finally unfurling head torches, a short scramble through dense conifers to the track beside Ouzelden Clough. As the Chosen One observed back at the cars, it was quite a good line upto about a foot and a half off the ground. A magnificent evening was made complete with two (in my case, three) pints in the Ladybower, with a good deal of reminiscing, particularly it seems about DP dogs we have known and loved, and most particularly about Tansy (is that how we spell it?) who, in Ernie's opinion at least, appears to be the finest fell dog that ever bestrode the Dark Peak. My thanks to my fellow renegades - I'm no longer an entirely virgin guerrilla wart** - though whilst the temptation to join the GWs again may upon occasion prove too great, as maintainer of the Calendar I remain honour-bound to frequent the Sportsman on official nights back at the club. After all, it's hard to deny one gets a superior degree of sartorial elegance at the Sportsman (something very close to my heart, you understand), and I've even been known to enjoy the company of a road-runner from time to time ... * whilst some might argue this title does not constitute a name change, I've taken the view that the SO has been so conspicuous by his absence for almost the entire Wartin' season past that no-one within the club will surely remember who he is ... others (including the SO himself, very likely) would no doubt argue that it would, in the current context at least, perhaps be a little disingenuous to include the SO under the innocent-and-to-be-protected category ... ** having said which, in my hurry to get out of the house in five minutes, I forgot to take my trusty Garmin, which means I have no track to post here and, as consequence, there is no concrete evidence that I ever did go Guerrilla Wartin' ... so if I'm ever accused of having done so, I will naturally deny it.
The last run of the winter's warting season took us up Parkin Clough to the top of Win Hill to see the back end of a beautiful sunset in calm and very benign conditions, a contrast to previous weeks. Jupiter, Venus and Mars were visible and the mood was one of jollity and gayness as spring approached. The only notable misery was of course Capt. Harmer, bemoaning the approach of summer and daylight and remembering that we'll have to hammer him up in his coffin for the summer months until September and the start of another glorious warting season! Anyway.... the run continued west along the ridge until someone accused Capt. of being a road runner!! This resulted in a completely pointless detour off Hope Brinks and then back up to the top of the ridge again - woe betide anybody calling the Capt. a road runner! From here, a pleasant descent ensued which eventually took us to the bottom of Jagger's Clough via a pretty woodland path! True warting kicked in at this point as we eventually made it to Crookstone Knoll, although it has to be said that there were a number of "splitters" in the group who insisted on taking their own route against the advice of the Safety Officer! The last whisky, jelly babies and raspberry ruffles of the season were taken here and amidst much grumbling from Capt., we set off back up the ridge in a linear fashion and not the true circular one which is normal on a warts' run. Somewhere along the way, we took the wrong path (Mr Holmes was probably to blame) and ended up running many miles through the woods and then ending up a mile or so from where we were meant to be! But... Mr Holmes had his road run along the reservoir road, so at least he was happy! See you next Autumn
A select group of hearty warts set off from the nether parts of our region near Saltersbrook on the Woodhead Road. A cool night but very still, so no epic but nonetheless a testing part of the Peaks (with lots of variety, Mr H.) We set off up one of the "Small Cloughs" onto the watershed, which was predictably moist and then to the small sheep fold somewhere below Barrow Stones (which we are assured will be a checkpoint in the next club champs!). From here we went to Barrow Stones and quaffed whisky but no Raspberry Ruffles. It should be noted, at this point, that the group throughout the run was consumate in its coherence. In the absence of Mr Holmes who had joined the southern (very) softies, there were no splitters and consequently, nobody wondering who or what that light was in the distance!! After this we went downhill (literally, not metaphorically) and then up Hoar Clough to some extremely moist ground and then back to the cars. We had a drink at the Dog and Partridge, an excellent little boozer and one to recommend!
Another epic! We started off in cold but fairly clear conditions, with that sense of deja vu from last week's run! However, instead of the Boundary stones, we battled our way up to Black Holes with the occasional snow flurry to cool us down! From here, we slogged through the knee deep heather with the occasional burst of running to remind us that we are finely tuned athletes, up to Lost Lad. Mr Hakes was now a distant light off the back of the group, so we duly abandoned him to his fate. A fine bit of running was had from here, with a direct line towards Gravy cabin via a precipitous cliff both up and down, warting at its best. Whisky and raspberry ruffles were partaken at the cabin in the relative calm. Berrister's Tor and Abbey Brook were next and about this time, the snow began with a vengeance turning into a white out by the time we had ascended Abbey Brook. Now...a point must be made about a certain "leader" who gave mixed messages! I distinctly heard a mention of Cartledge Flats as the next "checkpoint" and so a group of 5 of us set out for this in the freezing, whiteout conditions and stood around on the verge of imminent demise waiting for the others whom, it transpired had missed out the summit and opted for the easier route (what are the warts coming to?) aiming directly for the finish. Anyway...we managed to meet up with them after some cursing and went direct to the pub, in the now very bright moonlight.
The Southern Warts (or Southern Softies if you must) hooked up with the Roadies at the Barrel Inn for post run refreshment. It was advertised as a "full moon" run, and whilst we saw glimpses of said moon they were few and far between. We did manage a good fast run though, starting through the bumpy bits in Bretton Clough, and finishing up the hill from Stoke Ford. A vast improvement on last year's attempt in zero visibility when we were lost for the best part of two hours.
A select bunch of ageing athletes forewent the pleasures of Ringinglow for a heartier trip to the Strines given that it was such a beautiful night, cloudless and mild. We made for the Derwent Edge via the Boundary Stones and Pepper Pot tending to swing to the left as Mr Harmer eschewed the advice to follow the well worn track, instead choosing to take the assembled group some way off the target rocks (oh dear), then down to the small packhorse bridge and up to the top of Pike Lowe, where whisky (but no Raspberry Ruffles) was partaken in the fine moonlight. A gentle trudge through the very moist bog towards Lost Lad and Howshaw Tor. Then a final direct line to the pub, which had a curry night on. An excellent night!
A splendid clear warm evening for fast footpath running with a top route devised by Moz including Houndkirk Hill, ex- Bull Nose Header (who would pinch a brick?) Unhidden Totley Trig, Hidden Totley Trig, & Houndkirk Hill revisited. The dip in the ground next to the unhidden trig providing a perfect shelter for the Whisky & Sour Sweet & Mars Bar & Winegum stop, before everyone braced themselves for what was surely going to be a long search led by yours truly to find the hidden trig, just beyond the stepping stones at the foot of Blackamoor. To everyone's surprise including mine, it was found without fuss which put us in good heart for the blast back to the Norfolk Arms. They cant be many finer feelings than having a good fast, bracken, heather & bog free run, followed by sitting on a leather settee with your clubmates (well those that can be bothered cross Redmires Road anyway) with a pint of Moonshine in your hand. AM We now have a track, albeit cobbled together from 2 incomplete ones, and missing the second climb of Houndkirk Hill.
A run which will surely go down in the anals as a "thank f... we survived it!" It started off inauspiciously by pissing down with the sort of rain that gets into every orifice, the path down Doctors Gate was a small fast flowing river, no sign of drought on Bleaklow. At some point we turned right into a clough and then proceeded to scale an "Extreme" cliff, which certainly set the bowels moving. Penny has cause to remember this for some time as she froze on the smallest of slippery ledges with nothing but black void above and below (Quote: "I signed up to do fell running not bloody rock climbing!") The next point was a pond, 'nough said and then up the edge of Dowstone Clough with the sound of a raging torrent that would have swept all before it had we attempted to cross it, well below. Some daft chough (Tom Westgate) decided that Bleaklow Head would be a good place to visit and so we did and it wasn't, but amazingly we did find it in the black void. By this time it was agreed by all but Tom that we had had enough fun and so set off in a southerly direction in the freezing cold, black void. It has to be noted that Messrs Westgate and Holmes, after suggesting that we follow their lead in the void, disappeared and abandoned the rest of the party to their fate. The Safety Officer (had he been available) would have been beside himself with rage at this gross neglect and blatant abandonment of standard procedure but most of us were too knackered to care just wanting to get back to the cars in any direction. So after talking Maurice out of going back north again, we set off south and, praise be, found the path. An interesting "run" and one which was quite nice when it ended!
It made a pleasant change to run in the White Peak. No trudging through heather, without trespassing, needing to climb walls, barbed wire or fences. A trip through the Cressbrook Tunnel was added to the Thornbridge race route where the going was soft, the excrement around the farms deep and the views excellent - it was a bit quieter out there than the traditional August date for that route though. Post race beers were taken at the Monsal Head Stable Bar where the Buxton Blonde and Wincle Undertaker Bitter were on fine form Jim
Some 25 or so finely tuned Dark Peak athletes plus a guest from Kendal AC set out on this mild night. The run started with a wade through the upper reaches of the reservoir, followed by a long drag up to Wet Stones, the navigation to which was impeccable! From here we set off in an optimistic frame of mind to find the picnic tables and tin shack which is somewhere in a clough somewhere in the moor. To our amazement, we found it without any bother and consumed whisk(e)y and sundry snack items at the tables, it has to be said that the service was poor, however. From here, we set off to find the Stirling bomber wreck. Now bear in mind that this is on a featureless bit of moor and that we approached it from a featureless bit of moor, so, being honest, the chances of finding a bit of pipe sticking up in the dark featureless moor were slim! And so it proved to be. Search abandoned we set off for Margery Hill trig which was found with the usual accuracy. From here the group split, those that actually fancied a run went down Cut Gate, the walkers went over Cranberry Clough and arrived back much later! Oh and happy birthday to Jim who enjoyed the perfect 58th birthday treat!
A very pleasant run through the snow via the Dukes Road, Fox Stones, Pike Low and the tram-track bridge. Harmony prevailed all night, and the Belgian Blue slipped down nicely in the Nags thereafter. Good to see Mr Harvey (aka "God") in attendance, and young master Beresford for some of the proceedings. A reet good night all round.
Broomhead access gate being a step too far for some of us, we assembled at Hugh's Hut in Stoney Middleton for a run over to Longstone Moor, ably led by Peter Gorvett. An uneventful run apart from the section on the way home when a cow decided to join in. Fortunately a few sharp words sent it on its way. Excellent refreshment in the Moon inn, where we outnumbered the rest of the customers by 3:1.
A mild night and a good turnout. Moz was to be congratulated for designing a course that even he managed to get lost on, as he (and a number of others) failed to find the pond near Friar's Ridge which those that did find it, did so as a pure fluke!! The going was officially described as "moist" to good which meant that we were wading knee deep through a good portion of this "race" The checkpoints for interests sake where:
Ten hardy souls ventured forth from Midhope led by Capt Harmer and Sergeant Hakes, no safety officer was on show here but with Westgate and Winterburn we knew we were in safe hands. The first point of call was the cabin, from there the wet boggy track ventured higher in the the teeth of a biting wind. The plan was a direct line to the Margary hill however having drifted close to cutgate a quick trip out to inspect the UXB discovered by Russ a few weeks earlier. More on the shells will appear in next Christmas's newsletter ;) The group split slightly as one section went straight at MH and the others taking a less direct route by running up Cutgate. The masses gathered on MH before some discussion by the Capt and Private Westgate on the precise bearing to the Stirling wreck, now I'm not certain how important those 5 degrees were but 10-15 minutes later miraculously we were gathered around the wreck site, A few more photos before we chose to find a bit more shelter to have raspberry whirls from Mr Holmes and our first whisky stop. It was here that the Capt decided to cartwheel down a clough to; first the amusement of the troops then to the concern of the group however he was soon up and off again to Pike Low. Another whisky and with every one signed in and Winterburn led off back to the cars with the Barber hounds in hot pursuit. Brigadier Sanderson had counted them out and counted them back. To his pleasure all were present and correct so a trip round the corner to the Wagon and Horses for a few pints of Timmy Taylor's where Hakes open the market stall and started selling the new DP shirts to any one who promised to pay him later.
A two hour forty minute epic, rumour has it, from the Sportsman to the traditional subterranean traverse of Hathersage. No idea who was there, since I'd been diverted at the last minute to attend my fair daughter's A level choices evening. All being well therefore, a fuller account, and perhaps even a track, might follow in due course. Meanwhile, ten Guerrillas were playing about on Bleaklow, visiting a pond and the odd wreck in the vicinity of James's Thorn. A good time had by all, it is alleged.
The pre-champs potter was distinguished first by the high proportion of women taking part - a good third of our number by my estimation - and second by the quite atrocious line to the Knoll taken by editor-in-chief Holmes. Other local landmarks included the Ruby and Head Stones, Ocean View - this time not quite so direct - and the conduit tunnel. Oh, and to further taint his credibility, young David then produced a flask of cooking rum at the whisky stop. The pressures of publishing to a strict deadline are clearly taking a heavy toll ...
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