Disappointingly and perhaps, unusually judging by the previous recent Wednesday nights, this outing was warmish and sunny. Despite this, we bravely set out up the seriously steep climb towards the ruined buildings. This diverted our thoughts from the slight contretemps encountered at the car park where our tightly packed parking had blocked in an innocent but upset non-Dark Peaker who had let us know of his feelings. Thankfully, some minor car shuffling released him. Brief announcements were then made about the routes for the evening, Dave H made a pitch for the sale of his blue van (repeated later at the pub) but, so far, no takers and new member Libby from Nottingham was introduced.
The moderately paced group (mainly Warts) led by the Cap’n took off on an anti-clockwise circuit over Banktop Hey having despatched the fast youths (Tim T and co.) clockwisely to Fagney. Our paths subsequently never crossed so the mainly Warts group avoided reality and could believe in the fantasy that our pace was rapid. Leaving the ruins, another steep climb by the fence through the tussocks provided a double dose of gasping and breath-taking which included the spectacular views back across the Howden reservoir. Along the ridge, reminiscences of a December birthday run nearly four years ago and the need to recce and finesse the route for the next running of it in December 2024 kept our minds off the ever-challenging tussocks. The bilberry descent into Westend gave us welcome relief from the tussocks and, up the river, we could enjoy the bracken, now at peak annoyance, and the luscious swamps, surprisingly glutinous before arriving for sweeties at the ruin below Ravens Clough.
In the Warts’ world, what goes down must go up, certainly in the Westend, so a climb out of Ravens Clough beckoned. Thus began a character challenging series of ups and downs across Ravens Clough and across two branches of Black Clough, each with its special combination of bilberry, tussocks, bracken, sphagnum moss and slippery stream crossings. The length of time we were out and the diminishing light curtailed our attempt at the Alport trig so Westend Moor was crossed in the gloaming to reach a rather pleasant trod (used in Nicky’s Summer Series) to the wood. The tree felling here has now made the descent somewhat tricky through a series of ditches and earth piles reminding us of the Grand National’s Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn.
We returned to the pub enjoying the site of a mountain hare crossing the road near Fairholmes so Eoin quipped that there was one hare out of place.
The verdict on the evening was that it was a truly splendid and enjoyable Warty outing, just missing some wind and rain and more darkness.
A good run!
© Dark Peak Fell Runners 2020
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