Well, I asked for it... I had no choice. I was obliged to run the Alport Amble after appealing in DPN for a fell orienteering event so that we could explore parts of Howden, Bleaklow etc. My sloth had prevented me from organising anything myself but Frank Lowe, quite independently, had organised one with checkpoints outlined in advance. Start at Windle Edge on the Woodhead Road, find Alport Trig point and return by any route.
On a clear warm day, 24 runners plus a few organisers and supporters gathered at Windle Edge. THere was much discussion over what was likely to be the optimum route with Pete Kohn favouring the 'flatter' more indirect route over Bleaklow Stones, Westend Head and down the ridge to Alport trig. This was over 2km longer than the direct route over Shepherd's Meeting Stone and via Barrow, Grinah Stones and Ravens Clough or via Round Hill or via somewhere else.
The start was a busy affair compared with what was to come and by Shepherds Meeting Stone the 24 had disappeared. Big Bob Berzins took the Round Hill route (recc'ed?) and Andy Harmer took Barrow and Grinah Stones. The others, I think took either the indirect route or Barrow Stones and Ravens Clough. At Alport trig Andy was 20 seconds behind Bob who reversed his route and pulled out a further six minutes on the return trip. This made Bob the clear winner over the rough terrain he excels in. Andy took a slower route over Barrow Stones on the return and managed to hold off Tony Ratcliffe of Saddleworth.
The route I followed was not optimal with lots of climbing and heavy terrain. I went over the col between Grinah and Barrow Stones and followed Grinah Clough to its junction with Ravens Clough from where I had a very steep climb to the spur of Alport ridge. Up to then I'd had a solitary run with only an occasional sighting of a fresh large pb stud mark to keep me company. On the ridge, however, runners were homing in from a wide angle on the trig point.
A quick turn at the checkpoint, manned by a mountain bike rider (thanks whoever he was) and then I descended into Ravens Clouqh only to find I was boulder hopping before contouring round into Grinah Clough on grass and bracken. Although the climb back to the col was heavy, the descent to Barrow Clough was easy. By now I was feeling tired and the heather up to Shepherds Meeting Stone was too much, especially when I didn't remember coming through it on the way out. The final tussocks lost me a place...BUT, on a glorious sunny afternoon, the route had taken me across valleys that I had never knowingly visited before.
It was a brilliant race with many route choices. Frank has to be congratulated for devising and organising the event, especially as all finishers received a can of beer. I can recommend this race to all stalwarts, orienteers and fell runners and I would have been interested to see the results had the weather been misty!
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