The trail-layers shall remain nameless for fear of potential litigation, but both Blackshaw and Jocys had set off from the pub at 11am, armed with bags of sawdust, just for the hell of it.
And anyway, 9.7 miles is the new 8 miles.
It should be pointed out that the original route was around 11.5 miles, but fearing a lynching and possible excommunication, the nameless trail-layers (Blackshaw & Jocys) thought it prudent to shorten the route. Unfortunately this had the effect of adding around 3/4 mile of tarmac to an otherwise green(ish) trail. Tarmac does not go down well with the members of the Tally-Ho!
The more alert members of the Club may have seen a steam locomotive running on the East Lancs Railway line that followed the valley bottom. Those that didn't really should pay more attention.
Then there were steps, loads of them. Up through a wood they went. Not as many steps as at trail from Sheldon, but steps. And steep 'uns at that. At the top of the steps Mark Taylor was seen to slow down, he had sensed the Shoulder of Mutton. Fortunately the rest of his pack dragged him past. Either that or he'd forgotten his money and nobody would stand him a pint.
The trail now went north along Moor Lane, a pleasant track that afforded excellent views over Ramsbottom and the eastern side of the Irwell Valley. Apart from that damned wind farm:
After 1.5 miles of gentle ascent the trail turned west for around 500 yds and suddenly the ascent wasn't gentle any more. Our heroic runners ran up onto Holcombe Moor, famous for soldiers waving red flags and shooting at each other. Fortunately this was the day that had to stay at home with their mums so it was safe. Well it was safe if you weren't John Wilson. He reckoned he'd tripped and fallen, resulting in cuts and bruises. That's what he told me, and why should I disbelieve him? He's a decent bloke after all. Isn't he?
The next couple of miles were without doubt the best of the route, the running was excellent and the views wonderful. It would have been very easy to trip up and fall flat on your face through not looking where you put your feet. If you weren't careful you could end up with a nasty cut on your face and multiple lacerations to your hands, sustained as you tried to arrest your tumble. It's just so easily done.
A bit more tarmac took us past the Hare & Hounds where a beer festival was under way. Taylor M missed this fact. And the pub. He'd not brought his money anyway.
The route now followed part of the course of the Peel Walk towards Brooksbottom, just in time to see the East Lancs Railway vanish into a tunnel. A bridge took our gallant heroes back over the River Irwell and before long the trail was climbing once again, this time through slutchy mud, until....a bit more tarmac.
Another one for Alan. And a TractorAfter safely negotiating these final hazards there was the serious business of getting cleaned up and changed in order to not frighten the horses. Oh and to be able to enjoy a beer and dinner without smelling too much.
Vinny & Merciless on final approach. A crap photo, but the light was fading.
Big Ian leading the Medium Pack inVinny, Big Ian, Fast Whitworth, Even Faster Shipley, Merciless and Murray were amongst the first in. Compliments flowed: 'A good try', 'not as bad as Tintwistle' to quote just two. Praise indeed. Other comments cannot be repeated for fear of causing offence.
Eastwood's return to running fitness meant he hadn't much to complain about, other than the tarmac of course. Jenkinson had also been under the weather, a severe bout of Man Flu had slowed him down to the velocity of a speeding bullet. It's good to see such athletes powering through adversity.
A Wells came along as an invited guest runner. I think he enjoyed it. He enjoyed having his Dad buy him beer if nothing else.
The bathing facilities at the Lord Raglan weren't too brilliant. The tin bath was in the brewery – although it might as well have been outside in the car-park, it was adjacent to a large opened door. And the water wasn't too warm. Many members just made do with a quick wipe down rather than a proper bath.
There wasn't really enough to satisfy the appetites of 25 runners who had spent the last couple of hours charging around the Lancashire countryside. There were rumblings (stomachs) and grumblings (the runners). The beer was good though. We'll be fine at the next run – it's from the Crag at Wildboarclough.