View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Running. Show all posts

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Hashing around Hale, Tuesday 21st February 2017


The Cheshire Hash House Harriers (A drinking club with a running problem) always run on Tuesday evenings at 7.45pm. Except sometimes, Their website is a mine of information and is worth checking out. I’ve run with other hashes (they can be found all over the world) buth the Cheshire Hash are, in my humble opinion, the finest.

I used to run with CH3 fairly regularly – until my Tuesday evenings got so busy that something had to go….and that was the Hash. Things have quietened off of late and now that my Tuesdays are less busy it was time to get down to some evening running.

Around 15 runners and one doggy gathered in Hale, a fairly upmarket (posh) suburb of Manchester. After a quick speech from Andy, the trail-layer, the throng set off, much to the amusement of Hale’s gentlefolk.

The first mile or so was inevitably on tarmac, even so, every opportunity to run on footpaths was exploited to the full. Eventually we hit the path on the banks of the River Bollin. I’ve used this path in the past and I know that it gets horribly muddily slippy after not a lot of rain. We’d had not a lot of rain and therefore the path was very muddy in parts – I’m surprised that everyone managed to stay upright.

The trail led us alongside, and sometime across, parts of Hale Golf Course. We were on a public footpath but the golf club members would have had a fit if they’d spotted us charging across there precious fairway.

Slipping and sliding our wobbly way, we passed under the M56 and hit even squelchier ground. My nice clean trail running shoes were no longer nice and clean. We were still running alongside the River Bollin.

Skirting the edge of Sunbank Wood, we gradually turned to head back towards Hale, leaving the River Bollin. More bits of tarmac took us over the M56 and then over another section of Hale Golf course, narrowly avoiding The Priory, the private hospital for those with lots of money. Or private medical cover. Whatever, charging back over the golf course would have upset the gold club members, big time. Oh well.

It was nearly all tarmac back to base now. There was the odd treacherously muddy path but nothing too challenging. Not for the Cheshire Hash anyway.

It was a good run, just what I needed – lots of fun and in very good company. There were some new faces, inevitable considering how long it’s been since my last Hash, but there were lots of old faces too Smile

No photographs I’m afraid, I just didn’t have the time. No beer either – I had to charge off as soon as we’d completed the run. This Tuesday evening ended up getting busy again!

Where we went (anticlockwise):


6.45 miles with not a lot of up – maybe 350ft.

Thanks to Andy for planning and setting a really excellent trail, and the CH3 membership for making me feel very welcome….like I’d not even been away!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Trotting around Saddleworth, Saturday 18th Feb 2017

18 runners (well some of them were runners) gathered at the Cross Keys in Uppermill on a pleasantly mild afternoon in order to drink lots of JW Lees go for a run around some of the hilly bits of the area.

Only 17 runners actually set off on the trail, Merciless deciding to go home when he realised he’d be better off putting his feet up in front of the telly.

I set off with Whitworth and Bell, always good company, and after a good 10 minutes of faffing about trying to locate the route we finally set off in a muddy direction, sort of northerly.

Running parallel to Running Hill Gate (a misnomer if ever there was one) through Running Hill Head and then by Big Rough (about right) our trail led us to Diggle. The ground wasn’t too bad, being only a bit incredibly muddy, but there you go. My tastefully coloured brand-new pair of La Sportiva Raptors (yellow & black) will never be the same again.

We tried to run but the ground wasn’t too good here-abouts.


No idea, it just seems to be an odd place for a statue (about a mile E of Diggle)


In the middle of nowhere…situated almost directly above the Standedge Tunnel

Built in 1859, this building may have had something to do with the reservoirs, Brun Clough Res is just to the east.

The route became moderately runnable, the mud wasn’t as squelchy as on our last little outing 2 weeks previously – although there were some quite bad bits. Hon Pres Park came into view, he’d set off 10 minutes after us and was making good time.



Whitworth & Bell keeping their distance from Park

The running on Standedge was good. We were afforded excellent views over Delph, Oldham and Shaw. The breeze was quite chilly on the tops, it was good to keep moving. The edge was popular with walkers, we met a goodly number – all going the other way.

Park stopped to chat to a sweet young thing at the trig point, obviously attracted to the pack of egg sandwiches she was trying to hide from him. Foiled by her determination not to share her lunch, we continued on our way – still heading north, and still not always too sure that we were on our route. Nowt new there then.


Millstone Edge, Standedge


Marsden Moor, Castleshaw Reservoirs in the distance


Park burning off the opposition


Still keeping to the high edges, and still enjoying good ground, were began changing direction – bearing over to the west. We kept Park in view for quite some time but he was determined to avoid our company (wise man that he is) – at least we didn’t have to worry about going wrong as long as we could see him….assuming that he was on the right trail.


Castleshaw Reservoirs

No photos, but the faster runners were now coming into view. It would be a while before the caught us but spotting them spurred us on. But only a bit.


Oldham Council Waterworks stuff at Castleshaw

According to the O.S., Castleshaw is the site of a Roman Fort. Interestingly, when I lived in Newhey, a few miles to the west, locals often referred to a local footpath as being a Roman Road.

We were now heading south, downhill too, on Moor Lane. This was (is!) a very good track although the trail we were following wasn’t always that obvious, the trail-layers were probably yakking and had forgotten to put sufficient sawdust down for us to follow. Oh well.

The trail-layers were Taylor & Wells, Wells being a stand-in for Old Markham who needed to stay at home to deal with ill-health in his family.



Faster runners now caught us up. Wilson and Burston being the first. They stopped to chat, we stopped to chat….and then the Fast Pack caught up with us. And still we chatted. Well, it had been two weeks since we last saw them, there was a lot of catching up to do.

Downhill and more downhill, eventually reaching the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and Standedge Tunnel. The running now was very easy….having said that, Bell took a tumble at one point. Being the finely honed athlete that he is he was soon back on his feet.

Standedge Tunnel is over 3 miles long, running from Diggle to Marsden – the site of the tea stop on the Point-to-Point route from Newhey to Holme a couple of years ago. The tunnel was dug over 200 years ago which means it’s even older than Taylor and Wells’s ages combined. Just.



A bit of muddy up and downery needed to be traversed before we got back to the Cross Keys….and because we weren’t, er,  the fastest runners, the bath water was a bit gritty. I needed a shower when I got home.


Riley relaxing. That’s what he said he was doing anyway.


Chillin’ after the run…and waiting for dinner.

We were relegated to the barn, not only for changing and bathing, but for dining too. We were served meat & potato pie, or more accurately patato and a bit of meat pie and chips. Apple crumble & custard finished the job. It would have been nice to have our meals served on real plates and to be allowed to use real knives & forks. Perhaps they don’t think we’re ready to eat like the grown-ups yet. Plastic utensils and polystyrene chippy-type plates aren’t brill.

Whatever, it was cheap, and the food was warming and plentiful. The JW Lees MPA was on fine form.

Around 9.4 miles with 1450’ of ascent. 

Tally Ho Uppermill 2017

It would have been less than 9.4 miles, but some silly sod laid a nice clump of sawdust right by the way we normally leave the venue. We wasted a good bit of time trying to find the right way.

This was a really excellent route, hard enough but without being stupid = very enjoyable. We missed the company of Old Markham of course, he probably had more than a little influence on the route choice – being as wot he lives in the area. Thanks to Whitworth & Bell for their very entertaining company, Taylor & Wells for laying a damned good trail (even if we couldn’t always find it!)…..and John Willie Lees for his Manchester Pale Ale.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Saturday 19th March 2016, Dinner at the Lantern Pike

Only thirteen sat down to an excellent meal at the Lantern Pike in Little Hayfield, those who were absent missed a treat. We were treated to very substantial helpings of proper steak pie & chips followed by enormous helpings of apple pie & custard – all washed down with TT Landlord served in lovely condition. Many were driving so they were limited to just the one, unlike those fortunate enough to be being chauffeured. Oh well.

We had a lovely run too. The pre-run description, c/o the guilty party (Young Wilson):

‘Little Hayfield on Saturday north towards A624 pass summit,then Burnt Hill (452m) Harry Hut Trig on Chunal Moor (441m) Descent to A624 north again to almost Chunal Village,then return south and climb back up to Monks Road (near A624 pass summit) Glorious descent back to Little Hayfield, Some quite scary wall stiles on the climb back from Chunal Village. Then a couple of pints and some good food. mileage under 20!! The climb up to Burnt hill is pretty dire as they are sorting the path. The conditions underfoot were slippy going on very slippy!’

Howarth, who hasn’t been seen by the Club for many years, was spotted at the start of the run but he didn’t sign in. He’d vanished by the time the rest of the membership returned to the pub. Where came from, where he went to, nobody knows.

It was a good do, I ran with Prez Park and Merciless Winterbone who proved to be fine and entertaining company – as always. The weather conditions were perfect, dry with very little breeze and not at all cold.


We lost trail less than a mile into the route – a walker was sat on a lump of sawdust by a stile that we should have crossed. We weren’t alone in losing trail at that point – Whitworth & Co (legal advisers to the dodgier members of the Club) also flew past the turning.

Wilson had chosen his route well and had bravely volunteered to lay trail on his own as Vinny had to cry off due to work commitments. Trail was a bit on the light side but in spite of this we didn’t get very lost….not very often anyway. 

Patches of the white stuff were visible over to the higher ground to the east of Harry Hut although it certainly wasn’t a cold day. The ground was generally dry, some of the usually muddy paths were in the process of being paved which made for good and steady going.




Prez Park speeding away


Merciless heading for Vanishing Point



Joe, Harry & Des


Meself, Harry & Des


On final approach to Little Hayfield

8 miles after leaving the pub our elite pack arrived back, unscathed and quite mud-free. After a nice hot bath and a change into clean(er) clothes we sat down to our meal.

A good day out, thanks to Prez Park & Merciless for putting up with me and to Wilson for laying on a fine route.

Where we went (widdershins):

Tally Ho Lantern Pike 160319

8 miles with 1500’ ascent.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Saturday 17th October, Tockholes – The Real Thing

Further to my little recce t’other day it was now time for The Real Thing, laying trail for the Club run.

Laying a trail on your own isn’t the easiest of tasks: there isn’t anyone else around to compare notes with, carry extra sawdust, whinge at, help with navigation etc. It’s down to the trail-layer, and if it all goes horribly wrong there’s nobody else to blame.

I left the car park of the very splendid Royal Arms at Ryal Fold, Tockholes at 11.15am. I was loaded down with a trail bag full of sawdust, a rucksack with more sawdust, a map and a bottle of water. The first part of the route was through woodland. I left great clumps of sawdust on the paths - an easy trail to follow. I thought. Nobody could POSSIBLY lose such a heavily laid trail. Of course they couldn’t.

Pendle Forest Orienteering Club were also out in the woodland, enjoying (enduring?) one of their Autumn Series events.


Orienteering kites were spread throughout the woodland

According to their website Tockholes was voted best area in Lancashire in the recent best 100 areas in the UK listing. I can believe it.

So busy had I been on my recce that I completely missed the charcoal burners deep inside the wood:


My route up to Great Hill more-or-less followed my recced route but somehow I managed to get my feet even muddier. 24 hours, a hot bath and two showers later my toe nails were still stained brown from the peat. Oh well.

Visibility was marginally better than on the recce, it was possible to pick out Blackpool Tower on the horizon.

image That really is Blackpool Tower in the murk

There were more folk out today, it being a Saturday and all that. You don’t half get some funny looks when you’re charging around the countryside leaving piles of sawdust all over the show.

Leaving my recce route by Slipper Low car park I started the climb up to Darwen Moor. Really good tracks were dead easy to navigate, it was just a matter of keeping an eye on the map so as not to go (too far) wrong. On the climb I stopped a few times for a breather to look back towards Great Hill to see if there were any runners in view – not a one. I just hoped they’d not lost the trail.

A most odd-looking contraption caught my eye as I flew <ahem> up the side of the hill. I had to stop (again) just to take the photograph. It took ages to compose.

image Any ideas folks? A look-out tower? An instrument of torture & torment?

Once high on the moor there were a goodly number of opportunities for rest – although I resisted temptation….of course.

imageGed’s Bench – had me thinking of my mate Ged who’s a bit poorly

imageThe view east from Darwen Moor – looking towards Ramsbottom.

Peel Tower is just visible to the left of the windfarm. Windfarms like these are cropping up wherever there’s a need for an EU grant.

imageThen there was this great big bird y’see, just hovering there. I’ve no idea what it was, not being very good with birds, but I’m sure that the ornitho… twitchers out there will come to my rescue. 

Still no sign of any runners so I plodded on, now towards Darwen Tower – or more correctly Jubilee Tower. The tower was completed in 1898 and was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. A few years ago, in high winds, the top blew off. Locals rescued the top and later replaced it with a fibre glass one instead. That one blew off in 2010 and has since been replaced with a new one made of stainless steel. It’s supposed to be getting windy tonight…I wonder?

image Jubilee Tower

A jolly bunch of ladies (a bunch of jolly ladies?) were finishing their jolly lunches at the tower. They recognised my Tally-Ho! kit, admitting to knowing some Club members. That’s a rarity in itself, hardly anyone I know would admit to knowing anyone in our club. :-)

image The jolly ladies with jolly Darwen in the background

5-600 metres of flat running on the NW edge of Darwen Hill offered great views over Lancashire and as far as Cumbria. Closer views were of the empty Sunnyhurst Hey and Earnsdale Reservoirs:


Still no sign of any runners. They’d either got completely lost, fallen into one of the fetid and man-consuming bogs that Lancashire is justifiably famous for…..or nobody had turned up. Oh well.

It was a steep descent from Darwen Hill back to the boozah which was now in view. Even so, the sawdust trail had to continue to the bitter end.

The orienteers were still out and about, their competition almost finished. I had a chat with a couple of the officials about the long lost 2 Day Capricorn event. Happy days, probably not to be repeated.  

Back at the pub for a very welcome and warming coffee. Although it wasn’t a particularly cold day I’d started to chill soon after I stopped running.

It was around 4pm when the first runner came in, Hon Prez Park – quickly followed by Hon Sec Shipley and Ding Dong. They seemed to have enjoyed themselves, not losing the trail much at all. Or perhaps they were just being polite.

The tin bath was put to good use. Being the trail-layer and therefore the first man back, I got the clean water. Perhaps I should try to run faster so I could finish earlier and get cleaner water on future runs……..nah!

By 5pm only half of the runners had returned, the fast pack were still out. They’d somehow got lost. That’s what happens when you run too fast. The early finishers were hungry so we sat down to a good dinner of Cumbrian Hotpot followed by Apple Pie & Custard – just what the doctor ordered. Halfway through our meal the fast pack rolled up, fortunately there was plenty of dinner left for them.

imageThe fast pack polishing off their dinner

Only 12 runners attended, a very poor turnout indeed – especially for this excellent venue, one of the very best.

Where we went:

Tally-Ho! Tockholes 2015

9 miles with 1500’ of downhill.

That’s a lot of downhill, what’s to complain about?

The lost boys covered around 10.5 miles and  heavens knows, they must have done some serious uphill stuff.

Next time: Longnor in two weeks. I can’t wait!

What the prez said:


The Royal Arms, Ryal Fold, Tockholes, 17th October 2015

Overcast ( later sunny ), 10 Deg, little wind.

The route started across the road from the pub down through Plantation No 2 and crossed the dam separating the Roddlesworth reservoirs. The trail turned south through Plantation No3 and crossed Belmont Road onto Wheelton Moor.

There was a large number of Pendle Forest OC scuttling from control to control. They were celebrating their 50th anniversary.

The first part of the moor was difficult with rushes, bog and Turk’s Heads but eventually high ground was reached and Great Hill came into view. Over the hill we headed for White Coppice familiar as the turning point of the Steeplechase.

We soon turned sharply back towards the bog and Belmont Road. The trail chicaned around Piccadilly into the woods passing Hollinshead Hall ( ruin) , across Tockholes Road and round the shoulder of Cartridge Hill. The last climb took us up Darwin Hill to the Jubilee Tower (372) before dropping down to RyaL Fold.

We came across an old squeeze box player surrounded by saw dust in the car park. We congratulated him on the excellent trail and queried the uncharted rush bog, he retorted that there was a dotted line on his map and carried on playing.

A disappointing 12 eventually sat down to hot pot and apple pie after five headless chickens arrived having been up to the tower several times and covering extra distance. We all cried into our beer.

Jocys did an excellent job laying a nine mile trail on his own.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Thursday 15th October 2015, A Tockholes Trot

6.5 miles with 1000’ of descent.

I was in dire need of a run.

There was a part of a trail route that I needed to recce, I’ve not been ‘out’ for a few days and it’s left me feeling quite lethargic, but more than anything else I’ve been shamed into pulling my trail shoes on by Old Running Fox a fine figure of a man if ever there was one.

This young man gets out virtually every day, rain, hail or shine. It’s only very rare bouts of illness that confine him to barracks – even then he manages to drag himself out into the hills more often than not. I really had no excuse.

I parked the car outside the very fine Royal Arms in Tockholes, deepest Lancashire. The area hadn’t seen rain for a while so the usually very boggy ground was only a bit very boggy in parts. Running through lovely woodland towards the Roddlesworth Reservoirs I passed a few walkers, and passed by a couple of runners…, well they passed me.

image The Upper Roddlesworth Reservoir

The track following the River Roddlesworth was a bit boggy but quite runnable.

imageAutumn leaves were really quite beautiful, unfortunately the dynamic range of the sensor on my Lumix DMC-ZS3 really wasn’t up to the job of displaying their colours very well. I should spend a few quid and buy a better compact. I must speak to Ian, he knows all about these things.

imageThe trickling River Roddlesworth

imageGreat Hill 

Across the busy A675 and a gentle uphill pull to Great Hill and rather more squelchy bog. By the time I got to the top of Great Hill my tootsies were a little waterlogged, and, as I was to find out later, dyed a dark brown. From the peat. Honest.

Interestingly, well I thought it was interesting, the cats eyes on the A675 are of the new electronic type. A solar cell charges a small battery which in turn powers bright white LEDs which switch on when traffic is detected. Clever, eh?

imageElectronic Cats Eyes 

image Darwen Tower from Great Hill

I ran trotted walked up to the top of Great Hill – then ran down t’other side. Getting even muckier. Then I ran back to cross the A675 again, this time to run by the ruins of Hollinshead Hall.

image Hollinshead Hall…..well it WAS Hollinshead Hall….once upon a time.

A mile of mainly tarmac took me back to the car. It was tempting to call in to the Royal Arms for a beer and a bag of chips but I resisted.

A good couple of hours – 1hrs 40mins actually, but I wasn’t racing….’cos I’ve got far better things to do with my time. Trail running is for enjoyment :-)

Where I went:

Tockholes 6

6.5 miles with 1000’ of downhill. And uphill.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

3rd October 2015, Tally-Ho! from Sparrowpit

Those fine fellows of the Cheshire Hare & Hounds Tally-Ho! decreed that today’s run would be from the Wanted Inn, Sparrowpit.

The pub has had a chequered history in recent years, it’s been closed a few times – that’s hardly unusual these days. Some years ago it was called the Devonshire Arms, this must have been confusing as there’s a Devonshire Arms just down the road in Peak Forest. The pub’s owners put the place up for sale but there were no takers – it became known locally as the ‘Unwanted Inn’. When it eventually sold it was renamed the ‘Wanted Inn’. Obviously.

Anyroadup, between 1pm and 2.30pm groups of runners of a variety of abilities (and disabilities) set off running from the pub following a sawdust trail left by Mssrs Potter & Stanton, trail-layers to the nobility. Or something like that.

The weather was really good for running, dry and chillier than of late, although plenty warm enough to be running in shorts. It was a bit misty which didn’t do a lot for the views, but what we had was good.

I ran with Whitworth, neither of had done much running of late so we were well matched. As ever we chatted loads and consequently lost trail a few times. No problems with the general quality of the trail, it was well laid and generally easy to follow….although there were a couple of occasions when I thought the trail-layers were running low on sawdust – a couple of times the trail became decidedly thin.

P1050649Whitworth of the poorly knee, and equally poorly heel

The anti-clockwise route headed south from the pub before turning east to Peak Forest, covering some of the ground used by the Club’s annual Steeplechase. The terrain was typically limestone: well drained and easy on the eye.

The word on the street is that quite a lot of the route will be used for next year’s Point-to-Point.

P1050651Wilson leading the Medium Pack   

From Peak Forest the route turned north, passing to the east of Eldon Hill and then on to Windy Knoll where Rushup Edge came into view – in spite of the murk and mist.

P1050653McHarry leading the Fast Pack




Because of the poor visibility the views into the Vale of Edale weren’t brilliant, although looking back towards the east was clearer:


Eastwood had caught us up earlier and we trotted along together for a couple of miles until around Lord’s Seat on Rushup Edge when he pulled away.

P1050662Whitworth chasing Eastwood along the ridge

P1050664Rushup Edge is used as a launch site for people intent on hurling themselves into oblivion

P1050668The stony track along the top played merry-hell with Whitworth’s poorly heel.

    P1050669At the Pennine Bridleway the trail turned south for the last mile or so back to Sparrowpit.

P1050671  Part of The Pennine Bridleway

P1050673The route suffered from an excess of stiles, some were seriously broken, like this one just to the north of Sparrowpit, others were really on passable by those with very long legs. Like Whitworth.

P1050675The Wanted Inn, Sparrowpit 

Thanks to Potter and Stanton for laying such a good trail, they should be allowed out more often. Even more thanks to Brian for agreeing to run round with me, providing excellent conversation….and, er, buying me a pint at the end :-)

Shame about the food at the pub: a single course consisting of a small portion of stew with hardly any vegetables but bulked out with bread and not very good dumplings. It really wasn’t up to much – not when the club was charged £10 a head. If the Club runs from there next year I’ll duck out of the ‘meal’.

Bathing & changing facilities at the pub were pretty dreadful too: the tin bath was outside the back of the pub. I’m just glad it wasn’t cold & rainy. On the plus side the sight of 15 – 18 hairy-arsed runners stripping off probably gave the local ladies something to laugh at.

The beer was good though.

Where we went:


9.4 miles with around 1400’ of ascent.

Viewranger stuff here – although it shows the route as just short of 9 miles it’s actually 9.4 miles. I think it’s down to the way Viewranger uses waypoints to calculate distance.

More photographs here.