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.
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.
Once high on the moor there were a goodly number of opportunities for rest – although I resisted temptation….of course.
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.
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?
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. :-)
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.
Only 12 runners attended, a very poor turnout indeed – especially for this excellent venue, one of the very best.
Where we went:
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.