View from Oban Bothy

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

Monday, 4 February 2019

Running around Rainow, Saturday 2nd Feb 2019

The morning was bright and chilly. Others, probably more accurately, would have said it was bloody freezing.

Runners of different shapes, sizes and ages gathered at the Robin Hood in Rainow, near Macclesfield on the afternoon of Saturday 2nd February.

White Nancy, from the Robin Hood

The car park at the pub was exremely slippy. It was also on a slope and I was warned by the landlady not to park at the top of the slope: the previous day 2 cars, unmanned (or unwomanned), had slid across the car park – on car had gone through the hedge.

Whatever…a couple of hours prior to the massed gathering of knees, Rob McHarry and I had arrived in order to lay a sawdust trail of around 8 miles around the lumpier bits of the area….the clumps of sawdust were (supposed) to be followed by the runners.

We had A Plan….that is to say ROB had A Plan. It was actually a very good plan. So we sort of changed it by going clockwise rather that widdershins as Rob had originally suggested.

Suitably armed with bags of sawdust we set off, well we slipped and slid off the ice rink of a car park, and wandered off north along a quiet lane in the direction of, well, north.

Leaving the relative safety of ice-packed tarmac we turned left to skirt Rainowlow where some brown squiggly lines on the map were crossed.

A short stretch of tarmac at Billinge Head Farm took us to a nice path that skirted the eastern edges of Billinge Quarries.

The Audience

Laying Trail

Turning east, we followed a nice path that descended to Mellow Brook, then up the other side of the valley to Harrop Fold Farm….where I have hazy memories of camping weekends where lots of beer may have been consumed. Or Martini.

I didn’t drink the litre bottle of Martini. It’s not the sort of thing I’d do. Obv.

Harrop Fold Farm

A little more tarmac followed, and very icy it was too. The was little warmth from the sun, but as the track was in the shade anyway it would have made little difference.

Our route slowly changed direction to follow a more south-easterly course.

I was a little concerned that the runners following our carefully planned and even more carefully recced <koff> route might lose the sawdust trail; pale sawdust on bright white snow doesn’t stand out particularly well. We needn’t have worried, although we probably went a bit over the top with the clumps of sawdust, nobody got lost. Well not VERY lost.

Another valley crossing followed, this time down to Moss Brook and up the other side by Saddle Cote, this was a bit of a pull and Rob was well ahead of me. In my defence I was taking photographs which slowed me down quite a bit. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

It was around about here that Rob spotted a skier doing what skiers do best. Our route turned hard right to follow the skier's tracks.

 Route planner, navigator, trail-layer and runner extraordinaire…

……………and his incapable assistant

Ski tracks. And my shadow. Tsk. 

Oh, and there were goats too...I almost forgot to mention them

Another short stretch of tarmac along Bank Lane and then Ewrin Lane took us to Waggoner’s Brow were another hard right turn delivered into more familiar Turkey Trot country, approaching Lamaload Reservoir.

The reservoir dam looked quite spectacular in the freezing temperature, all the buttresses were covered in frost.

A steep descent to cross the infant River Dean, by the waterworks, had me slipping and sliding like a very slippy-slidy thing. But I stayed upright. we continued littering our way in a southerly direction,

It was a bit of a tug up hill. We followed the footpath to the western side of the reservoir to a point just beyond Wickinford Farm. From there we trotted in a south-westerly direction to pass through Valeroyal and very close to the site of the Setter Dog by Walker Barn, and then north by Gulshaw Hollow and Hordern Farm, scattering sawdust trail as we went.

Manchester, with Winter Hill beyond

We crossed the icy Berristall Road and descended steeply to the bottom of the valley before climbing equally steeply to pass by Thornsett Farm.

The going became very easy (easy = gently downhill). The Robin Hood hove into view and after another slippy – slidy adventure across the ice rink of a car park we made it back to our cars.

14 runners sat down to enjoy an excellent meal of beef stew followed by fruit crumble and custard….lots of fattening stodge, just what’s needed after a cold day in the hills.

The day was marred by the news of John Potter’s car suffering the same fate as the sliding cars of the previous day. His unmanned car ended up colliding with two other cars in the car park. John, understandably brassed off with what had happened, didn’t stick around for the run.

My thanks to Rob for letting me ‘help’, and for his good company of course….and to Wells the Elder for buggering off to Brazil so creating a temporary Trail-layer vacancy.

GPS track of where we went (clockwise from Rainow):

Around 8.5 miles / 2,000ft of ascent. And descent. Obv.

Created in Blogger, because Google / Blogger have done something to stop Open Live Writer communicating with it.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

A Sweltering Dales Backpack, 24th–26th June 2018

Messrs Rye & Walker had planned this little jaunt and foolishly invited me along….probably knowing I’d bring them beer. Which I did. Obv.

The Plan was to meet up at Hebden near Grassington on Sunday around 2pm. I’d had a particularly tough week and so decided to make my own way to the first camp spot of the trip on Conistone Moor, meeting up with Martin and Andrew at 10pm. My alternative plan was a good ‘un, it meant that my walk avoided the silly high temperatures of the day.


The Planned Route

A few shots from my evening walk from Hebden to Conistone Moor, Sunday’s overnight pitch  :





I eventually found Alan and Martin just after 10pm. I wasted no time in getting my tent up (I used my TN LaserComp….just to remind it that I still loved it) and distributing the cans of beer I’d lugged up.


Monday morning dawned very brightly and rather warmly. After a quick breakfast and a few mugs of reviving caffeine we were off, via Great Whernside, to Kettlewell for tea, coffee, bacon butties etc.

It was now getting very hot. I don’t know how Martin & Andy coped with long trousers, I was cookingly hot in my lightweight kilt and T shirt.









Looking back to Kettlewell

After our refreshment stop we headed out, climbing out of the valley. This was tough going in the very strong sun.


We’d had a good day of walking, but the high temperature and very strong sun slowed us down. Water was very scarce. We eventually found an almost dried-out tarn. My Sawyer filter clogged in seconds. Andy’s MSR Guardian filter was a life saver, it filtered what was virtually mud, converting it to clear and potable water.

We needed to find a suitable pitch for the night, ideally with a water source – not easy. Eventually we pitched up at Horse Head Gate, actually on the wide path. There was a trickle of a stream nearby so we were sorted for the night. 


Decision time.

The Plan for the next day was to head over to Pen-y-ghent, this was clearly going to be a problem. Limestone country isn’t known for a surplus of surface water – and water was going to be a vital requirement if we were to continue with our route.

Home for the night on Monday:







We chose to re-route and cut our trip short by a day. We’d camped on the Pennine Journey LDP, this offered us an easy way off the top and down to the River Wharfe at Yockenthwaite and then to pick up the Dales Way – much easier walking, plus far more chance of picking up water.


An ex-mole on the Pennine Journey LDP


Descending to Yockenthwaite


The dried-up River Wharfe at Yockenthwaite

At 7.45am it was so hot that we were actively searching out shade. Bits of woodland provided some relief from the blazing sun – but the flying insects were a damned nuisance. Smidge helped.


St Michael and All Angels Church at Hubberholme


At Buckden we sat outside the village shop, ate ice creams and glugged cold drinks.

The Dales Way follows the course of the River Wharfe so it was fairly flat (apart from some hilly bits) and easy walking.


At last, water in the River Wharfe


Conistone Pie



Limestone pavement


En-route to Kettlewell and more ice cream


Posing outside Kettlewell’s village shop: purveyors of el-cheapo electrolyte drink. And ice cream. (Poor quality pic due to a mucky lens on my phone)

Next stop: Grassington…and a pub. No beer though, we drank copious amounts of coke, water, shandy – anything that was refreshing, cooling and rehydrating.


Hebden, so near….

We arrived back at Hebden around 4.45pm, we needed more ice cream and cold drinks – the tea room was still open it was doing good business. We made full use of it’s facilities…all of them!

We parted company around 6pm, Andy and Martin headed off darn sarf whilst I enjoyed a very pleasant drive through the Dales and eventually back home to Manchester.

First job when I arrived home was to run a much needed cool bath and have a good long soak, that cooled me down nicely.

I’d considered going to the monthly music session at the Lord Eldon in Knutsford….but I was too knackered! A cold beer at home suffficed.

Thanks to andy & Martin for planning the trip, for cutting it sort Winking smile and for inviting me along. It was good.

Full photograph album here.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Afoot in Two Dales: The Event

A Warm Wensleydale Wander: 50 miles in 24 hours.


8.15am, Harmby Village Hall, the event centre

Even at 7.30am the sun was beating down hotly (very hotly) on Harmby, near Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales.

200+ walk entrants were liberally slathering their bodies with Factor50 in an attempt to ward of the effects of the strongest sunshine we’ve seen in a long while.


Pep Talk Time

At 8.30am a whistle was blown and we were off, heading to Castle Bolton, CP1, 8 miles away.


8.30am and we’re off, 50 miles to go. (Julie S in the foreground – I didn’t see much more of her until the end!)

I teamed up with Michael from Nidderdale LDWA and Izabela from West Yorkshire (?) LDWA. Michael and I were amongst the 20 entrants who had also taken part in the first Afoot in Two Dales in 2004. Izabela clearly thought that Michael and I really shouldn’t be allowed out in the hills without a responsible adult…she was that person. 


Bottleneck at Stile No1


Michael and Izabela posing at SC#01, Redmire

We were now comfortably very close to the back of the field, given the very high temperature we were happy with this – as long as we could complete within the 24 hours allowed. No point in blowing a gasket trying to finish in a daft fast time.


Approaching Castle Bolton, CP1

The first checkpoint was at Castle Bolton, 8 miles into the route. We arrived just after 11am = 3.2mph. The checkpoint was to remain open until 3pm so we were well within time. We were offered snacks, drinks (incl Dandelion & Burdock!), a loo, and the opportunity for a sit down….in addition to the loo. The marshalls looked after us well.


Me with Eileen G. at CP1: two cool dudes!

Suitably fed, watered and refreshed we continued on our merry way to CP2 at Haverdale House, 7 miles away.

It was getting hotter, I’d glugged 500ml of SIS Go Hydro electrolyte drink at CP1 – I’d needed it.


Apedale Road in the heat

We arrived at CP2, Haverdale House (15 miles), at around 1.30pm = average speed (including stops) 3mph, quite respectable. The checkpoint was a tent. There was plenty of food and drink to refresh the hungry & thirsty walkers – and runners. Much of the food was sugary: cakes, biscuits, sweeties etc, I think the runners and faster walkers must have snaffled most of the savouries – although the pork pies and salted peanuts on offer were certainly welcome.


Haverdale House, CP2

Izabela, who was on her first 50 miler, was moving very well indeed – she’d been a bit concerned that a long challenge like this would be a walk too far.

She was cool. Michael and I were, er, perspiring. Gently.

The Beeb had under-estimated the temperature. They’d forecast a max of around 25degC, it reached over 29degC – think walking into a hairdrier. Hot.

We left the checkpoint and headed west, following the course of the R Swale to click ourselves into SC#02 at Marble Scar, just west of Gunnerside.




Michael, having passed through a stile, single file. Obv.

Minor roads and footpaths led us to yet another Self Clip, SC#3, at Rampsholme Bridge.

It appeared that a football match of some national importance had taken place – ‘We won!’ was a cry we heard frequently over the next hour or so. 

Somehow we seemed to have lost Michael – I’m not sure if he’d left a CP earlier than us – or t’other way around. Whatever, the separation wasn’t terribly long-lived.

The next checkpoint, CP3 (20 miles), at Muker, hosted too many temptations to ignore….an ice-cream shop, The Farmers Arms, a public loo…and the checkpoint itself. We took advantage of everything – apart than the pub. And there were Michael. And Eileen, resplendent in her floral dress. The checkpoint itself was excellent – we even had mugs of tea…although very refreshing I’m not convinced of the wisdom of having a hot drink in such high temperatures.

I don’t recall what time we arrived (or left) CP3 but we were making decent progress. Next stop would be Hardraw (CP4)….via Thwaite and Great Shunner Fell.


The Great Shunner Fell turn-off

L > R: Izabela, ?, Raj, Michael….all (still) smiling

Like so many hills, Great Shunner Fell looked like it would be a bit of a tug but in actual fact it wasn’t too bad at all. I recall that in 2004 I reached the top at 8.30pm, this time I arrived at the top at 6.45pm. I was a bit pleased, we’d not been pushing ourselves too hard yet we were comfortably ahead of time.

Two water containers (5 gallons each?) had been left on the climb. By the time we got there they’d been drained. We were okay though, having topped up at CP3.

Izabela and I left Michael, Raj and his mate on the way up to the top. They were moving well enough – just not quite as fast (Ho-ho!) as us.

About half-way up we came across a lady of slightly more advanced years than is usual on LDWA Challenge events, having a rest whilst sniffing drinking Coke. She declined our offer of energy bars (actually Annabel’s dynamite energy bars) and we left her – knowing that others were coming up behind.


10-15 minutes later I turned round to see this lady continuing up hill at quite a decent rate. I’ve since learned that this was Christine U, the, er, least young lady to complete a 100. What a woman!

Posing on the way up Great Shunner Fell:



P1050809Manned Clip at Great Shunner Fell Summit

Posing on the way down Great Shunner Fell:



Continuing on our way to CP4 at Hardraw, I turned to see….


…Eileen and her floral dress marching up behind us

The descent to Hardraw seemed to take forever. The track was well defined and easy to follow, but it was very stony – and so hard on the feet, especially after over 25 miles in such hot conditions.


A virtually dry tarn, testament to the lack of recent rainfall 

We were following a section of Pennine Way all the way down to CP4 at a bunkhouse in Hardraw. I was delighted to see that Jean Bobker, cheery as ever, was amongst those running the check. We were offered (and scoffed, in very short order) beans on toast and tea. It was a veritable feast!

Izabela’s feet were playing merry hell – she’d developed some large, painful blisters and she was in a fair amount of discomfort. She cleaned her feet up and I covered the tender bits with a double layer of K-Soft K4 bandage. This seemed to the trick and she was able to continue, relatively pain-free….as least that’s what she told me.

CP4 was at 29 miles, I didn’t clock the time but I was happy that we’d managed to maintain a fairly respectable average speed. We spent a fair amnount of time at the checkpoint: I managed an almost complete top-to-toe wash down which shifted most of the salt that was caked all over my body. I left the checkpoint, feeling almost clean, with Eileen the Floral Dress and Izabela. We marched off down the road in a most confident manner. The music session at the Green Dragon in Hardraw was bouncing….I’ve not played in that pub for nearly 40 years, I must do something about that. Soon.

Anyroadup, off we jolly-well confidently continued….it was almost as if we knew where we were going.

But we didn’t. Over-confidence can be a killer. As can yakking too much. We were guilty of both.

We SHOULD have left the CP and picked up a footpath to take us to SC#4 at Sedbusk. What we actually did was to walk down the road for rather too long. This wasn’t the end of the world though, a couple of footpaths marked on the map helped us back on route.

We self-clipped and carried on eastwards.

The light was starting to fade although it was still very warm.


Our route description directed us on to a disused railway line which made for fairly fast progress for the next couple of miles. It was now properly dark – although the horizon was to remain light all night.


Sunset viewed from near Bainbridge at 11pm

The leg to Bainbridge passed in a bit of a blur. I was a bit tired, didn’t take much notice of where we were going (thanks to Eileen the Floral Dress for taking over night nav duties – what a star!) and didn’t take any photographs….apart from this one:


For AlanR

Whatever. CP5 at Bainbridge (33.5 miles) was a tent and it offered  all that a chap (or gal) could possibly need: food, drink, loos, entertaining (and sympathetic) helpers…and something to sit on. It was good.

I reckon our average speed (including stops) had reduced to around 2.2mph – although our average MOVING speed was much higher.

The next section was a bit of a struggle, it was dark and the route was difficult to navigate – even with the help of a GPS.

I kept tripping over tree roots, so easy to miss, even with a head-torch. I didn’t ever hit the deck though.

The Red Planet shone brightly throughout the hours of darkness, it was a handy night nav aid.

This seemed to be a good time to sing a few songs (something I often do, especially when walking), and so I did. After a couple of stirring sea-shanties (great for marching along to) I discovered that I was walking alone.

I can’t think why…

Anyway, I shut up and my fellow walkers re-appeared, as if by magic. A blessed miracle.  

Thornton Rust came and went and we aimed for the next checkpoint at Thoralby (CP6).

A flashing light in the far distance was an invaluable navigational aid, even so we went wrong a few times. The route description mentioned a hidden step stile. It may have just been hidden in the daylight, in the dark it was all but invisible!


A red crescent moon rose in the east…quite beautiful

Izabela was noticeably less chatty – she was tired. This was hours after her normal bedtime and her body clock was trying to force her into sleep-mode.

I knew how she felt!


The horizon didn’t go fully dark all night

Arriving at CP6 at Thoralby Village Hall (39 miles) she lay down on the floor and had a 15-20 minute power nap. That seemed to do the trick. She drank tea, nibbled a few nibbles and she was once again firing on all four….still not talking much though!

Michael also had a quick kip, it worked for him too.

I should point out that CP6 was stocked with a huge lump of Wensleydale cheese…it wasn’t very huge by the time we’d left, although I wasn’t able to eat too much of the lovely stuff.

My digestive system was up the wall. I knew I needed food and drink but I was struggling to get much down me. I wasn’t alone suffering that problem.

Christine U. arrived (around 3am?) looking decidedly knackered – she decided to retire at that point. I hope I can move as well as Christine when I’m her age – I somehow doubt I’ll be able to, but what an inspiration she is!

Those manning the checkpoint were shiny stars – not only did they really look after us, but they were good fun too. We left the checkpoint smiling.


It was still dark when we left CP6 but the horizon was slowly getting brighter. We were now aiming for CP7 at Gallops, 5.9 miles away.

West Burton, with it’s happy memories, came and went.




The sun appeared over the horizon at about 4.45am, my selfies weren’t very successful. My hairstyling even less-so.

The Gallops checkpoint was a tent pitched at SE078874, to the west of Middleham. We arrived in full daylight and received the high level of hospitality that we’d come to expect from The Irregulars – sympathy, encouragement, food, drink, a good laugh…and something to sit on. Not much not to like really.

The next and final section of thje walk was a bit of a bugger. The first bit along tarmac was fine. The next bit, over Middleham Low Moor was damned hard work. We were walking on soft, deep grass, all nice and cushioned, but it was so soft that it was almost like ploughing through sand. I was glad once we were over it and we could walk through the village of Middleham.


Middleham bicycles

Just one more self-clip remained, SC#5, about 1km NW of Middleham. I can only imagine that this section of route was there to avoid a short road section. It was a section we could have done without, especially considering that we were just avoiding very quiet lanes – even the fastest entrants wouldn’t have encountered much, if any, traffic.


Middleham Bridge over the River Ure

The final stretch of any walk is always the longest and hardest. My legs, which had felt absolutely fine up until now, felt like lead. I was weary….Izabela and Eileen the Floral Dress were bouncing along!


We arrived back at Harmby Village Hall at 7.25am to unexpected applause – what a lovely welcome!

We were offereed a lovely meal of delicious local sausages, baked beans and Yorkshire pudding. It was seriously yummy – unfortunately my stomach wasn’t able to cope with too much. Ho hum.   

So that was it. We’d covered 50 miles in less than 23hrs = average speed of 2.17mph, including stops.

My Etrex20 GPS measured the route at 51.92 miles and told me that our average MOVING speed was 3mph and overall average speed was 2.2mph.

Thanks to The Irregulars for re-introducing the walk, it was great fun, you were all brilliant and I hope to be back next year. I enjoyed myself so much that I’ve just applied to join The Irregulars.

Thanks to my fellow walkers – we made a great team and we supported one another superbly…..sorry about my singing!

Full photo album here.

Event details are here.

Where we went:


51.92 miles with around 5,500ft of ascent

Nav Notes:

I downloaded the GPX onto both my SatMap10 and my Garmin Etrex20. After waiting 20 minutes for the SatMap to acquire satellites I just dumped it in the boot of my car and used the Garmin. The Etrex20 may not have the best display in the world, nor does it have 1:25K mapping, but it WORKS. The battery life was good, a pair of AA alkaline batteries lasted the full walk with ease.

That definitely wouldn’t have been the case with the SatMap…even if it had worked.


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