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BAFTAs: Bowland Fell Runners: Fell Running in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire


Has a new breed of Bowlander has been born, or  a splinter group venturing out into the wilderness breaking free from the routine of regular training runs?  No, not really, far from it.  Just a couple of regular Bowland fell runners making the most of the recent sunshine and a certain persons new found retired status.  Still it wouldn’t be the same without a name right? So in true Bowland style welcome to the BAFTA’s  The Bowland Afternoon Fell  Team Adventures.

Yiannis and myself have had some pleasant runs of late, all very familiar ground to Yiannis but mostly all new to me.  Still in the initiation phase of my Bowland membership I have quickly discovered it has to be easier sitting a Hackney Carriage exam than learning all the fence junctions the local fells have to offer?!  It has been fun learning so far and it seems there are many possibilities to explore even in a fairly localised area.  I have yet to get to grips with the local Bowland ‘dialect’ and therefore am not sure of the nicknames for various places so you will have to forgive me and bear with me for a while!

The objective of the BAFTA’s (so far) has been to get a decent run done in a limited amount of time – roughly translating to me following Yiannis as he tramps off and tries to work out a route to make sure I make it back for the school run!  This has meant that we have often met at Fell Foot in order to make the best of the time I have (he seems to have all the time in the world in this newly acquired ‘retired’ phase!), although in order not to get a bit fed up of the same spot we have recently ventured further afield.

The Inaugural BAFTA 1 was a clockwise loop from Fell Foot heading across the fields for a nice gentle warm up as opposed to up the road to the farm, although the cows made the heart rate rise more quickly than intended! We made our way up the fell circumventing Parlick on our right and continuing the run along to Nicks Chair.  Veering away from the wall we trotted through the bogs to Fairsnape although I have to admit there wasn’t so much mud at all.  For a wet and windy August the ground was still quite dry.  Heading left we traipsed over areas on Wolf Fell and Saddle fell on paths that are all probably very familiar to most but that look all the same to me, I was just thankful not only for my guide but that it was sunny!

Romping over the heather we made our way down off the fell, staying clear of the obvious paths but bouncing along the buoyant foliage, avoiding (where possible) the not so obvious holes! We headed down to Saddle End and continued down through the farm, over the fields, through the wood then finally through Wolfen Hall and back to the car for a welcome coffee to end a very pleasant 6 miles indeed.



BAFTA’s 2, 3 and 4 all go again to Fell Foot for various clockwise and anticlockwise runs, all covering around 5 and a half and 7 miles.  We were blessed on each occasion with clear skies and sunshine, it seems to have been a pleasant pattern of late and I’m sure this is due to end all too soon but it seems a shame not to maximise it whilst it lasts!  We have travelled over to Saddle fell in both directions, over to Fairsnape, Blindhurst Fell and of course Parlick varying our ascents and descents on each occasion, no 2 routes being the same and I was even allowed to stop for the odd photo opportunity!  I won’t bore you with all the intimate details of each route as it’s all ground most Bowlanders cover on regular occasions.
A few photo’s are below though – you can have a go at guessing the view!!

Emma Gregory

Bowland View 1Bowland View 2

Not wanting to get too familiar with Foot Foot for fear of becomming bored with it (how could such a thing happen?)  for BAFTA number 5 we decided to travel a bit further afield.  Even though time was once more of the essence it’s no suprise Bowland still has lots to offer, seemingly in every which direction you turn. We opted for Grizedale Bridge as a convenient place to park and Yiannis in his bid to help me familiarise myself with the surrounding area (and knowing I’m no big fan of running uphill from the off) had promised me a trig point worth the effort!

We headed off up Grizedale fell passing the various cairns and fence junctions  that continue on beyond Grizedale Head and Greave Clough Head.  The going was steady,  the bogs boggy, lots of falling in and out of peat hags and tripping over the forever self untying shoelaces! I’d begun to think I’d been taken on a wild goose chase, but it seems that  would be later!  Yiannis was scouring the horizon and was sure we should be seeing the trig point by now, noone could have moved it surely? No idea of what was so special about Hawthornthwaite trig I was none the wiser and just thought he was having one of his ‘senior moments’  It was only when we were literally on top of it all became clear....  My guide had omitted to say this was a peculiar trig point in that it stood many feet above the ground itself.  Sadly this is no longer the case, the once practically self levitating trig is now lying vertically on it’s own trig grave. (see here for more)


Pausing to ponder for a while as to the true nature of it’s demise - and fail to come up with any ‘sensible’ solution, and of course maximise the photo opportunity we were soon on our way again. Retracing our steps to Greave Clough Head we then took a left turn following part of  the Bowland Watershed fenceline before things started to get interesting!

After a weekend doing the LAMM with my mountain marathon partner, I now start to dread the immortal words ‘we are going off piste’   It usually means some serious contouring and descents I need to close my eyes for! Unlike the map, which shows a very straight line down Hunters Clough, it was far from it, more like an adventure through plant life from the jurassic period!  Apparently running over tussocky heather is ‘good’ for my dodgy ankles and yes I can go along with that one, but hacking my way through 6ft of scratchy bracken, ferns and thistles is NOT good for the legs, they looked like I’d gone through a cheese grater and the grater won.  Still, after negotiating what felt like miles of the stuff the reward was worth it.  We had traversed down into the clough that is the source of the river Calder and on such a glorious September afternoon (no, seriously!) it glistened and shimmered like something from a fairytale.  The tranquilty was sublime only interuppted with the sound of a gentle ripple and of course a few bleeting sheep.

Following the meadering river down the clough it wasn’t long before we reached the farm track and a now disused stone building nestled deep in the valley.  Contouring back up the fell for one last climb we visited an alternative ‘interesting’ trig (see pic)  to make up for the disappointment of the previous one!  Another off piste run through yet even more thistles and head high braken it was a relief to get back and examine the wounds!  As much as I jest, it was another good run exploring parts of Bowland I’ve not been to before and areas no doubt we will be visiting again soon.  8.2 miles all in with some good runable climbs and with any luck those thistles will have died back soon?!

Emma G.