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Bowland Fell Runners News: December 2010

News: December 2010

My Dad has been doing the boxing day run now for well over 30 years and has only missed the event twice. As you all know over the last few years it has changed only in that is has been adopted by Bowland as a yearly event. The mince pies and sherry are still supplied by my Dad (my Mum cooks the pies the week before...maturing them to perfection for the run!) and there are always a few left-overs from the Christmas night buffet, greedily consumed after the run! Last year the run was cut short by the weather (I'm sure you all remember the snow that arrived just before Christmas) after we all managed to get to near Carwags. This year, although there was a little snow on the ground, conditions were perfect and the views were lovely.

I think the confirmed number of runners was 24, a great turnout that I sort of expected from the keenness of members to turn out on frosty, slippy nights at Carwags! The run, as always, was slow and stodge burning, with lots of chat and only a little 'racing' towards the end! The near total absence of running in my life at the moment was sufficient to leave me a bit worried before the run but, as it turned out, all was well and the event was thoroughly enjoyed by all who took part. My Dad reflected on another year completed (he's now 71) and reckons that the run should keep him free of heart attacks for at least another year!!


Part of the 'Great Turnout'


Written by Lee Dowthwaite

Posted: Thu 30th Dec 2010


SOLSTICE RUN 21st December 

After fears of The Venue being inaccessible due to snow we were pleasantly surprised that most of the lanes around Chipping were quite passable even to tractionally challenged 2WD cars. A decent initial group of 7 bats parked up and set off up the hill at 6:30pm, climbing straight up D***'s trod to the summit. Conditions were snowy but not too icy so my metal dobs were not really required, and Alan Heaton's Katoola Microspikes, which he had with him, were never donned. There was a slight but biting wind blowing and this kept us moving quite effectively...
Keith had joined us at The Venue on his cyclo-cross bike and he had set off directly up the tourist path (we thought). When we arrived on the top we couldn't see him (even though we back tracked a short way to look for him). We ran down to the saddle and met Steve Cox (who had arrived late) and shortly after this I spotted Keith's light behind. It later turned out he had gone round the western flanking path. I had to stop briefly as we approached the higher fence and Alan Heaton went past with no head torch on (he seems to favour running without illumination).
At the top, we regrouped and Duncan fired off a solstice rocket and we then set off immediately back down - it was far too cold for hanging about! On the way down we met Les Orr ascending (good to see him out again after the best part of 3 years recovering from a motorbike accident) and a final surge over the last hill brought us back to The venue in just about an hour.
After changing we drove down to a very crowded pub for a pint and some of Curley's excellent Fish and Chips. Despite the front room being taken over by mountain bikers and Preston oiks.... ahem.. we managed to esconse ourselves comfortably in the corner of the back room for a grand bat natter and a good time was had by all.

FARLETON FELL 23rd December

Given the timing, with most people embroiled in pre Christmas preparations, I wasn’t exactly expecting a huge turnout for this run, despite it’s proximity to a large centre of Bowland population called Lancaster, and so it proved. After negotiating the only lightly snow covered lanes near Farleton I arrived to find just a bloke from Lytham and one from the distant lands of St Helens, many miles south of the Ribble. Yep, it was just me and the Walshes again!
We set off onto the fell, running on a perfect layer of thin floury snow, and were soon clambering up the steep climb overlooking the M6. I had been a bit apprehensive that this might be in ‘crampon’ condition but it just had a thin layer of snow on it and finding good footing was not a problem. In fact, conditions for the whole run were fantastic, with just enough snow to provide a bit of cushioning of the hard frozen ground and white-encrusted trees making the section through the Hutton Roof shrubbery look like Santa’s grotto. We almost took wrong turnings a couple of times but I noticed the errors immediately and got back on track without any real detours.
With the three of us all running strongly, we kept up a fairly brisk pace and we were back to the cars in 1:20 – some 17 minutes faster than last year (although that run did involve some er, tribulations).
We retired to the Smithy Inn in Holme for a pint of excellent beer and I accepted the default golden baton from Martin… If it continues like this, with just the three of us attending each Thursday, it will become a fairly pointless passing of the baton from me to Martin and back again… psst, want some easy extra points? Just be the fourth runner on the next Thursday run.


Once again, there was only a minimal turnout for this run, with many people probably training in daylight rather than waiting for darkness to run round Beacon Fell. The conditions (thawing slushy snow with some icy remnants) were not conducive to good running and most people just had a slither round then headed off to the pub.
Happy new year – see you in 2011!  
Posted: Thu 30th Dec 2010

Reports on this week's runs are below. Updated Bat League and Carwags Speed League tables are also now on the respective pages (apologies for the small size of the images - you may need to experiment with the zoom control) 

Tuesday 14th December - Carwags

In contrast to last week, Beacon Fell was virtually ice free and benign (just one small slippery patch had survived near quarry wood car park). Despite this it was a slightly reduced cloud of 14 bats who turned up at Carwags for a flutter through the trees.
Most settled for a steady run round the fig of 8 but Declan arrived ready to make a bid at the Duathlon time of 1:05.40 set by Steve Cox. Aided by a fast changeover from bike to run (just throw the bike in the bushes and leg it) he successfully sliced 1.36 from Steves time, recording a very rapid 1:04.04 and commenting that that's the advantage of having a bike that isn't worth much...
I ran round with Phil Martin who, although he's done the circuit before, admitted he wasn't completely familiar with it. On the way round, Phil realised that he had innocently taken a couple of sizeable short cuts on his previous time trial, making his time void, but he kept up the effort all the way round this time with a very strong finish resulting in a time (46.34) which was only 28 seconds slower. This was a good effort and results in his position and category on the Speed League being unchanged.
After my waxing lyrical about the Nightsearcher headtorch after last Thursday's run, KD found one (new) on eBay and managed to get it for £30. He was well impressed with it last night and agrees that it's much better than a Myo XP. In fact, a quick comparison in the car park showed that it compared well with Ian Cookson's Hope Vision1 so it's a bargain at the price!  Build quality even seems up to scratch, with no impression of it being a cheap piece of kit.
Next Tuesday's run is NOT AT CARWAGS. It is a Solstice run from 'the other venue'  (6:30 start) and is a special 4 pointer (no golden baton though as it's a Tuesday).

Thursday 16th December - Fountains Fell 

After a fairly easy drive up, with only the final lanes from Langcliffe being at all icy, I arrived at Tennent Gill at 6:45 to find it deserted. Oh well, if it was to be a solo run, so be it.. I got changed in the van with the Propex heater going full blast, putting on all my extra warm gear apart from my warmest running tights (which I'd left at home - d'ohh). I also put metal dob orienteering shoes on expecting lots of ice on the hill, then stepped out into a bitterly cold wind. I was still dog-sitting Gill's little border terrier, Rosa, who doesn't seem to feel the cold at all. Despite that, I still put her little waxed cotton coat on.
We were just about to set off when a pair of headlights appeared coming over the moor in the distance. I waited to see if this was the expected arrival of the Walsh brothers and indeed it was, a slight miscalculation of the journey time explaining their tardiness. I jumped back into the van whilst they got ready and then we set off (at about 7:15pm) along the crunchy ice of the farm lane.
As we climbed up the fell I was surprised how much snow was still lying, some of it an annoying wind-slab that sometimes supported your weight but occasionally crunched through to soft powder. Despite this we made good progress and as we got higher, long sections of the path had been blown clear to bare gravel, making things easier, though a touch crunchy with metal dobs on...
My lower parts (ahem) were suffering in the biting headwind (should have put my Helly Hansen windstopper undies on!) and I was glad when we made the turn off the Pennine Way path towards the summit and were no longer taking the wind head on. The boggy section along here was not yet fully frozen but with careful foot-placement we managed to get along without sinking through into icy water. A short stretch of icy path then took us to the summit cairn (48 mins).
Paul chose this juncture to get out a very cheap back up head-torch he'd bought, just to see if it really could give 300 lumens from 3 AAA batteries. It certainly seemed bright (at least as bright as my Nightsearcher) but the wind was cutting through us like a knife so it was not a night for liesurely appraisal of headtorch performance and we soon set off back down. Meanwhile, the dog was trotting about sniffing at this and that and showing no sign of feeling the cold. That little waxed cotton coat must be excellent... either that or the shaggy natural coat she's got.
The descent was a pleasant dog-trot, having the wind on our backs obviously helped, and a steady consistent pace had us back to the vehicles after a total of 1:21. After a quick change we drove (very steadily) down to Malham for a pint in the very warm and cosy Listers Arms.
Since there were only three of us, and I had the golden baton from last week, and Paul (as Grand Bat) is not eligible, goldeness was bestowed on Martin. Although this was another "getting it by default" situation, I pointed out that you had to be here to get it and only the three of us had made it! As is the case with the bat league generally, it may seem easy to "just turn up and get points" but it obviously isn't. Winter nights throw some very uninviting conditions at us and only the most determined and committed bats end up at the top of the league table. Which is exactly as it should be.... Another thing we all agreed on was that, no matter how uninviting the conditions seem, you never regret making the effort.
An updated Bat League is on the Bat Runs page; Paul and Martin are now streaking ahead at the top of affairs. Looks like the bat league is under a double Walshie assault! :-)
Bat Central

Posted: Fri 17th Dec 2010


Tuesday Dec 7th - Carwags

Well, after returning from a week in Gran Canaria, where the temperature was in the high 20s (the kind of weather where you look for shady routes and hope for a breeze when out running) Carwags came as a bit of a shock last night! The course was in fact in the iciest condition any of us could remember, with long sections of sheet ice and some sections of path quite lethal, especially near the Visitor Centre. Despite this, 15 bats turned out to try their hand at staying upright on a surface best suited to skating.
Some set off a bit early to do their own thing, including Keith on his cyclo-cross bike (!), and others settled for a very cautious circuit of the fig of eight. No time trials were expected but Matt Gallagher was brave enough to record 41.25 - a very creditable time in the conditions.
Two brand new bats in the form of Ruth and Shaun Turner appeared; Shaun was guided by Paul Walsh and Ruth was guided by Pam, with Gill and I completing the group. The passage of the Bleasdale side - the "North Face of Beacon Fell" - rather unnerved Gill and she settled for returning to Carwags from Black Tiger after the first loop. Pam and Ruth had meanwhile forged ahead, despite Ruth managing with a headtorch from Poundland..
After Gill had branched off, I did a solo second loop at a faster pace, enjoying the grip of having Jalas orienteering shoes from Finland - with metal dobs! It takes a while to gain enough confidence to blithely run over sheet ice but once you have it's quite addictive. The shoes do move and scratch slightly but you eventually realise that your feet won't move far and begin to run as if on dry gravel. Recommended!

Thursday Dec 9th - Pendle   

After the recent big freeze I was expecting some challenging mountaineering type conditions on Pendle. I even wondered whether climbing "ski sunday" might require crampons! In the event, milder weather had arrived during the day resulting in rapid thawing of the snow and also a dank mist which settled over Pendle as darkness fell.
The car park at the top of the Nick of Pendle was still just a big slab of sheet ice (I was glad of metal dobs when I got out of the van!) but once on the hill the icy patches were fairly minimal and soft slushy snow was the order of the day...er night.
Only three stalwart bats left the car park at 7pm, Paul Walsh, Andy Crook and me, but I can't say I blame those who were not inspired by the conditions - it was not inviting. Once into our stride though, conditions underfoot were not so bad and the mist not impossibly thick so we began to enjoy ourselves. We ran up over Apronful Hill in a cutting wind and continued on to spot the big cairn which marked our departure point for the descent into a more sheltered Ogden Clough.
I was trying out a new headtorch which I had on loan from work - a 191-lumen 'Nightsearcher +191' (www.nightsearcher.co.uk) and I was very impressed with it. It had a flip on diffuser like the latest Petzl lamps but unlike them it actually threw a decent beam with the diffuser in place. Without the diffuser a long pencil beam enabled objects a long way away to be picked out. I have no info on the price of them at the moment but the performance is definitely a step up from a Petzl Myo XP, maybe similar to a Hope Vision 1.
After a slithery descent into Ogden Clough we enjoyed a sloshy run through soft wet snow down to the foot of the 'ski sunday' climb. Just by the wall, Paul found a patch of hard ice and did some spectacular gymnastics, thankfully escaping without harm, and we were soon plodding up the climb, which was mainly covered in old wet snow and soft, disintegrating ice. At the top of the climb I swapped back to my 14LED Petzl Duo headtorch, just for a comparison. I found that the Duo gives a good flood at your feet (which is why I've continued to use it for the past 6 years) but as soon as you lift your head to look further ahead the lack of distant penetration is apparent. The Nightsearcher is definitely better.
We now ran across the moor towards Churn Clough and soon encountered a light coming the other way. It turned out to be Martin, who had arrived late and had been exploring the hill in the hope of meeting up with us. These unexpected after dark hilltop encounters are always a source of mild merriment and it was a happy bunch who swooped (in a stumbly way) down to the shores of Churn Clough Reservoir. An easy run back along an increasingly icy path took us to the final climb back up to the Nick, where we arrived after a surprisingly pleasant 1:20 run.
After groping our foggy way down to Pendleton we retired to the Swan With Two Necks (correct spelling this time), where Paul unexpectedly bestowed the golden baton upon me for guiding the group round the misty hill safely! We enjoyed a couple of pints and a long natter in front of the fire before heading off home, well satisfied again.
See you next week for another Carwags run on Tuesday and then Fountains Fell on Thursday.
Bat Central   

Posted: Fri 10th Dec 2010

Reports for bat runs 10 and 12 are below (thanks Paul and Chris). The report for bat run 11 (Winter Wicker Man) has been self sensored by Duncan....
Bat Run 10 Anglezarke (by Paul Walsh)

 On a still, cold and starry night, Five Bowland Bats (John Wade, Andy & Pam Farmer [plus dog], Martin and myself, joined Adrian Hope and the Lostock contingent at White Coppice.
 Following some discussion, it was agreed that we would all follow the same route and Adrian led us off up towards Coppice Stile. At the top of the first climb it was clear that John was with a lead group and we four remaining Bowland Bats formed a slower group. This proved to be of little consequence as the faster runners regularly waited for us all to re-group.

Almost from crossing the Goit, at the start of the run, the ground underfoot was frozen solid and when we contoured by the wall around Heapey Moor, the track was uncharacteristically dry; only Pam managed to put her foot through the ice into the bog.

The run up to Drinkwaters was very pleasant and here Andy showed us ‘Joe’s Cup’, set in the wall. On the final climb to Great Hill however, we were exposed to a keen wind. Martin’s assistance was required for me to don my pertex top which was billowing like a spinnaker.

From the top of Great Hill the view was spectacular and we paused to chat and take in the sights. John was able to identify and point out various landmarks, including individual streets in the surrounding towns. We all posed for photographs taken by Ian from Lostock before starting our descent. The various options for the return to White Coppice were discussed and although a two route strategy was considered, we agreed to return via the Dean Black Brook as one group. When we re-grouped at the Goit crossing, it was generally agreed that the return route was one not to have missed.

As Golden Bat, Martin passed the baton to Andy in recognition of his steely and determined run, undertaken in spite of his injured knee.

A small group of us retired to the Dresser’s Arms where John recommended a fine beer which was being sold at a discounted price. Unfortunately, it transpired that he had bought the last pint.


Bat Run 12 Clougha Pike (by Paul Walsh)

A timely e-mail from Chris Reade, kindly forwarded by Ian Roberts, advised that Rigg Lane was iced over and that we should meet at Quernmore crossroads. However, when Martin and I arrived at Quernmore, Rigg Lane appeared clear of ice so we decided to press on. The single track section of Rigg Lane was less clear but appeared passable so we continued to the Parking area.

At approximately 7.15, three lights were seen approaching and Ian R and Rowena arrived. They were accompanied by a ninja clad individual who introduced himself as Steve, a new runner from Preston. Ian advised that he and Rowena were setting off early to tackle a separate route and when I suggested to Steve that he should perhaps try to tag along with Ian and Rowena, he had to reveal himself as Keith. Shortly after this we were joined by Chris and Andy C.

Chris led the ascent to Clougha Pike through some good snow and steady progress was made. Unfortunately, Chris’ batteries failed after ten minutes and he completed the remaining run either through memory, starlight or the loom of Andy’s light. Given the speed that Chris normally moves across the ground, it was commendable that he was able to set a pace which more or less suited everyone.

Though the night was clearly cold it was not as apparent as, even on the top of Clougha, there was little if any wind.

We left Clougha Pike and, to my surprise, we were soon climbing again. Soon we were at the summit cairn on Grit Fell. Keith commented that he had tired legs and thought we were heading for White Coppice!

We struck off the top of Grit Fell, across the heather, with a view to intersect the shooting track that we would follow back. The snow covering was such that there were few protruding rocks and it was possible to run on the tops of the heathers without them collapsing. So, we made good progress.

We diverted to make the ritual pilgrimage up to Andy Goldsworthy’s installation and then picked up Ian and Rowena’s fresh tracks heading down. They must have been travelling quite fast because we were unable to close them down. They were waiting for us in the parking area when we returned.

As Andy Farmer was not with us and there was no Golden Bat nominee, I awarded the Golden Baton to Chris for leading a great night out and for completing most of it ‘in the dark’. It occurred to me later that Ian could have been a worthy recipient to mark his return to bat ‘running’ following injury.

Martin and I were out for 1hour 25mins whereas the intrepids who had run from the crossroads and back were out for 1hour 50mins.

Andy, Keith, Martin and I called at the Fleece on the way home; where the landlord had just tapped a new barrel of Guzzlers.

Paul Walsh

And, from Chris....

Attendee's were Ian Roberts and Rowena who had a low key run up the shooters track from Crag Cottage. Keith Denver, Andy Crook and I set off from the agreed meeting place and picked up the Walsh brothers at Rigg Lane car park, having gone for the shorter option. A short way up the path from Rigg Lane my new rechargeable batteries started to fail, must have been their cheapo £5 at Asda bargain status, or needing recharging before use. My spare headtorch wasn't much better so I became reliant on Andy's Hope headlight which at the right angles gave more than enough light for both of us.

We headed over Clougha Pike and Grit fell, weather cold but clear and then we hooked a left to the shooters track, and the Goldsworthy sculptures before racing down the track and back via the aqueduct to Rigg Lane where we eventually met up with Ian and Rowena. There was mention of me getting the golden baton, but no baton materialised. I assume it is some mythical creation (like the bat cave).

It was a good evening's running, 2 hrs in all and I gather a posse headed off to the Fleece for some liquid refreshments.

Chris Reade.

Posted: Fri 10th Dec 2010

A gallery with some pics from the TT race have now been added to the gallery section of the website.



Posted: Thu 9th Dec 2010