News: February 2011
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Wednesday 2nd Feb - Candlemas
I'm not really well positioned to write this report as I didn't play a full part in the night's proceedings, completely missing the druidic rituals at Bleasdale Circle. We need a supplement by "Druid Dunc"... Anyway, this is my bit of it...
11 of us arrived at Carwags for the run, and a slower group of six set off about 6 or 7 minutes early as a safeguard against getting dropped. This slower goup consisted of newcomers Dave and Sue J (welcome!), Stuart and Ruth T, Pam F and Gill P. I intended to go off with them but was slow getting ready and I actually ended up setting off with the faster group (Duncan, Ian C, John McH and Martin W) at 6:30. Paul W was a conspicuous absentee - he is suffering with an Achilles injury.
We set off on the same route as a Tuesday Figure of 8 run but then branched off past the tarn and onto the Bleasdale Side path. After leading for a while, I had need to stop and relieve myself and never regained contact with the faster group. I pushed on down the descent from Beacon Fell and caught the slower group at the end of the Heatherway drive then stayed with them to Bleasdale. My big toe joint was still sore and squelching across the sodden fields near Wickins Barn did it no favours at all. I was really starting to think I shouldn't be running on it.
We regrouped with the faster lads outside Bleasdale Village Hall and they then set off to Bleasdale Circle for the performing of various pagan and druidic rituals. Unfortunately, I have no info to impart regarding these shadowy goings on because I decided to return directly to Carwags and soak my toe in a bath of Piroxicam anti-inflammatory gel. Gill accompanied me as she was feeling a bit tired and overstretched and the two of us just made a gentle return to Beacon Fell. As we approached the fell perimeter road, I was surprised not to see the light of the druids pursuing us, and even after we had got back to the car park there was no sign of our companions. We drove round the perimeter road on the off chance we'd see them (but didn't) then went off to the Tillotsons.
Some time passed in the pub before Martin appeared, talking of various initiation ceremonies, burnings etc... Everyone else went directly home so it was just the three of us who kept Curly and Jules company in a very quiet pub.
Thursday 3rd Feb - Langden
Despite the wet and windy weather, 8 bats turned out to run the Hareden/Bleadale/Langden circuit. Or at least 5 of them did. I opted for the shorter run up to Langden Castle and back in deference to my sore toe (which is now improving!) and I was joined by Pam and Gill. Because our run was so much shorter, we didn't need to set off early and were able to check a few route details with Andy C, who had stepped in to lead the main group, before they departed.
John R had turned up for his second bat run of the winter and the main group was completed by Chris T, John Mc and league-leader Martin W. They left at just after 7pm and headed off to cross the ridge of Miry Ellis into Hareden, where they would follow a long shooting track up onto the moor before making a crossing of the watershed (slightly tricky navigationally) then dropping into the headwaters of Bleadale for the descent to Langden Castle. Their return would then be along the man track in the Langden valley. This route is about 5.5 miles/1600ft and I estimated they would take about 1:15.
Leaving at about 7:05, we could see the lights of the main group climbing over Miry Ellis as we headed up into Langden. I was amazed to find that the initial section of track was in a mess as part of it had been washed away by the brook in flood and work was ongoing with earth moving machines to repair it. Getting past this section, the rest of the track was easy and we had a pleasant little jog up to the "castle" (merely a semi-ruinous barn) Wandering around the building we disturbed a hen harrier which was nesting within and were treated to a close up of the bird as it flew out and hovered just above us, obviously deciding whether the dog was something to attack or flee from. After a few seconds it decided on flight...
The time was only just after 7:30 so there was no sign of the main group approaching and we set off back down the track, arriving back after a total of 57 mins. Our route was just under 4 miles and almost 1400ft
The main group arrived back at about 8:20, after only minor navigational travails and we were soon all in the Parkers Arms at Newton, where we were joined by Andy F, who had driven up from a work trip to London in time to join the social group. Thats what I call proper bat spiritedness!
As Andy C's 50th birthday is approaching, Pam had brought a cake and candles, along with a previously-signed card from us all, and much good natured banter was exchanged. Pam had been nominated to pass on the golden baton and awarded it to Andy C, partly for his sterling leadership of the main run, and partly because it was almost his birthday. I also decided that Andy F's bat commitment in joining us in the pub after a 5 hour drive merited an honourary bat point, despite him not getting a run in.
Tuesday 8th Feb - Carwags
This Carwags meeting produced record times in both the male and the female categories. Debbie C went round in 38.55 and became the first female Speedybat, and Marc L did what we suspected he was capable of and became the very first Superbat, clocking a blistering 29.46!
Other times included Ian F's 38.41, Martin W's 38.43 (a new PB), and Sara F's 44.59, which takes her past Beverley W (by 5 seconds) in the Sportybat league. Beverley is sure to respond with another time trial so we might soon have a bit of competition for who is going to be the second Speedybat chick...
Lee D, still well below full fitness, recorded a 35.29 – still not up to his standards but progress nevertheless.
No other times have been reported but there were 24 bats doing various flutters around the fell so the popularity of the venue remains undiminished. There are now only 4 standard Carwags sessions left so anyone planning a time trial (like me!) needs to get their act together quite soon.
Thursday 10th Feb – Whelpstone Gnarly.
A fantastic (for a Thursday) turnout of 16 bats were out for the Whelpstone Gnarly, so named because it involved exploration of the Gisburn Forest MTB tracks, which are ...well, gnarly.
When I arrived at the start point, Steve C and John W were already out on their bikes, but the plan was for them to return to run with the main group at 7pm. After a bit of discussion with Ian R and others who were to form a more 'relaxed' group I decided to run initially with them and we duly set off at about 6:50 and ran up the initial forest road to the point where the first MTB track branched off. a break quickly formed in the group as Ian, Beverley, Ian F and Shaun's pace was a bit too quick for Gill, Ruth and Pam. I hung back to make sure no-one went astray. The track meandered its way up through the forest in it's knobbly way and we eventually found ourselves in more open terrain where we could see the breakaway group approaching the crag ahead.
When we arrived below the summit, Gill decided to wait whilst Pam, Ruth and I clambered over the fence and up to the summit to regroup with Ian R et al. It was a clear night and Ian was pointing out the lights of towns in the Aire gap etc to the others. Descending we spotted the lights of the fast group fast approaching, so we set off down into the forest, or that was the intention. We actually ended up meandering around a network of lower paths in some confusion (entirely my fault) before clambering back up towards the lights of the fast group, which were now dropping down below the summit.
Back on the right track, we swooped down a nice "cresta run" section of path but Gill and I were soon tailed off the back as the fast lads lived up to their name and set a fast pace. Our woes were not helped by Gill going over on her ankle and I was a bit relieved when we arrived on the next forest road to find Pam and Ruth (plus Declan) waiting for us. The girls now elected to return by the more direct forest road, whilst Declan and I set off on a mission to regain contact with the front group. We swept down the exhilarating (black graded) swoops and berms of 'Hully Gully' and rejoined the others as the route exited onto another forest road. A fast section along here soon had me puffing and blowing and when Steve, John and some others decided to add another section of red graded MTB track, I pressed on for a direct run back along the forestry road. Unbeknown to me, others followed my lead but I had the bit between my teeth now and was on my own all the way back. I couldn't believe how much the forest road went uphill on that final stretch and it was a good anaerobic workout - the first I'd had for a few weeks thanks to my still-niggling big toe joint.
All regrouped back at the vehicles, we decided to go back to the Hark to Bounty (the Dog and Partridge being disappointingly closed) and the crowd of us commandeered a big table in there for some very enjoyable banter and bonhomie. Andy C awarded golden bat to Steve C for bringing a bit of comedy to the evening when he'd apparently spent quite a lot of time trying to get into Ian R's almost identical van to put away his bike before the run! Ian pointed out that his has 'Peugeot' on the back door whereas Steve's is a Fiat....
The run on Tuesday 15th is not at Carwags.It will be a run round the Tolkein Trail from Hurst Green at 6:30. Meet by the war memorial, across from the Shireburn Arms. Duncan has arranged for the 'Fires of Mordor' to be consumed at the Trishna Indian restaurant in Whalley!
Up Haggis Aa – 25th Jan
Only a short report for this one. Despite the combination of Up Helly Aa, and Burns night, with all the fire and haggis that promises, the occasion passed off relatively quietly. There was a very good turnout of 22 bats but the groups were fairly well scattered all over the fell and only two, Declan and Duncan (the "Guizer Jarl") had actually made the effort to make fire torches - a far cry from previous occasions when a phalanx of fire was conjoured up. We must try harder next year - the Guizer Jarl has decreed it!
I think everyone went up to the summit of the fell, haggis was consumed and fireworks let off, and a good group returned to the Tillies for a social get together. We were surprised when John Wade turned up, having mistakenly been to Carwags... Need to keep a copy of the planner handy John. We took the decision to award him half points, despite calls for a ten point fine from some quarters.
A more comprehensive report may follow in the Guizer Jarl's inimitable style.
The Shivering Ginnel – 27th Jan
The Shivering Ginnel.... It has a certain ring to it. It is one of those names that catches your eye on the map and it obviously caught Duncan Elliott's a few years ago when he identified it as an objective for a BEG (Bowland Exploration Group) run. In fact it is merely an old, walled drove road, leading up to the open fell near Beacon Hill (a good viewpoint for the Ribble Valley and Pendle Hill) but it has become a minor classic and one of our standard runs, both in Summer and in Winter.
A total of nine bats thought it a worthy objective and turned out on a chilly but perfect clear dry evening. We split into two groups, with the slower group of Pam and Andy Farmer, Beverley Wilkinson and me, setting off at about 6:50pm, leaving Steve Cox, Andy Crook, John McHugh, Martin and Paul Walsh to pursue at 7pm.
Squelching across the initial boggy section, we followed the wall across Bradford Fell towards the cairns of Old Ned and The Wife, then crossed the wall (on a new wooden stile) to join the main track heading downhill towards Pinewood (not the film studio, a remote cottage). This section passed very pleasantly as we trotted along, chatting easily about head torches, trail shoes and recent performances on the Carwags time trial. We were soon past Pinewood ond onto a tarmac road, which we followed for two or three hundred yards before turning over a stile into the woods. Andy F and I regrouped with the girls here and we could see the lights of the pursuing hounds strung out along the track. We thought we might still make it to the Beacon Hill trig before we were caught.
Climbing up through the forest we joined the Shivering Ginnel path and followed it up the Ginnel to open fell then made a beeline for the trig. Arriving there, we quickly took in the view, which was very clear, with the outline of Pendle clearly visible against the sky, then set off back. The hounds were just emerging from the Ginnel as we entered it, an advance group of three - Steve, Andy and John - being just ahead, and we continued on to meet Paul and Martin. Paul was having trouble with his Achilles and decided to turn round and return with us. Pam had a minor tumble along here, giving rise to some mischevious comments (mostly from her husband it must be said) about the soft parts of her anatomy her fall might have been cushioned by...
We kept to a more northerly path on the return leg, passing to the north west of Pinewood and climbing a long track up through Grindleton Plantation, where the faster group gradually overhauled us then left us behind. We met some mountain bikers coming the other way along this stretch - bit naughty as it's purely a footpath - but we were soon back out onto the open ground of Easington Fell. A bit of undulating path, with squelchy sections, took us back to the new wooden stile near The Wife but we then continued along the main path to reach the road at Walloper Well, 200yds from the parking place. I was running with Beverley along here, and we had an interesting chat; I bemoaned the difficulty of maintaining enthusiasm and motivation for training after 25 years in the sport and against a background of the loss of fitness due to ageing, and she enthused about the joys of her newly-discovered running and the buzz of rapidly increasing fitness. An interesting contrast but also a timely reminder of how great it is to be a runner - and especially a fellrunner!
After changing, seven of us retired to the Waddington Arms for a pint (Beverley and Andy C having to get back to children). Pam, after much deliberation, passed the golden baton onto Beverley for keeping her company in the slower group and (I could also add) for her fresh enthusiasm for running, which is a welcome bit of inspiration for us slightly jaded old hands.. Keep it up B.
Carwags – 1st Feb
By my reckoning, there were 23 bats out for this one, each indulging in their own particular brand of batting. There was a group speeding round on bikes (though no times have been posted as yet) and a group setting some fast times on foot, as well as those who were just out for a steady run.
Relative newcomer Marc Laithwaite knocked 2 minutes and 49 seconds off his previous time, recording an impressive 31.50 and he was chased round by Paddy Walsh who also posted a good Turbobat time of 32.34. It can only be a mattter of time before we have our first Superbat (sub 30 mins)! Among the Sportybats, Beverley Wilkinson took 3 mins 15 sec off her previous time to record 45.04. If she keeps up this rate of improvement, Debbie Cooper might have a rival for becoming the first Speedybat Chick...
Martin Walsh broke 40 mins again but didn't improve on his 39.11 and Andy Farmer posted a 40.33 (well outside his best from last year) just for the sake of getting a time on the board.
I think most others just did a steady run and, since I STILL have a bad toe joint, I joined Pam and Gill for a nice jog round the fig of 8 in 57mins.
A Bat League Update will be posted on the site shortly; the same three mad bats are still out in front, and Pam is still secure as leading Bat Chick in 4th overall (29 points ahead of her nearest Bat Chick Rival, Gill) but changes are occurring lower down. A surprising slider is Ian Roberts, who is now down to 13th, only one point ahead of a newly resurgent Beverley and a recent streak of regular batting has seen John Wade and John McHugh move up into the top ten.
Don't forget, there's an extra 4 point bat run tonight (2nd of Feb) from Carwags at 6:30. We will be running to Bleasedale Circle and Bleasedale Church (a 6 mile round trip) to celebrate Candlemas and Imbolc (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbolc ). It's a Duncan promotion so is sure to be entertaining...
Also, Thursday is the Hareden/Bleadale/Langden circuit from Langden Intakes (GR.632512) at 7pm, where Beverley will be passing on the golden baton, along with double points. A slower group will also be there (perhaps including me - the toe-cripple) and they will do a lesser route, so if you are not sure about the full circuit there will be an alternative.