A perfect night, weather-wise! Freezing cold, a howling north-westerly and later on a complete white-out blizzard. What more could we ask for on the Capt.'s 70th birthday run! We set out from the pub, avoiding the field, which we never, ever run over and nearly getting killed on the short stretch of road (if the gamekeeper is reading this) to the access gate. From here in true Harmer form, we struggled through the usual waist high heather up to Howshaw Tor, losing Clive on the way, as is the norm! The forecast blizzard made an appearance at this time, rapidly turning into a bit of a white-out. From here, we stumbled down to the stream junction on Bradfield Gate and then back up the top of the Edge. At this point it was snowing like the Arctic and the Capt., showing his age, took us down the Foulstone path instead of the edge path i.e. east instead of south. To be fair on the old bugger, he did correct this grave error after he'd adjusted his monocle and put the compass the right way up and so we returned to the top and continued in the ever worsening blizzard to the Cakes of Bread, where whisky and truffles were taken and a hearty rendition of Happy Birthday was given. From here, it was but a long trudge back to the pub, avoiding the field, as we always do! Unfortunately the S11/S32 softies decided that the weather was too bad for them to stay and join in the birthday celebrations, so they buggered off leaving it to the S6 hard men and Tom Westgate, to attend the party! Driving back, it had to be said, required a change of underwear (on my part at least). However, we managed to celebrate the old Scrote's birthday with a pint of Belgian Blue at the Nag's Head, where it was merely pissing down!
On a very windy night due to the onset of Storm Caroline arriving at ours shores a select band of 8 warts started on a typically Harmerian run by parking at the end of first inlet on the dams up from Fairholmes.
We started on a nice track which very quickly gave up as we started to ascend the Ouzelden valley, really more like river bed. After much toing and froing we eventually found small muddy trod on the left hand ascending bank and proceeded to follow this to the top. It frequently disappeared and was plagued by muddy roots and broken down or blown down trees. We soon heard a couple of voices wondering who else would be daft enough to venture out on such a night, only to be joined by James and Callum.
After numerous slides and tumbles we arrived at the top of the valley and climbed the fence to more open terrain. The next “checkpoint” was a cairn down a steep slope on a small plateau, apparently. So we all set of directly into a very strong southwesterly wind over the tops and then a steepish descent. When we reached a valley and wall we were not where we had intended to be if indeed such a place existed, so we followed the wall for what seemed like an appropriate amount of time then climbed the steep slope that we had just descended but further round the corner. The strong wind now behind us made this ascent slightly easier.
On rendezvousing at the wall the two whippets decided they wanted a longer run than the old men so they disappeared north whilst the remainder of us headed back to the woods via contradictory bearings. On our way over some awful tussocky terrain we came across a previously unknown aircraft wreck and shortly after a small pond which can be seen from google earth.
We resumed following our finally chosen bearing to come across a steep descent to the trees and valley. Tim Ray shouted that it was ok and disappeared. As the rest of us got to the edge of a pretty decent cliff, we all had to take the climb down one at a time using a small rowan tree sticking out of the cliff face as assistance. Once down a nice descent down the valley back to the cars and off to the Ladybower for suitable beverages.
A very typical Harmerian experience.
Once again a "run" that was varied and slow! I say run, it was mostly scramble through waist high heather and dead bracken, although we did manage a run for hundred yards or so. All began well, despite the howling wind and lashing rain, 15 hardy souls set out and even stayed together until the cairn by the Dukes Drive. The next target was the bridge over Oaken Clough; amazingly the group managed to split into two in a truly headless chicken sort of way, one group turning right and the other going left up the track to Flint Hill (duly checked with the use of technology, maps are so last century). At this point, I received a text from Mr Holmes with a screenshot showing where they were, surely an abuse of technology, not to be encouraged on these runs, getting lost and losing people has always been a significant part of the enjoyment of a warts' run. Duly reunited, the group set off down hill towards the bridge, at which point I noticed a bomb shaped thing just at the point where my foot was about to descend!
Brent, our PFR foreign representative, who was with us, duly advised us not to touch, as it had an exposed and, as it transpires, a very active fuse. Turns out it was one of these nasty little devices (below), which had it been kicked hard enough, would have wiped out the cream of DPFR in one big bang! Mr Winterburn was duly informed (can't remember why) and he has informed the Bomb Disposal team. So fun all round! Anyway, after the excitement had died down, we staggered through Ewden Beck, which was a bit floody and up to Fox Stones where whisky and truffles were consumed. Ewden Pond was next and not for the first time, Mr Harmer came off too soon and we got lost again! Once again the technology rescued us and we headed back to the cars via the slimy girders, an adventure in itself and if anybody can enlighten us as to why there is a footpath on the map which suddenly ends next to them, apparently going nowhere, please let us know!
Nine finely tuned athletes set out from Redmires, to avoid the boring bits, including at least one warts virgin. Perfect night for warting, fog on the hills, no moon and as black as the proverbial! Stanage Pole and North Lees pond were the first checkpoints, notable only by the accident prone David Holmes going down a hole and twisting his ankle. This was intended to be a short run because of the Champs at the weekend but turned into a moderate epic because of the fog and the piss-poor navigation by Mr Holmes (until I took over and rescued the night!). DH managed to get us lost within sight of North Lees pond, one of his short cuts he assured us, which unfortunately ended with an 8 foot wall. Never mind, we did all eventually make it to Dennis Knoll (riding through the glen etc. etc.) and thence to High Neb and thick fog. A commemorative whisky was drunk here in memory of our Club president, Eric Mitchell, RIP. Next we sought the bus shelter, led by yours truly. Unfortunately it had moved since I was last up there...and we missed it, comfortably, only to be brought back by the use of Mr Holmes technology. Very strange I'm sure it was over there, when I last ran to it. Shortly afterwards it began to piss down in good old Dark Peak fashion and the navigation team (committee?) led us into the tussocks and eventually, the orange, glutinous bog which appears to have grown since I was last there in the 90s. After much wading and cursing, we floundered into Daffodil Valley and then via a circuitous, figure of eight David Holmes route, back to the cars. Not a particularly long run but a very varied one which encompassed just about every type of terrain available in the Dark Peak!
Midhopestones was the starting point for the northern Warts rather than Monsal Head for the southern Warts. It does beg the question whether running around the polished limestone of Monsal Dale really counts as Warting. However, ignoring such controversy, about a dozen of us, including newcomer Duncan, set off into the cool, dry, breezy night. Despite the lack of really wet and strongly windy Warts' weather, we bravely pushed on through some magnificent bog and heathery rock to climb to the dizzy heights of Pike Low. The landmark known as Tom's tree in Hawthorn Clough was the next target. Tom, however, was concerned about his name being used for this tree so Clive suggested, a la Prince, to rename it as the tree formerly known as Tom's. Honour satisfied?
To reach the tree, a crossing of the upper reaches of Ewden Beck/Candlerush was necessary. It's easy to get into the Beck in this direction but requires a bit of a steep, heathery and slimy climb out of it. There follows a stretch of either deep or burnt heather, the latter requiring some high knee lifts and the former, a degree of balance to avoid being tripped. It's not possible to rush over this terrain, so walking (quickly, hopefully) is the norm. This was also the routine to Margery Hill from the tree. I never thought it was quite so far. The high knee lift walking through the heather continued for quite some time until, with relief, we reached the trig point for whisky, etc. The shout now was for the quickest way back though there was a call for a further foray to Outer Edge or somewhere similar. This suggestion was quickly dismissed and high knee lifting continued until Cut Gate. Which was more challenging, the rocky uneven and boggy Cut Gate or the heathery moor? Climbing up through the heather to the trig point, I looked forward to the path but having got there, the heather seemed to be much more enticing. We regathered part way down the track and then headed off to join a pleasant grassy track which was used for sprint practice by the youngsters to the finish. The rest of us lolloped along to complete the outing in about two hours. In the post-outing analysis at the Nag's Head, values of the calories used were provided by Duncan who had had a slightly extended run and had also successfully managed to extricate himself from a leg-grabbing bog. He commented that he'd not realised just how much walking was involved Warting.
Welcome to the Warts!
The Southern branch had a much easier time of it, a mixture of mud, grass and limestone, even some real trail running - much too fast for this Wart. We did manage to conjure up a real Warting descent though. And the pub was only serving residents, much to Jim's disgust, so we had to divert to Little Longstone for refreshments.
It was suggested that this Wednesday's Warts' night outing should be cancelled until the weather became wet, windy and cold. However, we soldiered on from Rowlee Bridge in the almost clear, rain free evening, with the feeling that the weather was inappropriate. Maybe because the moon was in its gibbous phase, the weather had also gone into a different phase. In case you don't know what the gibbous phase is, well, it occurs just before the full moon. We were all grateful to Clive for providing us with this information at the start of the run.
With current political climate as it was, there was some sensitivity about, to the extent that when I tripped at the back of the car, I fell on to Eoin, knocking him into the boot. Clearly, it was necessary to apologise for this inappropriate behaviour and, fortunately, Eoin accepted my apologies so I was not brought before the DPFR behaviour committee. Phew! The run could continue, therefore, in peace and harmony.
The Cap'n had planned a route via Crookestone Knoll, Coffin Rock, the youth hostel, Kinder southern edge and Madwoman's Stones, most of which had a high content of Harmerian vegetation (HV). In retrospect, the climb to the Knoll was relatively mild with some form of path most of the way up, perhaps this may be considered to be inappropriate HV? However, the descent from Coffin Rock to the youth hostel provided almost the complete set of Dark Peak underfoot conditions. These included knee-high heather, which sometimes disguised chunky rocks, thigh high rushes with the associated swamp, a good dose of tussocky ground, dead and painfully brittle bracken, some serious mud near the stream and a steep climb through some mature bilberry and more bracken. Through this turmoil of conditions, Eoin was heard to make some remark which could be considered to be inappropriate but, to balance things out I forgave him and, thus relieved, he sprinted off like a sprung chicken.
At the youth hostel, a late starter, Willy, had caught us up so making the numbers up to 12. Having remarked that the underfoot conditions might put people off coming out, Bob replied that, evidently, they already clearly had been put off this official Warts outing by the limited number brave enough to make the trip here. The climb from the youth hostel was only blessed with some bracken and bilberry before reaching the edge using a thin and, latterly, rocky path. This climb prompted a detailed analysis of the route of Bob's night race from the Snake Inn (29th November). We were fortified at the edge by whisky, jelly babies, Liquorice Allsorts and some of Penny's Trick or Treat concoctions. We needed all this for the short (?) crossing of Kinder to Madwoman's Stones. Surprisingly for this section of the flattish Kinder plateau, there feels to be significant descents and ascents of the groughs adding up to something which isn't really flat. So, we went up and down grough after grough ploughing through some soft going until 11 of us arrived at some rocks with one lonesome torch at some other rocks. Were we at Madwoman's Stones or not? There was a strong sense of deja vue having done something similar three weeks ago. Nevertheless, with the idea of being a team, we went to join Tim's solitary torch but then having been sociable, we suddenly became anti-social as everybody dashed off to Rowlee Bridge. Even then, some inappropriate behaviour occurred when at least three of us went straight down the quad track to join the tarmac road to the bridge rather than diagonally across country. Dare it be said, I was almost happy on the road! However, overall, it was declared to be a good outing afterwards in the Ladybower where discussions on the most valuable piece of land was claimed to be on Kinder where a patch of un-grassed peat was used as a control for water table measurements. What about relays on this patch for old times' sake? Discussions later drifted into geology (there's a White Peak outing next week) and lectures were given in the car by Tom and Clive on sand dunes and red rocks. Aaaaaah!
Andy has changed the route again, it is now:
As before, starts 6.45 for slower runners, 7.00 for whippets.
The forecast was for wet and windy weather as is the norm for Wednesday night so we came prepared. However, we were almost disappointed. There was a bit of rain but, thankfully, there was enough wind to maintain the Warts' weather record. The ground was thoroughly conditioned from the day's soaking as we grass skied the descent from the Blackden layby to the bridge over the impressively in-flood river Ashop.
A short outing was promised for us by the Cap'n, just up, along and down. Bob's Rock was the first call and, whether it was the head-down-and-think-of-England approach or good navigating, it was reached surprisingly quickly via a high contour. Maybe this was also a bit of recceing for Bob's night race in a few weeks. Confession time; I have to admit to the Warts that, after quite a bit of heather and bog, I did enjoy the relief of doing a bit of road running on the paving stones around the next destination of Blackden trig.
The next visits did seem to affect the collective Warts' sanity although, to a non-Warts, it's questionable anyway. The neck of Kinder we were trotting over seems to have a sinister and mysterious presence as recognised by bygone local residents who have named the rocks here as Druid's Stone and Madwoman's Stones. Should the area be approached from the south east, there is a hint of a warning not to enter from the moor named Nether which is understood to be some sort of ancient monument. However, we did reach Druid's Stone without incident and after a whisky and liquorice stop, galloped along the now significant path (last seen in the summer Crookestone) which goes part way towards Madwoman's Stones whose malevolent influence was now starting to take hold. Apart from one lonely torch which was seen heading off to the right, the remaining group went for the Stones where we discussed whether they were the correct ones. Yes, was the unanimous answer. Meanwhile, the solitary light was now some distance away to the east. It turned towards our now much illuminated stones and arrived to a barrage of "Where have you been?". There was some banter on navigation or suggested lack of it, directed at the solo light. However, afterwards and thanks to John D's tracks (see below), the Warts, despite their joint (over) confidence, never actually reached Madwoman's Stones and the lone light, now identified as the Cap'n, was right. Without knowing this at the time, there followed the usual joyous sprint for the finish over Dean Hill, this time without its Olympic flag to guide us.
The Ladybower provided the after-run refreshment together with the opportunity to interrogate the DPFR FRA relay committee fresh from a meeting with local residents and other interested organisations. I'm still not sure what the outcome was but we will surely find out. Tonight's one hour forty minutes outing was, as always, in the tradition of the Warts which had two recent comers wanting to repeat the experience in future weeks. #
Another good outing.
Just a reminder that we swapped the date of the Warts' Night Race with the Blackden run, so this week it's from Blackden lay-by on the Snake Road. The Night race will be on 18th from Fairholmes, see the route on the calendar.
It seems that, if it is a Wednesday evening, then the weather will be wet and windy for any Warts' outing. So far, for two outings this season, this has proved to be accurate. Following last week's wet outing from Yorkshire Bridge, the latest Warts' adventure from the gas station fitted the pattern. Despite there only being a little rain at the start, there was no doubt in everyone's minds that worse was to come. Most of the ten of us had donned our wet gear in readiness for the coming wind and rain onslaught. Despite this, we were treated to a master class in navigation after we had left the end of the shooting track from the gas station. Although we didn't know it at this time, we were being taken on the route of the Hunter wreck race by the Cap'n. Reaching the first check point of New Cross (remains of), we had a thorough soaking on our left and front sides.
From there, the trek was made across the well heathered and damp, peaty moor on a 330⁰ bearing to the Dukes Road where a stop was made to decide where next. To help the decision making, Liquorice Allsorts were distributed. Perhaps the following sugar rush resulted in the Hunter wreck being suggested. This prompted a range of reactions from complete enthusiasm through degrees of indifference to one of no enthusiasm at all. The wreck, however, won the day and nine of us (one had returned from New Cross) were led directly to the small piece of aircraft spar marking the centre of the wreck site. During this crossing our backs had enjoyed the wind and the rain so, to balance out and to complete the wetting, our right sides were now lashed on our heading on 110⁰ along the corridor route to the Rocking Stone, a guide point rather than a formal check point. Taking whisky and more Allsorts, the continuing worthiness of the Stone's name was confirmed with a four or five-man rock, such fun.
It is surprising just how much heather seed and twiglets accumulate in running shoes though, I suppose, it ought not to be, when we traipse (on 110⁰ again) across the deep heather towards Emlin. On this section and on a vegetation theme, Tom tested the long-held view that bright green moss should be approached with caution. Suitably dressed in shorts, Tom did, in fact, confirm its rather unsupporting, glutinous nature as he required help to extricate himself from it. It is still true, therefore, that caution must be exercised near bright green moss.
Based on previous erroneous wanderings, leaving Emlin for the gas station can be tricky. Contra-intuitively, we retraced our steps and then took a left to pick up a thin path which led to the shooting butt track and the bridge to the finish. Having completed the outing in a time (about one hour fifty minutes) comparable with the night race times, spirits rose and the previous less than enthusiastic feelings were dispelled or maybe that was the effect of the beer at the Plough. A good outing!
It was gratifying for a few old Warts to know that we were useful. Sitting on very high chairs in the Angler's Rest in Bamford, it was suggested that Penny was a bit out of place with these oldies but, on the contrary, she felt young and uplifted (not just by the high chairs) by being in the presence of these much older, retired and almost retired, Warts.
Maybe it was just a reaction to the Warts' outing from Yorkshire Bridge which had started in the semi light and the rain, up Parkin Clough which is always a questionable pleasure. It is a much-debated topic whether the ascent or the descent is the more pleasurable, with the joy of reaching either the top or the bottom being much the same. All gathered at the Win Hill trig point, a sizeable Warts group of about twenty had emerged from the gloom. There was an uncharacteristic, for Warts, dash along the wide track to the forest edge near Wooler Knoll which was duly climbed. There is something strangely mystical about this knoll, it being surrounded by trees and with no apparent exit. However, led by our intrepid Cap'n, we plunged into the forest blackness to arrive magically at a significant and muddy track. Regaled by Tim R's of tales of tractors and tractor enthusiasts, we reached a shore of the Ladybower dam. Even more track (and tractor stories) on a Warts' outing, was tolerated as we zig zagged up the hill through some well-conditioned mud baths to Hope Cross.
There was a plan to descend to the National Trust Barn but the wind and the rain had cooled our enthusiasm for such an energetic diversion. So, ignoring Tom's comment that there was really no route choice from here to Yorkshire Bridge, we set off in all directions in an impressive diaspora. Emerging from the shelter of the forest, the south westerly, near-horizontal rain brought some little needed refreshment which encouraged all of us to make our separate dashes for Yorkshire Bridge. My own route was to go back up the main Win Hill track which seemed to have doubled in length since coming down it. Although I searched for a distinct path which went to a forest gate, I only found a narrow sheep track which seemed to be heading in the right direction. Fortunately, it did join the path, just at the forest gate and the descent to Ladybower was an exercise in ski balance down the mud slopes to the shore. This was probably more fun for me than for others who had descended Parkin Clough!
All of this excitement prompted a serious discussion in the pub about whether Yorkshire Bridge should ever be used again for a Warts' venue. The consensus seemed (although there was no vote) to be no more Yorkshire Bridge, so, have the Warts now chickened out of ever going up and down Parkin Clough?
Watch next year's calendar!
There will be a run, probably in the approximate direction of the Hunter Wreck: park on Mortimer Road near the top of Wilkin Hill (where the bridleway meets the road) for an 18.45 start.
It was the last of the Nicky's Summer Series races when I decided to have my first 2017 attempt. Though it was a Monday rather than a Wednesday evening and it was daylight, I would like to suggest that the race did qualify for the status of a Warts' Outing.
There were midges which kept most runners confined to their cars until nearly the start which was at Brogging near Strines dam. David L (the eventual winner) had an unfair advantage, apart from his youth and ability, because his adrenalin levels were artificially raised by the haunting voice from the adjacent semi derelict building, warning he was on private property and was now being reported to the police. Just to ensure that all the relevant information was provided to the police, Andy H helpfully shouted David's name towards the mysterious voice. A late and unknowing arrival (on a bike) at the start provided the remaining waiting athletes with a further entertaining spectacle of voice shock therapy.
Nicky called us to order and set us off down the slope to the root ridden path through the woods to the footbridge. By this time most of the racers had disappeared up the hillside though Tom W who declared he was not racing, was just in front. Surely, 2017 must have been a wet summer to have hydrated the path (dare I call it) to the extent it was lubricated with oleaginous ooze. Tom cheerfully strode through and headed now thankfully over meadow to the Sugworth Folly from which Andy was seen leaving towards the path through the rhododendrons. Night suddenly appeared to descend on us as we headed into these rhodos which were made more sinister by the frantic barking of a ferocious hound guarding the Sugworth Hall estate. Partial gloom accompanied us up the Hall track before arriving at what felt like the bright sunlit road.
Leaving the road, Tom weaved a way through the rushes and provided me with a commentary on the ground ahead. (A note on my map of the bearing, ominously reads "road to ruin 125⁰ "!) A quick glimpse of the view behind was supposed to cheer me up by the height already climbed and the view of distant hills. However, the fast approaching wall of water did little to lift the spirits although reaching the ruin checkpoint mitigated the thorough soaking we were enjoying. A bit of a tussocky crossing of the moor took us to Stake Hill Road where the going was enjoyable (!). The next check point description was "grouse butt 1" but the wind, rain and lack of my glasses to read the map in such detail, prevented clarity. So, to satisfy our integrity, we went to the first butt we saw, then the next but one and then, the one after that. Thus, we visited three out of four butts not really being sure which was the correct one!
We enjoyed the edge of the workings near the ruin as we descended across tussocky and heathery moor to the road and before reaching the Folly meadow. The descent through the now even more glutinous mud gave us a sense of abandon as we plunged through without a thought for maintaining any sense of dignity. Across the bridge and through the dark wood brought us to the finish and the brave, heroic marshals, Keith and Nicky, who had waited patiently for us. Many thanks.
The rain continued and some problems were encountered in changing into warm and dry kit. So securely had Andy's shoes had been tied up, to prevent loss of them in the mud, that it took a sharp knife to cut through the laces of one shoe to release it. There was some rumour that only one trouser leg could be worn before this operation was carried out.
The warmth of the Strines Inn was very welcome to the teeth chatterers returning from the race for the presentation. Keith's handling of results, his lemon cake, his mushrooms and his trophies were, of course, impeccable. The variety of Nicky's cakes given as prizes was truly astounding and generous and they were all greatly appreciated as was Ellie's vegan chocolate cake. It is the first and may be the last time I will ever win a prize for fashion, I was judged to have the best grey jumper of the night! Should I give up fell running for the cat walk?
The midges, the ghostly mysterious voice, the darkness, the mud, the general confusion, the rain, the undo-able shoe laces and the warm pub, I think, all qualify this adventure as a Warts' Outing. What do you think?
After an epic outing I was disappointed that neither of out appointed scribes were present, however Graham, who found us in the pub, has valiantly produced a report from the various tales with which he was regaled:
At the beginning of this Warts' blog, let me make it very clear that there is only a limited amount of truth included (I've listened to too many politicians)! Through the limiting joys of injury, I've been reduced to turning up at the pub to meet the DPFR Warts after their run so it's only possible to have the vicarious pleasure of listening to their post-outing analysis. As Roy, Steve and I waited and waited in the Ladybower, there was some feeling that we might have been in the wrong pub……had the Warts all gone to the Angler's or were they just late? Eventually, the Warts trickled in with talk of visits to cabins…….which ones and how did they get there and what had happened to the Cap'n who hadn't been seen since somewhere near Black Clough? Fortunately, more Warts and more bits of information came dribbling into the pub. I was hopeful that more clarity would emerge, perhaps too optimistically.
On this night, which happened to be the Cap'n's last winter Warts outing, it seems that all started well for the first climb from the Westend car park to the ruined farm house. However, there are accounts, noticeably by the old Scrotes, of some, perhaps the fast ones (?), missing Black Dike to reach the Lower Small Clough cabins but, after the Scrotes. The continuing drift of the post run tales was one of the fast ones doing more "training" by spending longer getting to the check points. The Scrotes, however, suggested this was more a case of mis-navigation than more training. Indeed, Maurice claimed to have spent time star gazing in the clear night sky whilst waiting for and watching the young ones scrabble about in an unknown valley. This time for leisure was claimed to be due to his better contouring route. Who knows where anybody went? With stories from most of the Warts of lights in the distance in valleys and on hillsides, I suspect not many knew where they were or where they had been. Whatever the stories, there was much amusement in the pub when the Cap'n appeared somewhat shamefacedly and sometime after most of the other Warts had arrived. On his way back via Black Clough, it seems that one visit there was not enough, so a further one was made just to check it was still there. Having completed his check, there was then a deal of grough hopping which had also been encountered by Maurice ("Why are there so many effing groughs?").
In the true spirit of Warting, the further post-run analyses were not in any chronological order so following the hut visit, the descent into the Westend was apparently to short-cut the zig-zags and apply a bit of right, though it turned out to be too much right. A "correction" was needed to reach Raven Clough and, in over compensating for this rightness a bit too much left was taken subsequently whilst heading for Black Clough. This may have explained the double visit there but, wait, there was also talk of Fagney Clough and thick forest?…………………………………….So, the Warts navigation seminar continued and, confused, I decided to abandon all hope of understanding the Warts wanderings and went for another drink!
Below is the route taken by John; Moz took an extra detour to the sheepfold, and took Eoin with him ("found an excellent trod, just a shame it went in the wrong direction"). Lots of falling into groughs/holes, in at least one my feet didn't touch the bottom.
A fine evening, 18 finely tuned athletes turned up. The evening started with a lengthy speech from our very former Chairman on Health and Safety matters, following the near demise of Mr Last the previous week! It's fair to say that during my lengthy absence, that standards have dropped in the absence of the Club Safety Officer and Mr Holmes, never one to miss an opportunity, gave a stirring speech on the subject (while we all froze our nadgers off). We used to have a signing in book, I wonder what happened to that? Anyway......suitably chastened, we set off up the horrible drag through what was once a forest and which is now a wasteland towards New Cross (remains of). I'm bound to say that navigation was spot on, even allowing for the fact that there were at least 4 different routes taken! At this point, I began to appreciate that this was a Harmer devised route and as such would involve a great deal of slow, waste high heather and disgustingly steep hills to go up and down and very little what could be termed, running. The wiser of the two groups went round the top of the waterfalls on level ground; the more stupid followed Mr Harmer (me included) and dropped down into Abbey Brook and ended up having to scale a near vertical face to get back up to the top. Such is the price of loyalty to our ageing leader! A fine bottle of Jura whisky was unearthed at Berristers Tor and duly quaffed. The Harmerian experience continued unabated as we dropped to the bottom of Abbey Brook and then back up again to Low Tor. I'm bound to say that I felt as though I had had enough fun for one night, by this stage and the call of the pub was strong. Sadly, not strong enough for Capt. Harmer who decreed that we should visit Howshaw Tor just to prolong the fun that little bit more! A 10 minute paddle and wade through bogs later, we achieved this wonderfully pointless aim and finally set off with much relief (on my part, at least), back to the pub and the welcoming fire. A good night with only a couple more before the Summer runs! And in this post-Brexit age, the run was exactly 6 miles (kilometres, pah.!)
A large group for the pre-Watershed gathering and the forecast pestilence didn't manifest itself, instead we had a calm clear night which only started to cloud over much later. Indeed, the group was privileged to have the company of Jim, the ever flatulent, Fulton who rarely puts in an appearance these days. Good to smell him, as always. The warts seem to have become established into two groups, these days. The younger, more able runners, who invariably disappear into the distance, although often in the completely wrong direction and the more focussed, old Scrotes, whose fast running days are but distant memories in which they were often much better runners than the aforementioned younger group. Very much "the older they are, the better they were" syndrome. This latter group included Clive Last who disappeared off the back at some stage, almost ne'er to be seen again, more of which later. Anyway, it was a good route, into the Alport, across the slightly swollen river along the ridge and up to Bleaklow Stones, where whisky was taken at Knob rock. (see photo, it does look like a knob, Jim, you're right, at least in this light)
It was at this point that Mr Last's absence was noted. The blame was squarely put on Mark Harvey's shoulders, although he wasn't there. He is the Club Safety Officer and should have known better than to let Clive drop off the back of the group! However, we didn't waste the time and managed to put a few fond memories of "Good old Clive" together for the obituary on the way back and then.... a light was spotted about a mile away on the top of some god-forsaken hill at the west end of Bleaklow, completely in the wrong direction. It was this point that made us think that maybe it was Clive, well known for his aimless wondering in previous warts runs! A small search party set out, Dave Holmes and dog, and guided the confused Mr Last back to the group. Ah well, the obituary will keep. From here it was a steady run back through Grains in the Water and due south back to the cars and the Snake pub, where we apparently, nearly drank them out of Moonshine, which, given that they had only had 4 people in the pub before us, all week, is quite a feat! A fun night out, thanks to all!!
After an enforced three year absence from the Warts' blog during which the "Under-Scribes", Messrs Berry and Kitchen valiantly held the fort, I feel that it's time for me to return to my duties as Chief Scribe for the Warts. My thanks goes to them for their efforts and of course, they are very welcome to exercise their creative urges on this blog at any time! Anyway......the pre Champs alternative: six started, five finished, a fair attrition rate for these dark nights. The first snow of the season adorned the fells, the hard going reflected in the snail-like pace of the majority of the outing. I should say at the outset that this was advertised by Capt. Harmer as a gentle excursion, not the arduous 2 and a bit hours slog that ensued. From the pub, the usual route up through the field and to Back Tor, notable only for the sad demise of Clive, who was not at his best and who will be missed! A good snow covering on the tops as young Hawley soon found out by disappearing up to his groin whilst at full speed and attempting to break a leg, Duckie. Fortunately we had a nurse with us, who was able to confirm no more than injured pride but this didn't stop him from moping at the back for some time (youngsters eh?) From here, Poynton Bog beckoned. Disregarding that fact that there was a perfectly good path, Mr Harmer led us over this wasteland towards Cogmans' Cabin with its moderately death defying plummet (how I've missed these). Here the whisky flowed! I must admit that the quality of beverages has improved dramatically in my absence, gone are the days when watered down paint stripper was good enough, now it's Single Malts all round with various comestibles available for consumption too. As was pointed out, there aren't many clubs where runners come back heavier than they went out! The slog up the path to the bottom of Abbey Brook involved a modicum of running but then the worse slog up to Low Tor soon put a stop to that. From Low Tor to the pub seems to be getting much longer and took a bleedin' age when really we should have been tucked up warmly by the fire but there you go, old age creeping up on some of us! A good outing which it's fair to say, Dave Holmes would have hated.
Cap'n Harmer says "Strines Inn usual time. I guess some folks not racing in the champs or want a steady one with Chris/Tim and myself might want to potter along." 18.45 then if interested.
Wednesday evening marked the return of some of the S11 team who were all absent for the previous Wednesday's Hunter Wreck race. At least I had a half reasonable excuse of being on holiday in Kent though it did cross my mind that it might be possible to drive back for the race but I was soon corrected when this was suggested! Having been introduced as new members, the S11 group (Clive, Eoin and me) set off up the track with others (a grand total of 16) for what felt like a sprint to Slippery Stones where it soon became only too clear that there were two groups, the young, fast group and the infirm (old), slow group. This was confirmed as head torches were seen well ahead to the right and off track, climbing towards Bull Stones. There now seems to be a tradition developing of some club members disappearing into holes in the ground, so the Cap'n set the trend a few years ago by falling into an earth crevasse (near the Blackden car park) which swallowed him up. Below Bull Stones, a sudden cry (of pain?) went up. Looking around nothing could be seen apart from Eoin's head and shoulders sticking out of the ground. A brief discussion concluded he would be better with us than not with us so the Cap'n and I grabbed his arms and pulled but to no effect. Whether this was because two weaklings were in charge or because Eoin was jammed in, we weren't sure. Eoin is clearly made of stern stuff as he performed a sort of constrained but controlled backwards flip and he popped out showing his rather handsome bloody shin. We were later treated to another showing of this in the bright lights of the pub, almost too much enjoyment!
Having taken a slightly different route to the Stones, it was surprising to find that the infirm slow ones, despite being held up by the rescue attempt, arrived not long after the young ones. The next stop was Margery Hill trig which was reached by means of a number of slightly confusing paths and stiles. This was not to be the whisky stop so we set off for High Stones. Again the young ones pushed on ahead leaving the old ones trailing on the edge path. It was nevertheless gratifying on High Stones to call the young ones back as they headed at high speed to Wet Stones having missed the High ones. Celebratory whisky was taken before heading off to the rocks on Long Edge and the steep descent to the refreshing river crossing. A great outing capped off by further refreshment at The Ladybower where there was a long discussion on teeth and eyesight. Such is the wide range of knowledge of the DPFR Warts!
A relatively modest fifteen or so Warts assembled at Fairholmes for an unusually early first Wartin' fixture of the 16/17 season - more typically falling (so the good Cap'n advises) on or after the Autumn Equinox. Perhaps Big Bob had forgotten this departure from tradition, failing as he did to turn up; but it was good to see a number of more senior representatives in attendance and moving well - notably Messrs Last and Dalton - and to welcome at least one newbie, I think, with whom I completely failed to converse. Fi, fresh from her brush with the Peris Horseshoe, was the only representative of the distaff side of the club - several others presumably moonlighting with Lucy in some reservoir - whilst Richard Bembridge made a rare foray out from deepest darkest Dronfield, as did tractor boy Ray (from Crosspool).
'Twas a pleasant, balmy evening, a tad too hot in all honesty, and we were treated to a fine sunset and finer still blood orange moon, as twilight slipped into night, and we finally donned our head torches in earnest. The route comprised an ascent of Pike Low from the south-west (ish), from where an early split was agreed, Andy, John and others heading around the top to Lost Lad, Howshaw Tor, and thence to the ruined cabin in Sheepfold Clough. Meanwhile, John Webber, Rich Hunt, Messrs Westgate and Holmes, variously led the rest of us down to the packhorse bridge then up to Back Tor - touching the trig at Dave's insistence (quite right Dave) - and onward via Howshaw to the cabin where we caught up again with our compadres.
Mr Holmes mounted a plausible defence of his general mountaincraft and navigational good sense without being entirely drawn by your correspondent, and in the end was one of only a select handful of experienced Margery Hill alumni to get the correct line to Hancock Pond, the majority of the party dropping way too right and blundering through boggy woodland to the reservoir track where I subsequently encountered Eoin bringing up the rear of the party.
The erudition in the Ladybower Inn thereafter (sporting a recent makeover of sorts), was most distinguished by the suggestion that we organise some kind of Dark Peak Paralympics race, to complement the Olympic race from Blackden, with categories open to, for example, the growing number of club members boasting a heart condition (naturally we would have to ban Mr Winterburn from taking part), or the visually challenged. We were also pleased to encounter an injured Moz in the same hostelry.
All in all a most satisfactory first outing of the season, a week early or not.
It was Wednesday Warts' world authority evening from Doctor's Gate on the Snake road. Despite posted warnings of the absence of the Shelf Brook bridge, seven of us (not all world authorities) from Sheffield and one from Glossop, set off expecting a warmish run but in the gathering mist and an increasingly strong easterly wind, more rather than less clothing was needed. The wind accelerated us on our way to the first target of Cabin Clough though a bit of extra distance, call it training (?), was needed to avoid some agitated Canada geese and their chicks. Whilst two cabins are marked on the maps, they no longer exist but the Clough, in due respect, nevertheless has kept its name.
The name for a particularly steep ascent near Ashton Clough out of Shelf Brook is yet to be established on the maps but, like Bob's Rock and Tom's Tree, recognition for Penny's Scree must be inevitable. Watch for these landmarks to be included on the next issues of Dark Peak maps. Much to Penny's relief, her scree was not climbed from the Brook up to the pond below James Thorn. At the pond, Tom claimed to be a world authority on locating this pond and, furthermore, his identification of a piece of agglomerate brought back from Scotland by Bob, also confirmed his world class geological credentials…….a double world authority.
More was to come as world authority navigator Andy lead us through the thick mist and the now, unhelpful wind, to Shelf Stones and then on to the Superfortress wreck. It was Tim Ray's suggestion that the aircraft engines scattered around the site could be restored, along with all his tractor bits, that made him, in my view, another world authority.
From the wreck, Mark took us down Hern Clough and then off to the right into a deep and dark grough where he found and proudly presented a bit of fabricated metal, identified as stainless steel, thereby staking his claim to world authority membership.
All this excitement caused both Penny and I to have hunger pangs on the way back to the car park so Richard very graciously gave us a Cherry Burst (?) which made all the difference and got us both back to Doctor's Gate. The Snake Inn's usual hospitality provided further stimulation to end yet another splendid evening.
My mother-in-law's 95th birthday party was not to be missed. It was to be held in Cambridge on Sunday the 8th of May, the day of the 57A race. So in the interests of family harmony and of still submitting a race time, Tom Westgate (RO) was duly informed of my proposed Saturday attempt. The 57A bus no longer goes to Langsett so a bit of delving showed that the National Express coach to Liverpool, number 350 (?), left Sheffield bus station from platform E2 at 8.45 and arrived at Langsett at 9.15 on Saturday morning. This half hour trip was posted as "Fastest" by National Express and indeed, it was punctual, calling in at Stocksbridge on the way. The mountain forecast was for early mist to dissipate by mid-morning followed by some cloud, sunshine and a north easterly breeze. Temperatures were expected to be about 6⁰ initially and then rising to 15⁰ or so. With my experience of hypothermia in the latter stages of last year's 57A and the forecast 6⁰, I decided to wear my medium weight Buffalo with a thermal vest underneath. The benefit of this was appreciated going up Cut Gate, having left the Barn and gone around the northern edge of Langsett reservoir towards Mickleden Pond. However, it was the only time this clothing was appreciated and later, all the ventilation flaps were opened and the thermal vest removed. From Cutgate, a small trod conveniently took me across Mickleden Beck and then to the stream which lead to the Pond. Number one check point completed, only eight more to the finish!
Over the largely featureless moor to the next pond (CP 2) behind Outer Edge, spirits were lifted by three sightings of hares, wonderful. On the basis that climbing was to be minimised, a contour was taken to the next check point, above and around the Cranberry Clough tributaries. Initially, this was reasonable going but later turned into a mixture of deep heather and swampy reeds, slow! However, the Long Edge rocks (CP 3) were reached without any late "adjustments", to provide a wonderful view over the Derwent and beyond. There was a steep descent into the river which provided some welcome cooling to the slight astonishment of nearby fishermen and walkers.
By now, I needed to turn over to the next half of the Harvey map and after some complicated refolding (there must be a better way), a steep climb and a contour I arrived at the wall stream junction in Ridge Clough (CP 4). It was now sheltered from the wind and it was hot, even for me. The crossing into the Westend provided a bit of cooling wind and the shade in the woods leading to Westend Moor gave some relief from the sun. There was more moor to reach the Alport river which gave a degree of refreshment. Climbing out of the Alport and up the ruined wall in the heat, thoughts turned to the four Scouts who died of hypothermia near here. Their memorial plaque (CP 5) is a sad and sobering reminder of the possible dangers of bad weather in the Dark Peak.
On this trip, I had been watching when a phone signal became available so a text could be sent home, usually from hill tops. There was no signal at the Oyster Clough hut (CP 5) and the door was secured with a twisted wire or rope so I assumed there was no Richard Hakes cake. Instead, however, my marmalade sandwich substitute was helpful after a precipitous descent into the Snake Inn (CP 6) which felt busy after a largely unpopulated crossing from Langsett. The good weather had encouraged many people to explore both Fairbrook and Kinder so the remainder of the run was not lonely. So far, I had carefully noted all the bearings needed for the moors or critical sections but had not bothered to do so for the crossing from the top of Fairbrook to the Kinder river. The combination of this, the much transformed terrain, now all grassed over and the possible magnetic effects of the couple of pound coins in my back pocket (!), I managed to overshoot the river and needed to carry out an "adjustment" to recover. Just after reaching the Kinder summit cairn (CP 7) by following the Kinder river, I received a text message from my wife asking whether I was anywhere near civilisation; "Near Edale" I replied. Following a stream bed to Crowden, I then had an uncomfortable section on the paving stones towards Grindslow Knoll and then, thankfully, turned off them towards the two ponds (CP 8) and the final steep descent into Edale and to the hubbub of the very busy station (CP 9). The train was late but it gave time to savour the last drop of water in my bottle and the last jelly baby.
Thanks to Tom for creating and organising the challenging 57A race which never disappoints. The routes and the variations in the weather, from snow through driving rain and heat waves, is testament to Tom's creative spirit. Long may the race continue and its name should remain despite a challenge from National Express 350 coach. Later, I learnt that it was even hotter on the following day of the race so my congratulations go to all those who were brave enough to set off in those extreme conditions.
Well done to all!
The spirit level was low reported Paul S to the whiskey monitor, John G, so a last minute arrangement was made for a Wednesday night replenishment by the whiskey appreciation team services (another of Maurice's mnemonics). Whether this counts as a Warts' outing is up for debate, particularly now that we were in British Summer Time, torches were only used in the last quarter of an hour or so and the weather was not wet and windy but sunny (yes, sunny!). Not only were we graced with the presence of Paul and John but also Richard H (photographer and whiskey Sherpa for the evening) and Clive making a return from the southern hemisphere. Setting off from Strines, also with Moz, John D, Tim H and Mark H, into the blinding sun made us appreciate the benefits of the dark winter Warting weather. As is routine, a faster group emerged (Tim and Mark) so we let them speed off to Gravy cabin whilst we continued to Back Tor and Lost Lad where there was much posing for photos.
In the continuing spirit of the evening, a variety of routes to Sheepfold Cough emerged with the Club Championship Handicap winner (JG) showing his mettle to arrive there first via the main path. However, the rest of us felt we had the moral high ground by going the direct route across the moor from Lost Lad and arriving just behind. At least we had the benefit of glimpsing a pretty little waterfall on the way down. More routes were taken up to the top of the opposite hill where more photo posing was enjoyed together with some whiskey reorganisation and, of course, tasting. A message was left in the book there, before a spectacular sunset lit descent into the upper reaches of Abbey Brook. As we spread out to reach the Low and Howshaw Tors, what seemed like the whole local population of white and semi-white mountain hares (we estimated about 20) came out to watch our impressive athleticism across the moor or was it just to see the glow of Moz's high visibility outfit. Hares were seen all the way back to Strines and some head torches were resorted to. In the pub, the spirit of the evening encouraged much reminiscing which covered a wide spectrum of experiences from the use of a condom protected sausage for a baton during a Pennine Way relay, the distress of sheep being vomited over by one member of the relay team and the Man v Horse race recently in a celebrity TV show. So, quite a classic, spirited sort of Warts' evening.
A new definition of Warts emerged on the last outing before the clocks went forward for British Summer Time. Thanks to Maurice, We All Regularly Turn Stupid was coined after an interesting return from the run from the Snake Inn.
It all started well, as we left the Snake through the woods to join the foot of the Fairbrook ridge. The quad track encouraged some speed work at the front of the group (Tim, Rob and Dave) thus enabling the lingerer (me) to have a magical view of a string of lights ascending the final climb to the Naze in the semi darkness. In good tradition, the Naze's mushroom stone was climbed (by Rob's friend, newcomer Gus??) and then the first decision on choice of routes was made. The fast group, including Fi and shorts clad Tom, headed for the Downfall with an option later for Mermaid's pool. The remaining others set off for Seal Stones with the intention, once there, of descending the path to the Snake Inn, following the route of the Triple Crossing. This latter group included Sarah, Kev and Willy who had impressively completed an eight hour Kinder Round the day before and were having an easier, warming down run. John, who was rationing his running in preparation for a cycle trip to a Mediterranean island, Maurice and I also joined this group. It is quite a long way (nearly three kilometres?) from Fairbrook Naze to Seal Stones and the path appears and disappears particularly near Fairbrook itself where some scrambling was to be enjoyed. The edge path then introduced an effect which warps time and distance particularly when a full moon is rising, as it was. Such was the warp effect that it was decided that a cluster of rocks was Seal Stones (it turned they weren't!) so it was, therefore, the time and place to descend, which we duly did. There was a gradual splitting towards the left for one set and towards the right for the other set (Willy, John and I). The right leaners realised that the descent path still had not been reached so more right was applied, now making the leftists disappear out of sight. Crossing both pasture, Harmerian deep heather and Bob's spring, we continued to descend, eventually reaching another quad track linking numbered shooting butts until we found the track which was enjoyed for about as much as a hundred yards to the Fairbrook stream crossing. To our astonishment, the faster leftist group followed us in having enjoyed the pleasure of descending one of the Seal Cloughs into Fairbrook itself.
It was in the car park when the route analysis started, that Maurice voluntarily came up with the new definition of Warts. This was also based on the experiences of several winter Warts seasons where wanderings of some sort always occur. Back at the pub, there was a bit of a wait before the Mermaids arrived, having visited the pond, the Sandy Heys trig, the northern edge and the Naze. As always, the post run pub discussion ranged far and wide from Fi's admiration of a mobile home in the car park, through politics, Maurice's further attempts at warping, this one on the measurement of temperature and time (ask him!) and a long rant about dogs and their owners.
All in all, a classic Warts' outing and a grand finale to the 2015 2016 season!
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