Winter was clearly not over as we gathered in the sleet at the waterlogged Hagg layby, all displaying our best waterproofs, ready for all that the weather could throw at us. The steep start through the woods soon warmed us, until we reached open ground where the strongly windblown sleet refreshed us, (all ready for the Watershedders?). Here, the character of the rest of the run became apparent as there were at least four (maybe more?) groups heading for Crookestone Knoll. We did manage to congregate there, or at least near there, as the wind was challenging on the top. The now, routine splitting gave two groups, the fast and the old, the fast, heading for the spot height of 444m (or 442m depending on the map) and the old, for Hope Cross and then on to Telegraph Hill. It emerged fairly quickly that the fast group was too fast for some members like me and, after a brief stop somewhere in Jaggers Clough we became a set of individuals going our separate ways. It soon dawned on me that the terrain was not right for 444m and, happily, a few of us now got together (Bob, Lucy, Fi and Tim) to retrieve our wanderings. Having by now missed 444m, an easterly bearing eventually brought us back to the quarry and down to the big track back down to Jaggers Clough. The shout for us, was also Hope Cross where, because of our extensive meanderings, we decided to go directly back to the cars using a pleasant forest path to rejoin the main, very rocky track back to the river bridge crossing. Some of the other groups, the remains of the fast and of the old, did manage Telegraph Hill though the Cap'n reported his lonely diversion through some difficult brambles. His reputation remains intact.
All this wandering was revealed at the Ladybower Inn where an ad hoc meeting of the bog rescue committee (Moz, John D and the Cap'n) provided rather graphic information of their intimate acquaintance with life threatening bogs. It appears that, for self-rescue, it is necessary to perform a backstroke, on the basis it may help flotation and it's better to go backwards to the solid ground just left behind than to go into the unknown swamp in front. So, there you have it, advice (hopefully useful) from senior and experienced members of DPFR. In contrast, this committee also recounted their circle running experiences, not around the stone ones, but in difficult places like Totley Moor and the Crook Hills where footprints in the snow initially provided some comfort that someone else was there, until it was realised they belonged to themselves. Hey ho, we've all done it and, as the man said, "Someone who has never been lost has never been anywhere".
Accidently, I entered Bob's Mam Tor race which was organised in his absence by the Cap'n. There was an alternative non-racing group of Pete G, Moz, Lucy, Penny and Sarah who set off before the race started so I thought this was the group to join. However, having failed to catch them up I returned to the start to be told that I'd been entered (by Tom) in the race anyway.
So, Tim H and the Cap'n set us off from Odin's Mine with the advice that left or right ascents and descents were acceptable but straight on was definitely not an option. Being left to the young lions and tigers of the club, it became very quickly apparent as they disappeared into the darkness that I was not in the right group. The majority chose the left hand side ascent which started on a narrow, twisting path near a stream before emerging at the old crumbling road. From here lights could be seen heading up the left hand edge so, ploughing on, there was an opportunity to cheer the leaders and all the others on their way down.
Some chose the full round of Mam Tor and descended on the opposite side whilst the others having sort of recce'd the route on the way up, stayed on the same side. Apart from a couple of steps and a bit of greasy grass this descent was low on the Harmerian scale of difficulty and chastisement (from the Cap'n) for these descenders was the order of the night on the post-race and run analysis.
The daytime record from a few years ago, was about 13 minutes and, in the dark, David L managed to get up and down in about 14 minutes closely followed by Neil N. The ladies were solely represented by Clare who duly took first place. The warm down after the race was a direct line over to Winnats followed by a spectacular crossing of the pass. A former club chairmen was heard to comment that it was a pleasant change to be running on soft pasture in the White Peak. Clearly, he was having some sort of hopefully, temporary aberration and it is only hoped he has by now recovered. Willy even went so far as to suggest the possibility of blackballing him from the club.
Thankfully, no such action was taken and all was forgotten afterwards in the conviviality of the pub where the routes of the three groups were compared and contrasted. There was a visit to the Mam Tor pond which involved some gnarly ground and the "early" group had managed to include a trip to Horsehill Tor. The post-racers also managed a trip to a pond of such small dimensions that Willy was not prepared to dignify it with his presence. This group managed a further trip to the Mam Tor summit which gave us a fine view of the rising full moon. Another spectacular evening despite being in the White Peak!
The Loxley Lads were busy chasing Landmarks so missed the delights of the Westend on a moonlit night largely free of any rain or snow. The eight Westend Warts included Fi F and Pete G who were both back after a bit of a lay off due to coughs, holidays and, in Pete's case, a rather impressive cut of the knee (we were shown it later in the pub!). Stewart was also back, taking time off from his campaigning.
Bob took charge as we headed for the Alport trig via Fagney Clough. On the climb across the moor, we either talked too much so we walked too much or was it visa versa? Whichever, the trig point appeared out of the darkness giving us the chance to catch our breath after all the talking. Just a bit east of north was the next call, towards the tributaries of Black Clough. On the ridge, Pete and John D decided to go for home (the car park) directly, leaving the remaining six to head for a thigh deep crossing of the Westend river. Thanks to Sarah and Penny for making the human chain across the roaring river…. well, if not roaring, it was certainly deep, wet and cold! Gratitude was expressed for neoprene socks and there was speculation on extending the neoprene wearing not just to socks and gloves but to full body cover, as finely modelled by Rob Davison at the previous week's Priddock Wood outing. The conversation then took a turn to the dark side with mention of zombies and Pulp Fiction. Staying on the dark side, there was some road running up the zig-zags, though thankfully this was short lived as we escaped them and went eastish up to Black Dike. To make up for the early walk-talk episode, a good speed, with no talking, was achieved along the dike. Turning off it (southish), we reached the fence before descending into the trees to drop into the carpark. All in all, it was an agreeably good two hours' outing.
Priddock Wood is fun I told myself as we set off from the Ladybower Inn. Even before the climb, there was fun when crossing the stream, with some managing to keep dry feet via a precarious scramble and a leap and others going for a reviving semi-immersion over their knees. The fun continued up the steep, wooded, brambly, muddy, unstable and mossy hillside. Please think of any other descriptions (not rude ones) you would wish to apply to this epic start to a run. It was all topped off with an exciting clamber across the boundary between wood and moorland. Even at this stage, the group was now splitting, with at least three sets of lights heading for the Jarvis Clough rest home.
Here, now all regathered, time was called on togetherness and the less slow group set off into the night leaving the more slow group in the rest home. The stone circle was reached using an uneventful track and with the guidance of the lights of the faster leading runners. Reminiscences of races held round the circle on runs from the Sportsman brought a touch of sentimentality to the discussions (we must have been going slowly to be able to "discuss").
Crossing Cutthroat Bridge, the next target was the Derwent Edge path and then on to the Coach and Horses (not a pub) where there was some respite from the cooling wind. By now the Cap'n and John had wisely decided to return to the real pub and the rest of us including Bob, Mark, Graham and the newly recruited Leicester man, Steve Jones, dropped down Grainfoot Clough to the edge of the wood. Prompted by some health statistics from Bob that 15% of older runners were likely to have some heart problem, there were further discussions this time on mortality and the way to go, in both senses, before climbing all the way back again to the path leading to Ladybower Tor.
We practiced yet more dispersal by taking at least three different routes back to the pub, with some claiming the moral high ground by going further and climbing more. This was, of course, nothing to do with losing the way back. We were all checked in at the Ladybower Inn where Leicester man, Steve, revealed he was not driving back but was bivouacking somewhere near Win Hill and then, in the following morning, checking out the route of the Margery Hill race. As always, another good Warting/discussion outing.
A very loose definition of the original French word "flaneur", is to wander around aimlessly. There was a fine example of DPFR flaneuring on Wednesday night from Upper North Grain. Even the car parking can need a bit of wandering with some of us parking in Nether North Grain and the others in the Upper park which has room for only one or two cars. Fourteen of us congregated at the DPFR calendar designated Upper North Grain car park to head for the hut which from the near distance looked quite cosy as we approached its now torch lit window. There was a quick reminder of this being the check point for the running of the tenth anniversary of the race from King's Tree in 2024. Shortly after leaving the hut and after Mark commented that the Warts' pace had slowed to a walk since he last came out, it was decided that the pensioners' group of Moz, Stewart, Chris, Andy, John and I should be left to our own devices. And what devices we had! Besides maps and compasses there were two GPS/map devices which were in use fairly frequently over most of the remaining part of the run. Whilst initially not being a strict flaneur because we had a possible aim to go to Bleaklow Head, it became a flaneur when we changed to possibly Hern Stones. This less ambitious aim was because of our slow progress through the snow and our unanimous declaration that we needed to save ourselves for the Margery Hill race on Saturday. So, we set off on a northerly bearing but drifted westerly and discussions on the best bearing resulted in, "north with a touch of east and west". At least we had the sense not to also include a touch of the south which would have sent us round in circles. But wait, the shout then came for a southerly(ish) heading. As John's track shows, it would later enable us to complete a circle. At this stage, GPS/map devices emerged to tell us where we were, possibly near a tributary of Hern Clough? Now moving slightly northerly, we reached the Pennine Way which was followed up Hern Clough. Here we decided that we had passed Hern Stones (we hadn't as the track shows) and it was therefore time to go back, initially following Hern Clough and then going due south, to nearly reach the hut again thus completing not just one "circle" but two. The general conclusion was that we hadn't really been anywhere which qualifies the outing as a good flaneur.
Our reward was at the Snake Inn where there was some thoughtful discussions including Moz's suggestion that the sweepers on the Edale Skyline should all wear high vis. jackets with the words "Grim Sweeper" emblazoned on them. If that doesn't encourage the tail enders to hurry along, I don't know what would. Also, it was felt that a special institute should be established with the specific aim of finding a simple, non-strenuous and cramp free method for removing wet socks at the end of a run. So, as always an interesting run and apres run for the pensioners and for the non-pensioners too, who went to the far reaches of the Alport ridge under Lucy's precise guidance.
To pretty much everyone's surprise, Tim H and Dave H managed both to agree on their route finding and avoid any undue confrontations with farmers, whilst leading us all a merry dance around the sites of the upper Loxley Valley. Your correspondent was a tad disappointed that there was to be no trip up the Limpopo, but on a clear starry night, with a wee nip in the air, it was nevertheless a positive pleasure to be tripping along the footpaths of Bradfield Parish. Good also to see the newly doctored Ella (congratulations doc), with Laurence and newbie Matt in tow, on her usual cheerful form, notwithstanding pulling up short with a dicky knee half way around. And a welcome appearance from Russ B too. Other than that, not a great deal to report really. A goodly night out.
A fashion show of the latest and retro waterproof elegance greeted us at the start of the Warts' Blackden outing. The price and source of the waterproof tops and bottoms were also keenly discussed in the sleety Blackden layby. Whilst all of this was truly edifying, only secondary importance was granted to where we were going this night. Mark had suggested on the website a trip over to and then up Grindsbrook followed by a crossing over Hartshorn and a descent over the Wicken. However, Mark was unable to make the outing and alternatives were daringly put forward. The Cap'n wanted to revisit the crevasse under Cowms Edge which nearly swallowed him whole, two or three years ago but in the end, Bob suggested Blackden trig, Ollerbrook, Druid Stone and Dean Hill. Should Mark turn up later, a note was left thoughtfully on the car for him to catch up.
Leaving behind the waterproofs chatter, we descended the mud slide to the bridge over the full flowing river from where we strolled up, breathlessly, on a southerly(ish) bearing to the edge path. There was talk of a full barbecue on the fairly newly constructed patio around the trig point but as always with these fantasies, the weather, now snowing, gets a little in the way and disappointingly there was no equipment and very little food. In any case, the thought of barbecued liquorice allsorts and jelly babies also contributed to our decision to move on to Ollerbrook. Again we headed off roughly southerly for the eastern side of Ollerbrook on Tom's recommendation. Thankfully, this was nicely gnarly, tussocky and rocky in places but was spoilt after we descended to, and left the bridge, on a smooth grassy track. (I suppose we can't have it all our own way!) Tim, Bob and Fi lead us off the track to climb back up to the edge for a dash in the snow to Druid's Stone. Liquorice from Sarah (prize winner at the Trigger), other sweeties and jelly babies were handed out at the Stone before a northerly trek over the top and a descent to Dean Hill and into Blackden.
The Ladybower supplied us with the post run drinks and crisps which encouraged the Cap'n to describe a previous winter race involving no waterproofs or thermal vests or leggings or hats or gloves or underwear. Such was the graphic and over detailed account of this male only race, involving not only the Cap'n himself but also Willy, that Penny and Sarah had to leave the building looking truly horrified. All talk was cut short at the prospect of more such information on this race and it was agreed that the rest of should also leave. Here's to next Wednesday night!
A gentle shamble out from Fairholmes for my shiny new watch, in honour of which please find the track below.
Fourteen soon enough became thirteen as Clive retired for an early bath. Meanwhile, runners were scattered to the four corners of Abbey Brook, with Big Bob professing little interest in any meaningful order and the rest of us displaying none at all. Things got no better really on our return from Back Tor, a wide variety of lines seeing us all home in time, with your correspondent and Posh Dave fighting desperate rearguard actions, each having been caught short - on the moor and in the woods respectively.
My first run with the warts for nigh on two years after my heart op. Would I be able to keep up with these "athletes", the cream of DPFR?? Anyway....I needn't have worried, the average pace was probably less than 3 mph, much the same as when I last ran with them, come to think of it! Nine such athletes ran a steady run up to Mickleden Pond in the pissing rain. The highlight of this was when Russ accidentally kicked a stone only to reveal the whisky bottle underneath - a fine 14 year old Aberlour, as yet untouched except by Messrs Hakes and Gunnee, the whisky officers. From here, suitably refreshed, we contoured towards Cut Gate onto the turquoise track which Natural England have kindly laid out for the benefit of those lovely gamekeepers and shooters. Well worth a run on it, incidentally, very much like a running track on the moors, soft and forgiving!! From here to Pike Low and the cars. The Nags Head was as welcoming as ever.......seemed like I'd never been away.
The Southern Warts ran from the Grouse, with the aim of going over to Blacka, Houndkirk and back. All was well until, sometime after Totley trig we found ourselves heading west then turning left, much to the surprise of several of our party. The track says it all, but perhaps if our leader had brought his compass with him instead of leaving it hanging on the door handle (sic) it would have been less entertaining.
Somehow trips from the Grouse frequently seem to lead to random 360 degree events (to be fair in this case maybe only 180 degree, so getting better), perhaps a local anomaly, can't possible be the navigational abilities of a bunch of fell runners can it?
As the evening's route from Dennis Knoll was being discussed, developed and decided upon, there was a clear determination to go to at least two stone circles. The initial plan was to do Maurice's race route (from earlier this year) in reverse this time including the pond and, of course, the two circles, one on Hordron Edge just above the Cutthroat Bridge car park and the other, between the quarry on Bamford Edge and Dennis Knoll.
As occasionally happens, plans tend towards fluidity so the visit to the pond was fairly quickly ditched and the group set off directly for Buck Stone at a healthy pace on the main track to Stanage. From the Stone, the next check point was the "bus shelter" near to High Neb on Stanage. This was reached without much incident apart from the impressive Wall Walking Warts' high level climb to the Edge, which proved to give a significant advantage. Beyond Crow Chin, it was decided that there wasn't enough time to visit the Hordron Edge circle so a descent was made through some classic Warting terrain, swamp, rocks, rushes and the usual "stuff" towards Jarvis Clough holiday home! [the editor would like to make it clear that we did visit Hordron stone circle] on the way to the tin-roofed hut.
There was no room to stay there, so one of the Pillars beckoned. The elderly group didn't quite make it and so joined the main group, who did make it to a Pillar, for another fast line to the quarry. Our last chance to reach at least one circle was now with us. Straightforward, was the general view, head north-westish for the ruined wall, follow it to almost its end and then head westish. Well, firstly, the ruined wall was not found although claims of crossing it were made. The fast group made a long northwest passage without finding the circle before deciding to turn around and head for the car park.
The slow group made better progress and whilst getting close to the circle (unknowingly), also did not make it and drifted off to the car park. All this navigation (?!) is available for us to see on the tracks. So after this experience, there may a call for another race to be run over the Bamford and Stanage Edge Monuments including huts, Stones, pillars and circles, all perhaps in the dark (?). Any offers?
What connects a lace fly, a best beard claim and Buffalo tops? It can only be a conversation during a DPFR Wednesday night Warts' outing. Include also a claim that ladders in trains are for accessing the air shaft escape route in the Cowburn tunnel and the presence of a fully certified train signaller and we have the makings of a classic evening out. The plan was for the Warts to catch the train, which was late, to Chinley from various stations en-route, Sheffield, Dore, Bamford and Edale. Some joined at Sheffield, about ten at Dore. From Bamford station, the Cap'n encouraged us to warm up by running the length of the train. John, Pete and Penny drove to Edale station to have a rescue car there in case things went horribly wrong in our attempt to get back to Edale in time to catch the return train.
On board the train, the conductor was a tad overwhelmed by so many people in strange clothes wearing head torches and going to Chinley (why Chinley?) particularly when Fi's description of what we were planning to do was met with some disbelief. "Oh well," Fi admitted to him, "it is a bit of a niche sport". From the station, Penny took us off at speed through the streets of Chinley (road runners!) to the river. I think we passed the sewage works before going under a very impressive rail viaduct. As in most Warts' outings, two groups emerged as we went through Wash so Rob C took charge of the fast group of about six (?) and Pete G and Bob B guided the more leisurely section. Having got us successfully through the Chinley complex, Penny had by now relinquished her guiding duties. As we headed out to open country via Malcoff, various head torch lights could be seen, the fast lot perhaps or, as it turned out, some cyclists. At this point, we began to worry about Steve M who was supposed to join us at Chinley but hadn't yet been seen. Because time was becoming critical (we might miss a pint in Edale), we pressed on directly towards Chapel Gate, when a lone torch light appeared out of the darkness. Thankfully, it was Steve.
At Chapel Gate, the pattern of splitting into further groups continued with Bob, Clive and Fi legging it down the track and the rest of us trotting to Edale, some via a path and some on more road (!). The faster ones managed to get their pints (the early Wart catches the pint), and a couple of us just made the station in time. All gathered to catch the 9.29 train back and with most Warts thoroughly refreshed, the conversation ranged far and wide. Lace flies trapped in the carriage ceiling lights reminded Clive of a time when he bought some to deal with apple tree pests but they hatched prematurely and filled his bedroom! Tim H suggested that Mick M should enter the best beard in DPFR competition whilst the preponderance of sweaty Buffalo tops (Mark H, Rob, and GB) was thought to cause all the condensation in the train. Noticeably, there was a ladder strapped inside the train. What was it for? The beer fuelled speculation concluded it was for escaping from the Cowburn tunnel. Tom's certified hand signalling skills at halting trains could be useful to set up a trial to test this theory, perhaps. Ah……………..the joy and stimulation of rail travel! There was a late call for more refreshment at The Tap at Sheffield station but I've no idea what further enlightened conversations happened there. So here's to the next train outing……..in the summer?
It appeared that Wednesday night was going to follow the serious weather pattern we have grown to love. In the morning there was some heavy rain in Sheffield which lead to some local flooding so things were building up nicely for a wet evening from King's Tree. By 6pm however, there was no rain and an orange moon was rising over the east of Sheffield. This misty moon was to stay largely in view for the whole of the evening outing. Driving up the valley, over the bumps and through the car washing puddles we reached King's Tree having heard on the way of the adventures that Tom, Mark and Bob had in the wilderness of Knoydart at the weekend. A trip from the Derwent valley must have seemed a little tame after their experiences. There were two suggestions for the run, one over to Westend and beyond or the one actually chosen, up to High Stones, Margery Hill and, possibly, Bull Stones. As is traditional, the first climb was up to Cold Side Rocks having first had a refreshing semi-immersion whilst crossing the now swollen River Derwent. The relatively high temperature of about 10⁰C, the lack of wind and the steep climb all mitigated against any serious chilling. The 16 of us regrouped at the rocks before heading for High Stones. There was a fast group of 6 (Tom W, Rob C, Tim H, Willy, Tim Ray and the SO) who sprinted off, found a trod, allegedly all the way along the full route and were never seen again by the remaining 10 who did not find the fast trod (it's half an excuse for our lack of speed). At least, we 10 did have the pleasure of finding a couple of curious stone structures built into the hillside. What were they for, who built them and could they be used as a check point in future races? Then, over the usual tussocks, heather, rocks and some oleaginous peat, we reached High Stones where refreshments were taken. As we left High Stones on the obvious track, the Cap'n presciently warned that though the route may appear to be straightforward, care was needed on the final approach to Margery Hill. Sure enough, having left the track on the final approach, we were diverted to the left, i.e. west, by a large gulley (with caterpillar tracks?). With an adjustment of 90⁰ to the north and a bit more heather, the trig appeared out of the thick mist. The newish fence from Margery then guided us down towards Cut Gate for the final rocky descent to Slippery Stones and on to King's Tree where the group of 6 were waiting, all fully changed and ready to go to the pub. At the Ladybower, there was excited talk of next Wednesday's run using the train (!) to Chinleyand, from there, heading via brown Knoll (?) to Edale for a drink, if there's time, and then back to Sheffield on the 9.30 train. We will see!
And as a post-script, since the safety officer, ex-chair and young Rob were so obviously delighted by their little ruse, the two Tims and I must admit to having happily trotted on past the clag-bound Bull Stones with nary a backward glance, whilst our (mostly) elders and (occasionally) betters hid themselves giggling behind said features. Unlike the pond last week however, I had at least clocked the presence of some vaguely familiar stones and wondered absent-mindedly whether they might be significant.
Penny's idea to run a linear route has found a slot in the calendar at last. The plan is to get the train to Chinley from anywhere convenient on the Hope Valley line, run back to Edale, grab a swift pint at the Ramblers and be back on the 21:29 train from Edale. There will be a backup broom wagon at Edale should it all go horribly wrong, as the ex-chairman seemed to think it would last night - can't think why, after all the Warts' runs always run exactly to time don't they?
Train times, according to Network Rail:
(The train back leaves Edale at 21:29).
It is remarkable that the planners of the Warts' calendar are able to consistently choose a night with grim, challenging, ….choose your own description…., weather for the annual Doctor's Gate outing. So far they have managed three or four (?) outings where mist, wind and rain have all contributed to the general ambience and excitement of the evening. There was no exception this Wednesday when we had driving drizzle and thick mist from start to finish. About twenty of us (honestly, the Safety Officer (SO) did have the accurate count) went south across the road and over a low wall. It was low on the road side but as all in front of me disappeared over the wall, it made me slightly suspicious especially when the SO, siren like, enticed us over with the words "it's not too bad over here". This literal leap in the dark into the head of the Snake proved to be deep but, thankfully, survivable. There was then a climb to the summit of Featherbed Moss. Any aspirations anybody may have had to an alpine type summit, were quickly dispelled as we clustered together, emperor penguin like, on a windswept flattish moor to sort out the bearing for the next check point. The pond below James Thorn had been chosen with the proviso that Penny's scree was to be avoided. (Who was James Thorn and why was this hill named after him?). So we headed back to the road but, what motorists must have thought can only be imagined, as they saw a string of small lights heading across the Snake summit; aliens, aircraft, sheep, too much drink…… but surely not humans in this weather!
Continuing across the moor, we descended via a small stream (Birchen Orchard Clough?) into Doctor's Gate, which, according to a notice in Glossop, was closed until March 2016 for a replacement bridge to be built. There was no one stopping us so we continued for a little down the path before climbing steeply and interminably (most steep climbs go on forever!) towards the pond. As is traditional, despite entreaties to the contrary from Tom W, the group split into three or four groups, left, centre, right and some left and right of centres all aiming for the pond. We did all eventually congregate somewhere and refreshments were taken. Questions were asked of where we were and why had we missed the pond.
Pete G helpfully came to the rescue and pointedly pointed out some water and rushes at our feet; we were actually at the pond! The Shelf Stones summit (better than Featherbed!) was reached en-masse for a descent due south, this time not en-masse, to the Devil's Dike path followed by a touch of left to finish at the car park. Leaving here for the Snake Inn, the mist cleared and clarity was restored on the eastern side of the Pennines.
Once we'd finished, it had yet again been a splendid Warts' outing. Can the Warts' calendar planners repeat the conditions next year?
Complaints to Andy H about the easy weather conditions on the Hunter Wreck race and the forecast for more easy weather on this Wednesday's Warts alternative run, prompted Andy to suggest the more challenging outing of Ouzeldon. In John D's absence, Willy was volunteered to put the venue on the Warts calendar. Recollections of last year's trip to Ouzeldon reminded us (about 20) of the primordial nature of the area so there was a collective will to avoid that part of it at the end of the run.
At least three leaders, Andy, Bob and Ian, took us up the track from the start up through the woods to the Birchinlee Pasture. Over the years I have learned not to be misled by areas named "pastures" which imply smooth and closely cropped grassy fields. Birchinlee proved to be no exception as we wobbled over the tussocks and deep heather. Compensation for the bumpiness, however, was made by Lucy's flights of imagination on future Olympic events, including backwards running which was deftly demonstrated by her for 50 yards. Clive and I both struggled to keep up!! After this athleticism, Lucy disappeared into the night towards the edge path above Alport Castles.
Our descent down the northern end of the Castles led us into its rocky and steep terrain and up to the Tower where refreshments were taken before making the now routine head torch light show on the descent to, and the climb out of, the boulder field.
Regrouping on the edge path, plans were made for the optimum return route to Ouzeldon, avoiding last year's previous excitements. So, a dash was made on the edge path paving stones, causing Toria to twist her ankle. When the time came to turn off the path for Ouzeldon, calls were made by Tom to wait for Toria and Fi F generously became her guardian angel. The terrain returned to the heathery tussocks and the group, including newcomer Fiona (what a first run!), headed towards Ouzeldon. As the way started to become suspiciously steep and rocky, Andy declared we'd cut off from the edge path too early. We then crawled, slid and staggered down through the heather and bracken covered rock garden of the landslip (?) outcrop in Alport Grain. It became increasingly apparent as we waded through the undergrowth that tonight's "run" was neither far nor fast at 3-ish miles and 2 hours! Whilst Andy wisely chose to cross Alport Grain and into the forest, the rest of us ploughed on through the jungle to reach Ouzeldon and, eventually, the track to the cars. Andy arrived at about the same time (slightly smugly??). After a decent wait, concerns were growing for Fi and Toria who were still "out there". Both Tom and Lucy went back up the track looking for them but to no avail and questions were asked about what our health and safety procedure was. As the emergency mobile phones were being brought out, Fi and Toria arrived, smiling, having used the Andy route through the wood.
Will we ever find the optimum route? Should we recce the route in daylight? Who will become the chief pathfinder? Will Ouzeldon generate a Pertex winner? So many questions, but at the moment Ouzeldon wins again!!
Fully 25 warts, including newbies Simon and Richard (I think) x2, enjoyed rather too much running from the Snake Inn over Kinder's freshly sown pastures, in vague search of the ammo box. Having spoken darkly of the need to go suitably equipped onto the hill with map and compass, Cap'n Harmer and Big Bob promptly called a route featuring at least two landmarks for which you will search in vain on any OS or Harvey,s map. Bob's Spring, below Seal Stones, proved relatively straightforward, following which we ascended to the plateau watershed in anything but single-file, with runners strung out across half a mile of grassed-over cloughs and groughs.
With the staller of the warts (Messrs Harmer, Berzins, Berry et al.) performing something of a flanking manoeuvre off to the north, this left the Safety Officer in occasional command of the larger group weaving its merry way in and out of a succession of groughs, heading haltingly westward into the setting sun. For those of us in the know, this was always going to end in tears; and so it proved, as we somehow managed to plough straight across the Kinder River without a pause, simultaneously losing the Safety Officer off the back. So disorganised were things, indeed, that we effected that rarest of fell-running phenomena, separating Sarah B from Penny C for fully twenty minutes of running.
A short while thereafter, a halt was called as it became clear to our international orienteers that, in blindly following the ever enthusiastic Fi, we were now in fact rapidly descending to the western edge of the plateau, having evidently by-passed the ammo box. Sadly, since we had neither a name on a map, nor a map reference, nor indeed (in the absence of the SO) any clear idea as to where said object lay, there was little option but to descend to the edge path, head north to the Downfall and thence east to Kinder Gates, before finally striking out once more over the plateau pastures towards Fairbrook Naze.
In substitution for the setting sun, we now followed a slightly erroneous bearing directly on the rising moon. Knowing no better, one of our new recruits innocently asked what made the moon red, to be met with a volley of more and less probable explanations. It was at about this point that we espied the torches of the earlier splitters group strung out ahead approaching the Naze and lurched drunkenly to our left in hot pursuit. Both parties were more or less reunited for the descent off the Naze, before Lucy struck out on a final heathery line to the left, affording us the classic picture postcard descent into the Snake Inn via river crossing and wood.
The final tracks reveal that we passed only a hundred metres or so north of the ammo box, leaving the field open for our elders (and Penny, and the Safety Officer) to visit the box unaccompanied. Ships in the night, indeed.
It was Fi's choice of route from Broomhead on an initially light evening. The usual conditions of wind and rain prevailed for a Warts' Wednesday night so the waterproofs were very much to the fore. Also there was predominance of yellow Mudclaws, six out of the group of ten (ten of "the usual suspects") were wearing them. Refreshingly, Fi had no plan to battle through the rhododendrons and over the girder crossing of Ewden as we headed off in the opposite direction towards a walled enclosure marked on the OS map but not on the Harvey map. The wall was found and it was reminiscent of but even less distinct than the John Field Howden enclosure.
The wind and rain continued though there was some relief as we sheltered behind the Broomhead cabin, Fi's next check point. The rain had persisted most of the day and on previous days so streams and rivers were well topped up which made for the first of four interesting river crossings as we headed for Fox Stones across Oaken Clough and Ewden Beck. By now, the ten had become two groups, of four and six, who then raced to the Stones (the six group won!). Another indistinct wall was crossed as we went to the next crossing of Ewden Beck and then of Stainery Clough, also in full spate. Advice about which way to face when wading through the rushing water, upstream or downstream, I forget, was helpfully given by Ian W before we made for the new bridge over Oaken Clough, no more semi immersions! The groupings had now become five and five with the other group crossing the old footbridge at upper Oaken Clough. The wind and rain were now behind us on the climb to Flint Hill via a bit of the quad track but the light had faded so torches were now in use to the finish.A grand and classic Warts' adventure! Thanks to Fi and all
Dark woods, tussocks, rocks, a little snow, a bit of a wind, a string of lights and some uncertainty are characteristics of a Wednesday night Warts' run and tonight was no different. Immediately from the start at Fairholmes, the uncertainty of the route to Lockerbrook (yes to Lockerbrook!) appeared as we headed off on an easy going trail. There was a correction by one group taking a direct route through the woods and brashings before the whole group recombined for more forest leading to open country at Lockerbrook Heights.
From here on there was a touch of serendipity, although this was not recognised at the time. The intention was to reach the wood on the east of Alport Grain and then tip toe through the rocks on the opposite bank before heading off to Alport. However, there was a drift to the left (west!) which meant we only crossed the upper reaches of Alport Grain. A decision was taken to go directly, via tussock and some snow, on to the edge where we would now happily have time to visit The Tower which never disappoints, with wind, vertigo, whisky, jelly babies and a view of a string of lights staggering around. For a bonus, the pond was also visited before a stiff climb back to the edge.
The route back was then straightforward on the flagstones apart from the strong wind. However, Andy and I thought we could carry out a devastating Worsell (for younger members, a short cut!) by using a direct route from the start of the official descent path (south of Lockerbrook Farm) which had often been used in days gone by. This proved useless! Undergrowth had now developed into overgrowth and more saplings had grown so not only did we not catch up the front group (fat chance!) but the group previously behind us (Fi, Steve and Tim) were already at the car park and well on the way to being changed and ready to go to the pub. Oh well, it was still a great adventure!!!
And due to a tear in fabric of spacetime I can reveal that a week later a select group of Warts will spend considerable time going round in circles not finding Low Tor.
Moz, snow and snares were all part of his Warts' race on Wednesday 28th January. Getting to the start at Dennis Knoll was enough of a challenge with the snow falling and covering the road there. Eight check points had been selected by RO Moz although in deference to the conditions, number 8 was withdrawn, so only seven remained and which could be done in any order! About a dozen people started, into a blizzard, with most opting for the clockwise route. Newcomer Richard chose the anti-clockwise direction. For the rest of us, heading for the quarry (first checkpoint) there was drift (in both senses) to the left along a faint track when suddenly a shout went up and Andy was on his back having being caught in a snare. On balance, it was thought worthwhile to get him out and after a bit of wire manipulation, he was released. Then, I realised that my compass had disappeared and even after a return to the snare and a search, no compass. Here, reinforcements arrived in the form of Matt H and the three of us headed for the Bamford Edge path to arrive at the wall which took us to its corner (no. 2). The blizzarding was now becoming intermittent so there were occasional views of the Hope valley which was vaguely encouraging leading to an increase in pace and a general warming feeling (wearing two thermal vests and two Buffalo tops!). The Pillar (no. 3) eventually emerged out of the darkness after following the wall for a while. After the Jarvis Cabin checkpoint (no.4), we met Richard on his anti-clockwise route. He seemed cheerful and confident. There were distant views of head torches on Stanage where we arrived having missed the shooting butt track which Clive had sprinted up earlier. It needed a short diversion to the left on the edge to reach the cabin (no. 5). To reach the High Neb bus shelter (no. 6), we enjoyed a bit of a battering from the wind and some semi frozen peaty ponds (thank goodness for neoprene socks!). Off the edge towards Buck Stone (no. 7) we discovered that the bracken still shows some spirit of resistance even in deepest darkest winter. Moz was a welcome sight at the finish. There was a little concern for Richard who had not arrived back but thankfully a light was seen on the horizon from the direction of the quarry. Richard was on his way to the finish. Many thanks to Moz for the maps and for a great race which was nowhere near the infamous Friar's Ridge!
P.S. Pete G also had an encounter with a snare and some blood was spilt!!!!!
P.P.S. Moz, John and Tim Ray also chose the anti-clockwise route but retired in the first major blizzard on Stanage Edge, so well done to Richard for getting all the way round.
Given the snowy conditions and an apparent splitting of the group, with a lot of folk doing their own thing, Jim Twohig and I decided to dust of our skis and head out for some touring. After an eventful journey which included getting held up by a stationary and struggling 4 wheel drive police car on the burbage road just outside ringinglow (incidentally during this hold up a long wheel base land rover possibly belonging to another, unnamed, club member ploughed past us through the verge at high speed!), we eventually parked up at Odin Mine and donned our skis and skins. We followed tracks up the side of the road before turning uphill and zig zagging our way up the hill towards the ridge between Mam Tor and Hollins cross. The snow was good, with between 6 and 12 inches depth, and continued to fall for the duration. Upon reaching the ridge we were hit by the cold icy winds, which had stripped all but the lightest dusting of snow from the summit of Mam Tor. En route we passed a lone mountain biker working his way along the ridge. After a pause for photos, we dropped off from the summit down the ridge and then to the north east and removed the skins ready for the descent. The snow was deeper on northern side, as we had hoped, allowing some good turns on the descent. However progress was slowed briefly when we strayed into deep undergroth which proceeded to lock itself around our skis making retreat somewhat awkward. The skiing was good in spite of the poor visibility, which added an extra layer of excitement, with obstacles such as fences appearing at high speed and with little warning. The rest of the decent was pleasant and uneventful, aside from a spectacular fall from one of the party, mentioning no names. Thankfully Jim survived with damage only to his pride and we re-fitted our skins started our climb back up towards the road corner west of the summit. From here we descended direct(ish) back to the car at Odin Mine. We tried to meet up with others at the Ladybower but were surprised to find it closed, but thankfully refreshments were found closer to home in The Union. Jim won the style prize in his all over buffalo gear in blue and purple. All in all a fine night was had by all, just a shame it's all melted now!
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