Tuesday, 19 February 2019

First curlew....

There wasn't a cloud in the sky as we drove to Grimwith just as the sun was peeping over the horizon. The wind had dropped but it was cool enough in the early morning to go back into tights.
Beginning our dawn run round Grimwith  (Click to enlarge pictures)
An absense of game birds on the road indicated people had scattered them away before us, but there was only one other car in the parking lot.
View from the dam wall
A flock of oystercatchers had returned to their haunts and stood in a long line along the dam wall but flew away when they saw me getting my camera out.
The usual greylags
There were greylags too, one of them making a strange barking sound - like a fox
Enjoying the morning sun, back o' Grimwith
"What was that?" I blurted as we ran along the dam, 90% sure I'd heard a curlew.  There was no doubting when it called again a few minutes later.  We were so, so glad we'd made the effort to get up and run.
Looking into the sun - blinding my camera
We passed a lone gentleman with a pair of Weimaraners, or he passed us, probably the owner of that other car we'd seen.   He'd already circuited the reservoir.
A wee rest at a high point.
The shooters must have had a good haul this year for there were hardly any birds left for us to trip over.  And I reckon by now the shooting season is over.  Except for poachers..
So nice to run in the sun
 It would be interesting to know where they all go for I never saw a plate pass by with legs stuck in the air as we dined in the Clarendon the previous night.
Bridge over Blea Beck
It was downhill all the way to the bridge over Blea Beck where a roe deer once crossed our path and leapt over the fence like a champion high jumper, never to be seen again.
Dropping down to Gateup ghyll
I suppose we could call this a three bridges route, as one previously mentioned, for in another ½ km we're dropping down to cross the one over Gateup Ghyll.
Upon reflection
Looking across to the boathouse
A rough stony track used to run back o' Grimwith but they've gone and made it wheelchair friendly which might prove useful when I get another few years on my back.  Maybe sooner!
Bumbling along back o' Grimwith

Caught in morning light
In the meantime it was nice running with the sun on our faces to the sound of gaggling greylags and whistling teal.
Lagoon back o' Grimwith
Not so perfect when I take it..
Farther along we passed a photographer who'd found just the right light conditions for setting up his tripod to get a shot of the reservoir with a perfect foreground, the old thatched building.
Almost finished
Just another short climb
From thereon we'd a 500m climb back to the car park, crossing our third bridge, a tiny one over a dried up water course.
Passing early morning walkers...
...and a gamekeeper at the finish
And that was it.  We finished feeling good after 4.33 miles and a mere 300ft of ascent.  It was back home, all smiles, for an unusual breakfast of chocolate milk, porridge, toast and coffee.
Smiles became broader and lasted all day as we brought to mind the sound of our first curlew.
That 'wet-footed god of the horizons'

Spring is in the air......

I think it was Paula Radcliffe who said "I really can't imagine living without running".  I can echo that, especially on wonderful Spring-like days such as we've just had.  It's got to that time of year when we eagerly anticipate hearing/seeing our first curlew, lapwing, golden plover - or spotting our first celandine - and we can't resist going in search of them. 
It's an annual ritual.
Wearing shorts for the first time this year  (Click to enlarge pictures)
Saturday was warm enough to unlag my old white legs for some welcome ultra violet treatment.
Setting off up the crag path
We set off up the crag for a 7 mile circuit round Mossy Mere, Blea Beck and the wild, empty spaces beyond.
Greylags on Mossy Mere -with two other birds in background
Greylags had returned to Mossy mere, and so had some other species we couldn't identify without binoculars.  Well, I couldn't...
We were longing to hear our first curlew, that musical harbinger of Spring that returns to our high pastures around the end of February, but all was silent.   Except for a parcel of Swaledale sheep whose lunch we disturbed.
Good companions
A local shepherd was tending sheep in a pen by Backstone Edge lane with a well trained, alert collie in attendence.
Backstone Edge lane
I'll swear Backstone Edge lane is longer than it used to be!  I'm not quite sure how it got its name.
Top of Backstone Edge, entering Hebden Moor
 I think it's from the craggy outcrop on the right, as we ascend, where miners acquired their 'bake-stones' for heating and baking oat cakes. A staple diet.
Entering Hebden Moor- and the peat cuttings
It's a wet and soggy entry to Hebden Moor where some hardy locals still cut peat to supplement their winter fuel supply.
View over Grimwith reservoir having left the peat cuttings
There is no gas pipeline to the village of Hebden so coal, wood and peat is still widely used. A friend of mine swears Hebden is 60 years behind the rest of the country!
The good shepherd - Robert Stockdale of Hebden
By the gate at the end of the peat cuttings we were joined by the local shepherd taking a parcel of sheep through to Thomson Hole Moss.
No chance of keeping dry feet here
We left him to continue sloshing our way alongside Blea Beck towards Grassington Moor and the dams.
Ooh look, someone's carved my initial
It was hard work, only slightly relieved after we crossed the Parish boundary from Hebden into Grassington where I posed at a boundary stone.
Leaving the boundary wall, running towards the dams.
We carried on, following the beck towards the dams where fairly soon whistling teal will be returning to their remote rushy nesting sites.
We thought this track might be dry.  Wrong again!
Joining a track by the dams we'd anticipated drier running conditions but recent rains had put paid to that.  We could dodge the wetter parts.
Des Res - old mining building with glorious views.  Needs a little attention...
There were no signs of life at the dams, not a single bird on the water.  Occasionally a cock grouse would tell us to go-back, go-back, go-back, but mainly the moor was silent as the grave.
Chimney and dam
A derelict mining building marked the high point of our run at 1,325 ft.  From there on it was all downhill, past the chimney and down into the ghyll.
Trying to run faster, down the rough track into the ghyll
 If I'd had any strength left I'd have broken into a faster run, just for the hell of it, but the boggy ascent across the moor had drained me a bit.
Back into Hebden Ghyll and nearly home
A combination of cold head wind and tiredness, not to mention a soggy bra, had my wonderful partner donning some added protection to keep warm.
Just two more minutes...then we've done
It was an easy run down the ghyll for some much needed protein (Chocolate milk) then a repeat of last week's hot milky tea with two sugars and a rather large spoonful of brandy.
Slunk in my comfortable chair I vowed I'd finished running, for good.  But I don't think my wonderful partner was too surprised when, ½ an hour later, I suggested we get up early next morning for a sunrise run round Grimwith reservoir.
Grimwith sunrise
And we did.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Trial bikes and Terraclaws......

This latest video not only had me scratching my head half the night but all next day too.  For the life in me I can't fathom out how to download appropriate music into videos.  I dearly wanted Martyn Bennett's 'Blackbird', the track he used as background music for his incredible video - 
but it failed to download.  I need lessons!
So, from hundreds of music tracks on my computer only three will download. So far.  I apologize for 'The Wild Mountain Thyme' which, although one of my favourite songs I've sung hundreds of times in mountaineering days, is entirely inappropriate.
 Having said that, heather and wild mountain thyme both grow up the ghyll and on the moor but don't flower at this time of year.
But snowdrops do.
My wonderful partner was again on National Parks Ranger duty so I laced up my Terraclaws and took off into the hills alone for an 8 mile run to the far reaches of Grassington Moor.  Running up the ghyll I was wondering why Hebden beck was running 'horseback brown' like the burn in Gerard Manley Hopkin's poem 'Inversnaid'. 
 I soon fouind out.  The annual motor cycle trials were taking place up the ghyll and everywhere was getting badly churned up.  
But it was fascinating to watch and I spent far more time there than I should before eventually setting off to where I'd originally intended to go, up onto the wild, empty moor where an unsociable gamekeeper and his equally ignorant passenger were the only people that passed.
It was cloudy, dark, and a cold wind swept across the higher reaches of the moor.  In spite of a hooded jacket, cap and gloves, I still couldn't keep warm.  After 4 miles I turned and ran for home.
She didn't say much when I flopped through the door but my wonderful partner decided a strong cup of tea with plenty of sugar and a large splash of brandy was called for.  And she was right,
I was knackered!

Monday, 4 February 2019

Three bridges......

My Rt eye was feeling a little sore after another nasty injection during last Thursday's freezing, foggy conditions so I'd no intentions of running last weekend, especially if it was windy.   But Sunday dawned calm, sunny and clear so when my wonderful partner began changing into her running clothes I couldn't resist joining her.  I'm glad I did.
A cock pheasant we passed  in the lane kicked up an awful din but didn't fly away.  It could have been saying 'enjoy your run'.
We encountered ice before leaving the village but soon acquired a steady rhythm crunching through snow and frozen fields with glorious views all around.
We'd planned a two bridge route but were enjoying it so much we unanimously agreed to include a third (Grassington) which gave us an extra mile.
Grassington was somewhat devoid of tourists but we passed quite a few along the river bank.  Some actually spoke!

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Sunday's run....

January 27th, 2019......what we pensioners do to keep warm in winter......

Monday, 21 January 2019

Wild runner......

I normally run Tuesdays and Thursdays before breakfast, weather permitting, but appointments at the eye clinic on both those mornings last week put paid to any thoughts of getting out into the hills.  I was looking forward to Saturday's run in the Yorkshire Dales but that too went by the board after my back went into spasm.  Bent like a banana I'd difficulty getting up and down stairs, let alone running.  I sometimes wonder if I'm becoming an old man?
Hebden Crag and resident jackdaws   (Click to enlarge pictures)
Lashings of Voltarol gel and a few 600mg tablets of Ibuprofen took away the pain sufficiently for me to be able to walk straight again.  On Sunday morning I was rarin' to go.  We'd awoke to thick, freezing fog but it was forecast to begin clearing by 10am.  My wonderful partner was on National Park Ranger duty so left home at 9.15am to patrol Grassington Moor with an accomplice. 
Dwarf ferns
 It was  11am before fog cleared sufficiently from the village to allow the sun to lure me out of the house.  Setting off at a fast walk up the ghyll, interspersed with a few gentle jogs, it wasn't long before I'd totally forgotten any back problems and settled into a steady run.  A clattering of jackdaws wheeled around the crag.  Scores of them nest there, once allowing a kestrel to reside amongst them.
Getting a bit icy up Hebden Ghyll
The sun still shone as I crossed the old Miner's Bridge where beautiful little dwarf ferns sprout from moss on top of the wall.  Ascending higher it wasn't long before the track became icy.  A nithering rawness prompted me to don a jacket and move faster to maintain a reasonable body temperature.
Looking across Hebden Beck to Bolton Ghyll
 A party of mountain bikers were pedalling up the lower slopes of  Bolton Ghyll, possibly bound for  Mossy Mere. 
Farther up Hebden Beck
  I carried on following the beck, rising into thickening gloom towards Grassington Moor. The 'bent tree', a moorland landmark just below Cupola Corner, was shrouded in mist.
Bent tree in snow speckled landscape
  From henceforth any views would be severely limited, but I've run across this moor on scores, maybe hundreds, of occasions so it held no fears.
Stone man - the high point at 1,500ft
The same could not be said for the lady accompanying my wonderful partner on Ranger duty.   I'd noticed their footprints on an icy track rising towards Mossdale, and the same footprints returning from a point a mile or so farther along.  The lady was frightened of getting lost, she'd said.  My wonderful partner assured her she'd run the circuit scores of times and knew exactly where she was.  Ah well, it was icy and the lady had forgotten her trekking poles.   They aborted and turned back. 
Shepherd's or gamekeeper's vehicles had churned up the track past the 'Stone man', most likely the latter as they went about regular duties checking their traps.  Footprints in the snow indicated a fox may have been checking for small game ahead of them!
setting off down the Long wall...
I'd expected much more snow as I set off running down the Long wall for it tends to drift there, sometimes as high as the wall top, but it was relatively clear on Sunday. 
...and still running to the sheep pens by Moor Lane
It's exactly a mile from leaving the Mossdale track to sheep pens at the end of Moor Lane.  In spite of rough underfoot conditions, in marathon training days I'd run it in 6 minutes - the first of three measured (downhill) miles on my way home.  Nowadays it takes twice as long with no chance of attempting another two!  
Happy runner
 Jogging back down the ghyll I emerged into sunshine again and felt a gentle warmth on my face.  TomTom registered 7.48 miles with 923ft of ascent.  

 'Run Happy' 
it says on my cap, and happy I certainly was.