Monday, 11 April 2011


Last Saturday was a funny sort of day but unfortunately not very ha-ha. In view of a forthcoming hilly half marathon, at Keswick, I decided it was time for some long, slow enjoyable runs while taking full advantage of the warm Spring-like weather. 2½ miles into my run I passed a jolly group of people with a pack of dogs, all on leads. As I jogged by, exchanging pleasantries, one of the dogs growled and took a flying lunge at me, its bare teeth scraping my chest as I instinctively backed away. Had I not moved quickly I reckon I'd have been missing a pound of flesh.
Stink Pit with dead fox on top - and a snare to catch the next one
Perhaps it was a rush of adrenalin that made me move more freely after that incident. Three miles farther along I was flowing down a heathery ramp towards a shooting hut in the wilds of Mossdale when suddenly I was brought to earth with an almighty bang that knocked the wind out of my sails and laid me motionless for a wee while.The wire noose of a fox snare was encircling my ankle and biting into my Achilles tendon. Had I been moving faster that tendon may well have severed leaving me stranded many miles from civilisation with only a whistle to attract attention. 
This was the third time Old Runningfox had been brought to earth - courtesy of our over zealous gamekeeper. Round one 'stink pit' (a heap of decaying carcases to attract foxes) I counted eight of these lethal snares at the edge of moorland where sheep and inquisitive young lambs were grazing. One farmer admitted to finding one of his sheep with a badly lacerated leg. Another local farmer, in his seventies, was also brought down with one of these snares. Yet they are tolerated by farmers and shepherds alike. Live and let live is their attitude. There is room on the moor for everyone, including runners. Each to his own interests. I didn't bother to reset the snare as I hobbled off over the incongruous new bridge for the last seven miles of my run. My anger eventually melted in the sun's healing warmth and the soothing sounds of a myriad moorland birds. Maybe, next time, I'll remember to take my mobile phone!
Later, as I relaxed in the garden with a cooling drink, I heard a most beautiful sound, that wonderful distinctive twittering that heralds the arrival of summer.  Now, I know 'one Swallow doesn't make a summer' but there were four of them. Time to slap on the sun cream!


  1. Hell, you were very lucky. Fortunately i havn’t come across one of those snares. Touch wood and all that.
    Hope you are right with the weather.
    Are you doing the Duddon Valley fell race this year by any chance?

  2. Hi there Odyssee,
    No, I wont be doing Duddon, my racing is confined to Roads and Trails nowadays (mainly where there's an MV75 category!) - although I still do a lot of running up on the fells where I love to be.
    Yes, I was lucky. He's only recently set snares in that particular area. Wasn't expecting it.

  3. OMG! Poor Runningfox! Me thinks they've got their foxes mixed up.

    Am relieved to know your injuries weren't too serious but it was a close shave by the sounds. Hope you're recovered from the shock.
    Best wishes, RB.

  4. Cripes us runners have enough to contend with without farmers baiting and trapping us! You're a hardy buck to have recovered sufficiently to run 7 miles home...

  5. Ouch! A few Dark Peak Fell Runners have reported being caught in similar snares these last few months over here, they seem to be either on the increase or being placed closer to human traffic these days. Hope you are fully recovered.

  6. Crikey. That's a hazard that would never have occurred to me. Glad you were going slow enough not to be too injured!