Monday 5 November 2012

Always remember that night in November.....

Running towards my pot of gold
    The thermometer registered a nithering 1ºC as we drove into Hebden on Saturday morning. Early mist blanketed the Wharfe valley and frost was nipping any remaining leaves from village trees. First priorities were stoking up the stove and getting the coffee pot on - if only to warm our hands round steaming mugs before changing into running gear and taking to the hills. During another cold, wet week I'd only ventured out once for a quick five mile tempo run between showers, so a couple of longer runs was called for over the weekend to restore the status quo.
That raven - my guardian angel?
    Mossdale was my first objective, a ten miler with 970ft of ascent to give the old legs something to think about. I'd hardly got into my stride before the first icy shower had me fumbling in my bumbag for a waterproof top. I recently became the proud owner of an OMM Kamleika smock which keeps me dry and warm in the nastiest of conditions.  Thus protected I sloshed along the boggy track towards a tantalizing rainbow with its proverbial pot of gold.  I didn't find it!  Running up the long wall I was greeted once again by a friendly raven that for some reason seems to welcome my company. This time it was joined by its mate and the pair of them performed aerial acrobatics in the wind while shadowing me for nearly four miles, over into Mossdale and right round to Kelber pasture. I've no idea what it is about me that attracts them. They can't possibly be as friendly with everyone else or they'd have come to grief long ago, victims of our local gamekeeper who shoots or traps all predatory birds and animals that dare to venture onto his grouse moor. Obviously they don't fly as close to him as they do to me. 
Nasty weather over Mossdale on Saturday
   It was snowing on Great Whernside and a heavy shower of sleet battered me as I ran down into Mossdale. Further along I sheltered for a couple of minutes by the wall as our local shepherd and his dog herded an enormous flock of Swaledale ewes towards Kelber pasture where I'm guessing they'll be introduced to the tups for the beginning of their annual breeding season. November 5th has long been the traditional date in the Yorkshire Dales for the start of this activity, for lambing to start around April 1st when the worst of the winter weather is hopefully over. But weather patterns have changed over the years. April often produces icy rain and bitterly cold winds that wreak havoc with lambing time, so many farmers start the season earlier, bringing sheep indoors to have their lambs, some as early as January, then turn them out when lambs are stronger and more able to withstand any harsh conditions.
Brighter weather down our frosty lane
    On several occasions after 90 minutes of running I've experienced a noticeable drop in energy levels, especially when I've been battling against the elements, and I finish very heavy legged over the remaining distance. Saturday was yet another of those occasions and it was a tired old Runningfox that tottered back into Hebden, badly in need of fluid and sustenance. In bygone days the Mossdale circuit rarely took more than 90 minutes to run, so never a need to carry food or water. Nowadays it can take anything up to two hours - so I must get into the habit of carrying a couple of mini Mars Bars, or suchlike, to boost the sugar levels to end my runs with a flourish - and maybe impress any villagers that might happen to be watching down the lane!
Galloway's book, which I choose to ignore
    Sunday's run was an easy six mile dawnder down the riverbank. After all, what's the point in trying to run fast when there are 43 gates and stiles to negotiate?  It gently brought my weekly total of miles to 21, and 911 for the year so, all being well, I'll chalk up my planned thousand by the end of December.  It's enough, or maybe too much if Jeff Galloway is to be believed. In his book 'Running until you're 100' a runner of my ilk should only be doing three sessions per week - one long run, one short run and one long walk. Also, something I can never agree with, though he's probably right, runners of my age and pace should alternate every 2 minutes running with 30 seconds of walking. As far as I'm concerned, I'll only walk when I can no longer run.  I'd hate my brain to finally acknowledge I'm becoming an old man!
    It wasn't my wonderful partner's birthday yesterday but it was getting close, so we decided to celebrate anyway with a romantic meal together at a local hostelry. Did I say romantic? The place was absolutely dead. Not another soul to be seen as we chose the warmest corner by the fire. Even the barman was absent most of the time, we'd to poke our noses in and drag him away from the waitress in the kitchen to refill our empty glasses.
That romantic meal
Many moons ago a famous landlord of ours had the unenviable reputation of being the most miserable in the Dale, though he did have a wry sense of humour. The thought struck me that last night's young barman could well have served his apprenticeship under him, though still sadly lacking in the latter quality. By way of a change we ordered gammon and eggs, which, I kid you not, arrived not on a plate but looking rather lonely on something resembling a large breadboard - oh, and with chips in a silver basket. See the picture if you don't believe me. Admittedly, all was cooked to perfection, as always, but we're not used to that sort of thing in down to earth Yorkshire. It may be some time before we set foot in there again. Anyhow, the frosty night sky was sparkling with stars when we left - so that was quite romantic.  As was the wee dram of delectable amber nectar round a warm open stove when we got home. I'm sure my wonderful partner will find it all quite unforgettable - though I'm rather glad it wasn't really her birthday. We may have give it another go!


  1. Enjoyable read, particularly the raven encounter. Good luck with the remaining 89.

  2. Heehee, that sure is a lonely looking piece of gammon! Loved your post, as always.

  3. You live in such a ruggedly beautiful part of the world. Love the rainbow pic.

    1. It's beautiful and I never get tired of running it - but it's exceedingly squelchy after the wet summer.

  4. Great Read. Really enjoyed it! keep up the running, it gives us all a smile that we still have years left in us :)