|Gorse-clad Castle Hill|
I find it awfully difficult to sit at my computer, catching up with emails or updating my blog, when the sun is shining outside. When the sun is out, I want to be out too, running the hills in shorts and vest, maybe pottering around in the garden, or laid in some secluded spot smothered in sun cream, enjoying the sheer bliss of that welcome warmth on my bare skin. Over a five day period last week I did all three, and a few other things besides. As far as the running went I managed a total of 27 miles - a five, two sevens and an eight miler - all at an enjoyable pace through glorious countryside and finishing the first three of these runs feeling I could have done more. The last one over seven miles on a third consecutive day had me struggling a bit but I couldn't resist making the most of such wonderful conditions. The spirit was strong but the flesh was feeling its age, as it sometimes does.....
Castle Hill was its dazzling best on Thursday, its banks covered in bright yellow gorse that gave off a heady
|Step we gaily, on we go - up the ghyll....|
scent of vanilla as I jogged past. Yellow hammers serenaded me with their 'little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheeeeese' ditties. Larksong dribbled from the sky. In ploughed and harrowed fields corn sprouted in neat green rows, the farmer's work of art. The air was incredibly clear so far flung landmarks - Holme Moss, Emley Moor TV mast and Haworth wind farm - appeared close enough to run a circuit around all three. But not by me! In woodland glades my nose was assailed by the scent of bluebells that formed a dense carpet beneath the trees. I look forward to these events every year. They're always new and fresh and exciting. I never tire of them. I think it was Ellen MacArthur who said: "The most incredible thing that will ever happen to you is still to come - and the moment you think it's not, then life gets a bit boring." Amen to that.
|The track to remote Bare House - left of centre...|
We hadn't run the 7 mile circuit around the isolated Bare House for quite some time and had forgotten just how pleasant this route is. The farm house is deserted now but was recently re-roofed to prevent it from becoming a ruin. It sits at a height of 1,260ft with panoramic views across upper Wharfedale to the rolling limestone hills beyond. We'd a 650ft climb to reach it, up Hebden Ghyll, passing cushions of mountain pansies with their tiny faces turned towards the sun, through the tiny hamlet of Yarnbury and along a sheltered lane where violets lined grassy banks and agitated lapwings lured us away from their wandering fledglings. At Bare House I bid my wonderful partner a temporary 'goodbye', unable to resist a fast 1¾ mile downhill swoop on springy turf all the way to Grassington. The brakes were off and I felt to be flying. Wonderful. So much so I repeated this same seven miles on my own two days later.
My 8 mile circuit round Grassington Moor was my only other run, in shorts and vest, revelling in sun and
|The wonderful run down the long wall - sans ravens....|
wind. Last year on the way home I could almost guarantee the company of a pair of ravens as I careered down 'the long wall' - where I used to run measured miles in my marathon training days. I fear my wonderful black friends may have since come to grief in our local gamekeeper's many traps scattered around the estate. Not many years ago peregrines, buzzards, hen harriers and red kites stopped me in my tracks as I ran these wild and wonderful places. The gamekeeper at that time loved these birds as much as I did and believed there was room for all. Philip has gone, so have all those beautiful raptors - probably for ever - and the new gamekeeper, sadly, will seemingly tolerate nothing but grouse. Our world is an emptier place by their passing.