Tuesday 27 May 2014

A right hole to be in....

      We decided to run somewhere different during the Spring Bank Holiday period, a route we'd never run
The long up-hill past Threshfield quarry (click to enlarge hole)
before. Of all the beautiful places we could have chosen in the Yorkshire Dales we opted to run around and through a 100 year old abandoned quarry! My little brain can't conceive what a hectare is but Threshfield quarry covers 52 of them which makes it one heck of a big hole. A Project Officer is to be employed shortly to develop and manage the construction of an art and heritage trail through its vast recesses. Already its three lagoons have become a sanctuary for endangered white-clawed crayfish, though a pair of oystercatchers nesting on nearby shingle may have other ideas for their future!

Photo stop among the orchids....
    After leaving the car on the main road at Skirethorns we ran steadily uphill for two miles climbing to a height of 1,230ft around the perimeter of the quarry to its northernmost point. Leaving the gravel track we passed through a stile into open fell country where underfoot conditions were much more to my liking. Tussocky grassland, springy turf dotted with mountain pansies and occasional limestone outcrops were a joy to run. For the first time in weeks I felt strength returning to the old legs and I couldn't resist some faster bursts and uphill bounds. A clump of early purple orchids interspersed with birds eye primroses at the halfway mark brought us to a temporary halt as we reached for our cameras to record the colourful collection. Thereafter, a faint track led us back to the quarry and a fast run down past the lagoons to complete a very pleasant 6 miles. The sun shines on the righteous as they say, but as we returned home the heavens opened and kept us indoors for the rest of the day.

      However, it shone for us again on Bank Holiday Monday as we ventured out for an early morning run to
On the Dales Way above Grassington...
avoid the tourist hoards along the Dales Way. We began our run at the 700ft contour in Grassington with a gentle but unrelenting climb over the first couple of miles to 1,000ft, dropped to 635ft at Conistone after 3½ miles, then climbed back to 960ft in 5 miles before an enjoyable 1½ mile downhill run to the finish. The Garmin registered 6.47 miles with 800ft of actual ascent. It was a beautiful morning, sunny with cotton wool clouds and just a hint of a breeze as we ascended flower bedecked limestone pastures with curlews calling and happy skylarks singing incessantly. Uphill it may have been, but nevertheless we could honestly say "At this moment in time we would rather be here than anywhere else on earth".  We live for such moments.

and an 'interesting' bit in Conistone Dib.....
From the high point we'd a steep, fast run past Bull Scar into Conistone Dib where things got a bit 'interesting'.  Running warily over ankle-twisting limestone cobbles we entered a dark narrow gorge with mossy walls, ferns and leafy, overhanging trees.  We dropped down a series of stony ramps made slippery with recent rain, clinging to anything we could lay our hands on for support, before eventually emerging into bright sunlight again and a less stony path into the village of Conistone. Not everyone's cup of tea but infinitely more satisfying, for us, than a boring, flat ribbon of tarmac that demands music in the ears to make it tolerable (or, God forbid, one of those popular apps telling us when to run and when to walk).

      After a brief chat with some ex-neighbours, now resident in Conistone, we took an ascending track to
Closing the gate on Wharfedale - overhanging Kilnsey Crag beyond...
another stony 'Dib' where we'd hoped to locate and photograph the annual display of bird's eye primroses. Alas, we were either too early or they were flowering late, for not one did we find. This Dib was less vicious and more runnable than the afore mentioned one, initially a short rocky descent before some steep boundable limestone steps back up into Lea Green.  This part of the route affords panoramic views of the Wharfe valley with the iconic Kilnsey Crag towering over it.  Late flowering cowslips greeted us on the fringe of Bastow Wood along with a little cluster of early purple orchids enjoying the warm sunshine as much as us.

      After climbing over a ladder stile it was an easy run over springy turf to rejoin the Dales Way back to the bustling heart of Grassington. Our overall time was slow but en route I'd regularly picked up the pace, danced happily over limestone outcrops, used downhill sections to enjoy the feeling of speed - and all this on a glorious Spring day through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Is it any wonder I'm so addicted to this wonderful pastime and never want to stop?


  1. Love those "at this moment in time I would rather be here than anywhere else on earth"-moments too :) .

  2. Can't wait to get out and explain the mountain again, there is nothing better... That said I also long to speeed round a track running feelly and fast!!! I'm please you can get out and enjoy the country side.

  3. We're having beautiful weather over here as well and wonderful growth and bloomage... I wish I was fit to run, I'm quare envious.

  4. Great to see the orchids out. I was in Snowdonia last week and saw a good number of Bog Orchids, very pretty.

  5. Wherever you are it is just so good to be out and about enjoying nature, your mind and body just feels that bit happier .... a good feeling.

    Have a good weekend

    All the best Jan