Monday 17 November 2014

Two Churches.....

Yeah, I know, I've said this before....(Click to enlarge)
Last weeks fall in the Lake District left me as stiff and inflexible as an old board for the rest of the week. Ibuprofen was marvellous for killing the pain but little use as a lubricant. My wonderful partner often talks of a design fault in the human body, intimating that God should have created grease nipples over the main moving joints! I could certainly make use of some at the moment. I'm pathetic when I ease out of bed in the morning, forcing myself upright and holding onto the wall as I totter off to the bathroom. And the nodding donkey act, trying to put my socks on, particularly the right one, would make the devil laugh.Then of course, I've got to get down the stairs. Breakfast is sometimes late!

Path onto the moor by Coalgrove beck...
Hence, running has been a bit of a struggle, but I forced myself out on three occasions to chalk up another nineteen miles, if my maths are correct - a five, a six and an eight - though I've got to admit I was running out of steam on that longer one. It was foggy and a cold 6ยบ as we ran up the ghyll through yet another guard of honour, hoping they'd see us and lower their guns until we were far enough away. Another shooting party were blasting away at pheasant and partridge in Blea Ghyll, so our run was accompanied by a constant sound of gunfire. We'd have preferred some peace and quiet. After 2½ miles we split to go our different routes.

 I was running well up to the high point at 1,500ft
Saturday....running well up to 1,500ft.....
but had to walk short sections on the way down. I'd bounded across Grassington Moor and over Bycliffe Hill at a fair rate of knots (for me) until I'd to stop and rebuild a little cairn that marks a place where I rejoin the track - or leave it, depending on which way I'm running. A short wooden post marked the place for long enough but each time I passed it had been pulled out and thrown away. So I hit on the idea of building a small cairn. Surely that wouldn't be intrusive? Surprise, surprise, the stones have been thrown away every time I've passed. The culprit, I suspect, is our local gamekeeper who, God forgive me, I'm beginning to hate. He's the one who's cleared the moor of everything but grouse, encouraged, I suppose, by his stinking rich employer who lives on the continent and doesn't give a toss for any other form of wildlife in our area. As long as there are sufficient grouse for his wealthy clientelle to blast from the sky three or four times a year, he's happy.

My wee cairn, It's not doing any harm, is it?
Maybe it was a head full of negative thoughts poisoning the system that disrupted my rhythm and reduced me to a walk on several occasions descending into the ghyll. Serves me right. Our friendlier local shooters had enjoyed a good morning judging by the number of pheasant hung by the brace over the sides of their vehicles. I'd have stolen one but all eyes were upon me as I ran the gauntlet of guns and dogs on the way back to the village. We're occasionally given a brace, dressed and oven ready, by way of a Christmas present - though a Colorectal Consultant I'd the misfortune to see on a couple of occasions recently strongly advised against such things, or any red meat, along with bread, all dairy products, anything with seeds in it and, worst of all, alcohol. Needless to say, we didn't quite see eye to eye.
Sunday...running the autumn riverbank...
Running is very much a spiritual pastime. Running can make you feel more alive; out on the open moor, in the  mountains, or any wild and lonely place, you become less of a person and more a part of the great scheme of things. The great outdoors becomes both a gym and a Church. Sacred thy body even as thy soul is the motto of a certain body building organisation - but running is also a great way of combining the two. On Sunday I sampled both and, for once, the great outdoors certainly came out best. In the morning we'd enjoyed a pleasant riverside run together among scintilating autumn colours with geese and goosanders for company, passed the time of day with other runners we met, and with only a soothing sound from the rippling river as opposed to all the gunshot the previous day.

Who's a silly goose then?
In the afternoon I was reading Psalm 51 for Rev Roger Fox, a Methodist minister and healer. For the uninitiated it's David's prayer for forgiveness after his adulterous affair with the beautiful Bathsheba. With much shouting that ensured 'the deaf shall hear' and some extravagant gesticulations to amplify his salient points Rev Fox left us in little doubt we were all sinners in one way or other - though not necessarily adulterers. I fully expected him making an altar call inviting each and every one of us to fall on our knees and beg forgiveness - just as David had. The funny part was, all of the congregation bar one are in our 70's and 80's. Or maybe it wasn't funny. I'm afraid if I'd to choose between any two similar events, the wild run would come out top. Grassington Moor on a balmy summers day, or in the freezing winter, is a very fine Church. Indeed, it really is God's country.


  1. I find running on My Mountain my quiet time, as most weekends when I'm up there I'm alone, and while on occations I have music in my ears mostly I'm mostly just listening to the sounds of nature and God.

    1. While training for the World Mountain Running Championships in Switzerland I did mile reps up an exceptionally steep hill. It was the only time I ever had music with me - to take my mind off the pain! I guess your mountain is pretty steep too. Cheers Coach...

  2. Lovely post, as always, Gordon.

    1. Thanks Karien, lovely places inspire lovely thoughts thoughts - though you might not always think so, reading my stuff!
      Happy running...

  3. Nice sentiments, and I agree with gamekeeper comments!
    Sounded a nice excursion as always. Hope your aches mend quickly.

    1. The previous gamekeeper was a wonderful chap Ian; I got on really well with him after he found out who I was and what I did.He'd always stop for a chat. I've nothing against shooting and grouse management but the present keeper takes it to extremes to the exclusion of everything else. That I hate....

  4. Running in such incredible landscape is certainly a spiritual experience. An evening dash round the block in the dark not so much, but I relish a good long run over the South Downs!