"There's the wind on the heath, brother; if I could only feel that, I would gladly live for ever."
That snippet from George Borrow's book, Lavengro, was whirling around in my mind over the weekend as I ran myself to a standstill over the heather moors around Grassington.
|Relaxing in my private patch during that 5 day rest. (Click to enlarge pictures)
After a five day break straddling the previous weekend, when my body was telling me in no uncertain terms it needed a rest, I'd started to feel good again. A 5 mile run on Tuesday round the equestrian circuit felt effortless - until a hare broke cover and showed me the real meaning of that word.
I felt pretty good on Thursday's 5 miler too, made better after seeing the sorry state of some possible new recruits to the 'Total Fitness' group collapsed over a metal railing near the top of Castle Hill steps looking incapable of ever making it to the top.
|Bombing up the equestrian route after my rest
Come Saturday I think my brain got a bit out of control when it started sending messages through about a 10 mile run into the wilds of Mossdale. Surprisingly, when I mentioned it to my wonderful partner, she decided she'd like to go too, mainly to see and smell the heather at its glorious best, one of those milestones we both look forward to each passing year.
|The heathery track to Mossdale....
It really is a wonderful sight, while it lasts. But weatherwise that day we didn't have ideal conditions. It wasn't very warm, and it wasn't very sunny, so we didn't really experience that heady scent that fills the air on warmer days. But at least, it was a feast for our eyes. A shooting party of around thirty guns said they were after rabbits, but appeared to have had a lean time for not a single carcass was in evidence.
|.....and the watery way out
We bantered with them before going on our way. Back home we came to the conclusion we'd have been plenty fit enough to run the Burnsall 10 mile race that took place that afternoon, especially since the cut-off time had been extended from 90 minutes to two hours. Ah well, maybe next year..
..Also taking place on Saturday was the inaugural running of the Glencoe Skyline race, a technical 32 mile route with nearly 14,000ft of ascent. The fun starts with a moderate rock climb up Curved Ridge onto Buchaille Etive Mhor to begin the high level half, then back down into the Coe before climbing up onto the Aonach Eagach ridge for a run to the Finish. There was live tracking of all the runners on the internet, so a great deal of time was spent on my iPad following the likes of Joe Symonds, winner in 7hrs 36mins, and ladies winner, Emelie Forsberg just 8 minutes behind him in 7hrs 44mins. I've walked and climbed just about every part of the route and it's mind boggling how folk can actually run it. Sky runners really are super human.
|Bingley Harrier, Ian Holmes, running through Hebden on his way to winning the Burnsall 10 mile race
Evening found me sprawled in my favourite chair with a glass of favourite malt whisky to hand, mulling over the day's activities while enjoying the thunder and lightning storm that raged outside. Nothing like a good firework display to end the day....
|Staggering up the ghyll on Sunday after a busy week.....
Sunday dawned warm and sunny and got hotter as the day wore on. It was perfect for my wonderful partner to carry out her National Park duties on a 10 mile circuit of Barden Fell (wild raspberries and bilberries somehow found their way onto the menu that night) and, after Church, for me to set out on another enjoyable run over the purple expanse of Grassington Moor. By lunchtime the temperature had risen to 70º, enough to warm the heather sufficiently to release its wonderful scent into the balmy air. It stopped me in my tracks. Before I could run further I'd to have my fill of that sweet smell pervading my nostrils, the gentle wind sighing all around and warm sunshine caressing my bare skin. I sat on a peaty hummock, drinking it all in, savouring the experience. A pair of ravens tumbled about in the sky, as they do, but never circled above or treated me to spectacular fly pasts as a previous pair used to do.
|......and a view looking back down
Heading back down the long wall, it struck me my 28 mile week was beginning to take its toll. My legs were crying out to stop. A walking party about 40 strong formed a guard of honour down the ghyll so I felt obliged to put on the style, to look like a real runner rather than the geriatric jogger I really am! By the time I got home I was incapable of running another step and pretty soon fell asleep in my favourite chair enjoying the sweetest of dreams.....until a ringing noise ended my reverie.
"Put the kettle on" the phone said.
What a jolly good idea, how did it know?