Tuesday 20 October 2015


Runningwise it's been a fruitless week, or 10 days to be more precise, so the animal is not very happy.  Not one scraggy little mile to record in my log book.  A half mile walk as far as the river to view the autumn tints was as much as I could manage on Sunday. Church was out of the question too (it's not the same when I can't sing!) though it's only a couple hundred yards away.
Autumn tints by the river - farthest I walked last week  (Click to enlarge pictures)
Today, whilst my wonderful partner was enjoying a 10 mile circuit around Nidderdale with her U3A walking group, I ventured into the garden to pull up a load of weeds and generally tidy the place up. Being north facing, and mainly sunless at this time of year, my lawns have never dried sufficiently for me to mow them, but yesterday I made them have it. Scarified them too, so they look a right mess!
Did you say something?  Coal tit at the feeding station
My bird feeding station has attracted some colourful visitors, long-tailed tits, goldfinches and a great spotted woodpecker the other day, but the little blighters fly away as soon as they spot a camera!  A vain little day flying moth was more accommodating and stayed on the same flower for a whole 10 minutes - posing. Or maybe it was tired....
Silver Y moth posing on late flowering phlox
My big holly tree and cotoneaster hedge are dripping with berries which some would say portends a harsh winter. Bring it on. I love running in snow, or even ice, so long as I have the right footwear. Read Yaktrax Pro.
Food for the winter thrushes
Oh, and because I forgot to post it at the time, here is one of the pictures I took of that lunar eclipse in September. I took a series of shots, at various stages, and this was the last one before mist came in and shrouded everything out.
Eclipse - September 28th (I think!)
So that's all I can think of to keep my blog running for another week. Hope everyone likes the pictures - if nothing else! Next week's will be even sparser, or non-existent, for I've no intentions to run until after the clocks have gone back.
Total Mileage: Zilch

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Alive, but not much kicking.....

Inscribed across Spike Milligan's gravestone, in Gaelic, are the words "See, I told you I was ill".  I haven't reached that stage but I'll refrain from using Spike's words so as not to tempt fate.  Let's just say I'm a little under the weather, confined to barracks, heating thermostat switched to Max, gazing at the beautiful weather and birds feeding outside my window - but quite incapable of running.
Through my window - that beckoning hill.......   (Click pictures to enlarge)
I did try. On Saturday some lunatic inside my head was urging "Go on, get out there and run it out of your system". I wont describe the disgusting details of what followed during that eventful six miles in case anyone should to be eating! Until then things weren't going too badly, although I'd admitted to a fellow runner I was 'struggling a bit, probably starting with a cold, or something'.
Autumn tints at Linton Falls on Saturday's 'eventful' run
Friday had been a funny morning, far busier than I've known it at that early hour. Running round the rim of Castle Hill as dawn was breaking I was conscious of a figure pointing a camera at me with a long telephoto lens.  It introduced itself as a Times photographer and took a few more shots of me silhouetted against the sky before allowing me to go my way.  Another professional photographer had positioned herself ready to 'shoot' the imminent sunrise, though I told her she'd chosen the wrong morning and should have been there on Thursday when the sky had been almost cloudless.
Last Thursday's spectacular sunrise......
Two more people had a blanket spread on the grass and were practicing Thai Chi, or something like that. And no, that's not a euphemism!  There were other runners too, three besides me, and a few dog walkers. Three large dogs, one an Alsatian, got quite excited when they saw me and came hurtling towards me - just to say 'Hello'. I hadn't seen them for some months but, according to their owner, they still recognized me. It was a pleasure to meet them.
....and Friday's pastel shades with mist and cloud
Well, that was the week that was. I'm afraid it's back into quarantine, otherwise known as bed. Or until that obsessive running lunatic sneaks into my head with enticing words of how much I'm missing those breaking dawns with all their gorgeous sunrises.
Oh, just one thing before I go, I'd better put my kit to wash. Gotta look respectable in case I meet that Times person again.....
Totals for week: 16 miles, 1,434ft ascent

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Indian summer......

During his record breaking attempt on the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail, Kilian Jornet  (of Matterhorn fame) writes in his book, 'Run or Die' of feeling really good, as if his feet preferred not to touch the ground as he swerved through the trees at top speed, flying on silent strides, breathing in the fresh air, alert to everything around. Sometimes he imagined himself as an Indian brave in pursuit of an elk that was running away, or carrying an urgent message to a neighbouring tribe. Initially his watch was recording a pace of around 10mph whilst latterly he was virtually running in his sleep. His narrative of that 38 hour run is utterly compelling. He broke the record by about 7 hours.
Kilian, with pacers, running the Tahoe Rim trail  (Click pictures to enlarge)
My fertile brain associated Kilian's mention of Indian braves with something my mother said shortly before she died. "I suppose you know there's Indian blood in the family?" she said casually. I didn't, but said I wasn't all that surprised given that some of our Scottish forebears sailed with the East India Company. Who knows what or who they might have brought back from Far Eastern shores in those dim distant days. "Not that sort of Indian" she said, "I mean Red Indian".
She couldn't elaborate further and I couldn't help laughing at such an outlandish idea. It was one of those snippets passed down through the generations and mother firmly believed it was true. I jokingly suggested it might have been one of 'Buffalo' Bill Cody's Red Indian troupe that went on the rampage, raping and pillaging, when  his fabulous Wild West show came over to tour England and entertain Queen Victoria. Might even have been the great Sitting Bull himself. Anyway, it's something to amuse me next time I'm tripping through the woods in the half light of dawn, except it might not be an elk I'm pursuing but some dusky maiden who, unbeknown to her, is destined to become the stuff of legend!
On the Bare House trail
In the meantime we've been enjoying the glorious Indian summer that warmed Britain through most of September. It's a good job we made the most of it for it disappeared as we stepped into October. To round off September we ran a delectable 7 miles together around the Bare House circuit - a steady 700ft climb over the first 3 miles then some fast sprints, airplaning downhill over springy turf into Grassington with sheep looking somewhat bemused at our antics!
Blea Ghyll
To open my October account I ran another 7 miles with similar ups and downs over Grassington Moor returning by some wonderfully wild country alongside Blea Beck with its newly planted trees and extensive views over Grimwith reservoir to the heights of Simon's Seat and Nussey Knott. Apart from just running, I have something else in common with Kilian in that we both sing - he when he's getting tired and me on the rare occasions when I'm 'in the zone'. Also like Kilian, I can never remember all the words and repeat certain phrases, mostly in Italian, over and over again. Last Thursday was one of those days when the closing stanzas of Rapsodia kept breaking the silence of the lonely landscape. Fortunately, there was no-one else there!
Hebden Suspension Bridge and Autumn tints
To keep my legs loose in the afternoon I walked to the newly refurbished suspension bridge that spans the River Wharfe below Hebden Village. Leaves of Horse Chestnut are turning russet while various other trees are beginning to display their Autumn tints. The bridge had only re-opened five minutes prior to my arrival so I was able to cross the river and mount the hill for a bird's eye view, and photograph, of that enchanted corner.
Smoothing out the rough bits over Bycliffe Hill
"I'm struggling a bit today" I rasped to two walkers while jogging up onto the moor on Sunday morning. Their presence ensured I kept moving, uphill, with little respite for 4 miles until it eventually dawned I'd got into a nice rhythm and was actually enjoying it! The rough, uneven terrain over the final steep part of Bycliffe Hill could have been a bowling green as I ran unfaltering across it as if to the beat of a metronome. I was growled and snarled at by a very unfriendly collie on reaching the Mossdale track but it's owner thankfully kept it in check. A raven cronked 'Hello' down the long wall but didn't follow me like its predecessors used to do.
Bent tree at descent to Hebden Ghyll

Pretty soon I was passing the bent tree that welcomed me back to the friendly confines of Hebden Ghyll.
'Burning Bush' - Cotoneaster up the ghyll
The sun came out. The path beneath my feet felt smooth as a treadmill as I slid past the 'burning bush' and back into the village feeling rather smug in having transitioned from morning struggles into a reasonably well oiled machine. It's amazing what can happen if only we're prepared to take that first step.......
Weeks totals: 22 miles, 1,549ft ascent