Tuesday 10 November 2015

70 years young.....

   Friday 6th dawned dreich and miserable with a threat of heavier rain before the day was much older. In fact, the weather was not in a very pleasant mood at all. But we were. It's become traditional for us to begin each birthday with a celebratory run, or even race if there happens to be one on the day, so hell or high water wasn't going to stop us on the occasion of my wonderful partner's 70th.
A hug for my wonderful birthday girl   (Click to enlarge pictures)
With 153 accumulated years between us, we set off at a rather sedate pace round a 4½ circuit we'd sussed out 5 days earlier - on a sunny day when the temperature was around 70ºF (See my previous blog entry).  Shame it wasn't the same for her birthday.
Enjoying a 70th birthday run.......
After parking the car at Skirethorns we climbed steeply for 600ft around the lip of Threshfield quarry onto a hilltop overlooking Malham Moor. Not that we could see much of the moor through thickening clag and increasingly heavy rain.
On the stony track round the quarry
 Over wet grass and rocks we descended carefully down to join the track that links Mastiles Lane with Malham Moor Lane where we turned left at the latter. Sheep grazed with their backs to the wind. Beef cattle, seemingly replete, sheltered under the wall or blocked our gateway until we shoo-ed them away.
.......and skipping down from the high point to Malham Moor
From thereon it was a pleasant 1½ miles back to the car, mainly downhill through autumn leaves and russet bracken that lifted our spirits again after the eerie emptyness of the open moor.
Downhill in the rain - back to the car after 4½ miles
In the afternoon, before our evening celebrations began, we were joined by an old mountaineering and Munro bagging friend, Dr Stuart Scott who, with his wife Maria, had driven from Crapstone in glorious Devon to join in the fun.
Dr Stuart Scott - on Angel's Peak, above the Lairig Ghru, during a 38 mile Munro-bagging run in the Cairngorms. We were fit in those dim distant days....
I hadn't seen Stuart for many years so it was good to chat and reminisce about long days in the hills together - prior to his marriage to Maria in 2002. Sadly, there have been no such days since!
Yours truly on a run over Ben Hope - looking across to Ben Loyal  (Picture courtesy Stuart Scott)
Stuart is a wonderful photographer whose pictures have graced front covers of climbing magazines, illustrated climbing articles and even placed one of yours truly soloing Tower Gap on Ben Nevis in Ken Wilson's iconic book 'Classic Rock'.
Winter mountaineering - on a climb over Ben More Assynt and Conival (Picture courtesy Stuart Scott)
He handed me a bundle of photographs (three of them featured here) he'd taken of me over the years, all taken in Scotland, in all seasons of the year, running the Munros, winter mountaineering in Knoydart and some serious climbing in the Cuillins of Skye.
On Blaven, Isle of Skye "Just climb down to that chockstone, should make a good shot" he said.  (Picture courtesy Stuart Scott)
Come evening, thirty friends and neighbours gathered with us in Hebden's Old School Tearoom for a convivial get together that went on well into the night. Our thanks to Martyn, Margaret and Ann who served up such a delicious treat, never let our glasses run dry and made it an occasion to remember.
Quite a few members of the over 70's club at the birthday celebrations
Most appropriate was a birthday cake shaped like a snowy mountain that had a wee tent with a climber peeping out, and a lady running round the perimeter. Well done to whoever thought of that.
Some close friends. Lt to Rt - Maralyn, Barbara, Sue, Helen (seated) talking to Margaret
All in all, it had been a wonderful day and rather different, I'd imagine, to the average person's 70th birthday celebrations. 
Roll on her 80th!
STOP PRESS. Four days after her birthday my wonderful partner flew to Australia visiting relatives. An email, four days after her arrival, said she'd just run a Parkrun in Brisbane and set a new LV70 course record.  Yay, she's an International star!

Monday 2 November 2015

On the mend........

Well, I'm 'sort of' back running inasmuch as I managed almost 5 miles round Grimwith reservoir on Saturday.
Starting our run round Grimwith reservoir    (Click to enlarge pictures)
 The local shoot were out in force, some quite close to the path, but we managed to run the gauntlet with no mis-haps from stray shot or falling pheasants.Thousands of birds are reared annually on the Grimwith estate specifically for the fun of blasting them out of the sky when they're fully grown.  A pair of peregrine falcons that nest locally must feed quite well off them too and a feral ferret we once saw was the fattest we'd ever seen.
Easy running on the wheelchair path
We'd been tempted to run there by an article in the Craven Herald, a local newspaper, which said the rough track at the far side of the reservoir, over a narrow bridge followed by a steep, muddy climb, has now been bypassed and made suitable for wheelchairs. This had to be investigated in case we should ever find ourselves in need of such a commodity. Well, with more than one and a half centuries between the two of us, who knows?
Thatched building at Grimwith where kestrels nested
It was a glorious day for running, not too warm with the gentlest of breezes ruffling the water and keeping us cool. Only distraction was the constant sound of gunfire which one couple found rather intimidating, so turned back. Or maybe it was their dog that got frightened. We ran past, through the collection of vehicles that resembled Tesco's car park, stopping only once to photograph one proud hunter's trophies displayed over the sides of his pick-up truck.
A good day's shoot - if you're into such things
Being the first run for three weeks I kept to a very easy pace, but with 10 - 12 short bursts of around 6min/mile pace to hopefully raise my cruising threshold to something like it used to be.  All went well and a crispy bacon sandwich, by way of a reward, never tasted better..
A misty Sunday morning in Hebden
We awoke to thick mist on Sunday morning but it thinned as we ate breakfast, then gave way to a cloudless sky by morning coffee time. Autumn colours around the village never looked more spectacular, as if that great artist in the sky had somewhat gone a bit mad with the saturation levels.
Our pleasant Sunday stroll
After Saturday's run my geriatric bones were feeling a bit stiff so wisely, I think, opted to take them for a walk instead. We parked and locked the car on Skirethorns Lane before striking upwards in the direction of Malham Moor.
Waterfall in Threshfield quarry
A waterfall we'd never seen before ran prisms of rainbow light through the autumn foliage invoking the first of many photo shoots along the 5 mile circuit.
Path round the rim of the vast disused quarry
Our path steepened round the lip of the quarry where tiny little pink flowers kept a low profile among the limestone clints.
Rest stop to view the tints
We passed through a gate at the head of the quarry and turned left to follow a drystone wall even more steeply towards Malham Moor. The sun blazed down and the temperature rose into the low 70's, the highest ever recorded in Britain in November. Had we known it was going to be so hot we'd have dressed accordingly, in shorts and T-shirts, rather than tracksters and thermal tops. We envied a lady runner in more sensible attire crossing the moor with her dog.
Runner - dressed for the weather over Malham Moor
After crossing Moor Lane we veered left at Height Laithe, following Rowley Beck through Cow Close Wood to the caravan park at Wood Nook.
Approaching Height Laithe
A young couple passed us, swinging their trekking poles as they went along. Noting my disgust at such needless gimmicks, my wonderful partner suggested I might well need some in the none too distant future and thought they might make a good present for my 90th birthday!
Trees by Wood Nook. That 'Artist in the sky' may have gone a bit OTT this year
Colours of dying bracken and changing leaves against the boundless blue sky were a sight to behold resulting in countless pictures being taken in hopes of one good one that might implant the memory of the day forever in our minds. We got more than one and yes, they came vividly to mind as I commuted back to Windhover today through dense fog to ramp up the heating and thaw my chilled bones.
Weekly totals:
Running: 5 miles/261ft ascent
Walking: 5miles/758ft ascent