Wednesday 17 February 2016

Valentine daunders...

The thermometer on the dashboard read 0ºC as we drove back to the Dales and it was snowing heavily at Keelham where we stopped to buy our weekend meat.. But after morning coffee the sun came out so no excuse for staying indoors. "Where would you like to go?" my wonderful partner asked. "Somewhere short and vicious" I replied. So it had to be Hebden Crag. The idea was to get my old legs synchronised with my new eye, to get them co-ordinated and singing from the same hymn sheet again, something I'd been finding a bit tricky over rough ground sans glasses.
Saturday's daunder - setting off to Hebden Crag    (Click to enlarge)
Things went better on this occasion as we climbed steeply to the top of the crag, past Patrick Stewart's old house at Scar Top, across a short section of moor to Hedgehog House, then veered right to descend back to the village through tussocky rough pasture and part of the fell race route. Success. OK, it was only a short walk but I was happy to have done it without tripping or falling.
Half way up...and OK so far
Cards and boxes of chocolates adorned our breakfast table on Sunday. It was Valentines Day, in case anyone forgot, and we like to keep up with tradition. It keeps us young at heart - if nothing else.
Ooh yummy, chocolates..
 It was another clear, sunny day but bitterly cold. My wonderful partner wore as many layers as an onion as we set off up the ghyll on a longer walk than the previous day - around six miles farther. I was dressed in lightweight running gear but was very soon dragging a jacket from my bumbag to counter the wind chill.
Approaching the flagged area - and motor cycle trials
 As we crossed the stepping stones below Bolton Ghyll we noticed scores, nay, hundreds, of little flags positioned all over the place. We'd hit upon the day of the annual motor cycle trials that take place every February. Very soon the silence was shattered by the revving of two stroke engines as brightly clad riders surmounted obstacles no-one would dream possible.
Making the impossible possible...
Ice crystals and the odd sprinkling of snow sparkled in the grassy turf as we left the bikers behind and rose higher onto the moor. Instead of the whirr of engines only the call of an odd cock grouse broke the silence as it broke cover from its heathery home. At around 1,400ft we were walking into an Arctic wind that lowered the temperature to below freezing point and I'd to draw my buff down to protect my new eye.
Dressed for the Arctic weather up the long wall
We made our way towards the site of Ghyll House where only a few stones remain after builders have utilised the rest for new properties - one appropriately named Ghyll Stones. A few tall trees mark the area where kestrels might be seen hovering against the blue in search of prey. The whole area once teemed with rabbits - until the lurcher men discovered it. In Springtime it resounds to the plaintive calls of curlews and wheeling pewits.  It's a place I love to run and feel part of.
Feeling the cold at 1,400ft, but happy to be there.
We paused for a while to soak up the atmosphere and photograph a distant Great Whernside topped with snow. Nostalgia occasionally distances me from the present as I'm transported back to marathon training days when Great Whernside was a regular run, both on balmy summer days or winter blizzards when farmers were rounding up sheep to get them down to safer pastures.
Trees marking site of Ghyll House and snow capped Great Whernside
A couple of new fences across the ghyll gave us problems to work out but we were soon down to the rocks and craggy ramparts of ring ouzel country and, soon after, the ever increasing sound of motor cycle engines as scores of trialists performed their set routines. We watched for a wee while, amazed at their skills, and chatted to a knowledgeable bystander who told us one of the riders who'd just negotiated a tricky section in the stream bed was only 11 or 12 tears old.
11 years old? A very brave lad....
But it was too cold to linger. We descended quickly to escape the nithering wind and boy, it was sheer bliss to step back into a warm kitchen with, soon, the wonderful aroma and luxury of a good strong coffee.
I like Valentines  Day. It should come more often.


  1. Nice to get out, looked a good couple of walks, glad things are better - reminds me of 'I see no ships.......' etc. IanB

    1. ....only hardships, eh? It was a cracking weekend for walking, though I'm envious of your running Ian. Come the Grizzly you'll be in great form. Cheers!

  2. So lovely to be out and about ... albeit it in rather cool weather.

    Great post and lovely photo's.
    The Valentines flower and gift looks great

    Take Care

    All the best Jan

    1. It was great weather for running Jan, if I'd been able. Much as I love chocolate I eat very little. In fact, I've a cupboard full of the darn stuff, some of which has been there for years. I'd give some to the children next door but frightened it may ruin their teeth.
      Thanks for dropping by.

  3. No Valentine Chocolate for me I've given it up for Lent!!! how silly of me! And while the mountain calls I have to put her off for another couple of weeks, but I'll be back!

    PS I'll keep my bike on the road!

    1. As I said to Jan - above - chocolate stays in the cupboard along with the out of date biscuits and shortbread.
      It's a beautiful sunny day again so I'll be strolling up onto my 'mountain' - though I guess it's a few hundred feet lower than yours.
      I sold my bike, it was too much like hard work.
      Cheers Coach...

  4. Hopefully your 'hardships' are behind you! Thanks for the 'Grizzly' encouragement, few more miles needed yet, but getting there( I hope) I like your glimpse of Whernside in the background, looks glorious up there at the moment. IanB

    1. They're not all behind me yet, there's the other eye to do, and another debilitating general anaesthetic.
      It's Great Whernside in the picture Ian, as opposed to Whernside in the 3 Peaks race, but still a very fine hill. Cheers for now....

  5. Glad to see you're getting out and about to test the new eye. Your photos made me pine for the Pennines of my youth and so I've had to book a few trail marathons on the South & North Downs to satisfy my need for wide open spaces!

    It's great to see youngsters out and about rather than stuck indoors playing computer games.

    Take care and I hope you heal quickly x

    1. The Pennines made a runner of me Susie, all my Veteran PB's came mainly as a result of enjoyable off-road running in these wonderful hills I never tire of. The Downs are a good alternative so I'm sure you'll enjoy your forthcoming trail marathons. I like the way you book 'a few'. Wonderful!
      I only saw that one youngster competing in the m/c Trials though there may have been more. He was brilliant, totally at one with his machine. You don't learn skills like that from a computer.
      Wishing you all the best. Gx