At long last there was a wee bit of warmth in the sun last weekend, almost shorts weather, except I didn't have them with me. It's time to dig them out, to make sure they still fit before taking them on holiday. It was still soggy underfoot as we trogged over the moor on Saturday so it wasn't long before socks and feet were soaking wet.
The area through which we regularly run is old lead mining country and a glance at the map would frighten many away. Such information as 'Disused Mines', 'Disused Shafts', 'Area of Shake Holes', 'Swallow Hole' and the like can be fairly off-putting. A local lady had the shock of her life when the ground opened up immediately in front of her. Her dog disappeared into the depths never to be seen again. It could so easily have been her.
We'd barely run a mile when a pair of Curlews flew over us, calling their welcomes - harbingers of Spring. There was total silence from the frog pond but my wonderful partner heard a skylark singing in the distance, way beyond my hearing range. Flappies were performing their aerial acrobatics, as they do, and a Golden Plover was piping away as we approached the Chimney.
A significant landmark, the Chimney was built to disperse smoke and fumes from the smelt mill to which it was connected by a long flue from some distance away and much lower down.
We threaded our way through hoardes of people lured from towns and cities with the promise of a fine weekend, crossed the old Miner's Bridge and jogged home, stopping only to photograph Hebden's first lambs of the season.
Sunday was warmer and even more Spring-like. I'd put a Helly Hansen under my running top but took it off after sniffing the air. One layer was quite enough, and I really wished I'd remembered to bring a pair of shorts.
Sunshine had brought frogs to life and there was a heck of a noise going on as I approached their pond. Like trial bikes being revved up. In spite of all the rain nothing is showing but a patch of reeds, but there must be water in there somewhere. Or they're in trouble.
Yesterday's skylark had kindly moved to within my range of hearing, stopping me from running (if you could call it that) until he'd poured out his last note. Curlews were my constant companions and as I got nearer to Mossdale Flappies were wheeling around crying pew-wit-pwee-wit-pwee-wit. It sounds far nicer than the red grouse call of go-bak, go-bak, go-bak - but I suppose it means the same thing!
On reaching the bridge at Mossdale a black bird flew up from quite close by. Close enough, in fact, for me to discern a flash of white on its throat. I couldn't believe it. I'd never before spotted a ring ouzel so early in the year. Ian Appleyard, an authority on Ring Ouzels of Hebden Ghyll, gives his first official sighting as March 15th, but that was quite a few years ago, before all the talk of global warming. Last year it was into April when we spotted our first male.
I left Mossdale by a rarely used heathery ramp, possibly only known to shepherds, gamekeepers and fell runners for I've never met anyone else on it. It lifted me quickly up to the main track, the homeward trail - and I still had dry feet! The Stone Man came into sight but it looked an awful long way away without my specs, as did everything else. Fortunately, I knew just how far it was and soon reached it.
From there on it was a repeat of Saturdays route, past the Chimney, over Coalgrove beck, past the bent tree and down into the ghyll to join the hoardes again making 11.84 miles/1,271ft ascent. Actually, walkers were a bit thin on the ground when I got back. Maybe they were sampling the Clarendon's excellent pub meals before setting off again.
|Saturday's route - 7.34 miles/889ft ascent|
|Towards the Chimney|
|Crossing the Old Miner's Bridge|
|Hebden's first lambs|
|Mossy Mere overflow|
|The path by Coalgrove beck below Cupola Corner|
|On the Mossdale track|
|Two bridges at Mossdale - one of them lethal......|
|Breaking into a run - up to the Stone Man|