Monday 27 June 2016

Rememberance of things past.......

On the morning of the solstice I was out of bed by 4am and out on the hill to watch the sunrise. Unfortunately, the sun didn't cooperate but stayed hidden under a thick blanket of cloud. It didn't deter a group of Morris dancers, Thieving Magpie, from celebrating with great gusto, performing their wild dances with much clacking of sticks and shouts of joy while a full moon shone from behind the tower.
Thieving Magpie arriving to dance at dawn  (Click to enlarge)
"We usually invite the audience to share a dance with us, and you are the audience this morning" one said. I declined the invitation, saying I was too old for such things. "Fair enough" he said, "my mother is 83 and was talking of giving up badminton when I saw her last week". I ran home entertaining wicked thoughts of his old mum hurtling around Badminton in the horse trials....
Running a new path in yellowhammer territory
.In past years gorse bushes on Castle Hill have attracted lots of yellowhammers, their brightly coloured heads blending with the flowers. This year I'd been lamenting to all and sundry that they'd all gone missing. On Thursday, running a different path, one almost collided with my nose end. Then came its cheery little song - 'a little bit of bread and no cheeeese'.  It made my day...
Oops, nearly got my foot wet
With only eight miles in the bank there was some making up to do at weekend.  There was also new shoes to be tested by my wonderful partner, a pair of Saucony Jazz the gaudy colour of which matched the name. She was anxious to tone them down with a bit of mud or peat!
The long track over the moor
We headed north onto the moor for an eight mile circuit that's one of my favourites with its steady climb of 900ft to half way, then an enjoyable 4 miles downhill to the finish.
An awful lot of quiet nothingness running over Bycliffe
There was none of the wild music of last weekends walk beyond Grimwith that cheered us with a constant stream of birdsong. On the long track over the moor there was nothing but an occasional piping from golden plovers and a faint soughing of wind in the grass - sounds of utter loneliness.
Note those jazzy shoes...
It was cloudy but dry although the sky looked threatening as we ran over Bycliffe towards the high point. I felt to be moving a little easier than of late, possibly due to the re-introduction of meat, and therefore iron, into my midweek diet. My alimentary tract doesn't like bits of dead animals, but I do!
The Sauconys were just as jazzy when we got home as when we'd set off but might not have been if we'd stayed out a little longer. As we changed into dry clothes there was a loud crack of thunder and heavens opened, rain sluicing from the sky, no doubt turning dusty tracks into ribbons of mud. We were lucky...
Sheep against a darkening sky
An amazing co-incidence happened on Sundays 5 mile run. We were passing a bungalow where I happened to know that the owner had a scale model of the Cuillin Ridge, a classic mountaineering route on the Isle of Skye over thirty or so testing summits. I stopped for a brief chat, ascertaining she still had the model and telling her of my traverse of the ridge 32 years ago with a mountaineering partner I'd lost contact with and hadn't seen for many years. Within seconds of leaving her who should I bump into but that very same guy I'd been talking to her about - John Mortimer, a fellow member of Vibram Mountaineering Club and a great musician.
The meeting brought on a fit of nostalgia as many wonderful memories of great climbing days came flooding back. We'd completed the Cuillin Ridge in 11 hours, a Club record that still stands, and raced down to the Sligachan Inn to celebrate with a dram or two before darkness fell.
John piping in the haggis (me with haggis) at a New Year mountaineering club meet in Western Scotland
Another unforgettable climb with John was Agag's Groove up the Rannoch Wall of Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe with lots of exposure and exciting verticality. We lunched atop Crowberry Tower watching cars as big as ants crawling along the road far below. We swooped down to Glen Etive in the summer heat, stripped and edged our way out onto rocks beneath a mighty waterfall that pummelled all the aches and stiffness from legs, arms, shoulders and backs - all this in smithereens of rainbow light. "Eeh, I've never done this before" John chortled. They were good mountaineering days....
Getting high - on Agag's Groove, Glencoe - a long time ago
.On Sunday we were so busy talking and reminiscing it never entered my head to take out my camera, or to knock on that door less than a dozen yards away to have our pictures taken together alongside that bronze model of the Cuillin Ridge. A golden opportunity missed.
My thoughtlessness rankled all the way home. I could do with a new brain...


  1. While you hit the longest day, we hit the shortest day... I wasn't easly up to see the sun from the top of the office! then that evening I ran to the dam for a little swim! (our weather might have been better than yours, but the water wasn't very warm!)

    hope many of the coming days are sun fulled and warm...

    1. Thanks Coach. English weather is so unpredictable. There wasn't a cloud in the sky on this mornings run. Didn't want to come home - but glad I did cos it's looking like more rain is on the way anytime now.....
      Wishing you lots of happy running. Cheers!

  2. Enjoyed your post and all the photo's, thank you.

    I think training shoes/running shoes are definitely getting more snazzy and brightly coloured ... rather different to the black pump/plimsolls I can remember wearing in my youth when starting at school!

    On this last day of June, have a good day and all good wishes for July.

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan. My trail shoes are bright red, and very functional, but I wouldn't dream of walking round town or commuting in them. Subdued colours are hard to come by nowadays, but I just acquired a pair of grey ones that should last a few years....
      You have a great July too..... Cheers!