Tuesday 12 June 2018

Over the hills and far away.......

Last week saw a return to my early morning runs, pre-breakfast though not before sunrise.  Getting up Castle Hill before 04.45 is a little too early for me nowadays.  I'm getting lazy in my dotage.
A speed session over Castle Hill   (Click to enlarge pictures)
A cuckoo was calling as I set foot on the summit around 6am and I wondered if it was trying to tell me something, like "What the heck is someone of your vintage doing up here so early in the morning?".  I'll admit, I didn't see any others.  After a few circuits and hill reps was pleasantly surprised when TomTom told me I'd just achieved my fastest 5 miles.  Just.  I'd improved my pace by 0.03 min/mile - without actually trying.  A run over the hill two days later was aborted after 3 miles.  Don't ask why...
On several occasions lately I've had a rather exotic visitor for breakfast.  In addition to various members of the tit family, goldfinches, greenfinches - and an occasional bullfinch - a great spotted woodpecker arrived on the scene to hack away at the nuts.  Hopefully he's here to stay.
Orchids in hospital grounds
 Weatherwise, we'd another gorgeous weekend with temperatures generally hovering around the 70º mark and exceeding that by mid-afternoon when all yours truly wanted to do was sit among the flowers, shirt off and a can of beer to hand.
Stampeding stirks

We ran in the mornings before the sun reached its zenith. Saturday' run started through the hospital grounds, past wild orchids and stampeding stirks to the outskirts of Grassington before crossing the river at what locals call the tin bridge.
The River Wharfe reduced to barely a trickle at Linton Falls

Water was exceedingly low and I reckoned it's time Theresa May appointed a Minister for Droughts akin to Denis Howell in 1976 who was so successful that he later became Minister for Floods then Minister for Snow! 
I also remember Denis being invited to a British Mountaineering Council dinner as guest speaker in Great Langdale. Arriving early he expressed a desire to be taken up a climb so we took him up Middlefell Buttress, an easy climb immediately behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel. The late Peter Boardman was at the sharp end of the rope whilst I was below Denis checking his foot placements.  Shock horror, he became 'gripped' i.e. frightened to move either up or down, and we'd great difficulty getting him back down. 
A colourful corner of Thorpe

herd of young heifers thought it great fun to help us on our way as we ran up a steeply inclined field towards Thorpe Lane.  We slowed to a walk and they lost interest, thankfully, so pretty soon we were able to resume running.
Leaving Thorpe on the Burnsall track

Thorpe is a hidden village tucked away in the hills and only visible from the air. There is a steep climb 8 miles into the Burnsall 10 mile race before dropping down into Thorpe and climbing back out again which most runners hate.
Fish farm in Hebden Ghyll

Passing a large party of walkers we left Thorpe on the Burnsall track, running through pleasant fields, then down Postman's Steps to recross the river and a last brief climb to the fish farm, and back home.  
5.94 miles with 639ft of ascent. 
The climb onto Grassington Moor
Sunday's route over Grassington Moor was always one of my favourites until constant rains made it so wet and boggy that running it became too much like hard work.  Currently the ground is parched with great cracks appearing, so we crossed it dry shod.
Rough track to the high point

Skylarks were singing as we took a trail through old lead mining country to a high point by a tumble-down building at 1,316ft.  It was getting hot so I'd to take a layer off and tie it round my waist (after a while I'd to put it back on again to prevent chafing under my arms).
Time for a breather 

Unusually, upon reaching the dams there was neither sight nor sound of any resident waterfowl.  Teal normally nest there and the occasional Canada goose, but the place was deserted.
Rampant bog cotton

Onwards towards Blea Beck, enjoying the dry conditions, clear air and healing sunshine.  At first we couldn't understand why the moorland ahead had turned so white but soon realised it was rampant bog cotton that this year has gone a bit berserk.
Rough, enjoyable running across the moor

Leaving the dams at the junction with Blea Beck there's an awful long stretch of bleak moorland passing high above Grimwith reservoir before reaching the peat cuttings where a solitary cutter, hard at work, invited us to join him.  Later perhaps...
View down to Grimwith reservoir

We'd a brief stop whilst my wonderful partner collected sphagnum moss to line her hanging baskets.  It was bone dry and had to be immersed in a bucket of water as soon as we reached home.
Backstone Edge lane

Leaving the peat cuttings we closed the gate behind us for the long run down Backstone Edge lane where once upon a time, in marathon running days, I'd do dozens of long repetition runs.  Once, as the sky blackened, I raced for home at what must have been 6 min/mile pace and reached the door just as the heavens opened.  Funny the things we remember...
The last stretch down into the ghyll

We crossed the main road to cruise down easy fields and, into the ghyll, past the fish farm - and home.   7.27 miles with 800ft of ascent.  For a couple with 159 years between them I reckon we'd had a good weekend 
Over the hills and far away 


  1. What great runs and the scenery is breathtaking.
    I like mornings best for my walks but aren't up quite as early as you. I start my walk around 6:30 or so.

    1. Times vary with me Karen, ideally I like to be out to watch the sun rise but that's a bit too early at the moment. Give it another couple of months....

  2. I've been too busy running on my runs to stop and take pictures! and I so need to write another post!

    1. When you get into your 80's Coach you might be stopping more than just to take pictures! Meanwhile, good luck with your running. Cheers.

  3. Loved seeing all of your photographs especially the view down to Grimwith reservoir …

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan. We've some wonderful countryside up here in the Yorkshire Dales. Just have to lift the camera, point and press...

  4. Today I passed with my car on my way to kettewell fell race several villages very popular on your posts like Burnsall , Grassington , Thresfield , Linton and others and I just imagine you OldRunningfox doing your daily run on the hills surrounding this lovely place. I am really impressed with the first pic of you flying off the ground , I just do not know how you are able to do that , nowadays my feet never ever leave the ground if not to do a small shuffle . I liked as well the pic of you running across the the moor because of the running posture , not bad at all . Antonio .

    1. Hi Antonio, hope you'd a good run at Kettlewell. I'd finished my run long before yours started - and got rather wet running round Grimwith reservoir. I don't often 'fly' (both feet off the ground) but like to stick in a few fast bursts just for the hell of it and for the good feeling it gives me. Keep on running......