Monday 29 October 2018

A grave situation......

 A howling gale raged all Tuesday night and into Wednesday.  At some point in the wee small hours I shut the bedroom window because the roar was deafening.  Come 6.30am I was zombified and could easily have stayed in bed.  I got up, made a strong cup of coffee, put on my trail shoes and forced myself out into the semi-darkness.
That angry sky  (Click to enlarge)
Common sense told me to stay low.  I jogged slowly to the sheltered surrounds of a local cemetery and launched into a series of short hill reps among the many intersecting paths between the graves.  Matt, a Personal Trainer, was already there doing his strange backward and sideways runs while waiting for a client.  After ½ hour I'd had enough and decided it was breakfast time.
Keeping low - though thankfully not so low as most here
 On the way out I noticed the name of another friend had been engraved beneath that of her husband and son.  I'd been wondering where she'd got to?  Her son, Robert, died while running over Castle Hill. Rumour spread that it was me for he was bearded and of similar build.  Neighbours were relieved when I returned from my travels a week later. Back from the dead!
Autumn by the Wharfe
 Thursday was a disaster.  I should have stayed indoors and turned up the central heating to sweat out this lingering cold with all its ghastly gunge.    Instead, I huffed and puffed and coughed my way round local fields and woods to return 4 miles later in a state of collapse.  I haven't run/jogged/wobbled since.
So I'm currently resting, thankfully not in the same way as those I ran amongst on Wednesday morning.   My list of friends and relatives reclining in various graveyards seems to have outgrown the ones that are left.
Life can get a bit lonely approaching ninety!

Monday 22 October 2018

It's all in the genes......

I got my nose pushed out a bit last week.  With four runs amounting to 18½ miles, and 1,750 ft of ascent, I thought I'd done rather well.  But this was somewhat eclipsed by an amazing grandson, Ashley Walker, who roughly doubled those figures in the space of 6 hours 10 minutes while running the Rat Race Ultra Tour of Edinburgh on Sunday.
Bring it on   (Click pictures to enlarge)
Having not run at all in four months since finishing 20th in the Hadrian's Wall race last June it occurred to him last week that he really ought to do some training.  So he went out and ran 5 miles.  And that was it.   Of 413 entries he finished in (I think) 38th place.  They breed 'em tough in Yorkshire!
Yorkshire's two tallest buildings?
So, whatever 86 year old granddad did last week amounts to very little compared to what Ashley achieved. Nevertheless, I'll post a few autumn photographs for posterity. 
Got there eventually - my track round Castle Hill
On Wednesday I was up and running before sunrise and treated to spectacular skyscapes beyond the masts.
Looking across the valley to West Nab
On Thursday I was running through local woods, searching for deer, so the sun was well into the sky by the time I emerged onto Castle Hill. It was clear and the views were truly amazing.
Setting off across fields to Grassington on Saturday
Saturday was another crisp, autumn day and in spite of a raucous cough I couldn't wait to get out running.  Strangely, I hardly coughed at all once I got out the house.  Fresh air is good for you..
Changing colours at Linton Falls
So as not to exacerbate things I reduced my run to 4 miles and lingered at various places to admire and photograph the rampant autumn tints.
St Michael and All Angels Church in its peaceful setting
I love the view across the River Wharfe to the Church beyond, a beautiful pastoral scene where a family group were picnicking in the warm sunshine.
Escaping the crowds
I left the river to take a quieter field path back home - for reasons I wont go into!  Meanwhile my wonderful partner was spending the whole day attending a First Aid course at Linton in connection with her National Park Ranger duties.  She was indoors for 9½ hours.
By Hebden Suspension bridge
We got out together on Sunday but not where we'd intended to go.  We'd driven to Grimwith for a run round the reservoir but discovered the entry road was closed and will be for several weeks. We returned to Hebden and set off to run the Appletreewick circular.
Running back from Appletreewick
It was misty, there was little or no sunshine and an odd spot of rain somehow found its way onto my camera lens.  Otherwise, it was cool and ideal for running. And we were not alone....
Approaching Burnsall
Another runner wearing an expensive Salomon backpack somehow managed to sneak onto a photograph approaching Burnsall.
Brief rest by the Wharfe
It was a beautiful run and we felt glad of the circumstances that ruled out Grimwith.  The autumn tints along the riverbank were a feast for the eyes.  The mainly treeless circuit of Grimwith wouldn't have compared.
Speeding past the Red Lion in Burnsall
We were running well, TomTom proclaiming it was my fastest ever run round that circuit.  Maybe it was that Salomon guy that pulled us along?
Back to the Suspension Bridge
It was drizzling a little harder as we passed Loup Scar but we didn't care.  We were into the last mile, heading for home, coffee and hot porridge.
Unhappy heron
Autumn chestnuts were losing their leaves by the Suspension Bridge and a heron hunched on a rock midstream didn't look too happy.  Normally they fly away at our approach but this one took no notice of us.
Flying Finish
And that little run rounded off the week very nicely indeed. We shut out the rain, stoked up the stove and settled down to a lazy Sunday afternoon while tracking Ashley through Edinburgh, out to the Pentlands and back, to his exuberant finish at the Royal Commonwealth Pool.
And I thought that deserved a rather large dram!  Cheers Ash!

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Seasons of mist......

I'll admit, I was a lazy so-and-so last week, only getting out running twice instead of my usual four times. But I suspect that would be more than a good 95% of my vintage.  If not more.
Love that quote...
There'd been some good dry weather during the week enabling a local farmer to get a third cut from his meadows that should keep his cattle well fed over the winter.
Hay-time in October?  (Click to enlarge pictures)
However, I'm very much a fine weather person nowadays.  Last weekend was pretty diabolical in the Dales with continuous rain all day Saturday and up till tea-time on Sunday.  My wonderful partner was on National Park duty over Barden Moor and came home soaked.  I never went out the door.
Misty morning  
Fortunately, in the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness. I'd enjoyed some glorious sunshine during the week that even inspired a spell of gardening, that necessary evil!
Wednesday's misty sunrise
Another fantastic sunrise on Wednesday was quite breathtaking.  Now that it's rising later I'm meeting more and more people on my morning jaunts, some I've never met before. With their dogs.
New route  -  new people  -  new dogs
A lady had three Staffordshires bull terriers one of which, very friendly,  came bounding across to say hello.  Another chap had two Scottish deerhounds, a noble breed I'm particularly fond of.
And that was it.  Weather permitting I'll be back up to four runs again this coming week.
Anyone care to join me?
PS.  I came across this strange article someone had published in a foreign magazine and managed to translate it into English.
Fame at last!

Monday 8 October 2018

Week of wind and frost....

TomTom tells me total mileage last week after 4 runs was 16.77 with 1,636ft of ascent.   Considering my sneezes, snuffles and lack of sleep that can't be too bad.  I stayed low on Tuesday due to the cold, horrendous wind buffeting my hilltop cottage and did a few reps round the local cemetery.  Matt, a personal trainer was there, sans client, doing a personal work-out that mainly involved running backwards and sideways between the graves!
Back in my warm den after Tuesday's blustery run 
(Click to enlarge pictures)
The weather quietened down by Thursday but it was a dreich, gloomy sort of morning as I trundled up Castle Hill a little later than usual to find I had brief company in the form of another runner. Then the local poacher with his two whippets.  Then a keen walker from the village who's been walking the same 5 mile circuit round Farnley for so long I'm surprised he hasn't worn a trench.  First words from each of them was "I haven't seen you for a while", and I thought no, that's because you haven't been getting up here early enough.
Setting off to Grassington
 Saturday's run with my wonderful partner was a 4¾ mile circuit to Grassington, Linton Falls and back along the riverbank.
Some of the locals
With the onset of autumn we had high hopes of enjoying a riot of russet and gold tints, mainly among horse chestnuts lining the River Wharfe.
Linton Falls
After recent deluges the Wharfe was almost bursting it's banks and created a fine spectacle as it cascaded over the rocks at Linton falls, washing the feet of adjacent houses as it roared past.
Houses by Linton falls
"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on a rock" (Matthew 7:25)
Nevertheless, I'm not sure I'd like to live in any of those properties though I guess they must already have stood the test of time.
Looking up-river to the weirs
We lingered on the bridge for quite some time, fascinated by the noise and torrents of water flowing beneath us, conditions beloved by white water canoeists whom we've seen there in the past. 
Changing colours along the riverbank
 We dragged ourselves away and spurted off towards Hebden for after an earlier 45 mile commute from Almondbury we were getting a little behind time.  Pork pie time, that is.
Pleasant running under the chestnuts.
The autumn tints aren't quite at their best yet, but they're getting there and I've no doubt we'll have many more colourful runs before the leaves fall.
Run wide, run deep...
We were soon back to Hebden Suspension Bridge which I climbed on to for a last shot of the river looking upstream, a view that never fails to impress.
Uphill to warm up
Sunday dawned bright and sunny but bitterly cold, the coldest day of autumn, so far, with a keen white frost glittering the landscape.  We'd a late breakfast then amused ourselves with The I's cryptic crossword until things warmed up a little. 
Still trying to get warm...
 It was 11 o'clock by the time we closed the door and set off running up the ghyll towards Cupola Corner.  We'd planned a six mile route round Yarnbury, Moor Lane and Tinker Lane before dropping back to Hebden.
Is this high enough?
But 'best laid plans of mice and men gang aft awry' according to old Rabby Burns, and they certainly did for us in that freezing wind.
Into the last mile
We decided to cut it short and head for home, as fast as we could, down into the partial shelter of the ghyll, back to a warm stove, the smell of burning peat and some badly needed nourishment.
How many calories are there in a pork pie?

Monday 1 October 2018

Back running...

Well, I'm glad to say my wrist is almost back to 100% maneuverability, so I removed the brace and began running again ten days ago.
Back in action   (Click to enlarge pictures)
 I was a bit frightened the first morning.  In my eagerness I'd gone out too early, while it was still dark, and became aware of lots of debris blown about by horrendous winds the previous day.  I returned home for ½ hour until I could see better and feel safer, then set off again.
Beautiful, but a bit too early for running

A young fellow sat with a bottle beside him and smoking something rather obnoxious had beaten me to the top of Castle Hill and showed no interest in the impending sunrise. 
A favourite spot to see the sun rise

As usual, it stopped me in my tracks and out came the camera to capture the glory unfolding before me, as it had done on hundreds of previous occasions.  The temporary mast was plain to see beside the Emley Moor transmitter which is currently being modified.
Emley Moor transmitter - Yorkshire's tallest building -
and beside it, the temporary mast

There's been a glut of apples this year so I don't feel I'm stealing anything if I treat myself to any shiny ones within reach on my morning runs.  Or anywhere else.   
I gave these sour ones a miss

Everything was going well until Monday night when something rather strange happened that knocked the wind out of my sails.   As a last resort the nephew of a very old friend of mine, Herbert Lambert, used Facebook Messaging service in a last ditch attempt to contact me to say his uncle had died and his funeral was at Skipton crematorium next morning at 11.40.
Skipton crematorium
I'd known Herbert since 1948, had walked and climbed with him throughout Britain and into France when he was one of the fittest people I'd ever met.  But on a recent visit to him at a Keighley Care Home, he was a skeleton of his former self, clinging to his zimmer, hardly able to walk.  At the ripe old age of 93 he was ready to die.
Herbert tending his garden at Austwick in the Yorkshire Dales
His funeral was well attended, but by people I'd never met or heard of before - save for one who made himself known to me, so I wasn't quite alone.  Herbert was a Humanist. I'm a staunch Methodist. Instead of prayers and hymns we had poems and secular music. There was no singing.  It all felt a bit joyless.  But I'm glad I was there to pay my last respects and give a gentle wave as the curtains closed.
Dawn breaking over Grimwith reservoir
It took a wee while to get over that.  It was five days before I summoned up enough energy to run again on a dreich, bitterly cold Sunday morning when we should really have stayed in bed.
Getting lighter
It was barely light as we drove to Grimwith reservoir scattering hundreds of pheasants and partridges that will soon become subject to the annual slaughter.
Dawn patrol.  A cacophony of wild geese
Geese made wild music, bugling across the breaking dawn sky, changing direction and arguing, seemingly unsure which way to go. As they do..
Next month's dinner
Pheasants were everywhere.  In the wooded and more vegetated area at the back of the reservoir some exploded from beneath our feet, making us jump, putting us off our stride.  Grain had been scattered along the centre of the track to make sure they didn't stray far away, out of gunshot.  They call it sport...
Half way and it's become much lighter
It was easy running along the back straight as the sky became lighter and colours brighter.  The wind was on our backs for a while and the rising sun on our faces.  Little flotillas of mallard squawked and talked among themselves.
The last gentle rise
It was mainly flat and rather enjoyable, passing the thatched building then up the gentle rise, over the wooden bridge and back to the car park.  Here, the vicious wind gave us a final blasting making us glad we were on our way home to bowls of hot porridge and a warm stove.
It's good to be back running again but sometimes the nicest part comes after I've stopped...