Friday 28 December 2018

It's not the coughing that carries you off,

it's the coffin they carry you off in...
"It's nothing infectious" I said to the concerned young lady sat beside me on the crowded train, "just a bit of a tickle, that's all".  She didn't seem convinced, turning her head to watch the world whizzing past the window as I hacked into my handkerchief. 
I was glad to get off.  For her sake.
Setting off on Saturday's run...   (Click to enlarge pictures)
Cough or no cough, I ran more than 20 miles with 1,800ft of ascent over the festive period which I reckon is a tad more than your average 86 year old did.   I can't recall coughing at all while I was running.  Only when I stopped!
...and it rained.  Do we really have to go on?
It rained one mile into our run on the Saturday before Christmas but it didn't stop us.  We carried on to complete a planned 6 mile route through Burnsall to Appletreewick campsite and back again.
Sunlight arriving on the bank outside our window
Christmas Eve was totally different.  I couldn't get out of the house quick enough to take pictures of the glorious sunrise.
Sunlight on mist over the river
I wandered around, clicking away ad lib while breakfast porridge was settling, until my old body felt it was ready to run.
It was a wee bit wet in places...
Before lunch we motored to Skyreholme to run a beautiful 6½ mile circuit forming part of a 10 mile walk my wonderful partner has planned for her U3A walking group in February.
...and very frosty in others
It was a beautiful sunny day but with a thick white frost in places where the sun had failed to shine.  There must also have been a 10ยบ difference in temperature in or out of the sun.
Running beside the Wharfe - white on one side, green on the other.
Through frosted fields we dropped down to join the River Wharfe at Howgill, then followed it upstream as far as Woodhouse farm.
Approaching the steading at the top of Kale Hill
Then began the uphill work, steeply up Kale Hill passing a little posse of walkers who gazed in amazement as we ran past, maybe moving faster uphill than they were walking downhill!
Flying - up Appletreewick Pasture in the sun
Beyond Kale Hill we were out of the shadows and back into sunlight to run steadily up Appletreewick Pasture, passing more walkers who said we were showing them up!
The descent into Troller's Ghyll
Crossing New Road we ran along a bit of old railway track to the head of Troller's Ghyll.  My wonderful partner was none too happy with my chosen route of descent!
Ooh, I've got a wet bum..
I'd chosen a diretissima down a steep banking which I often used to run up as part of a 14 mile route in marathon training days.  There was a wire fence to hang on to!
Flying again..
Once down into the Ghyll there was a grassy trail all the way to the bottom which made for fast, easy running - back into the sunlight.  It felt nice to get a bit of speed up.
All downhill from here..
From thereon it was pleasant running all the way back to Skyreholme, following the beck beneath Parcival Hall Gardens, to where we'd parked the car.
That delightful route
TomTom told us we'd run 6.3 miles with 789ft of ascent and a very enjoyable run it was too. 
Boxing day was so grotty, foggy and miserable that we didn't even bother to take our cameras on a 4 mile run to Burnsall and back along the river.  My wonderful partner was anxious to run it quickly, faster than she'd ever run it before, so I was enlisted to act as pace-maker. She got her wish and did in fact register a new PB.
Dawn breaking over Grimwith Reservoir.
We rose early next morning for a pre-breakfast run round Grimwith reservoir.  It was cloudy but some interesting colours filtered across the sky as dawn broke.
Sun rising over Grimwith Lodge
As we ran across the dam a procession of car headlamps pierced the gloom along the road leading to the sailing club as the yachting fraternity arrived, towing their boats behind them.
At the halfway point - in festive gear
It was one of those dreary mornings when dawn seemed to take a long time to arrive, but it was calm and reasonably warm for the time of year.
To the car park - ½ mile
From the moment we'd opened the car door a cacophony of greylags filled the air and it continued throughout our run,
  rafts of them on the water and scores more along the bank.
Wonderful running country
There was little or no wind, the surface of the water was like a mirror - wonderful for reflections but bad news for the sailors!
Yachts people gathering at the sailing club
As we set off up the final hill a runner gave us a wave as he set off in the opposite direction and two heavily dressed ladies with trekking poles greeted us as they commenced their festive walk.
Happy New Year everyone
After all the festive food and drink a visit to the scales revealed I weigh exactly the same as I have for the past 20 years - 136 lbs.
Oh, I forgot, we still have Hogmanay.  There's all the tatties and neeps, and plum pudding, wine and malt whisky to come yet.
God, I might have to run another 20 miles!
Ah well, anything's better than coughing...

Monday 10 December 2018

Wild and beautiful......the two bridges run

All Friday night a raging westerly rocked the house and roared in the chimney affording us very little sleep. Driving back to the Dales on Saturday morning a double rainbow arced across a gunmetal sky ahead of us.  We drove through it into gale force torrential rain that continued all day and well into the night.
The path had become a stream   (Click to enlarge pictures)
By Sunday morning things had calmed down, the sun came out and our minds clicked into running mode.  At 10.30 we donned suitably studded footwear and squelched our way by soddened fields and flooded lanes towards Grassington where the last of the Dickensian events was taking place.
Wait for me...high water down High Lane
Goodness knows how many inches of rain had fallen but for much of the way we were paddling through water over the tops of our shoes.  But hey, we're fell runners, we can cope...
Wallowing in a few moments of warmth at one of the drier parts
 The forecast had been for wall to wall sunshine but, as is often the case, they didn't get it quite right.  There were welcome sunny spells that gave warm respite from the bitterly cold cloudier conditions, but they didn't last long.
That bearded falsetto.
Strange wailing noises assailed our ears approaching the flesh pots of Grassington.  The entertainment had begun - for some.  A little later, wandering down the busy street past well stocked stalls, we arrived at the source of those weird high pitched sounds to discover it wasn't a lady, as we'd thought, but a bearded falsetto gentleman.  We didn't stay!
What the Dickens?  Kids dressed for the occasion
In early days it was considered de rigueur to dress appropriately for  Dickensian weekends, not just  stall holders and active participants but most visitors too.  It was a glorious, colourful sight that added greatly to the atmosphere of the event.
Morris dancers
Sadly, that seems to be no more.  Very few people nowadays dress for the occasion though one group of people, the Morris dancers, might seem to take it to extremes.  The black faced, gaudily dressed flag-crackers were stood around awaiting their turn to clatter their clogs.  It was too cold for us to hang around so we missed their performance.
We left the gathering crowds and tootled down to the raging River Wharfe.  Roaring under the bridge it was quite a sight after all the hours of heavy rain.  Some people who'd parked in Linton to walk into Grassington were quite concerned about crossing the bridge and raced across rather quickly.
Nip across quick before that pillar gets washed way..
We always find it quite fascinating when the water is high and invariably stop for the obligatory photograph before heading on our way.  Sunday was no exception and, to be honest, I found it more interesting than anything that was going on in the streets of Grassington.   
But don't tell the organisers!
Hebden Suspension Bridge.,
We dragged ourselves away and trotted off down river, heading for home.  With very little running over the past few weeks yours truly was beginning to feel the strain.  Forward progress was little more than a gentle jog. interspersed with walks, for the next two miles to Hebden Suspension Bridge..  A guy in shorts admitted "I always hate crossing this bridge" and, like people at Linton Falls, was rushing to get it over with..  I nipped over to take a photograph before trailing up the road into the village, trying to keep up with my wonderful partner who seems to be taking over the reins.
For the time being..

Wednesday 5 December 2018

......and later in the frost

Peering out the window at 7am on Tuesday my neighbour's car had changed colour, from black to white, and so had the barn roof.  There was no hesitation, like will I or wont I, it was a definite 'yes' in favour of getting out for a run.
The moon and Venus   (Click to enlarge pictures)
A waning crescent moon hung in a clear, frosty sky with Venus shining like a diamond a little farther to the west as I jogged along the lane.  I was well wrapped up with a buff pulled over my nose and mouth to warm the air I breathed.
Arriving at the rim together - the sun and I
Last week's slushy fields and gateways were now frozen and rutted making it more pleasant for running.   Stars disappeared in the dawning light, a robin gave a brief burst of song from a holly bush by the cottages and a rabbit hopped away rather stiffly.
A convoluted route to the summit
I'd taken a different, longer route onto the hill, brushing through brambles and steeply up past prickly gorse bushes to arrive on the rim just as the sun peered over the horizon.
Dawn light
A chill wind from the west ensured I kept moving through the frozen landscape, enjoying the changing colours with only brief stops to aim my camera at some eye-catching scene.
Wind and frost on the summit
Like that rabbit I passed earlier my old legs weren't performing as well as they should.   I abandoned my usual set of hill reps to jog home with porridge and hot coffee in mind.
Approaching slippery flags through the gorse
Stone flags coming off the summit were slippery with frost so I ran warily, remembering a time when I lost my footing and landed in a heap ten yards farther down.  I was younger then, and faster!
Frosty field
Arriving home tingling and invigorated a hot shower took preference before the obligatory glass of cold chocolate milk.  
The porridge boiled over, but what the hell, if the world had come to an end it couldn't have taken away the magic of that last hour.

Monday 3 December 2018

Running in the rain......

It rained all day Saturday, making it a miserable day for the first of Grassington's four Dickensian events.  Then it rained all night.  It was forecast to rain all day Sunday too but when I sneaked out of bed at 7am, although I could hardly see across the road, there were no raindrops on any of our windows.  
We decided it was fit to run.
Setting off into the gloom   (Click to enlarge pictures)
Half an hour later we were driving through thick mist to Grimwith Reservoir scattering hundreds of soddened pheasants and partridges that don't look plump enough yet for the annual slaughter.
Strangely, we were enjoying it!
We parked, donned our waterproofs and set off into the gloom.  We'd discussed whether or not to take cameras with us for in wet or misty conditions pictures are rarely in focus.  We decided to risk it and were fairly happy with the atmospheric results.
By the bridge over Blea Beck - and it's raining
After days of rain we'd anticipated a sea of mud on parts of the route, causing us to return home with black feet, but were surprised to find that although quite wet in parts it hasn't yet deteriorated into its usual winter state.
Upon reflection......
Par for the course, mist turned to rain as we approached the point of no return, but after very little running during the past four weeks I really didn't mind.  It felt good to be out and building up fitness again.
At the half way point, and it's raining heavier
Other than the local pheasant population we saw little other bird life.  A family of mallard in a huddled line by the waters edge looked rather sorry fot themselves.  A gaggle of greylags materialized from the mist and disappeared just as quickly.
Tall tree, tiny figure
We'd seen another car on the car park when we arrived and half expected to pass other runners on our way round.  We didn't and surmised they'd set off in the same direction as us.  
And much faster!
Grimwith Lodge on its broadening shoreline
Unusually, after many days of heavy rain, water level in the reservoir is quite low.  It's normal capacity is in the region of 22 million cubic metres, making it Yorkshire Water's largest reservoir, but it's now vastly depleted and showing wide margins of stony banking.
Come on, another two hundred yards and we've cracked it...
Into our last ½ mile, a stretch of gentle uphill.  The old legs were beginning to feel strong again and the ascent was easy. 
Finished ......and happy
  We wouldn't normally venture out running in suchlike conditions but were glad we did.  In a masochistic way we really enjoyed it.  We were glad we'd taken our cameras too, to record the conditions, 
or we might never have believed it!