I think it was Paula Radcliffe who said "I really can't imagine living without running". I can echo that, especially on wonderful Spring-like days such as we've just had. It's got to that time of year when we eagerly anticipate hearing/seeing our first curlew, lapwing, golden plover - or spotting our first celandine - and we can't resist going in search of them.
It's an annual ritual.
It's an annual ritual.
|Wearing shorts for the first time this year (Click to enlarge pictures)
Saturday was warm enough to unlag my old white legs for some welcome ultra violet treatment.
|Setting off up the crag path
We set off up the crag for a 7 mile circuit round Mossy Mere, Blea Beck and the wild, empty spaces beyond.
|Greylags on Mossy Mere -with two other birds in background
Greylags had returned to Mossy mere, and so had some other species we couldn't identify without binoculars. Well, I couldn't...
We were longing to hear our first curlew, that musical harbinger of Spring that returns to our high pastures around the end of February, but all was silent. Except for a parcel of Swaledale sheep whose lunch we disturbed.
A local shepherd was tending sheep in a pen by Backstone Edge lane with a well trained, alert collie in attendence.
|Backstone Edge lane
I'll swear Backstone Edge lane is longer than it used to be! I'm not quite sure how it got its name.
I think it's from the craggy outcrop on the right, as we ascend, where miners acquired their 'bake-stones' for heating and baking oat cakes. A staple diet.
|Top of Backstone Edge, entering Hebden Moor
|Entering Hebden Moor- and the peat cuttings
It's a wet and soggy entry to Hebden Moor where some hardy locals still cut peat to supplement their winter fuel supply.
There is no gas pipeline to the village of Hebden so coal, wood and peat is still widely used. A friend of mine swears Hebden is 60 years behind the rest of the country!
|View over Grimwith reservoir having left the peat cuttings
|The good shepherd - Robert Stockdale of Hebden
By the gate at the end of the peat cuttings we were joined by the local shepherd taking a parcel of sheep through to Thomson Hole Moss.
|No chance of keeping dry feet here
We left him to continue sloshing our way alongside Blea Beck towards Grassington Moor and the dams.
It was hard work, only slightly relieved after we crossed the Parish boundary from Hebden into Grassington where I posed at a boundary stone.
|Ooh look, someone's carved my initial
|Leaving the boundary wall, running towards the dams.
We carried on, following the beck towards the dams where fairly soon whistling teal will be returning to their remote rushy nesting sites.
|We thought this track might be dry. Wrong again!
Joining a track by the dams we'd anticipated drier running conditions but recent rains had put paid to that. We could dodge the wetter parts.
|Des Res - old mining building with glorious views. Needs a little attention...
There were no signs of life at the dams, not a single bird on the water. Occasionally a cock grouse would tell us to go-back, go-back, go-back, but mainly the moor was silent as the grave.
|Chimney and dam
A derelict mining building marked the high point of our run at 1,325 ft. From there on it was all downhill, past the chimney and down into the ghyll.
If I'd had any strength left I'd have broken into a faster run, just for the hell of it, but the boggy ascent across the moor had drained me a bit.
|Trying to run faster, down the rough track into the ghyll
|Back into Hebden Ghyll and nearly home
A combination of cold head wind and tiredness, not to mention a soggy bra, had my wonderful partner donning some added protection to keep warm.
|Just two more minutes...then we've done
It was an easy run down the ghyll for some much needed protein (Chocolate milk) then a repeat of last week's hot milky tea with two sugars and a rather large spoonful of brandy.
Slunk in my comfortable chair I vowed I'd finished running, for good. But I don't think my wonderful partner was too surprised when, ½ an hour later, I suggested we get up early next morning for a sunrise run round Grimwith reservoir.
And we did.