Friday, April 27, 2018

A Date for Your Diary - Saturday 23rd June 2018 - The Rest of the Passes and Valleys

After due consultation, it has been decided (use of the passive tense avoids allocation of blame) that this outing will be on the 23rd June.

Start will be earlyish (?) from the New Dungeon Ghyll.

Thence to Three Tarns and Down to Boot, over the Corpse Road to Wasdale Head, then Black Sail...

Anyone who wants details of the full route can email me on

Saturday 28th April 2018

YJ and I plan to UTUP tomorrow, and we may have a blast from the past. You will need to attend the UTUP to find out who the mystery runner is.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Happy Anniversaty

If it hadn’t been the last one I would have left it because six weeks out with the Aussie flu bug meant that my longest run since January had been less than 6 miles – hardly the ideal preparation for an 11.5 mile race in the Lakes with 3500 feet of climbing. However, it was the last one, Newlands is my favourite part of the Lakes and the weather forecast was good – too good as it turned out.

So at 6.45 on Saturday the alarm went off, which wouldn’t have been too bad if I hadn’t been at a Dinner Dance in Blackburn the night before! Roger picked me up at 7.30 and we collected Tom five minutes later. They were both doing the Teenager with Altitude which started an hour before the AW but I needed a lift as SWINW wanted the car. We arrived at registration at about 9.15, I collected my number and went to find what little shade there was and read a book until it was time to go.

The first three miles were straightforward enough but then the climb up Robinson began. I picked a good line but the valley head had turned into a furnace which made it a relief to reach the summit ridge. Once there, I performed my good deed for the day. A lady runner had got crag fast on the Robinson Step and so I gallantly helped her – it was a good excuse for a rest!! I enjoyed the rest of the climb to the first check point on Robinson summit but went for a pearler coming down having caught my foot on a rock. The only damage was a nasty cut on my left hand and slightly shaken confidence.

 Hindscarth and Dale Head (with choir!) were soon passed, but then the very steep descent to Dale Head tarn began. Now my descending skills have improved no end on the grassy slopes of the Dales, but this was a different league altogether, both steeper and rockier. However, I made it down without mishap but on the climb up to High Spy I realised that my legs had gone so I was reduced to a slow shuffle- I wouldn’t call it running – for most of the rest of the race. By the time I reached the summit, NLN and Ian had both run out of film and so the only thing they took was the micky!

My shuffle towards Catbells and the finish continued. By this time I was cooked. The temperature was into the 20s and despite lashing on the sun cream, I could feel my neck burning. Finally I reached Cat Bells but took a bad line off it and ended up in some rocks whilst other runners were on grass either side of me. I managed to extricate myself and got down the steep grass to the road ok, but the last half mile on the road, although down hill was a killer. At the finish I couldn’t walk in a straight line and the first aiders grabbed me and made me drink lots of water. However, there was free beer available and I decided that I was better off re-hydrating with that instead!

It is a great race in a stunning part of the world and very well organised. However, I learnt the hard way that to do these events justice, more training and a recce are necessary, an d so preferably is cooler weather. Whoever said that with age comes wisdom?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

No Golden Mile(s)

Thanks to NLN for her pic of me at about 18 miles of the Blackpool Marathon.  Sadly, the result was not what I would have wanted as the wheels had already fallen off the trolley.

After a brisk half marathon completed in around 2 hours leg pains which had surfaced during the first few miles worsened  and coupled with a drop in energy levels it was difficult to keep the pace going, To avoid serious damage I decided on the easier option of retiring at about  mile 21.

So it is back to the drawing board with the intention of being in better shape for the Lancaster Marathon in September.  To this end there will be more 10Ks and half marathons and more training miles as it is obvious that 30-40 miles per week is not enough.

Never Mind London

Blackers is where it's at!  Well done Mr Swift and hats off to Mr B (LoB) for completing the final Anniversary Waltz - you were too quick for me to get a snap on the summit of High Spy, apologies.  But with 750-ish runners, getting the numbers down required a bit of concentration.  Fab few days in the Lakes visiting a variety of summits, returning via Blackpool after the rain arrived to see if we could spot this gent.  Look forward to reading all about it YJ.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Saturday 21st April 2018

Neither YJ nor I will be UTUPing this coming Saturday, John will be nearing the end of his taper for the Blackpool Marathon, and I may be Parkrunning in Derby.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Second Tour of (some of) the Central and Western Lakeland Valleys

If your refer to my post of 27th June 2016, you will see that we were left with unfinished business. Wind on almost 22 months:-

Over a recent couple of  beers, Steve (B) (he doesn't answer to his allotted blog name) told me that it was time to put this one to bed; apparently he and YJ had decided this at a previous drinking session. After some discussion, we decided that we should use the original plan (see 27/6/16), but in reverse order, so that we mop up the missed passes and can go home any time after we hit our route of two years ago.

We're looking at the second half of June, either a Saturday or a Wednesday - a Saturday would no doubt suit those of us that still have an attendance clause attached to their monthly pay cheque. Comments please from interested parties - I can email you full details of the original plan if you wish.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Saturday 14th April

Sorry for the late notification, but YJ and I will be UTUPing on the 14th.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

'Do' on Friday 6th

Further to my post of March 16th, I have booked a table for 7:30 for tomorrow evening, at the Black Horse, Limbrick.

Hope to see lots of you there.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Pike Race 2018

Where to start? - Same as every year, at the bus turnround on Lever Park Avenue! Well that's not quite what I meant, so let's go back a bit further.

I knew this year was going to be harder than last - one year older (no escaping  that) - a few pounds heavier (mea culpa, although the OSP is trying to put weight back on by increasing portion sizes - for both of us! So not all my fault) - and averaging only 24 miles a week compared with 31 last year. So, as ever; hoping for a good run, expecting a bad one - blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.

The Pike Race has always been special to me, it was my first fell race, and I was then running in Notts AC colours. It was 1979 and Pete Ravald won, just 3 seconds in front of (ever the bridesmaid) Shorty. A quick scan down the (now yellowing) results for that day suggests that only Albert, George Arnold and I are still racing on the local scene. The numbers have increased since then, 220 in '79, 354 last Saturday.

Anyway, as they say, nostalgia ain't what it used to be so let's move on half a lifetime.

Fewer old faces on the start line, a lot of new ones in Horwich vests. Mostly unknown to me; for many years we got to know all the recent additions over a beer or two in the RMI after Tuesday training, but no more - stoppit, I said no more nostalgia!

Particular targets for me were to beat my older brother John, and Ray, a friend of one of my daughters who I had said should give it a go. Cut to the chase, or rather to the end of the chase; John beat me by over 5 minutes, Ray by almost 5. We were all beaten by Tony Hesketh,Tony Varley, John Parker and many, many more, whilst t'Y managed to finish behind Ray, but in front of me.

But Horwich as a club had a good race - first open men's team, first vets men's team and fifth ladies' team. Incidentally and unusually, TF's club - Salford - had two finishers (wow!) and although placing 5th and 6th had insufficient runners to complete a team.

Good to see the ever cheerful, six times Pike Race winner Paul Dugdale in the Crown later, but sad to hear the he is awaiting joint surgery for osteoarthritis.  Hope they sort you out soon, Paul, guys like you always make me feel guilty, you wear yourselves out with superb results, whilst I have never gone fast enough to do myself any damage, but just keep crawling along  - oh for that 16 minutes of glory (that's about how long it would take to pull off a win).

I will leave you with this picture of Ray approaching the finish, of special note because he had both feet off the ground, something neither of the bros has aspired to in recent years:-

Hope to see you all next year.


There is a group of three hills near the north coast of the Lleyn Peninsula known collectively as Yr Eifl. Our Welsh neighbours take great delight in hearing us misinterpret this as meaning 'The Rivals', when anyone with even the faintest grasp of their language knows that this means 'the forks'. I had been aware of their commanding appearance since holidaying on the peninsula over 30 years ago, but had never got round to climbing them. So when I came across a holiday cottage on the internet, several months ago, which was less than a mile from the most easterly peak it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so Saturday 24th March saw me setting off from that cottage to make good this gap in my 'mountaineering' experiences.

Tre'r Ceiri, or Town of the Giants, stands just 1,591 ft high and is the site of Wales' biggest and best preserved Iron Age fort. It was occupied before the Roman invasion, and from what I can gather, remained in indigenous hands throughout the Latin occupation. The remains of over one hundred stone huts can still be seen as can a large part of the perimeter wall:-

Although it will be obvious from the above that visibility was poor on the day, navigation was not a problem due to the compact nature of the 'rivals'.

From there,it was barely a mile to the highest point, Garn Ganol (also the highest point on the whole peninsula) at 1,841 ft, which was the site of a trig point incorporating some unusual ironwork, in memory of an unconsummated love affair:-

Picture half inched from the 'Trigpointing UK' website.

The low cloud obscured all views from there, but this photograph, taken from the third top shows most of Garn Ganol, with Tre'r Ceiri in the left background:-

The third top, Garn For, is the lowest of the three at 1,457 ft, but, perched so close to the sea, is perhaps the most dramatic:-

From there I descended seawards to the Welsh Language Centre at Nant Gwrtheyrn for bara brith and coffee, then stopping off for a pint of something stronger in Llithfaen before returning to my accommodation. Not a lot of miles, but some rough ground, a fair bit of climbing and a long delayed outing finally completed, all without any transport, other than my Salomons.

I took this shot the following day from the coastal path near Morfa Nefyn, about 4 miles west, which is the  view that had stayed with me all those years:-

Yes, 'The Rivals' are definitely worth a visit if you're ever in that area - just don't ask me to pronounce any of the placenames!