Digested Read: still recceing, this time Hathersage to Lady Cannings. Nice rock formations, nice heather, nice folk out and about, but I was scared of the coos. Still hot (the weather not me). Still feels like it’s going to be a long, loooooong way. Oh well. Nothing ventured eh?
You know what, I might start wearing my pants outside my leggings in future. And not just as an anti-chafing strategy – I’m fine in that department now I sport Runderwear out and about. I managed to save the day for others out and about again today. Not with navigational assistance this time, but with emergency rations. I’m getting to be so comfortable out and about on them there hills that I’m practically feral. Soon I wont need to return to base ever again. I’ll be self-sufficient, foraging for berries to sustain me, drinking deeply from mountain streams to quench my thirst and basting myself in mud and cowpats in lieu of wearing ill-fitting Lycra. I will lose myself on the moors, I will become known as The (elusive) Sprite of Houndkirk, pretty much keeping myself to myself, but now and again appearing as if from nowhere to assist those in need, scampering ahead to lead the way for those who are lost (I still won’t scamper very fast though, so hopefully they won’t be in too much of a hurry to get home) or gifting edible thistle heads to the hungry. Then again, I might not.
A wise running buddy commented to me whilst participating at parkrun yesterday that the thing is ‘you can sometimes just go right off the idea of running‘, and I’m afraid to say, I totally get what she means. So too it is with me and my recces. I have spent the early part of each recce for this Dig Deep 30/ Peak Trail 30, buoyed up with
probably misguided optimism, full of wonder at the glories of the landscape and full of self-congratulatory smugness at having the genius idea of entering this event as motivation for exploring and discovering the peaks. Then, sooner than I’d like to admit. It just wears off. The hills require ascents, that’s hard, then to add insult to injury you have to descend them again. It’s hot. At some point my body just completely goes off the idea of continuing, and then it becomes a mental battle to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t really understand why it happens. I’m not injured, my legs and lungs are fine, it’s just like a switch goes in my head and the realisation that I don’t need to be doing this becomes overwhelming. Something inside me just announces ‘well, it’s been fun – or at least “good in parts” – but let’s just stop this nonsense now shall we, and go and have a lie down in a darkened room and never venture out again‘. It is honestly like the recceing has left me wrecked. I’m happy once I’ve concluded the trip, I feel fine the next day (mostly, bit of DOMS maybe) but there is a mid-point crash when all I can think is ‘what was I thinking?!’ Dear reader, am I normal? Is it just me? The weird thing is, it doesn’t seem to be related to actual distance, but proportion of distance. Upshot is, I’m not seriously up for being a moorland sprite. I’m not sure I quite fit the physical requirements that are likely to be a prerequisite for the role, and also I don’t want to miss parkrun. You can’t be a full-time moorland sprite and duck out every Saturday and Sunday morning. Flexible working practises are just not that wide spread. Really, I’m not just being negative about the options available hereabouts, I’m being realistic.
Where was I? Oh yes, Graves Junior parkrun, because what is the point of a Sunday if it doesn’t start with that. It was the usual explosion of joy, hi-fives and fantastical t-shirts. If you’ve not yet volunteered at a junior parkrun you are really missing out, loads of benefits to volunteering at parkrun, including some or none of:
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basically, one big party at junior parkrun, here’s just a random shot of random volunteers at a random junior parkrun, could be anywhere, the jumping for joy is in evidence at all of them…
it puts a spring in your step for the rest of the day. I noted this morning that unicorns are continuing to be a thing, but I was particularly taken by a shark t-shirt amongst the throng. For me though, the most glorious part of the morning was when I was on the finish funnel. Junior parkrunners skipped on by, but then at one point, ‘oh no! An injured runner‘. A young girl had got a really nasty looking gash on her knee. She sprinted through the finish and then flung herself on the ground, right in the middle of the finish funnel. I thought collapsed in pain. I rushed to assist along with the RD. We tried to move her out of the tunnel where she was in real danger of causing a massive pile up, and anyway, we wanted to get her somewhere she could be patched up, whilst avoiding as far as possible her and others being trampled as more finishing parkrunners came through. She protested. Vigorously. She was on the floor because she was trying to get her trainer off, as that is where she had stashed her barcode in her shoe! ‘no, no!’ she cried, ‘I need to get my barcode scanned!’ That’s proper parkrun prioritising isn’t it? Her earth-bound protest was not pain or concern for her bloodied leg. It was her grappling to retrieve her barcode combined with fear we would prevent her from getting her parkrun recorded. It reminded me of another eyebrow raising tale I read on a parkrun forum sometime somewhere. An adult parkrunner was thanking others who assisted him ‘after I fell and broke my hip in the finish funnel at such-and-such parkrun. Special thanks to the runner who took my finish token and barcode and got them scanned before the ambulance took me away to the hospital‘. #parkrunspirit indeed!
Anyways, inoculated against loneliness and mean-spiritedness for the rest of the day through bearing witness to parkrun brilliantness, it was time to hit the trails again. This time, I wanted to nail the last segment from Hathersage to Lady Cannings and the top of Limb Valley – don’t need to recce the very last bit as I do genuinely know that section pretty well already. Oh, the cow fence has made news now. I didn’t realise Sheffield City Council were putting the path down. The accompanying plaque will name only those people who donated more than £25, I thought it was £25 or over. Bang goes my shot at immortality. I will be nameless, and will now leave nothing tangible behind me in the world when I die. Maybe I should start saving for a bench or something instead. Oh well, should have read the small print. Nice punning in the article though, ‘have you “herd” the one about a new cow-funded fence?’ See what they’ve done there? Pulitzer prize punning at its best, surely. Actually, I don’t know if there is an actual category for punning, but I think there should be. ‘Cows will be moo-ving to accommodate the fence‘. Genius.
I decided to park again opposite the Norfolk Arms, walk it in reverse and then on the return journey I’d be doing the route ‘proper’. I was pretty sure I knew it, but wouldn’t want to be caught out on the day.
It looks quite dull doesn’t it, on Strava? That’s a shame because this is a route that has its moments. Lovely expanses of heather moor, rocky outcrops, and, I’m hoping on Dig Deep 30/ Peak Trails 30 race day, massive extra appeal because I’ll be on the final homeward bound stretch. Most of the route I know really well, so it feels like I’m nearly home. Still sated by the wedding buffet I am told to expect at the feed station around Bradwell, I’m hoping if I get this far, I’ll make the finish. Only a couple of parkruns left really, and almost down hill all the way in a bit. Well, in about 6 miles to be precise. From Lady Cannings down the Limb valley, that’s down hill. Might even run bits of it. Is it just me that has a tendency to do a sprint finish, not to show off my prowess at having fuel still left in the tank, but in a sort of desperate panic in case they suddenly decide to move the finish line a bit further away before I have a chance to reach it. Admittedly, this hasn’t happened to me as yet, but it still might, can’t be too careful out there. Reflecting on it, my fearful panic in the last moments of a race is not so dissimilar to my junior parkrunner earlier on, fearing her parkrun time was about to be snatched away from her by an over officious marshal just as it was within reach … not a funny thing to witness at all, that expression of bloodied dismay, loss and disbelief. I should be mindful of what is going on in future.
Where was I? Oh yes, heading out to the Norfolk Arms. I stopped and bought a banana from the co-op en route. I had no idea how long I was going to be out for. It was nice and relatively cool to begin with but inevitably hotted up uncomfortably after a couple of hours. This is still relatively a straight forward section, the total out and back was 11.15 miles according to Strava, and elevation of 1,826 feet, but it feels quite gentle undulation wise, the climbs aren’t too savage on the whole. Well, I’m saying that now, I might have hurrumphed a bit going up a couple of them at the time.
Map ready, hat ready, glasses ready, arctyrex with electrolyte water filled bladder ready? Yep, all ready, we’re off!
I tried not to take too many photos today, I’m concerned that the novelty may be wearing off, and also, my wordpress memory is running out. At some point, I will have used all the space the platform affords me, and that will be me silenced. Something for you to look forward too Dear Reader. Photos use a lot of memories, so plague me to add more and it will be time up on me running scared before you know it!
Not all that many people about to begin with, but pleasingly I did again bump into a fellow Smiley, the same one I bumped into on an earlier recce, we are clearly in tune with the same landscapes. She was sprinting gracefully round the 12.12 route just because. We stopped and talked watch battery life. She has a new polar, V800 or something, which she got slightly starry eyed talking about. She described how it has actually guided her home when lost. This is nigh on miraculous to me. I’ve heard of breadcrumb routes before. The name doesn’t instil confidence though, has everyone forgotten what happened to Hansel and Gretel. The breadcrumb trail did them very little good in the lets-follow-them-to-get-home-again bright idea stakes ‘oh no, somebody has eaten them’ if I’m very much mistaken. That didn’t end well. This Polar wotzit though, wow, dark arts indeed! She was as Harry Potter once in possession of a Firebolt broomstick. The Nimbus 2000 or whatever it was, now long forgotten, the new acquisition leaving them both giddy with excitement at new possibilities for speed and adventure.
After I’d delayed her for quite a while, she danced off across the hills. She was very swift on her feet. Surely not just trying to run away from me?
I carried on towards Carl Wark. I passed an off road cyclist, taking a break who asked me if it was possible to bike up Higger Tor. I really don’t know the answer to that question. I mean obviously, I wouldn’t have thought so, but off road cyclists have some sort of in-built irresistible death wish, so I have no idea. Anyway, we enjoyed a chit chat, and I went on, trying to photograph the rock formations. I also found a bit of bog. This wouldn’t normally be a novelty in this part of the world, but because we’ve had months and months of blistering heat and no rain it was a rare sight indeed. I think even the new flush of heather is looking scorched. I am longing for rain. Well, I say that, but obviously to fall when I’m safely tucked up in bed at night, not to come bucketing down like the wrath of god when I’m stuck out clinging to the edge of Stanage or something. Just to be clear.
A bit beyond Carl Wark I was a little bit confused about which was the most direct path to take. The trick is to aim for the far corner of the rectangular stone wall pen. I wonder how long that has been there for, it’s on the map and looks old if not actually ancient. It’s a huge space. Anyway, not difficult, and easier to find the path on the way back, which is the way it will be run (or not) on the day. I hadn’t actually gone in and explored the pen before. What is that iron railing bit in the middle? It looks like it should surround a family tomb or something.
Once you get to the end of the track, there is a cluster of in berry rowan trees, which are quite lovely. I’m hoping this is the dibber location, because it’s not altogether clear from the map where this might be, I really don’t want to be missing that at this late stage in the game. Oh well. This was a pretty section, heather, weird and wonderful rock formation that look like planetscape sets from the original Star Trek series. I feel nostalgic for the slightly paunchy original crew, but oh my, I’m so excited that Patrick Stewart is reprising his role as Jean-Luc Picard. What with that and the Thai football boys being rescued from a cave that’s two bits of good news to make it through this year against the odds. Maybe we haven’t quite entered the time of the apocalypse just yet after all, unlikely as it seems with the world crashing down around us.
The last time I did this recce, (you were spared a blog post on that occasion) I went wrong and did a lot of unnecessary ascent, it was so much easier this time. Lovely down hill, on well defined paths until you hit Ringinglow Road. Past some ponies before you get to the main road,
The main road is a bit of a shock, and a treacherous crossing, past the pub, and down the steep footpath off to the left, and descent to the railway line and nearly to my ‘starting point’ of Hathersage. Great views.
I was feeling pretty complacent at this point, end in sight, almost. Until I saw these guys:
That is so crap. I never used to be wary of cows before I came to Sheffield, but now, with the scattered and tossed remains of runners to be seen in hedgerows everywhere I’m much more dubious about entering their space. I stood a little way off and watched them through the gap in the wall. They stared back. It basically came down to who blinked first. I didn’t want to approach them, but they seemed pretty nonchalant about me just standing there. Eventually, one of them backed off with a little buck, and his (?) companion trotted off the path as well. Emboldened I started slowly walking down the footpath clinging to the wall, wondering if I’d be able to leap over it if need be. The wall was OK, it was the barbed wire atop it that was worrying me. Then again, I figured if they did run at me adrenalin would surely kick in and I’d fly over any obstacle to get away. Mercifully, I was not called upon to find out, they just ambled off, snorting. Phew.
Just the railway line to negotiate:
Nope, no trains. Trotted over the tracks, scrambled down the hill, past the sewage works which in a fine touch are protected by smart water I am told, and then you emerge past an old barn onto the main road.
I made myself go to the bridge and look at the river just to make a neat ending.
That was a fine view to be fair. Wonder if I will take the time to stand and stare come August bank holiday. Just look at that rock face up above. It is amazing really. Not much to do at this point though. I paused to have a drink and ate a not very nice oat bar. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but thought I should probably have something. Then turned tail, and homeward bound.
I was quite looking forward to doing this. I put my map away to see if I could just do the whole thing from memory. It’s very straightforwards, which is just as well, as I’ll probably be somewhat foggy brained at this point, and my sweet and sunny disposition mode might also be inoperational as well, as that too has a limited battery life, and can’t just be upgraded by increasing the size of your overdraft.
So, there follows the route recce in the correct direction:
Down the footpath and along the river, past the sewage works, up the steep, steep bank. Here I nearly got taken out by a group of silver-haired walkers, coming down from the pub. The path is really slippery, one took a tumble and hung onto the hand rail with white knuckles to break her fall. She claimed to be OK, but was shaken. That hill is steep. The nettles were ferocious, stinging even through my leggings. Over the railway line, up the hill. Much hurrumphing, it was really steep. On the plus side the cattle had moved off. You go up and it feels like you are going into someone’s back garden through a gate, and alongside roses in bloom. Up the hill, pausing for amusing photos in the curved mirror, not forgetting to marvel at the ‘nature will find a way’ tree growing out of a tree, and then onto the road where the millstone pub is. More great views. Easy to spot turn back onto Ringinglow Road. Where have the horses gone? Note to self, do not rely on presence of horses as navigational aid. Past the little wood and then following the footpath signs onto the Little Moor, where the red grouse calls we are told. Easy.
Over the steps in the wall, and it’s just follow the path really. It was steeper than I expected, you don’t notice it coming down, (why is that I wonder, it’s a mystery), but I did climbing up. The sun was hot again now, and I was drinking loads. Beautiful though. Again I got some great views of the rock formations, and I’m enjoying being out and about in the space so much more now I know where I am, but also don’t have to keep stopping to figure out where I’m supposed to be from the map. It feels like I could romp round anywhere. All mine. That’s honestly how it feels, but if you fancy a jaunt round there too some time, I don’t mind sharing.
The path ends with the little group of rowan trees that signify you need to hook right and head to the end of the walled pen and from there, skirt round Carl Wark. Still hoping this is dibber territory. Can’t quite think where else it would be….
Then you dive down hill again, through the bracken, avoiding the bog, and towards the little stone bridge
This dear reader, was to be my moment. The time when my preparedness came into play! As I scampered down the slope towards the little stone bridge, I could hear the voices of a small family who were making their way down to the same point. I could hear mum telling the smaller of their two children that as soon as they stopped, they would be rewarded for their efforts with a snack. They got to the point before me. Disaster. Their backpacks were opened, some quizzical dipping in to find stuff, then a frantic rummage. Oh. My. Gawd. THERE WERE NO RICE CRISPY CAKES. THEY HAD BEEN LEFT BEHIND ON THE SIDE IN THE KITCHEN. The little girl wasn’t at all whiny, but she was small, there were apologetic hugs, and some concern. She’d come a long way for a little one, and some sustenance was needed. As I approached I wasn’t sure what to do. I did have another not very nice but fine for emergency consumption honey and oat bar things in my pack. I wouldn’t need it now, but would it be weird to offer it? Would it seem like I’d been snooping, although to be fair voices carry and it would surely be even weirder to pretend I’d not witnessed the whole calamitous scene unfold. I hesitated and checked I did indeed have a spare bar, which I did (wouldn’t want round two of ‘oops, sorry, my mistake’ it would have pushed the whole family over the edge!) and just said slightly apologetically ‘would this help?’ offering out my slightly squished bar with an outstretched hand. Reader, it would and it did! Hurrah. Which just goes to show, that you should indeed always carry stuff as a precautionary measure even if you don’t think you’ll need it, because even if you don’t others might, and was just really nice to feel fleetingly useful. I don’t often experience the sensation of being fleet, so that was a particular boon to the day.
I left them and headed on up back towards the Houndkirk Road. The end in sight. Hurrah. Is it bad that although I voluntarily choose to undertake these yomps, I’m still mightily relieved when they come to an end. It’s the heat. More specifically the unrelenting sun scorching me. I hope it’s cooler and a bit overcast come the big day. Not actual torrential rain though, wouldn’t like that. Might bail if that was the only weather option available at the start.
I even attempted a little jog along the roman road. I kept thinking someone was following me, but then realised it was from the stuff bouncing up and down in my pack, need to remember to tighten it a bit more and squish out the excess air. That is one consequence of it being a water tight running vest. It is also air tight, so has a tendency to balloon up as you close it unless you are a most conscientious air squisher-outer. I’ll learn.
Alongside the plantation, and to the carpark. There I found some rather fine walking shoes that had tumbled out of a rather fine carrying bag. I think a walker parked up at the entrance to the plantation had maybe left them on the roof of their car after a walk and driven off, scattering them. There were a load of bikers around. I asked if any of them were Desdemona Postlethwaite – because there was a name on the bag so I knew who the items belonged to. The name wasn’t actually Desdemona Postlethwaite, but I feel I should protect the anonymity of the individual concerned. Who knows what terrible consequences might rain down were I to out the person responsible for the careless abandonment of such splendid boots. I wouldn’t want that on my conscience. I wasn’t sure whether to take them to the pub, try and find the person on Facebook somehow, but in the end opted for putting the shoes back in their pack and hanging them from a conspicious sign. Surely they’ll realise what happened and come back for them? Who knows.
So there we go. Another recce done. This maybe wasn’t the most eventful or dramatic of route recces, but it did represent a symbolic breakthrough, because now I know I can find my own way round the entire route. I can panic about loads of other aspects of the event, but I no longer expect to be defeated by a simple inability to find my way. This is a big deal for me. Fear of getting lost and my inability to navigate has been a barrier to doing loads of stuff. Whatever happens on Dig Deep 30 Day, the recceing has given me loads more confidence in finding my way around the area, and now I have a decent map, I might even go wild and start striding out to explore new to me routes all over the place. That’s SO EXCITING! Well, it is to me, maybe I just need to get out more, but that’s OK, because that’s exactly what I’m proposing. Hurrah!
Oh, and in other news, I’ve been trying to calm my inner panic by googling reassuring articles about ultra running. Here’s one that advocates just diving right in, pointing out that the longer the distance, the less it is about running. Hurrah! This could be a gateway just the sort of running that suits me best! It will still be about what ends up on Strava though, so I really do need to find out what to do about getting a watch with a battery life that will stick it out as long as I might…
For all my Dig Deep Series related posts, click here, and scroll down for older entries, or don’t, it’s up to you