North York Moors 100

An LDWA Hundred. Whatever the route, it’s 100 miles and each one needs ticking off. There will be hills, so they will need climbing. There are 16 checkpoints so thought needs to be given to diet and timing. And thought needs to be given to gear. I spent a long time packing my S-Lab 12 pack, so that it balanced right and everything I needed was to hand. Maps had been prepared, GPS files loaded and I knew how to use all my devices to do the task needed.
All I had to do now… was do it.
I bade Helen farewell and the mass of 500 or so runners and walkers set off at 10am from Malton School. I like my own space so I try to keep as far up the field as I can. OK, the gazelles soon disappear but it’s not long before we average runners start to form clusters and I fall in to a space between two of these. This is ideal for me. The route is good and quick – lots of lengthy stretches without stiles or major hindrances – and it’s not long before the drinks stop at Checkpoint 1 is upon us.

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Tenerife, Vilaflor to Parador

My walk on this day, near enough a walk I did three years previously, took me from Vilaflor along the GR131 to the summit of Mt Guajara, on the rim of the caldera – a climb of 4800 ft over 10 miles. The route then drops down to the crater floor and the Parador hotel which is also the bus terminus. The time constraint of having to catch the 4pm bus back down puts a real imperative into the walk.
As usual I walked up the hill from Golf del Sur to Las Chafiras to catch the 111 bus which runs along the motorway, stopping only at bus stops constructed in laybys between sliproads at motorway junctions – a very clever idea. The motorway was very busy at 7.30 am, people returning to work after the Easter weekend, but I still made Los Christianos in time for a coffee at a cafe opposite the bus stands.
Titsa bus 342 leaves the Guagua Estacion at Costa Adeje at 9.15am and arrives in Los Christianos around 10 minutes later. There are the usual mix of passengers – mountain bikers (with their steeds placed in the hold), hikers, day trippers as well as locals of Arona and Vilaflor. Bono cards are not valid on this service and the fare to Vilaflor was just over €3.

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Tenerife, Anaga Walk, Good Friday procession

Up early, 7:15 bus. Time for a coffee at Santa Cruz bus station ( good café). Tram through city is very enjoyable. Everywhere looks sleepy…Good Friday. I’m off to the North-eastern end of the Island – the Anaga mountains – which always seem highly rated but I never visited. I also wanted to see the Good Friday procession in La Laguna, so I had to do my walk and be back down in La Laguna by then.My starting point was Carmen Del Cruz, reached by taking the tram to the interchange at La Laguna from Santa Cruz.

At La Laguna the bus interchange needs watching out for but the station itself easy to navigate. Bus full and noisy, mostly walkers by the looks. Standing room only – wooden walking sticks.

Leafy suburbs, green covered hills. Not like the South at all.

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Tenerife Coastal Walk, Easter, 2017

Established over a number of visits now, a walk I like to do on arriving on Tenerife is this coastal walk from Golf del Sur – where generally we are staying – around the Southern tip of the island and along the promenades of the main resorts of Los Christianos, Play de Las Americas and Costa Adeje – finishing at the main bus station. This provides a walk of great contrasts – the first two-thirds is rough cactus-strewn land, undulating and meandering wildly and with a couple of steep ascents and awkward descents – all in (usually) very hot weather. One meets a few people on this section but generally no more than half a dozen. This all changes once the main resorts are entered and the delightful promenade assaults all the senses!
Leaving Golf del Sur by the footpath by the marina one skirts the Amarillo golf course whilst hugging the shoreline. You soon reach a small lake cut off from the sea by a narrow strip of rocks across which you must pass before the route follows the main dirt road that winds its way in and out of the bays. There are usually a number of unofficial campers along here and it’s useful to have an ultrasonic dog deterrent with you – just in case. The first objective is clear – Montana Amarillo – a volcanic crater the colour of rich caramel – which lies dead ahead. There are routes over it (by entering the caldera and climbing onto the right-hand side of the rim), or round it to the left under the cliffs (which follows the shoreline very closely – so watch the tide) or round to the right, which is by far the easiest.
Whilst the top affords good views in all direction the descent into Costa Silencio should be taken with care.

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Muddy slalom on South Delamere trails

After yesterday’s inspirational checkpointing duties I needed to get out on the trail again. After giving Loggerheads a fair pounding recently Helen and I went out to Delamere Forest to revisit two of our favourite routes. Whilst Helen went off around the lake, I headed up to Old Pale and on to Gresty’s Waste. Thereafter the mud was relentless until Summertrees (now, sadly, permanently closed). I continued down the Sandstone Trail towards Rock Farm; this stretch is mostly downhill at a perfect angle for running, with good drainage and not too much in the way of goo. The weather was grey and slightly damp, but the running was great and I felt good.

I returned via the track by Tirley Garth and through Primrose Wood, to pick up the track across the fields towards the A54. The forest trails always make for good training terrain and my mind looks forward to some of the longer events I have planned, and how I need to keep the training going. From the A54 I took Stoney Lane to Eddisbury Hill and down into the country park to meet Helen in the cafe for a well-earned sandwich and cake.

Delamere Forest Visitor Center was very busy – it is good to see so many people out and about and enjoying the fresh air and countryside. The facilities here are excellent and the cafe superb – good hearty sandwiches and snacks at reasonable prices.

Though we drove here today, we often take advantage of the local train service which has a station just half-a-mile from the visitor centre. At weekends this line is very popular.

A great weekend!

Photos

Moel Famau 9/1/16

The forecast had predicted 90% Heavy rain.

I sat in the car at the layby above Loggerheads and listened to the 90% certain rainfall hammering on the roof. It was 2.30pm with not much daylight left – time to get a move on. I was wearing-in new shoes and needed the run. I also needed to start hill training so it was important to get out of the car and face the 100% actual rain.

I set off on my usual – and favourite – run; up through the wood over to Deborah’s well and via tracks and fields to Pantymwyn. The ground was saturated and the mud deep and slippery, but the shoes have excellent traction, even on a couple of short but treacherous descents. Down through the trailer park to the chapel and down further to the footbridge by the telephone box.

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The river was flowing swiftly, and it was almost dark. The next stage is tricky – a steep ascent on a muddy cambered path, but again the shoes gripped well. The rain was easing and as I crossed the forest and descended towards Cilcain I had to decide on my route back – either along the Leete Path, over the shoulder of Moel Famau, or over the summit itself.

I chose the latter…

The track up to the ridge path was mostly a stream, and in the upper reaches muddy. I refreshed my headtorch batteries and pushed on. I generally use the path below the ridge and take the steep climb up a grassy bank below the summit, but I suspected that would be water-logged today, so used the ridge route which turned out be a very boggy choice!

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As I climbed the final rocky slope I entered cloud and mizzle, my headtorch beam reflected back off the haze. The wind and rain picked up as I passed the wall of the observation tower and I could not see anything of the tower itself.

Once out of the cloud I was able to pick up the pace on the descent to Bwlch Penbarras. The lights of Ruthin were amazingly clear against a jet-black night and, though raining steadily, the going was quite pleasurable. I jogged down the road back to Loggereheads and up the final hill to the car. I sat inside and changed shoes and removed outer gear – and listened to the 100% certain rain on the roof. And I smiled.

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Waterways 50

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After a very busy year at work to date I found myself without a qualifying 50 for the 2016 LDWA Hundred, so looking through the SIEntries website I found this event in the Retford area, which seemed ideal. As it turned out it was an odd event but very enjoyable in its own way. Canal towpaths and river banks for almost all the route, one checkpoint had been moved which added 3 miles to a route which was already 54 miles! Mild weather and little breeze made for good running and I felt happy that I’d kept the running up until the end.

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Good provision at the checkpoints but very little at the end – just a bowl of microwaved vegetable soup. The organisation was a little sloppy and route-description non-existent, but I’d done my prep and knew the route apart from a few diversions not evident from the OS Map (and not mentioned by the organisers).

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The course was flat – very little you could call a hill anywhere on the route – and mostly along good paths and trails. I especially enjoyed the night running and teamed up with a lady called Lisa from Hampshire – we ran more or less together for the last 20 miles and she was great company.

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I was very comfortable with the distance and my shoes – the Leadville 100’s – were comfortable and coped easily with the mostly hard surfaces.

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The 50-mile distance was running alongside others of 30 and 100 miles and in a review later the organiser admitted his resources had been stretched to cover all this and stay awake for three days!

In the end I really enjoyed this run and will look to do it again. So, thanks to the organisers – I’ll be back.

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A piece of cake – Ruabon Moor and Llangollen

My blogs have two main purposes – to promote Trail Running and to promote the wonderful and varied countryside within a short distance of Chester. Today I revisited one of my favourite areas to try and patch-in a short stretch to make an ideal training circuit. This area also happens to be one of the most spectacular.

 

 

 

Goin’ round and round

“We’re going round and round (Yeah, me and my babe),
Going round and round (Yeah, me and my babe),
Round and round, round and round,
Me and my sure ‘nough baby going round and round”

(Panama Limited Jug Band, Harvest Records 1969)

Given the appalling weather forecast H & I decided to play safe and take to the sheltered haven of Delamere Forest, Cheshire.
We had both entered the upcoming Resolution Run in March and will do 2 and 3 laps respectively of the Red Route, so that is what we did this afternoon.
In the end we timed it perfectly as the heavy rain had passed by and the afternoon and fair and mild.
As usual, the food at the Delamere Forest Cafe was excellent and a real reward for a good hard run.

(10.5 miles, 500 ft, 1hr 45mins)

 

 

 

What makes a mountain a mountain?

(Work in progress)

Like many hill people I like to tick off lists; The Nuttalls, The Wainwrights etc.
Quite often these tops are little more than hills which are luckily over 2000ft and have no other redeeming features yet are listed in books that declare them to be “mountains”.
But if altitude does not define a mountain, what does?

“A mountain is a large landform that stretches above the surrounding land in a limited area”, claims Wikipedia. No mention of height. Wainwright, as usual, had a sensible approach… “The difference between a hill and a mountain depends on appearance, not on altitude (whatever learned authorities may say to the contrary) and is thus arbitary and a matter of personal opinion. Grass predominates on a hill, rock on a mountain. A hill is smooth, a mountain rough. Roughness and ruggedness are the necessary attributes …”

So, how do we categorise Moel Famau, the highest peak in the Clwydian range, standing at 1818ft, or 554m? Wikipedia claims it is a hill, but I personally class it a mountain, and a fine one at that. In this blog I will try to support that justification.

The event that sparked this debate in my mind was a run I did in January 2014, in which I approached Moel Famau from the West, after a circumnavigation of much the mountain’s mass. The popular approach is from Bwlch Penbarras, a generally easy walk with a short steep section to reach the summit. With just 600ft of ascent this does not really classify as an ascent.

More demanding are the routes from Loggerheads Country Park, or from Cilcain, both starting at roughly 200m, and having long and steep final sections. Both have their merits and I am happy on either route, though the direct descent to Loggerheads, due East from the summit, becomes a challenge in poor weather.

Almost unnoticed on the 1:25k map amongst the myriad of footpaths and national trails is the path coming in from the Nant-y-Ne cwm due west from the summit. A closer look at the map reveals that this side is very much steeper than any of the others. I decided to give this route a try.