Pennine Way, December 2017

Photos :- here

Working in a University means that work oscillates with a termly frequency, and the end of each term usually arrives with a crescendo of stressful proportions which needs to be dissipated as soon as possible. My cure … run to the hills!

I love coming up with new routes and prefer to use public transport to facilitate them. I particularly fancied a long bog-trot to start the holiday season and where better than the Pennines?

Having recently covered Kinder and Bleaklow I decided to start with Black Hill and work my way Northwards – a decent run would see me finish somewhere North of Blackstone Edge. I set myself a minimum target of Littleborough and an optimistic finish of Hebden Bridge (34 miles). Plenty of exit routes should things not work out.

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The Wall

RatRace’s The Wall event is, essentially, a 69-mile road race with a short cross-country section in the middle. Starting at Carlisle Castle at 7am, competitors have 24 hours ( plus two grace hours ) to make their way via a well-signed route to Newcastle.
The event is very well organised, yet quite expensive (Early-bird rate was £175 in 2016). In retrospect I would say it is good value for the fee and I would recommend it to anyone who has the capability to cover this distance in the time required.

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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!


Inverkirkaig Peninsula

Landranger 15 – just about as far North as you can go on the West coast of Scotland. The land is rugged – generally keeping to below 200m – and sprinkled with hundreds of lochs, and this allows the mighty peaks of the region to stand proudly above this landscape; Suilvan most notably in the environs of Lochinver.


A few twisty miles south of Lochinver sits Inverkirkaig with its curving pebble beach and idyllic views. My daughter’s family live there and this year we rented a cottage just down the hill from them. From the sun lounge of the cottage you can see across Loch Kirkaig to the Southern peninsula of the bay and trace the skyline and wooded banks with endless pleasure.


Inevitably you wonder what it would be like to traverse that skyline all the way to the trig point at 062192 and start to study the maps, which at first glance give no indication of the nature of the terrain. Logically it must be like that immediately surrounding the cottage – rock, boggy ground and endless bracken with few – if any – paths.


My son-in-law, a local, advises me that on the shores of Loch Rubha na Breige are the remains of a still from days long gone and that a path leads to it from a broken gate on the road, slightly south of the 74 spot height – and so it does, thin and boggy and with a tendency to disappear. All that remains of the still is a pile of rocks in a sea of bracken – just beyond the stepping stones that take you over the outflow of Loch an Arbhair.


But seeking this route has taken me below the skyline and I need to press on West towards my destination of the trig point. The ground is rough and running rarely possible. The land also plunges into minor valleys quite frequently and you need to choose your line carefully.


Once gained the trig point – on its pink-tinged plinth of rock – offers a marvellous panorama of unpronounceable lochs, bays and islands together with the distant peaks of Suilvan, Stac Pollaidh and others.


After the roller-coaster route so far I surveyed the land to the East more carefully and picked a line heading more SE. Easier going until the later stages I did manage to pick up another track and this took me down to the unnamed loch at 072182, from where I could scramble up to the road and make my way back to Inverkirkaig.


In 7.5 miles of ground all below 100m I still managed to accumulate 650m ascent! An enjoyable romp which made you survey the land constantly as you progressed, but not one I would suggest to anyone but those who enjoy a bit of rough off-road running.