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!


Marshalling on the Waterways 30

Lou (Recorder) , Ronnie Staton (Organiser) and Jilly (Checkpoint staff)

The running and cycling events I enjoy every year can only take place thanks to volunteers manning the checkpoints, so around once a year I try to help on an event to give something back to the sports. I took part in a 50-mile event in Nottinghamshire a couple of years ago and was impressed with the countryside and with the organisation, so I went back to Retford this weekend to help out on their Waterways 30-mile event.

Michelle, Lou and Jilly

It is really inspirational to see runners of all shapes and sizes working hard at getting round the course. The checkpoint I helped at was at the 25-mile mark and we supplied drinks and food, and encouragement, to every runner who got that far. Great day.

Full photo set … Photos

Clwyds Run 22/1/17

A run from Cilcain to the ridge, over Moel Famau and down to Bwlch Penbarras before dropping down to the western side of the range. On this side there is a path that runs along the intake wall all the way to the north of the range. I regained the ridge from Fron-haul and trotted down the Plas-newydd track eventually catching up with Helen as she finished her walk, just as we got back to Cilcain. (12 miles, 2400ft) The ridge was icy and slippery and on the main descent to Bwlch Penbarras the steady stream of walkers struggled on the steep and slippery path.

Clwyds run 8/1/17

Clwyds Run, Jan 8th 2017

Summary : start of training for a busy year of events, a tough 13-mile run starting from Bwlch Penbarra, over Foel Fenlli, around to Llanferres, over to Loggerheads, Pantymwyn, Cilcain and over Moel Famau to finish. Very heavy going with deep mud on many tracks, and plenty of steep hills. Great stuff! 13 miles, 2900ft.

On a very mild and sunny day, with many people either returning to school or work the next day, I picked a route that would hopefully be free from crowds. Helen reported from the summit of Moel Famau (MF) that it was packed, and I hoped that by the time I reached there most people would have left.

Looking back to Bwlch Penbarra, and Moel Famau in the distance, from the climb to Foel Fenlli.

We parked at Bwlch Penbarra (BP), Helen set of towards MF and I started up Foel Fenlli in fine spirits. The sun was shining, there was the slightest breeze, and I felt good. The descent on the south side is very steep but my aging Leadville 100s gripped well and I was soon trotting through fields and woods – preferring the high route to Llanferres even though it was heavy going.
It was nice to see that kissing gates had been installed to replace the awkward stiles on the path immediately NE of Llanferres. An awkward moment occurred when a tractor with a bailing pin protruding (but safely lofted) suddenly emerged from a field and the narrow lane with high hedges offered no hiding place. Thankfully the driver stopped to shut a gate and I snuck past safely.
Above Loggerheads I picked up my usual route through Pantymwyn, down through Coed Mawr trailer park and to my favourite spot – the bridge and telephone kiosk at Nant Alyn. The stream was dry, indicating that the underground route was coping with the recent level of rain – very unusual for this time of year.
I then climbed the lane South and took to paths via Tan-y-rhiw and over fields to join the Cilcain road just short of the village.
I’d indicated to Helen that I’d probably be back at BP by 16:15, which gave me just over an hour to get to, and over, Moel Famau! I don’t much like the zigzag route which runs more of less directly SW to the summit after turning right after Cae Newydd, but it is the quickest. I popped a gel and this gave me the push I needed to make the summit. 
By now the light was fading and mist and drizzle was rolling in from the North. I made quick work of the descent to BP and noted the odd assortment of people still heading up – one lot carrying gas-powered search lights, and later two runners with head torches making easy work of the ascent.
Legs were tired and beginning to cramp by the time I reached the car – I had pushed them hard on the descent – but a stretch and a quick carb-fix, courtesy of the golden arches, soon sorted them out!
I have a full year of events planned and this was a good start – my body felt comfortable and the gear all worked well. Roll on Anglezarke Amble!
Full set of photos at …

Run Everyday in December 2016

The running is the easy part! It’s always the same for me – once I’m out there and the legs are moving, no matter how sluggishly or nimbly, I’m fine. It’s just finding the time, getting motivated, putting on the gear, setting the gadgets and stepping through the door. Then I’m fine.

But, to me, this is what RED is all about – getting out there and doing it. I can relate this directly to Ultras, the stepping out of a checkpoint to get the next leg done even when the body feels as if there is nothing left; there always is. Or even getting out of bed at 5am on a cold winter’s morning to head off to some moorland event.

This year has been particularly problematic from a number of angles, lack of time, pressures of work etc – but hang on, aren’t these just excuses? Some days I just put my trainers on and trotted out in my jeans, just to get it done. Other days I had long pre-planned runs in fabulous weather. Some days I had music playing, on others I just had nature whispering to me. Some days I felt my pace increase as I worked through issues in my life, and then just relaxed – sod the PR. On a couple of days I reluctantly headed out only to harvest a bag full of PRs! 

And then there is the Community. All of you REDders around the country, and even around the world. You are really the reason I/we get out there everyday. Social Networking is in its infancy but RED is a perfect example of its power to motivate and encourage. Tony Allen – Thank You.

So, whatever running challenges you have lined up for 2017, all the very best and see you next December! 

“We are truth made in Heaven, we are Glorious!”

My album of the year is Invention of Knowledge by Jon Anderson and Roine Stolt.For those who love Tales from Topographic Oceans, Olias of Sunhillow etc this is a fully realised return to that sound and feel. Ok, Jon may still appear to be away with the fairies but how wonderfully this album projects Love, Peace and Eastern philosophy in a rich homage to Man’s powers of invention. Roine is less to the fore than with either Transatlantic or Flower Kings but his compositional skill dominates and his guitar threads its way through the mix subtly. A deeply satisfying album.

Thames and Richmond Park

Christmas is a time for visiting relatives and this year we chose to organise seeing H’s parents and relatives over the weekend before. Since I always plan a run along a stretch of the River Thames, this year we decided to stay in Kingston upon Thames affording me the chance to include not only the river, but also Richmond Park. On arriving on Saturday evening I did a few miles on the Hampton Road, and took this shot of Kingston Bridge.

The schedule for Sunday meant I needed to be up early to get 10 miles in before breakfast, so I set off from the hotel at 7:30am into a wonderfully mysterious dawn.


EventDateDistance (miles)Organiser / RegionComments
Dorset 1002016/05/28101.7LDWAGreat event & 7th Hundred completion
South Pennine 242016/02/2724LDWA / South PenninesGreat gritstone running and prime bog-trotting!
Anglezarke Amble2016/02/1425LDWA / West PenninesArduous romp in the bog & mud! But fun all the same.
Round Rotherham2015/10/1750Rotherham Harriers and Athletics ClubFirst time on this course and really enjoyed it. Good weather.
Waterways '50'2015/10/357Hobo PacersActually 57, not 50 miles, but good event all the same.
Anglezarke Amble2015/02/1425LDWA / West PenninesPB !! 5:53!


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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