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, 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.
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 …
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!
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.
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.
|Event||Date||Distance (miles)||Organiser / Region||Comments|
|Dorset 100||2016/05/28||101.7||LDWA||Great event & 7th Hundred completion|
|South Pennine 24||2016/02/27||24||LDWA / South Pennines||Great gritstone running and prime bog-trotting!|
|Anglezarke Amble||2016/02/14||25||LDWA / West Pennines||Arduous romp in the bog & mud! But fun all the same.|
|Round Rotherham||2015/10/17||50||Rotherham Harriers and Athletics Club||First time on this course and really enjoyed it. Good weather.|
|Waterways '50'||2015/10/3||57||Hobo Pacers||Actually 57, not 50 miles, but good event all the same.|
|Anglezarke Amble||2015/02/14||25||LDWA / West Pennines||PB !! 5:53!|
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.
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!
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.
Helen and I enjoy spending New Year at Center Parcs; a perfect way to charge the batteries up ready for a new term. Up until this year we had opted for the Sherwood Forest location but after a quick visit to Whinfell during the summer to visit my daughter and family we decided to book for there instead.
I like to get out and about exploring the area in and around these parks and since I knew nothing of the woods and countryside surrounding Whinfell there was much for me to do over the course of two short runs.
Day 1 – West & South
The Western, Northern and Eastern sides of the park have a ROW running right by the perimeter fence on the external side – this links to a handful of paths which radiate out into the neighbouring countryside. I headed up and over Quarrystone Bank and down to the farmland below. Spotting a tarmac road at the other side of the field I headed for this and proceeded South to the road at Low Dykes. I’d guessed I must be on private land since the tarmac road just showed as a track on the OS map, so I made to exit ASAP. As I padded along an SUV came speeding up the same lane towards me and, sure enough, the driver – who looked every inch the landowner – told me that I was on private land but that I was ok to carry on. We had a quick chat and I was on my way.
When I arrived at the road another car pulled up! This time the occupants were seeking directions to Clifton. Not being local I used my smartphone map to locate the village and they were soon on their way.
It was then a schlep along the road, past Wetheriggs and by the Ling Plantation to Cliburn Moss National Nature Reserve. Here I headed North to South Whinfell farm. The ROW took a little finding through the farm buildings but I soon was on Leacet Hill where there is an entrance onto the Center Parcs estate. (8 miles)
Day 2 – North & East
I headed out of the park and turned right, hugging the perimeter fence until I reached the lane near Salter Hill. Mostly a good track there were plenty of juicy sections to test concentration. At the lane I turned North and crossed under the A66, heading right to Eden Bridge. The river itself had returned to something like it’s normal width after the recent flooding, but the fields carried plenty of evidence of the debris that had caught up in fences and hedges.
On the OS 1:25000 map I’d spotted “Aerial Ropeway” at GR 604283 and was intrigued enough to try and find it, which indeed I did. A very sturdy contraption which appeared in good repair – the ‘rope’ headed straight into a hut on the other side of the river.
There didn’t appear to be a riverside path so I returned to the road, backtracked to the A66 junction but carried on along the minor road to Woodside where I took the trail running North to the River Eamont. Here is marked a ford on the map and whilst I didn’t expect to be able to cross it I wondered if indeed there was one. The track ends abruptly at a fence just a short way from the river and whilst there was some visible ‘wear’ by the river’s edge, a ford did not look likely; hence the fence, I guess?
I returned to the road and carried on to the A66 at Lane End/Highbarn. Just 250 meters East along the A66 is a track that runs South and heads towards the main Center Parcs arrivals lodge. The A66 is a very busy – and fast – road and great care was needed to safely cover these 250 meters. (9 miles)
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.
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).
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.
I was very comfortable with the distance and my shoes – the Leadville 100’s – were comfortable and coped easily with the mostly hard surfaces.
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.