Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Saturday 16 April 2011 - A Watendlath Round


Everyone else wanted an unstructured but easy day, probably involving Cat Bells, and I've been up there countless times, so I stuck to Plan A and enjoyed the 20 km round shown in the previous posting.

After a huge breakfast it was hard work up the thrutchy route by the Lodore Falls, but the path soon levels out and leaves the unfolding view of Derwent Water to meander through glades of wood sorrel, gently up to Watendlath (pictured).

A pot of tea went down well before I continued on this fine day up to Great Crag, a Wainwright I don't think I've visited before.

The Watendlath chaffinches, sparrows and robins were active as ever, almost taking food from your hand. A plump wood pigeon acted as an effective hoover.

Geese and pied wagtails were busying themselves as I passed on the way to Great Crag's twin summits, and a spot for tomorrow's wild camp revealed itself about 30 metres from the planned location.

It's a rough path to Dock Tarn, and rough, pathless ground from there to Blea Tarn, from the vicinity of which a short haul took me up to my second summit of the day, Watendlath Fell. Time for some lunch.

I'd met a few people, mainly couples enjoying quiet paths - this area is less frequented than Cat Bells, where others in our party encountered masses of folk.

There was hardly anyone else, though, on the broad ridge that I followed over the summits of Shivery Knott, Middle Crag, High Tove, High Seat, and Bleaberry Fell. There were good views ahead to Skiddaw and Blencathra, and all around to countless other Fells.

This route could on occasion be a bit boggy (the haul up to High Seat could perhaps be likened to that up Buckden Pike), but after recent dry weather it was fine today, with a little care. Wheatears and meadow pipits recorded my progress, and a buzzard made brief appearances all afternoon.

Beyond Bleaberry Fell a recently constructed 'yellow brick road' snakes down towards Walla Crag. More people were around now, but Walla Crag was otherwise deserted for a while as I sat there admiring the view across Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake.

I gave up on trying to get an internet connection and headed down to Ashness Bridge before returning to Mary Mount along the shore path. Goldcrests were chirping merrily near Ashness Bridge, and dog violets and garlic mustard were in full bloom.

Today's walk was 20 km, with 950 metres ascent (though my new Garmin Gadget indicates more, having recorded my random meanderings rather than the straight line drawn on the map), taking 6.75 hours.

A fine day out (including 5 Wainwrights and 8 Birketts). The new boots rubbed a bit, but should be ok for tomorrow's backpack.

Better start packing! But first I'll enjoy the lovely evening from our bay window overlooking Derwent Water.

As for the others - some went around the lake, some went up Cat Bells, and some went up Castle Crag for an encore.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Friday, 15 April 2011

On the Road Again – Let the Fun Commence

The view from Great Gable towards Lingmell - 2 March 2011

I’ve just glanced at the calendar.  Out of the next 64 days, I’ll be at home for 12 of them, and after that it’s 50/50 for three months.  So after lots of ‘day trips’, the tent – last used in September on the Peebles to Moffat trip, has been dusted off and chucked into the Go-Lite Quest rucksack.

Whilst the Peebles to Moffat squad regroups for its totter back to Peebles, I’ll be enjoying a couple of nights of luxury at Mary Mount (J’s birthday celebration).  It’ll be ‘mobile blogging’ for a while, so I’m adding a few maps now, so that you can follow our progress, or even join us on the backpack.

Here’s a possible route for tomorrow (Saturday):

A walk from Mary Mount - 20 km, 950 metres ascent

20 km, with 950 metres ascent, and just the second time I’ll have worn the HI-TEC Rainer boots that HI-TEC sent to me after their trail shoes wore out.  They are determined not to give up on their efforts to get me to review something that I can conclude is ‘durable’.  We’ll see! 

That day walk will be covered by the first mobile posting.

Then Sue will head off home and I’ll be joined by ‘Poor Michael’ my companion on this year’s TGO Challenge (he now even signs his emails ‘Poor Mike’!) for five days in the wilds of the Lake District.

Here’s our plan for Day 1 (Sunday), starting from Mary Mount around 4 pm.  If we can’t find anywhere to camp at point 5, we may stumble on to Blea Tarn, but you may observe from the previous day’s route that I have ‘a cunning plan’.

We’ll be carrying a good 16 kilos (each!) at this point, so speed won’t be great.

Lakes Backpack - Day 1 - Sunday 17 April 2011 - 6 km, 500 metres ascent

Day 2 is a tough one and will test us, and our gear.  I’m hoping the new boots will be ok, but trainers have been packed just in case, rather than the normal Crocs.  We’ll be doing 21 km with 1500 metres of ascent.  Feel free to join us!

Lakes Backpack - Day 2 - Monday 18 April 2011 - 21 km, 1500 metres ascent

Day 3 (Tuesday) sees us going there and back to Glaramara before striking camp and heading to the top of England, before descending the Corridor Route and thrutching up Great Gable, from where we would like to enjoy views like the header picture taken last month.

It’s just 18 km, with 1400 metres ascent, culminating near Blackbeck Tarn, an excellent place for a wild camp.

Lakes Backpack - Day 3 - Tuesday 19 April 2011 - 18 km, 1400 metres ascent

Day 4 has the bonus of lunch in the fleshpots of Buttermere, before the long ascent of Robinson.  But by now we should have eaten our way through around 3 kilos of food, and used up most of our gas and consumables, so with only around 12 kg on our backs we should be romping up the hills.  If we are not shattered from the previous two days!

It’s 17 km with 1700 metres of ascent, with what I hope will be a good ‘pitch’, at Dale Head Tarn.

Lakes Backpack - Day 4 - Wednesday 20 April 2011 - 17 km, 1700 metres ascent

Thursday sees us returning to Mary Mount by lunch time – probably too smelly to venture inside! – via a pleasing romp over Cat Bells and alongside Derwent Water.  11 km with 400 metres ascent.

Lakes Backpack - Day 5 - Thursday 21 April 2011 - 11 km, 400 metres ascent

Do feel free to join us if you can – my phone will be on, and there is intermittent reception over most of this route.  It should be a great way to start the backpacking season for those of us who tend to take a ‘winter break’.  As you can see, short cuts are possible on each day – we hope to do the planned route, but we’ll see how it goes.

The trip after that will be rather a contrast, and will feature bicycles.

On a completely different subject, Gillian Price (author of guide books for walking in Italy) was in touch yesterday, delighted that the swifts have arrived in Venice (ours will be at least another month) and happy to tell us about a new Cicerone Guide - Trekking in the Alps.

She asserts - the authors are ‘all terribly proud of it and hope it inspires lots of people to go trekking’.

If you fancy going a little further afield, the 20 routes described in this book are all mouth-watering in their own way.  A number of them are hutting trips and can be done with just a small day sack, whereas others cover more remote areas where there are still mountain huts but wild camping may be possible.

Inspirational?  Quite possibly.  It’ll probably soon be added to our library.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and good luck to those on the Moffat to Peebles extravaganza.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Baked Lemon Pudding

Baked lemon pudding - logo!

One of the simplest and most appreciated items on our recent Eskdale menu was Baked Lemon Pudding, a recipe taken from my first cookbook, 'Katie Stewart Cooks' (1971).

It’s quick and easy and often enjoyed by our family as part of Sunday dinner.  Delicious.

Baked Lemon Pudding

Ingredients

4 ounces (113g) self-raising flour
pinch of salt
4 ounces (113g) butter
4 ounces (113g) castor sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1-2 tablespoons milk to mix
castor or icing sugar for decoration

FOR THE SAUCE

4 ounces (113g) castor sugar
2 level tablespoons cornflour
juice of one lemon, made up to ½ pint (275ml) with hot water

METHOD

1. Sift together the flour and salt and set aside.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then gradually beat in the lightly beaten eggs and grated lemon zest.

3. Add a little of the sifted flour along with the last few additions of egg, then fold in the remaining flour and enough milk to mix to a medium soft consistency.

4. Spoon into a buttered 2-2½ pint baking dish and spread evenly over the base of the dish. Set aside while preparing the sauce.

5. In a mixing basin, combine together the sugar and cornflour, then stir in the mixed lemon juice and hot water.

6. Blend well and pour over the pudding.

7. Place immediately just above the centre of a fairly hot oven (190C/375F/Gas No 5) and bake for 40 minutes.

While baking, the cake mixture will rise to the top and the sauce will go underneath.

When baked, sprinkle with castor or icing sugar and serve the pudding with its own delicious lemon sauce. Other additives, such as double cream, crème fraiche, etc, are permitted.

This recipe is suitable for 4 portions.

It’s sadly not very photogenic, but I’ll try to add an image in due course.

Sunday 27 March 2011 – The Wilmslow Half Marathon

Jean Ndayisenga at the 13 mile mark on his way to winning the Wilmslow Half Marathon - 2011, in 1.04.24

It’s nearly three weeks since JJ and I cycled down to Wilmslow to ‘support’ (or should that read ‘mock’) Steve in his futile bid to break 1 hour 30 mins for the half-marathon route.

“It was too crowded” he explained, “I’d have done it in an hour if I hadn’t been tripped up at the start!”

To be fair, it was pretty crowded at the start, with nearly 5,000 people vying to be first off the mark.  The conditions were nigh on perfect though, and despite having done no training, I was wishing that I’d been able to gain a late entry.  It would have been my second half marathon.  Never mind.

I was keen to spot Alastair, who finished about 10 minutes behind Steve, but he was camera shy and hid behind other runners every time he went past.  I think.

Anyway, for the benefit of JJ, Steve and anyone else who is interested, the slideshow of the 11 snaps I took on the day, is here.

Tuesday 12 April 2011 – An Evening Walk to Simister

Heaton Hall

Let me expand.  We walked from Heaton Park Metro station to Whitefield Metro station via Simister.

On a lovely evening Sue and I ate our tea at home (the Parkgate fish and chips experience had been delightful at the time but did have repercussions!) and squeezed onto a tram full of Manchester United fans – courteous as ever – for a few stops before the comfy ride to Heaton Park, where Alan and Sheila were strolling down the road towards us.

Setting off through the park at 7.30 we got the best light of the day, not that it did much to enhance the looks of the rather sad looking hall, in need of a coat of paint and closed for the winter.  Alan is familiar with the hall (his daughter’s wedding was there) and I understand it’s impressive inside, with magnificent furnishings.

Here’s what the information board says about it:

 Information about Heaton Hall

Note that my pictures are of the back of the hall, not of the bow front.

From there we headed up to the nearby Temple and admired the clear views over Manchester to the Peak District, trying to pick out familiar landmarks (for images, see the slideshow).

The Temple in Heaton Park, with Sue, Sheila and Alan

The Temple has recently been renovated, like much else hereabouts – here’s a bit about its history:

The Temple, Heaton Park

We ambled down a narrow path and along a tarmac track, before heading towards the nearby Telecom tower.  To the right of this a pedestrian gate led us into a field of wild horses, near the old fish pond that is hidden by a shrubbery.

The path took us to the park wall and a convenient pedestrian exit, from where a right turn led to a footbridge over the M60 and a boggy path to a pretty row of cottages on the edge of the village of Simister.

Opposite the smart and well kept Church of St George, the crumbling remains of Nutt Farm were a sad sight.  But a right turn soon took us to the end of a lane and the pleasure of a pint of bitter in the Same Yet inn.  The 18th century inn’s name was originally the Seven Stars, but sometime in the 1800s, the pub landlord, in a hurry to get his faded sign repainted, hired a local signwriter who asked what he should paint on the sign.  Irritated by such an obvious question, the landlord brusquely replied “Same Yet” meaning “Same Again”.  The painter took it literally, and as neither landlord nor signwriter could agree to change the mistake, “Same Yet” it has remained ever since then.

The Same Yet, Simister

It was friendly but very quiet.  We wondered how viable it was to run.

We emerged into semi-darkness with bats in the air.  The half moon was casting a good shadow, so torches were needed only for boggy bits and to avoid lacerations from the odd bit of wire.  Before that a good track took us over the M62 and then right at a T-junction to a farm, where the absence of barking dogs was something of a surprise!

The ongoing path through Unsworth Moss, past a tumbledown barn to Roe Barn, was easy enough apart from the need to use a field to avoid a short section of slurrified path.  The less distinct path now led slightly left, past Roe Barn and on the right hand side of a thin fence, soon running beside a golf course.  A small bridge led on to a broken stile across some football pitches, from where, as Alan pointed out, we could see light at the end of the tunnel.  The tunnel under the M66, that is. 

So, on we went, under the tunnel, past a school, keeping right beside the boundary fence, and we were soon assaulted by the bright lights of Parr Lane. 

The remainder of our route, using a parkland path in the Parr Valley, several ‘ginnels’ to and from Cunningham Drive, and a final jink in and out of Whitefield’s small park, is shown below.  It was more interesting than simply taking to the pavements – worth the exploration I had previously undertaken, but a shame that we were unable to gain access to the recreation ground behind Cunningham Drive that is Unsworth Football Club’s home ground.

Unsworth to Whitefield

Finishing around 10pm, we said our goodbyes to A & S, and were home by 11pm, joined in the latter stages of our tram ride by Manchester United supporters glowing from their Champions League victory over Chelsea.

Here’s the whole of our 11km route.  It made for a most pleasant evening in excellent company.  We are glad you took the trouble to join us, Alan and Sheila.

Our route - 11km, very little ascent, 2.5 hours

There’s a slideshow, including some images taken way back in the daylight of 6 April, here.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Keen Men’s Targhee II Walking Shoes – A Review

Keen Men's Targhee II Walking Shoes


[Note that on 5 September 2012, Webtogs Limited went into liquidation, but its business has legitimately been continued in the name of Dorset Mountain Sports Limited, t/a Webtogs, with whom I have had no contact whatsoever, nor did the liquidator of Webtogs Ltd respond to my enquiry as to whether any members of the public had lost money as a result of the liquidation.]

After the demise of my last pair of trail shoes, the relatively smart HI-TEC V-Lite Thunder HPi ‘Adventure Sports’ Shoes, I was delighted to receive these Keen ‘Walking Shoes’ for review from Webtogs.

Out of the box they seemed chunkier and more substantial than the 400gm HI-TECs. Weighing in at 490gm for each shoe for my size 9’s they are a little heavier as well.

Anyway, I put them on straight away and have worn them on 11 outings since they arrived three weeks ago, culminating in a 27 mile Challenge walk a couple of days ago.  So they have done about 100 miles in anger already and are well and truly broken in.

The shoes have a wide toe box, but the UK size 9 / EU size 43 shoes are only just long enough for my feet.  Keen’s website does observe that “We find this style runs about a 1/2 size small”.  Really?
Made in China, they look to be solidly constructed, with an upper of leather, webbing and mesh, and a ‘non-marking rubber outsole’, but it’ll be some months before I can comment on their longer term durability.

Unlike any trail shoes I have previously owned, these feature a ‘KEEN.DRY™ Waterproof membrane and breathable textile lining’.  My initial impression is that this lining is brilliant.  I’ve been out walking on dewy mornings and in boggy conditions that have rapidly given my walking companions soaking wet feet due to water flowing through the fabric uppers of their trail shoes.  These Keens have repelled the water, although the leather has got pretty wet from the dew. On return home, I have simply washed off the mud and sprayed on some proofer.  The insides of the shoes were just a little damp from sweat, but the whole lot dried out remarkably quickly and they could have been worn dry again immediately.  This is quite a revelation to me, as my previous trail shoes have all needed time to dry out after a good wash.

The sole seems quite solid and grippy, but you’d need to be careful to avoid using the plastic at either side of the midsole to balance on a plank, rock or stile, etc – it could result in a nasty slip.

Keen Men's Targhee II Walking Shoes

I found the heel box rather roomy and initially tried to reduce the volume by way of tight lacing, in an attempt to pull the tape you can see below as tight as possible.  That was a mistake, it pulled the laces tight over the thin tongue and caused a tendon on the top of one of my feet to rub painfully.  The other foot had its problems as well, as the fabric on the outer side of the shoe came right up to my ankle bone and rubbed it slightly but annoyingly.

Keen Men's Targhee II Walking Shoes

So these shoes weren’t a perfect fit.  But the rubbing tendon is now better, and for longer walks I have purchased some ‘Gel Heel Cups’ - £5 from Sports Direct – that lift my heels slightly and reduce the volume, to the extent that the 27 mile Challenge walk was completed with no problems whatsoever, confirming that the initial teething troubles had been completely overcome.  At no point has either shoe even vaguely threatened to give me a blister.

I’ve been using the shoes casually as well as for walking, and apart from the minor ankle rub they have been comfy with any sort of sock.  I won’t hesitate to use them for serious mountain walking in summer conditions (in fact the above-mentioned Challenge walk included 1750 metres of ascent), but I will sometimes choose to wear ankle gaiters to eliminate stones and avoid rain draining into the shoes from my waterproofs.

So, to summarise:

Fit and Finish:
  • the EU size 43 (UK 9) shoes are roomy, but only just long enough for me, so the shoes may be ideal for people with bulky feet, but not so good for long, thin feet
  • the Chinese construction appears to be good, but I can’t yet comment on long-term durability (regular readers will realise that the treatment they will receive will challenge any claim to durability!)
  • these are reasonably respectably casual shoes, though personally I find the wide slab of rubber across the front of the toe box functional but ugly
Features:
  • Keen’s stated features are reiterated below
  • unlike HI-TEC’s ‘ion-mask hydrophobic technology’, the breathable waterproof lining in these shoes really does seem to work.  Brilliant
  • the shoes are comfortable, once broken in, and in my case with the aid of Gel Heel Cups, for anything from walking to the shops to serious mountain walking, for which I would recommend the use of ankle gaiters to keep out stones, etc
Weight:
  • at 980gm (490gm each), they are relatively heavy, so probably not ideal footwear for those who wish to run over the fells.  But I haven’t noticed their weight or bulk when trying to move quickly, and I’ve quite happily jogged in them, though the old HI-TECs were better for that purpose
Practical Use:
  • these shoes now sit in the porch and are my first choice for anything from an evening out in casual wear, to a serious mountain day walk in dry conditions
  • the shoes are robust and the soles (apart from the plastic mid section) grippy in the mixed conditions and ground over which they have currently been used
  • so far, (3 weeks, 100 miles, in mixed conditions) they have kept my feet dry.  But it’s early days - ‘watch this space’ as they say! (See below)
  • I’ll reiterate a comment made in relation to their HI-TEC predecessors: ‘with limited ankle support, many users may be reluctant to use the shoes on certain steep ground such as some of the scree slope crossings in the Dolomites, where the additional ankle support provided by lightweight boots may enhance both comfort and safety’
Price:
  • available from Webtogs for £80.99
Alternatives:
  • there are lots of alternatives to these high spec trail/walking shoes, but I suspect that these relatively ugly shoes are more robust than most.  As always with footwear – different products suit different feet
Conclusion:
  • these shoes got off to a questionable start, causing discomfort to both feet, but with the addition of Gel Heel Cups (only needed for more serious excursions) and the benefit of quite a few outings, they are now well moulded to my feet and will provide me with comfortable day to day use for the limit of their durability.  They do appear to be good all-round performers, with the waterproof lining coming as an unexpected bonus
Long Term Observations:
  • October 2011 (after six months) – I’ve been wearing these shoes all summer for walking (650km) and cycling.  For example, on the recent Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon I used them together with ankle gaiters and some old Sealskinz socks.  I washed them in a puddle after the ride, and didn’t need to remove them until I got home.  My feet, and the Sealskinz socks, were perfectly dry.  I didn’t see anyone else with dry feet.  The route was very boggy in places, and at times it was not at all easy to cycle through these bogs, so the shoes endured some deep dunks.  The Keens really are versatile shoes, and the waterproof membrane seems to be largely intact, though I’m sure that continuous walking through wet grass or similar would result in some seepage.  Here’s what they currently look like – exhibiting signs of wear but still with a fair amount of life in them.  The grey bits on the sole are coming adrift from the main sole, probably largely as a result of abrasion from the aggressive lugs on the pedals of my bicycle.
Keen Targhee 11 Walking Shoes after 650km
  • October 2012 (after 18 months) – these shoes have now walked 1400km and have been used for mountain biking.  The waterproof membrane seems still to be largely intact.  Here’s what they currently look like – whilst their basic structure remains impressively intact, the shoes are exhibiting signs of serious wear – the lining inside the heels has now split, the laces have had to be replaced, and the soles have worn fairly smooth, with the heels being particularly worn down.  They continue to be really comfy, so long as the heel inserts are used, and I’ll probably not be using them in slippery conditions.  However, they aren’t yet destined for the bin – I’ll provide a final report at that stage.
Keen Targhee 11 Walking Shoes after 1400km
__________________________________________________________
  
Note: Whilst the gear was provided by Webtogs, this review, over which I have total editorial control, is totally independent of that on-line retailer.

FEATURES of the KEEN Men’s Targhee II Walking Shoe, according to KEEN
- 4mm multi directional lugs
- Dual-density compression molded EVA midsole
- KEEN toe protection
- KEEN.DRY™ Waterproof breathable membrane
- Removable metatomical Footbed
- S3 Heel support structure
- Torsion stability ESS shank

HYBRID.OLOGIES:
S3
Shock, suspension, stability – otherwise known as S3 – is engineered to support the foot on impact, dissipate shock and reduce your odds of twisting an ankle. KEEN.DRY
A proprietary waterproof, breathable membrane that lets vapor out without letting water in. METATOMICAL FOOTBED DESIGN
This internal support mechanism is anatomically engineered to provide excellent arch support and cradle the natural contours of the foot. KEEN.PROTECT
Can a sandal* protect your toes? The answer is yes. The reason is KEEN Patented Toe Protection where the shoe outsoles wrap up and over the toes for ultimate protection.
*  this must be Keen’s standard wording, as this shoe is definitely not a ‘sandal’!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Saturday 9 April 2011 - The Calderdale Hike – A Fine Day Out

The Rochdale Canal beyond Luddenden Foot, with walkers on the Calderdale Hike 
I’ve done this walk a few times, most recently on 18 April 2009, when I reported on it here.

This year’s 27 mile ‘short’ route was the same as that in 2009, though we varied it a little between the checkpoints.

Assuming that the ‘fastest walkers’ would probably actually be people entering as walkers but running a fair amount of the course (my assumption was correct), I decided to enter a team of four walkers this year.  (And we did walk – all the way.)  So Alastair and Steve joined Robert and me to form a crack team of engineers and pensioners.

Crack team - Martin, Steve, Alastair and Robert - aka a man and three midgets

The description of the walk I did in 2009 with Robert could mostly be copied and pasted here….

This year’s weather was similar to that of 2009 – a lovely summery April day.

After a bacon butty and a rather rudimentary kit check compared with some that I can remember (the need for a triangular bandage has been deleted, for example), our laminated tags were clipped, there was a brief ‘briefing’ with a request that ‘walkers’ should not run, and off we set with about 100 others at 8 am from Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club.  Some folk recognised me from the TGO Challenge, but they set off at a dawdle, so there wasn’t opportunity to catch up, so to speak.

This year there were apparently some 340 entries in total (there’s a limit of 350), split between the four categories of 36 mile walkers (setting off at 7 am), 27 mile walkers (8 am) and runners for both those distances (9 am).

We took our usual route directly down a path to the Rochdale Canal whilst most others took the shorter road route to join the canal at Luddenden Foot.  That put us way down the field, the header image being taken after we had moved ahead of a long snake of dawdlers.

It was a lovely morning for a stroll along the towpath.

The Rochdale Canal near Luddenden Foot

We ascended quite smartly to the checkpoint at Crow Hill Nook, then wandered along behind another group of four.  Tussocks featured strongly here, but it wasn’t too boggy.  Approaching High Brown Knoll my camera failed for a while - ‘lens failure, please restart’, so there are no pictures of this scenic section, which featured the group of four youths ahead, apparently constantly looking back at us, which puzzled us a little.  Anyway, by the time a steep tussocky descent with bog had led us to the next checkpoint at Keighley Road they had long gone. 

The Calderdale Hike is very well supported, and the water and sweets provided here were most welcome.

It took us just under two hours to walk to Keighley Road, which is followed by a narrow path down to Crimsworth Dean.  We knew from previous experience that the first runners would come flying past on the slithery stones down here, and so they did.  They were bashing on at nearly twice our pace. 

The route over Shackleton Moor to our next checkpoint at Walshaw Hamlet is familiar as it also features in October’s annual Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon.  The checkpoint was busy with runners, but the walkers ahead of us – who had still been looking anxiously back to us as we crossed the moor - hadn’t lingered.  We enjoyed a good snack here.  We were in no particular hurry, it being a great day for a long walk.

Whilst he 36 mile runners headed off towards Widdop Reservoir, those of us on the short course slithered down a steep field to a wooded gully from where a breath sapping haul led to High Greenwood Farm and the lane to Clough Hole Bridge, site of the next checkpoint. 

The group of four ahead of us reappeared here, leaving the checkpoint in an unconventional direction, whilst we headed up to join the Pennine Way at Mount Pleasant.  Looking back from there, the four of them were about a quarter of a mile behind us.  We didn’t see them again.

I had a sense of déjà vu as we passed a dead lamb on the sunken path. 

Careful navigation – there is no set route, part of the challenge of the walk being to navigate your way between the twelve checkpoints – took us to the next checkpoint at well-named Great Rock, and on to Todmorden along the Calderdale Way. 

On the way we passed through a location of minor interest to Steve.

Steve Blackshaw at Blackshaw Head

“Steve Blackshaw, this is your home village.”

We stopped on the descent to Todmorden to deal with an injury sustained by Alastair.  Steve had some suitable tape. 'Walker's Nipple' – I suffered from it last time…

There’s a plethora of available paths, and numerous tarmac lanes.  I prefer to stick to the paths; this is not supposed to be a road walk.
However, the ascent from Todmorden to Todmorden Edge is a bit tricky to navigate, and on this occasion it proved easier to walk up the zigzaggy road.  As we reached a junction where the road drops back down to Todmorden two runners jogged past.  The leaders of the 27 mile walk!

Cheats!*

Today we decided to take the direct route down the lane back to Todmorden, rather than wrestle with the intricacies of the Calderdale Way, which we rejoined after fumbling around in the centre of Todmorden, where I struggled to prevent the others from dashing off in the wrong direction.

Once out of the town – remember to go up past the church! – you can relax as the route to Lumbutts is pretty clear.  The hike's most impressive support point is normally located in the foyer of the church, but today a wedding had driven it outside, saving us the 25 metre diversion through the church yard.  Sustenance was taken on board for the 220 metre haul up to the Pennine Way and the path north to Stoodley Pike Monument

Stoodley Pike Monument

“We made good time on this beautiful day and here we encountered some of the 36 mile runners who had passed us before Walshaw Hamlet.  So they had continued to speed along at almost twice our meandering pace.”  I said that two years ago – easier to copy and paste than to write it out again!

It was quite busy from now on, with 36 mile runners regularly passing us all the way to the end.  Here, a runner overhauls Steve and Robert as they descend to Withens Clough Reservoir.

Descending to Withens Clough Reservoir

A diversion at the Reservoir, due to substantial construction works, didn’t cause more than five minutes delay. 

The easy lane to Cragg Vale was followed by our final 200 metre ascent, following the Calderdale Way with care after a bad experience last time, then along pleasant paths to the final checkpoint at Shaw's Lane.

The half hour's road walk back to the finishing point at the Cricket Club saw us travelling at our fastest pace of the day, according to Alastair’s Garmin 405 gadget. 

“It was a lovely afternoon, and we all finished at around
3.35 pm, to applause from the assembled masses outside the Cricket Club.  These 'masses' were runners who had finished, and various hangers on enjoying the sunny afternoon.”
 

…Another quote from two years ago.  We actually beat that year’s time by a minute, completing our 43 km route, with 1750 metres ascent, in 7 hours 37 minutes.  For a small entrance fee we had enjoyed loads of support (food and drink) during the day, and now we could enjoy the mugs of tea and excellent baked potatoes and chilli, etc, etc, laid on in the clubhouse. 

More alcoholic rehydration fluid was also savoured, but we were surrounded by folk training for ultramarathons, taking advantage of the low entry fee and the excellent support that this event features.  They appeared without exception to be tea-total. 

I think our little group looked out of place, especially as we appeared to be the only walkers who had finished apart from the running walkers who had already grabbed their trophies and left the scene of their crime. 

Nevertheless, we did receive modest applause as we collected the ‘Bernard Hynes Trophy’ for the fastest short walk team of four walkers.

At the finish of the Calderdale Hike, with the Bernard Hynes Trophy

The trophy appears to be carved out of wood from a loch gate on the Rochdale Canal, in memory of Bernard Hynes, a supporter of the Calderdale Hike who sadly died before his time.

Well done, everyone, that was an excellent team effort.

Here's today's route outline - 43 km with 1750 metres ascent in 7 hours 37 minutes. 

Our Calderdale Hike route - 2011 - 43km, 1750 metres ascent, 7 hours 37 minutes

Here’s the outline – perhaps more readable:

Our Calderdale Hike route - 2011 - 43km, 1750 metres ascent, 7 hours 37 minutes

And here’s a short slide show.

* I notice from the results that these two runners quite rightly declined their trophies, although Jan Hill (“I can’t walk down the hills, so I have to jog”) did take the veterans trophy, though she may have won it anyway had she walked all the way.  Our little group of four was the fastest team by over an hour, and we quite easily beat the fastest individual walker home.  Well done, everyone!