Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Calderdale Hike. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Calderdale Hike. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Saturday 14 April 2018 – Not The Calderdale Hike


I’ve been taking part in the Calderdale Hike for many years. See here for more reports.

Having thought that the date clashed with the Manchester Marathon, I thought I wouldn’t be taking part this year, and having done that marathon I felt I needed a bit more recovery time before setting out on a 22 mile challenge walk.

So I didn’t start the Calderdale Hike. If I had done I might have captured the above image of the Rochdale Canal near Luddenden a little earlier in the day!

Instead, Sue and I cycled along to Wythenshawe Park, where I lined up with a few other masochists (below). Other parkrunners, eg Sue Strickland, should also have been on parade but didn’t turn up on the day. It was a very sociable occasion featuring deep mud and slithery grass. I wore trainers with smooth soles. A mistake, but 25.47 was an acceptable time for 5km on my first run since the marathon and it didn’t seem to make a sore knee any worse.


After lunch I headed off to Calderdale and parked in Luddenden for a short jaunt and an encounter with Calderdale Hikers.

The towpath at Luddenden is being re-laid. It’s good to see this canal infrastructure being maintained.


It’s daffodil time in Calderdale. Rarely did they leave my field of vision on this walk.


An interesting overflow system. The water from the full canal escapes down the cobbled incline to a stream, with walkers using the planks to the right.


Here’s the lock at Brearley, where I forsook the canal and headed up towards Nab End.


The ascent was directly into bright sunshine – what a delight to see and be warmed by that after the recent dull, cold weather.


Looking back to Wheatley Royd Farm, all was well with the world.


It was a long but leisurely haul up to Nab End, from where there are expansive views towards Hebden Bridge.


Signs proclaim that the quarry is open ‘Only to Pedestrians’, for health and safety reasons. I can only interpret that as a ban on climbing the quarry walls.


Nab End is often the site of a Calderdale Hike checkpoint, but the Hike routes (22 and 40 miles this time) are changed every three years, with the change this year being to celebrate the 40th running of the event, and Nab End not being used this time.

The road to the quarry is clearly rather old, with the stones having been worn down by many years of use before the days of the pneumatic tyre.


After Nab End my path descended gently to Sowerby, where St Peter’s church is just visible in the centre of the next image.


Some of the dry stone walling in this area is truly wonderful.


My cross-country route brought me out at Well Head Lane, from where it was an easy stroll into Sowerby, where St Peter’s church stands in a prominent position at a ‘Y’ junction.


My plan was to visit the Calderdale Hike HQ at the cricket club. The usual team was on duty, all looking rather mustardy – the ladies in the kitchen were really bright yellow…


I took more pictures but accidentally deleted them when the phone told me it had run out of space. Anyway, in exchange for a donation equivalent to the entry fee, I received a nice cuppa but felt I had to decline the generous offer of a special 40th anniversary medal featuring Stoodley Pike, past which the hike often passes.

After chatting at length with some of the finishers enjoying a laze in the sunshine outside the cricket pavilion, I headed back down to the canal, with good views to Luddenden and beyond.


Crossing the River Calder, the debris lingering in high branches of the trees lining the river, was a reminder that the weather isn’t always this benign.


Between the river and the canal lies a resplendent meadow, empty of everything but grass, and signs that indicate that anyone venturing onto this pristine place does so at risk of dire consequences.


I’d been meeting various hikers. The 22 milers were ambling gently along, whereas the 40 milers were dressed to run, and were doing their best to do just that. The last checkpoint before the finish was situated at the easy to miss turn off the canal before the ascent back up to Sowerby. I chatted to the marshals. They told me they were usually at a chilly Nab End, whereas this year they can enjoy a warm spot by the canal. They would be there for some hours yet.


A mile post told me I was 2 miles from Sowerby Bridge, and in the other direction, 30 miles from Manchester. I’ll have to do that on a bike sometime. (Good training for a TransAlp bike ride!)


At Luddenden, a small sculpture (a ball of wool?) graces the towpath, together with an information board that explains that following its completion in 1804, the canal was the motorway of its day. Hereabouts it was lined by huge mill buildings that have long since been demolished. There’s an extensive industrial heritage that I haven’t time to go into here.


Here’s my route, a very pleasant 12.5 km, with 300 metres ascent, taking me three hours, and not worsening my sore knee.


All today’s pictures were taken with my Samsung S5 phone.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Saturday 1 April 2017 – The Calderdale Hike


It’s that time again.

Here are my previous reports (there are other non blog reports going back a lot further):


Robert and I started doing this walk following my cruciate ligament replacement in 1996. Before that, I had been walking the 55 mile ‘Bogle Stroll’ (Manchester Uni Rag Walk) since 1968. After the surgery I decided not to attempt distances of more than 26 (ish) miles for fear of injury.

But this year Ken was over from Canada again, and was planning to run the longer 38 mile route that beat him last year. After much debate I decided to do the long route, but as a walker. This meant I could start two hours before Ken, who would no doubt pass me at some point during the day. Walkers are strictly forbidden from running.

About 20 to 30 participants gathered for the usual ‘you are not allowed to run’ briefing at Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club before our 7 am start.


A couple of chaps set off at a really cracking pace. I think the rest of us would have had to run to keep up with them. Then there were about nine of us – a team of four, a couple of friends, and three random blokes of whom I was one, who slowly drew ahead of the other walkers. We weren’t deliberately staying together, but the relatively modest pace compared with my usual pace for the shorter course seemed to suit everyone. There’s no point in stretching out too much when you have 38 miles to cover.

I paused at the third checkpoint to take the top picture of Ryburn Reservoir, and this snap of Andy, Tom and Noel crossing the dam.


Two checkpoints later, and we were crossing the M62 footbridge. Noel would have been striding off ahead – he has very long legs – but Tom’s shorter legs saw him walking at a speed very similar to mine. Andy is in the background, as he remained for much of the day, but he kept us in sight and the clack of his walking poles was often in evidence.


After ambling with care over the slippery rocks of Blackstone Edge, we reached the White House checkpoint just as it started raining. Waterproofs were donned and sandwiches were scoffed. The poor quality of this year’s photos can be attributed to my using the Samsung S5’s camera, from within a waterproof bag. The next picture shows R to L, Andy, Tom, Noel and Danny, with the checkpoint team. Danny was walking in heavy boots and gaiters and was doing well to keep up with those of us wearing lighter footwear.


From the White House, we set off on a long loop to rejoin the shorter route at Lumbutts, passing the summit of Freeholds Top on the way.


Freeholds Top is about half way. I took no further photos until the next one, showing me with Tom and Noel after finishing. Perhaps we were getting tired, and it was raining for a good couple of hours. But looking at the splits from my GPS download, we walked the second half of the route slightly faster than the first half, despite spending a bit longer at each checkpoint. So the relatively leisurely pace at the start left us with the energy to maintain that pace for the entire walk, which saw seven of us finish in 10 hours 36 minutes. The team of four from East Lancs LDWA (they were practising for a 100 mile LDWA walk) had been reduced to three as one of their number had felt unwell, and Danny’s boots just lost their momentum up the last hill to Nab End, leaving him to finish about ten minutes adrift.


I’d been expecting to see Ken come jogging past, but there was no sign of him. He finished long after most of us had gone home, at around 8 pm, in a shade over 11 hours. Anyway, this year he did manage to avoid being timed out before the finish, so Well Done Ken.

Here’s our route – 61 km with 2000 metres ascent, taking 10 hours and 36 minutes. No after effects thanks to the relatively leisurely pace.


The full results are here.

The 40th Calderdale Hike will be held on a Saturday in April 2018.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Saturday 9 April 2016 – The Calderdale Hike


This was the twelfth time I’d taken part in the Calderdale Hike since 1997, when after an anterior cruciate ligament replacement I decided against my previous (1968 to 1995) 55 mile efforts completing the Manchester Rag Walk – Bogle Stroll, in favour of shorter and more scenic routes in the South Pennines around Calderdale. It’s a fund raising event (by way of the entry fee - £18 this year) for a local scout group. The organisers change the route every three years or so. There's a long route of about 37 miles and a shorter one of 26 or 27 miles. Over the years I've generally walked with Robert, of whom more next week. He decided not to join me this year.

Last year Ken was over from Canada and we entered as runners on the short course. My report on a successful 'run' (though we walked most of the way) is here. This year Ken decided to run the long route whilst I walked the short route. Walkers are not allowed to run. Despite starting an hour later than me and covering an extra 11 miles, Ken shouldn't finish very long after me. That was the theory.

So we went along in one car, in plenty of time for the kit check before my 8 o'clock start. Participants are required to take the following:

(a) Appropriate & adequate footwear, clothing and waterproofs

(b) 1:25000 Leisure Map "The South Pennines"

(c) Compass (which they must be able to use)

(d) Mobile Phone

(e) Whistle

(f) Survival Bag - NOT A SPACE BLANKET

(g) A personal mug must be carried

That all fits conveniently into a bum bag, if like me you carry no food or water other than the small bar of Kendal mint cake handed out at the start. There are plenty of support / checkpoints so a mug is all that is needed.

There’s a sharp contrast between the garb of these walkers and that of the runners I’ve set off with the past couple of years.


About 50 short course walkers set off, after being warned about a landslide on the track to Erringden Grange that had officially 'blocked' the route. However, unofficially we were advised to 'use your own judgement’.

Three different routes were taken down the first hill, with me being the only walker to follow the route across a couple of fields and down the road taken by last year's runners.

We all converged to head up a very steep and slithery slope to the first checkpoint. The walkers gradually spread out as we continued to the third checkpoint at Ryburn Reservoir, which was disgorging a fair amount of water.


A team of four, plus a lone walker, forged ahead, with about seven of us strolling along a little more slowly ahead of the rest of the field.


It was a lovely morning, cool enough to walk quickly without overheating, and lacking last year’s bitter northerly breeze. I occasionally pulled out the camera, the next three pictures being taken from the same place on Rishworth Moor, between Ryburn and Green Withens Reservoirs.


Runners started to pass us after about 15km/ two and a half hours. Lots came past between the Green Withens and White House checkpoints. I was expecting to see Ken but there was, worryingly, no sign of him.

There were several points where my route - basically the one I took last year, downloaded to my phone - was clearly not the quickest or shortest way. It was the scenic route, and given recent rain, a rather wet one under foot. I paused to admire the outflow from Green Withens Reservoir after a rather boggy section.


At this point I was with Lee (last year’s fastest walker), and Tim. They are pictured at the head of this posting heading along the track to the south of Green Withens. They are strong walkers, Lee and Tim, with whom I am pictured below shortly after the Green Withens Reservoir checkpoint. Thanks go to a pro photographer for providing the picture via Tim, and also for taking care of my empty banana.


Lee and Tim took the faster road route to the Windy Hill checkpoint – beside the mast in the picture below.


Meanwhile, I stayed with a couple of others to cross the M62 footbridge via a deep bog and a steep climb. On the bridge we met a jovial team of four who remained a few minutes ahead of me throughout the event, eventually gaining the team award for the second year running. Just one person finished ahead of them.


From Windy Hill the route heads north along the Pennine Way for about 10km. A slabbed path leads first to the gnarly summit of Blackstone Edge. As last year, there were good views from here.


Looking ahead, I was catching up with Lee as we negotiated the bouldery path interspersed with bogs.


Lee was finding it hard going at this point, although he took a tussocky direct route to the White House checkpoint. Slower than my curvier route along good paths, and I didn’t see him again until the end of the walk. He had gone over and damaged an ankle, which later swelled up annoyingly for him. Ahead of us, the team of four was just in sight, with a lone walker just visible beyond them.

At  the White House checkpoint the long route leaves the short route for an extra eleven miles or so (depending upon the route chosen between the checkpoints). This didn’t confuse the Polka Dot team, who breezed through the checkpoint and off down the road towards Littleborough.


After a few minutes break and a couple of welcome tuna sandwiches I set off up to Blackstone Edge Reservoir in the company of a couple of walking runners. “Which way?” they asked. “The short route goes up to the reservoir then left along the Pennine Way” I offered. And off they went. After a while I met them coming the other way. “We forgot” they said, “we are supposed to be doing the long route!”

Tim and Barry (the latter had been walking at just about my pace but had taken some quicker routes than me) were about 300 metres ahead of me as I strode along the Pennine Way past Blackstone Edge Reservoir, Head Drain, Light Hazzles Reservoir and Warland Reservoir (pictured below).


Whilst the others, who I seemed to be catching very slowly, headed right along the Pennine Way beside Warland Drain, I took the route that I’d fumbled with last year, heading north across Langfield Common to reach the next checkpoint at Lumbutts Church. Plenty of food and drink there to keep me occupied for a while. Just as I set off from the checkpoint, Barry and Tim turned up. Both made a very quick pause and were now just behind me. Tim caught up and we chatted for a while until he fell back a bit whilst I continued with a runner – until the chap ran off into the distance…

It was easy going to the next checkpoint at Erringden Grange, from where I took a convoluted, boggy and intricately steep at times, if basically direct, route to Nab End, where I met a fast runner who reckoned he was in third position on the long route. He was the only participant I saw between Erringden and the end of the walk at Sowerby Cricket Club, where I was greeted by these three stalwarts of the local scouts’ fundraising team.


Barry soon wandered over to say hello. He had taken a quicker route, mainly by minor roads, from Erringden to Nab End and finished four minutes ahead of me. Not a surprise, as my pace had dropped from 10 minute kilometres to 15 minute kilometres for a while as I had yomped over the steep, rough ground towards Nab End. He had thereby managed to retain the trophy awarded to the fastest walker over 50 years old. He won it last year as well. I pointed out my name on it next to dates of 1999, 2002 and 2009. Barry, who is older than me, did well, especially with his route planning, though I’m quite happy with my arguably more scenic version with less road walking. Here he is, on the right in the picture, showing well earned delight in taking possession of The Heggars Trophy for another year.


I’d finished in a very satisfactory 7 hours, so I now had to wait for Ken to finish running the long route. He had started an hour after me but I reckoned I shouldn’t have too long to wait as despite having to cover an extra eleven miles, he was running.

Or was he?

I chatted to Barry and various others for a while, then when they left I became ensconced with Tim and Lee, and the third of their trio, Howard, who had finished at a slightly more sedate pace and looked fresher than anyone. Luckily, they were enjoying a couple of long beers and before I knew it both the Grand National and 6.30 pm had come and gone and it was several hours since the Polka Dot team had collected their award for being the fastest running team of four on the long route.


I’d finished at 3 o’clock. Where was Ken?

Eventually a call came in – “Timed out at Erringden Grange, back soon” was the message. Just as well, I thought, as he would be finishing close to 9pm in the dark if he continued. So the broom wagon brought him in around 7pm and we got away by soon after 7.30. Tim, Lee and Howard got a taxi home at the same time, so that timing was fine, though next year I may choose to walk the long route in order to reduce the waiting time at the end!

Here’s the route I took – about 42 km with 1300 metres of ascent, taking exactly 7 hours.


(Click for a larger image)

Ken’s route was somewhat longer, especially as it appears he may have wandered off course from time to time! Erringden Grange, where he was timed out, is the checkpoint marked at the very top of the map.

The results aren’t up yet, but at some point they should be available from the drop down menu here.

Previous blog reports on this walk:

All in all a very enjoyable day, both on the walk and afterwards in the club house.