Monday, 14 October 2019
Monday, 15 October 2018
It’s that time of year again. My 16th appearance at this event which started in 1999. Only Brian Jennings has made more appearances here. During those 19 years the nature of the equipment has changed from classic mountain bikes with no suspension or disc brakes to the high maintenance modern kit. I was even passed by an electric bike on today’s first hill.
However, my old 1990 bike performed well today despite not having been serviced for some time.
Whilst Robert couldn’t make it this year, I was joined by Paul and Greg for their fourth outing in this event, and by recently retired Richard who was tired after a cross country run yesterday.
We arrived at Sowerby Bridge in light rain, which continued throughout the morning. Greg, Richard and Paul are pictured above before the start, by which time we were all swathed in waterproof clothing that kept the rain out and the sweat in… I suspect we all felt pretty damp for most of the morning, relying on the brisk activity to keep us warm.
The Hardcastle Crags support point was excellent. It breaks a steep ascent and today as always it was manned by a very efficient team. I stopped there whilst other participants admired my bike …
Rider(s): “That reminds me of my first mountain bike.”
Martin: “It is my first mountain bike.” [Not quite true as I had a ‘Rough Stuff’ bike before that.]
By now, Paul, having waited for me at the first checkpoint near Mytholmroyd, had sped off into the distance in the heavier rain.
I didn’t take any more pictures during the ride. My well stowed camera (‘phone) survived an uncharacteristic incident at the very top of Midgley Moor. I was sizing up a good route across some rocks that were bordered by deep puddles, when I leant too far forward – causing the bike to tip me gently into one of said puddles. Luckily there was no witness to this carelessness, and after much wringing out I managed to recover sufficient to cycle (rather than walk) most of the brilliant descent from the moor, the last technical section of the route.
I’d passed Richard a little earlier, just getting ready to set off after a puncture repair, and I had a fear that he was lurking just behind me and would have captured the ‘lying in a bog’ incident on film, but luckily he had inexplicably (the route is very well signposted) got misplaced and finished (out of position) just behind me. He’ll fare better next year, I’m sure.
We all finished within a half hour period and collected some pretty buffs after a selfie in which my camera’s misted up lens punished Greg for his failure to take a picture of me at the start. Can you tell whose bike has mudguards? They worked well today and enabled me to discard the glasses that kept misting up.
We adjourned to the Church Stile Inn for a pleasant half hour’s debriefing before the other three returned to Hale, where Paul was due to attend a birthday party. Happy birthday, Paul. I went home, leaving Sue somewhere in the vicinity of rainy Hebden Bridge, where coincidentally she was out with some of our walking pals.
Here’s a record of our CMBM efforts, excluding Don, Liz, Craig and two Davids whose efforts would just clutter this page, that they are unlikely to visit anyway.
Here’s the route – slightly different to last year’s course that was adjusted due to a path closure – 42.2 km with about 1100 metres ascent.
Winner – 2 hrs 3 min – 164 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 9 min
Paul: 3 hrs 19 min – 89
Greg: 3 hrs 39 min – 114
Martin: 3 hrs 45 min – 120
Richard: 3 hrs 50 min – 124
Congratulations to the organisers for making the event run so smoothly and for providing lots of drinks and food along the way and at the finish.
Finally, here’s a photo of me descending to Grain Water Bridge last year. I’ll add this year’s picture if there is one (see below). It may be very similar but I’ll be covered in waterproof clothing that is struggling to breathe.
Later: here’s this year’s picture, as promised.
Sunday, 15 April 2018
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.
Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Just Robert and I turned up for this year’s CMBM, other regulars having alternative commitments. They were not alone, as numbers were seriously down from previous years, with only 150 or so taking part. As has now become normal, I set off right at the back on my 1990 Shogun bike that behaved impeccably as usual, once a minor fault with a new mudguard had been rectified.
Robert made his way through the crowd and rode in the middle of the field, whilst I stayed right at the back, nursing my hamstring injury.
After a few wetish days we were blessed with pretty much perfect weather for the ride, but conditions were very ‘wet’ underfoot (undertyre?).
The support points were great, with drinks, bananas, flapjack and jelly babies available in copious quantities.
I realised how slowly I was going when riders started to worry about ‘cut off’ points for slowcoaches! Yes, I was going along at a very gentle pace, avoiding any danger by descending slower than usual on the greasy surfaces.
“No need to worry” were my thoughts, as I joined the line of stragglers fighting their way across the sludge that had developed on Midgley Moor.
From the point where I took the next three pictures, I walked over the moor as cycling involved just a bit too much strain on my injury.
Here’s Amanda Lees, who later finished up walking even more than me on the difficult descent to Luddenden.
I think this is Simon Midgley, struggling to contend with his eponymous moor. You can just see the string of fellow stragglers ahead of him.
There were good views towards Stoodley Pike across the sunlit Hebden valley.
Robert finished in 3 hours 12 minutes, and came back down to the Rochdale Canal to meet me. Thanks Robert, and my apologies for finishing so slowly by walking up the final hill. I’ve rarely done that before, but today it was wise under the circumstances. My leisurely pace has avoided any unpleasant after effects.
Thanks to the finish marshal pictured below who took the above photo. Also seen in the picture is the eight year old boy who finished nearly half an hour ahead of me. Well done him!
Robert and I were the only riders adjourning to The Church Stile Inn, ‘Open as Usual’, but not for long if the limited availability of beer and the filthy condition of the place is anything to go by. It was nice outside in the sunshine.
Here’s the route – 42 km (26 miles) with around 1100 metres ascent, plus a kilometre or so to the start. (Click on the image for a larger version.)
It’s a bit different from previous years due to a closed path. The change in route to replace some cobbled and boggy sections with a long stretch of tarmac should have resulted in faster times, but was countered by the slow sections through mud following recent rain.
Winner – 1 hr 59 min – 154 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 5 min
Robert: 3 hrs 12 min – 85
Martin: 4 hrs 20 min – 146
Finally, congratulations again to the organisers for making the event run so smoothly and for providing lots of drinks and food along the way and at the finish.
Monday, 3 April 2017
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.