Sunday, January 30, 2011

Janathon #30 - A madman on the moors

A last chance for a big run before the end of the month (and to stay ahead of a couple of close runners behind me, since Gary V pointed out that I might be in with a shout of a top ten finish. Thanks GV, nothing like a little pressure to focus the mind...) and a chance to bag some more trig pillars, just a couple, but a couple that I probably wouldn't get otherwise.

I'd been planning a ramble over Ilkley Moor since the start of the month. I don't know the area that well, only having been there for the Jack Bloor fell race, but it's always seemed to be a good place to head on a decent day, and the lure of the trigs was an added incentive. The original plan was to do it by train, head to Ilkley and loop up and over, picking up two trigs on the moor before dropping down to Baildon, grabbing the two pillars there, then down to get the train back from Saltaire. Sundays, unfortunately aren't the best time for regularly spaced trains, so I decided to drive to Ilkely, pick up the first two and then drop back down.

The Swastika on the Swastika stone
The day's been a little overcast, and very cold, but dry and fairly bright. I parked down near the Station in town, since that's where I should have been starting from, got the poles out and headed on up the hill. Last time I was here, for the Jack Bloor, my back had seized on me early on in the run and been agony for the entirety, so I was hoping to avoid a repeat of that. After the initial steep start, I headed around the 'edge' of the moor, via Heber's Ghyll and the Swastika Stone (pictured left), continuing along towards Nab End. A sight on the horizon caught my eyes, so I trotted along to find an awesome willow-sculpted wolf, howling out from the edge of the moor. I'm glad I took my SLR out with me now!

Howlin' Wolf

From the wolf, it was a quick potter along the edge, then turn south for a bit, then back up the wall edge towards the first trig pillar of the day at Long Ridge End. It wasn't long before I popped through a shooting gate in the wall and could see the little concrete truncated-pyramid-of-joy on the horizon, and number one was in the bag. I ratched around in my pack, pulling out the water bottle, the camera (for obligatory picture of pillar - the "I'm making this up as I go along" rules of Trig Bagging state that the pillar cannot be claimed unless you've verifiable photographic evidence), and the bag of snacks. A few quick munchies were nice, but it was getting very cold, so on with the Sportwool top, pack everything away, collapse the poles and strap them in, and move off again, following the edge of the wood.

I'd had my Minidisc on all day, and as I've said previously, music can lift me at a moments notice. At this point, any observers would have heard the "oh hell yes" and seen me start dancing along as "Call Me Al" came on. It's one of those songs that gets me going quite easily, and it came at a fantastic time, when I needed something to up the heart rate and warm me once more. Bouyed by a bit of Paul Simon I had a quick look at the map and realised I could bag 3 pillars, not just 2: The Rivock Edge trig wasn't far off, I had plenty of light, and it was an easy-ish track. I'd seen the Rivock trig when I was first planning the route, but it lay just a little too far off route for 'the big one'. Since I was on Plan B, why not add it in?

Through a short bit of pleasant wooded singletrack, then out into the middle of a whole chunk of felling operations. Joyous. Tilhill had kept the path clear of brash, which was nice of them, but the ground was still heavily cut up, so it wasn't the easiest of trails as I'd hoped, but I was soon out the other end and  heading round the wall again before popping across the clear to trig 2 - the unplanned second album! This was a nice bonus to the day, and added a few k's to the general mileage. It's a shame it was boggy dogleg to get to, but the light and the view from the point were well worth it. And I'd remembered the mini-tripod today so getting a shot of myself at the trig was a possibility. I did, but I look so bad I'm not publishing it...

After heading back the way I came, and back onto the main whaleback of the moor, it was a relatively easy bimble, on some well worn trods over to Whetstone Gate, and the melodious sounds of "If I Had A Million Dollars" soon filled the air as I sang along. I'm sure the Barenaked Ladies didn't sound quite so out of breath as my rendition, but so be it, they weren't out running while it was recorded.From the transmitter masts at Whetstone, along the stone-slabbed trail to the Thimble Stones and we were nearly at number three, and with just a heartbeat stopped (to switch the disc for The Best of the Beach Boys) I was there in minutes. This time I will publish the self-portrait, not because it's good, but because it's appealingly cheesy.

From there I dropped pretty directly back to White Wells, down the footpath, singing my little socks off and slipping and sliding on the muddy trail. I have to say, today has been one of the best days I'd had out on the fell in ages, and bar a couple of the steeper, soggier bits, I'd pretty much been smiling the entire way. The few people I passed on the descent must have looked at me with a mix of admiration and fear, for I was descending like... well... like a fell runner. And that can sometimes be scary.

I got back to the car and stopped the tracker at 18.1km in a shade over 3 hours, including stops. That leaves me just over 12km to do tomorrow to make it 150 miles in the month. I can be happy with that.

1 comment:

geoffarmer said...

Good luck today for the remaining 12 km.