Sunday was the Tour of Midgely moor fell race, finally! I say finally because I had done a recce of it on the Wednesday, but we didn’t do the right route, so I went out again on Saturday, the day before to recce the route and help with putting flags out. I was looking forward to the race and it was a relief for it finally to be race day. The night before had been hard. Even though I had done a recce of the route hors before the nerves still set in and I was wracked with anxiety about the race. Would I get lost? Would I have enough energy left to do the race? All these thoughts raced through my mind but I’m very lucky in that I have some very understanding and supportive friends and one of them had a chat with me about it and I was able to get a good night’s sleep.

I woke on time and soon I was setting off to Booth Cricket club near Midgely for the race. I arrived at Booth just in time to get one of the last spaces in the small carpark and proceeded to registration and then a chat with friends. The weather was overcast and light rain, it was better than it had been the day before as the wind had dropped. Soon it was time for the start of the race and around 130 runners gathered at the bottom of a muddy field all staring up at the climb before them ready for the off.

And then we were off! Everyone tearing up the hill as fast as they could. Well for a bit. It’s a steep climb so quite soon we were walking and with the stiles to negotiate there was the inevitable queues too, so we had time to catch our breath before we were over them and off running again. To my surprise I felt good on the hill and found myself running through a quagmire that was freezing cold and seeped into my shoes soaking my feet.

On the moor it was even worse. The heavy rain the night before had saturated the ground and in parts there was no avoiding the large puddles of freezing cold water. My feet turned into two blocks of ice and I just about managed to maintain some feeling in them. I’ve been here before, but it doesn’t make it any easier, but it is a part of fellrunning in the winter, so you must go with it. To make things worse the wind had picked up considerably and the rain had turned to hail. Maybe this helped me as I didn’t feel tired and concentrated on staying on my feet as I battled the wind. I was even passing people at this point which gave me a boost.

I went through checkpoint 1 at Crow Hill and carried onto checkpoint 2 at Sheepstones. The run along Sheepstones ridge was really tough with the wind, rain and hail. This was my fourth run on this ridge in two weeks and everyone has been in high winds. I swear I’m going to get blown off Sheepstones ridge one day! Thankfully the descent started into the middle of the moor and there was a welcome change in the weather. It seemed to go from wind, hail and rain to pleasant sunshine in no time and once again I could concentrate on choosing the best lines rather than trying to stay upright.

After a short run across the moor I was at checkpoint 3 and a tricky descent down to Luddenden Valley. This was made harder by two runners in front of me holding me up. I couldn’t get past them because it was too narrow, and it wasn’t until we got to the field and open ground that I was able to put a sprint on and get past them. Checkpoint 4 is on Wood Lane at the bottom of the descent and after a very short sprint it’s back up the hill and back onto the moor. This is a steep climb and it really takes it out of your legs, especially when the ground it wet and muddy.

At the top of the climb is checkpoint 5 and it’s here that runners go off in different directions. I chose to stick with my plan and go along the wall. This is the route I know, and I was glad I did this as I found myself in my own and able to enjoy running without the pressure of having someone behind me. I felt good too. My legs had held up and I was moving well. I was surprised at how good I felt. There had been a point further back where my legs started aching, but I had run it off and was now going as fast as I could towards checkpoint 6.

At checkpoint 6 you go back over the stile and it’s back down the muddy hill. I sprinted as fast as I could here. There were some runners just in front of me and I thought I could catch one if I went for it. On the final descent to the finish I did catch someone! I’m not sure if he had slowed down too much thinking no-one was behind him or he was tired, but I went as fast as I could and caught him just before the finish line. I was really pleased to finish this tough little fell race in style.

It took me a while to get my breath back and longer for my feet to thaw out, but I was happy with my run. This was my best run for a while. After doing the recce the day before I surprised myself at how much I had left in me and how I didn’t give up. I finished in around 1 hour 20 minutes in 108th place. I could have gone faster if I hadn’t been held up and I’m going to learn the shortcuts for next year so I can go that bit faster. It’s a tough little fell race the Tour of Midgely moor and it’s easy to get lost if you’re not following someone and don’t know the route but I can only recommend it as a good test of your running. At the end I was happy to be able to text my friend who had listened to me and tell them I was happy with my run and thank them for their support.

silent snow

Posted: February 24, 2020 in poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

snow falls silently
lighting up the night
creating a powder
playground for the
world to play in


It’s stupid, ridiculous and makes no sense. Why do I get so nervous and anxious the night before a race? I’m never going to win or even finish top 50 so why work myself into a state where I won’t sleep and just think about the race. It doesn’t make any sense but then running over hills and moors getting wet and cold doesn’t either. Unless that is your escape valve from reality for an hour or more. Then it’s all worthwhile and it does make sense, well to those of us mad enough to do it. And my little cat is going mad attacking anything and everything!!


sunlight on rain
reflects hundreds
of years of sweat
and toil of cloth
traders travelling
mile after mile
to make a pittance,
market traders waiting
all day for someone
to buy something,
anything, so they can
pay the rent. people
coming to lunch to
escape the office
for an hour returning
in the evening for
a G & T and a concert.
images merge in rain,
reflected back to the
sky a jigsaw of life


this water tastes better
that one doesn’t have the
floral notes and toffee nose
that this one has. I didn’t
have the heart to tell him
it was all the same water
from the same tap I had
poured into old water bottles
I had got out of the bin.
neither the water or he
were pure and smart

water knows

Posted: February 20, 2020 in poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Water knows what you’re thinking
Seeping through your mind, flowing
Over every thought, taking it and
Twisting it round and round through
Its fingers, throwing it over waterfalls
Mixing them together in a tsunami
Of images before they come crashing
Down, splintering inside your brain,
Converging as rivers and streams of
Lava flowing down the creases of
Your mind, coming out of your mouth
In one final act of defiance against
The dam that is your mouth and
Flow into an unsuspecting world
To be judged by each and everyone


I’ve a race coming up on Sunday, the tour of Midgely Moor and being sensible I decided to do a recce of the route. While I’ve got a decent knowledge of the area this doesn’t necessarily mean you will know the race route and plenty of people have come unstuck because they assume they will know the race route and on the day find out they don’t. I asked a friend to come along, we’ll call him Derek for reasons that will become apparent. Derek has run around this area for over 30 years and is a good navigator so I was confident that we find the route and get round with few problems. However the best laid plans of mice and men proved to be the motto of the day.

We got to Booth just above Luddenden, parked up and ran a short distance to where the race started. Over a stile and we were climbing up a muddy field straight away. This is the terrain I like, steep, grassy and muddy. We walked up as 90% of fellrunners do, only the 10% or so who are have super human ability and fitness levels run up these hills. Us mere mortals walk them like any sensible person would! At the top of one hill there is another, as is usual in West Yorkshire, and after this one we’re at the edge of the moor and begin the climb up to Crow Hill and the first checkpoint. Navigating this part wasn’t a problem as Crow Hill stands above everything else at this point so it was easy to find it and walk to the top. We got to the top and Derek get his trusty compass out, took a bearing and off we set on a path that would take us over to Sheepstones. Except we went sort of wrong.

With Derek taking his compass bearings we passed the usual path up to Sheepstones and carried on past Churn Milk Joan until we got to a path that sort of looked like the one we needed. We took this path up to Sheepstones across moorland and arrived at the trig point for Sheepstones. Here we took the first path we saw and headed down. This was also a navigational error as we approached Hebden Bridge Golf club and the Calderdale Way that goes across the top of it.
We ran along the Calderdale Way until Old Town was in view and then we took a sharp right across the moor again following Derek’s trusty compass bearing. At the middle of the moor several paths cross each other. After taking one that headed back up to Sheepstones we turned round and headed back down and rejoined the path we were on originally and headed over to the over side of the moor. Yes it was as confusing as that!

We followed the route on the map across what is familiar terrain eventually getting back to the stile we climbed over to get onto the path to Crow Hill and going back down the hill to the finish. It was hard work and we made a few mistakes but we had a better idea of the route and I was now fairly confident that I would find my way round we few problems on Sunday.

That was until I uploaded my map to Instagram. A friend asked me if I’d dropped down into Luddenden Valley. Erm no I replied. Ahh you should do came the reply and the offer to show me the route on Saturday or risk following the pack round and hoping for the best. I took up the offer of the recce because I have been at the back of races many times and have found myself on my own with no-one around quite often. Another consideration is that the person in front may have as little idea as you as to where they’re going and you may both end up lost. This has happened more often than you might think and I know from races I’ve done where I’ve known the route and people have gone off all over the place. Following and hoping isn’t a good idea!

Yes it turns out that we had made a complete hash of our recce. Derek and his trusty compass weren’t as reliable as they usually are and we had done a tour of Midgely Moor but not the tour we set out to do! To be fair this is a fell race designed to test your ability to navigate and doing a recce of the route is essential. The map deliberately misses off many of the usual points of interest and it is up to you to find them. There are so many paths crossing Midgely moor it is easy to get on the wrong one and end up miles from where you want to be.

I’ll be doing the race twice in 2 days, but it will be worth it as I’ll know where I’m going. I’m not going to win anything so someone showing me round the day before won’t out anyone at a disadvantage and might prove helpful if I see someone lost during the race. And this is why I love running and fellrunning in particular as it is easier to get lost up on the moors and find yourself in unfamiliar terrain and not knowing where to go. You make mistakes, lots of them and learn from them and you don’t give in. People help you to get back on track and in turn you pass on your knowledge to others. Life for me mirrors running in so many ways and this is one of them.


this water tastes of
barren, bleak moorland
of sheep sheltering from
hail, rain, snow and sleet,
of the footsteps of the
Brontes their words pouring
down cloughs into rivers
and streams creating
puddles of books that
glisten in the rain.
this water tastes of
farmers wellingtons
smelling of cows
of hikers boots
telling tales of
hill and dale
the flimsy shoes of
fellrunners feet wet
through from the marshes.
this water tastes of
sweat, pain and tears
from those who have
traversed these moors
long ago selling cloth
to traders and merchants.
this water tastes of life,
the lives of everyone
and everything that has
crossed over the paths
and heather that cover
this moors. this water
is the life blood of the
moors feeding its soul
and spirit and allowing
life to flourish and survive


I woke today to rain and wind as much of the country has done and my first thought was ‘should I run’? it’s another Monday morning and the East Pennine Orienteering Club (EPOC) run. Secretly I was hoping that it would be cancelled, and I could spend the morning in bed but us fell runners and orienteers are a hardy bunch so deep down I know this wasn’t going to happen. It didn’t stop me checking the Facebook page every five minutes just in case but 9:00am came and it hadn’t been called off so I got in my car and drove the ten miles or so over to Rishworth and the Truly Scrumptious café where we were all meeting.

I arrived in plenty of time for once and had a chat with some of the other runners as we waited for Graham our run leader to arrive with the map of the route. Graham was a bit late due to roadworks but soon we were off heading down to the River Ryburn and a run on the embankment. I’ve had some injuries to contend with recently and these were at the back of my mind as picked up our pace. The wind and rain had cleared, and it was now a bright, winter morning, perfect running conditions for me and I was wrapped up warm and enjoying myself. My right knee and left ankle that have been giving me trouble felt good. A couple of days rest and squats seemed to be making a positive difference.

We came off the riverside and headed back up towards the A58 where we crossed over and started our first climb of the run towards Soyland Town. I was wearing my Mudclaw 300s, ideal for running off road but not for on the road. I am getting used to running in them on the road and my pace and confidence is improving. We climbed up a road and soon we were crossing muddy fields, my favourite terrain, and marveling at the ability of the orienteers to run and read a map at the same time! It takes all my skill to remain upright and I have a very limited ability to read a map never mind do the two at the same time!
It was over the fields that my right hamstring started to ache and I began to wonder if this was going to be one of those days when all my old injuries flared up and I would begin to wonder if I should carry on running or find something else to keep me fit and active.

We came to a road at the end of the fields and turned right to head back down towards the A58. The pace was nice and steady, and we were having fun. We crossed the A58 and the River Ryburn and headed down towards Kebroyd. After we crossed the Ryburn there was a short but tricky part where we had to climb a small path up from the riverbank to the path above. One slip and I would have ended up in the Ryburn but luckily, I managed to stay calm and I was soon at the top of the hill running again. It was here we had a chat about the recent Windy Hill fell race part of the Calder Valley club championships. I didn’t enjoy this race at all. I thought there was too much road and it was more technical trail than fell. Some agreed with me, others didn’t. everyone is different and has a different experience of the same race. We agreed though that it wasn’t really what we would consider a fell race for the reasons above and it would be one for us to avoid in the future.

We turned right and headed towards Rippendon. Dropping down to the park we climbed again to what we assumed was an old railway line long gone now. This part of the run was relatively flat and I was able to put some pace into my run and open up my legs. I felt good and was moving with ease and I didn’t notice any aches or pains! Bonus! This path carried on for a couple of miles until we dropped back down to Rishworth and we were back at the Truly Scrumptious café for a well earned full English breakfast. A good run with good friends. I explored some parts of the Calder Valley I haven’t run before and my knee, hamstring and foot all feel better for the run and have the minimal aching. I’m really looking forward to next weeks run up and around Mytholmroyd. The EPOC runs are a perfect way to start the week.

be kind

Posted: February 16, 2020 in poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

be kind to yourself
be kind to your friends
be kind to strangers
be kind to everyone
let’s make the world
a place where we’re
all kind to everyone