Posts Tagged ‘Calderdale’

Last week was a massive week for me running wise as I ran 43.2 miles and climbed 7,245ft the most I had run in a very long time and the most climbing for me in a week ever. The runs were all off road over a variety of open moorland, fell and trail. The week started off as normal as any other with the news about the Corona Virus being a distraction but ended with the Corona Virus being the most important issue the world has faced for some considerable time.
Monday and the week started off as usual with the East Pennine Orienteering Club run. We met at the Truly Scrumptious café at Rishworth and had an interesting run round the local area. I say interesting because some of the trails had not been used for years and they are unlikely to be used again for some time! It was a good run though as always and in the café afterwards we talked about the Corona Virus and the possible impact it might have on our lives. Little did we know then that events would overtake us and this would be our last run together for some time.
Tuesday and I decided to escape the escalating madness on my own. I had a run in mind but couldn’t decide if I wanted to do it. As I drove over the tops from Oxenhope to Hebden Bridge I remembered a small layby at the bottom of Haworth Old Road where I could park up and do my run from there. The run started with a climb up to Shackleton Knoll but it was worth it for the views. The sky was clear and I had uninterrupted views of Midgely Moor to my left, Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall with Stoodley Pike watching over them in front of me, Hardcastle Crags and in the distance Boulsworth Hill to my right and behind me Walshaw Moor as bleak and unforgiving as always.
It was surreal to stand there on my own looking round at all this natural beauty, so peaceful and tranquil and yet in the knowledge that the world was heading towards a pandemic and our lives would be changed forever. I carried on my run down to Walshaw, through Hardcastle Crags and up to Blake Dean. From Blake Dean I ran up to Walshaw Dean reservoirs and over the hill back to Walshaw and back too my car via Lumb waterfalls. I saw two people walking a couple of farmers on quad bikes and a lot of sheep. It was a perfect run for self-isolating from people and the world.
Thursday and myself and a couple of friends decide to go for a run over Ogden Moor. By now we’re getting increasingly worried about a possible lockdown and the effect it will have on our ability to get out and run. Running is vital for me and my mental health but if they are restrictions I will have to abide by them the same as everyone else. With this in mind and fearing that the next run might be our last we headed off. We did part of the old Ovenden Moor fell race route and then went to the trig point at Nab Hill before heading over to Warley Moor reservoir, down into Luddenden Dean and back to Ogden Water via Standing Stones. It was a great day with stunning views over the Calder Valley. Getting out and taking in nature is so important at the moment. It gives me a release from everything else that is going on and for a short while I can forget about the Corona Virus and breath the freshest air around for miles.
Sunday comes around and the Corona Virus is getting more and more serious on a daily basis. Things are changing so fast. I was in the club on Friday night when the government announced all pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants where to close indefinitely with effect from midnight. This meant it would be my last Friday night out for a while. So once again on Sunday a couple of us set off at 8:00am to do a recce of the Heptonstall 15 route in the knowledge that this might be our last run like this for a while. The weather was bright sunshine once again as we set off through the woods and over the moors. I surprised myself by having enough energy and strength to finish the run although the last few miles I ran on my own as I daren’t stop and wait for the others to catch up in case I got cramp and couldn’t move. What surprised me was the amount of people at Blake Dean and Hardcastle Crags getting away from everything. It was packed although I managed to avoid contact with anyone by going off the normal paths and by not stopping. What I remember most about this run is heading away from Walshaw Dean reservoirs on a road that leads to nowhere and just ends. From this road you can see open moorland with no paths or trails leading over to Boulsworth Hill just over the border in Lancashire. I’ve always wanted to run from here to Boulsworth Hill and experience what it is like to be in the middle of a raw, bleak moorland untouched by human hands and feel connected to nature at its most natural. If I get the chance over the next couple of weeks this is a run I am going to do.
And that’s what last week was all about for me. Getting back to nature and getting away from everything that is going on in the world even if only for a couple of hours and reconnecting with nature, taking in the views and breathing fresh, clean air. There’s an increasing possibility that I and others might not be able to do this very soon if people decide to continue to go to the countryside en masse, clogging up the very place they think will be quiet and peaceful and putting everyone at risk of catching the Corona Virus. I have some great memories I can look back and if we do go into lockdown I have no regrets about not getting out and enjoying the moors and fells I love so much for one last time.

The day after my run up to Alcomden Stones in a snowstorm I did another run! This time it was with my mate Steve for a recce of the Coiners fell race which takes place in May. I arrived at Mytholmroyd Community Centre just as it turned 11:00am and Steve was already there. The traffic is bad at the moment with the flood defences and there are queues of traffic most days. I ran to the toilet as usual, put my pack and set off. At this point I didn’t know we were doing a recce of the Coiners or where it started. I just knew we were heading up to Stoodley Pike and so I set off on the route I knew. Halfway across a muddy field Steve told me we were doing Coiners, so I let him lead and show me the route.

We weren’t off course, we’d just missed a field and soon we were climbing up a steep, muddy trail through some woods to Erringdon Moor. At the edge of the moor the climb flattened out and we were running through cold water and bog as is usual for me at this time of year. I was feeling strong and I wasn’t far behind Steve who is a much faster runner than me. We got onto the path that leads to Stoodley Pike and I still felt good. This surprised me as I’d had two tough runs and I thought this might be one run too any but at this point it wasn’t. Stoodley Pike was steadily looming ever closer a giant monolith that dominates the Calder Valley landscape.

We went through the final gate and I found some energy and sprinted up to Stoodley Pike against a headwind. This is a Strava segment and I had come close to getting my best time on it a couple of months ago and decided that today was the day I was going to beat it even if I had tired legs and was running into a headwind. I felt strong going up towards Stoodley and then just as it was within reach my legs went. I had nothing left but being so close I kept pushing harder and harder until finally I reached Stoodley Pike and could catch my breath. Steve had sensibly gone at his own pace and arrived 30 seconds or so after me. We did the customary selfie at the top and set off back to Mytholmroyd and it was very cold and windy at the top.

I had wrongly assumed that we would be going back the way we had come but I was very wrong. Steve went right over a stile and through some woods on a trail that was ankle deep in ice cold water and mud. And then my legs went. two days of hard running and the sprint up to Stoodley had taken everything out of me and I had nothing left in my legs. I had no choice but to carry on though. Across more cold, muddy fields until we hit a road where the Coiners cottages are and I thought ‘at last’, ‘downhill to Mytholmroyd’. Wrong again. Instead of going right towards the road Steve turned left towards more cold, muddy fields.

We followed a trail around the edge of Erringdon Moor on the opposite side to where we had come up and I was struggling more and more. I was slipping and making mistakes and getting slower and slower. Steve was flying now dancing over the mud and having to wait for me which is something I don’t like people to have to do. I kept going and soon we were on the final downhill. This was really tricky for me with loose rock and tree roots ready to trip me up, so I was extra careful as I didn’t want to fall and injury myself so close to the finish. At last we hit tarmac and I could run confidently again knowing my chances of falling were greatly reduced.

It had been a great run along a new route with stunning views across the Calder Valley and I had learnt to never assume you are going where you think you are because quite often you might not be. It was still worth it though for the experience and knowing that a couple of days rest would benefit my legs and I would come back stronger and better than before.

There’s a group of us that for one reason or another are lucky enough to be able to run midweek when it’s quieter and run pretty much anywhere we want. I’m doing a PhD so can fit my studies round my running or is it fit my running round my studies? Anyway, four of us meet today at Ogden Water for a run in the snow. Two of the lad’s, Dave and Terry had driven up from Halifax and couldn’t believe how much snow there was up on the tops. Richard lives in Thornton and I live high up in Queensbury, so we knew what to expect from looking out of our windows.

We had no plan of where to run so Dave said he knew a route and we followed him. We set off up the path towards the Top Within house about Ogden Water but near the bottom we beared left over Halifax golf course. Running through snow is a unique experience and one I enjoy. The snow was ankle deep on the golf course and we made good progress despite this. From the outset we all decided that this run was about enjoying being out and making the most of the experience. Clear blue skies and a layer of white snow as far as the eye could see made this a stunning day to be out on the moors and we stopped several times to take in the views and take photos.

We climbed above Halifax golf club and onto Cold Edge Lane, running back towards Wainstalls before taking a sharp right that took us down to Haigh Cote Dam and Leadbeater Dam stopping to take more photos and admire the stunning views. We carried on to Castle Carr Road and dropped down into Upper Saltonstall making our way along Heys Lane before we climbed back up towards Castle Carr through some woods and past a fast-flowing waterfall. The sun was out and beating down on us as we made good progress up the hill back towards Castle Carr Road and the climb over the moors towards the Stepping Stones.and back to Cold Edge Road. Halfway up the climb we stopped and looked around. It was other worldly seeing mounds of snow with bog inbetween the wind blowing making the snow drift over us added to the feeling of other worldliness.

On Cold Edge Road we ran back towards Top Within house and down Withens New Road to Ogden Water. I found some speed here and flew along the grass verge through the snow down to the stile that takes you into the woods. It felt really good to get some speed up in the snow and even better that I managed to stay on two feet! We ran through the woods and back to the carpark. An awesome 8 ½ miles over hill and moor in stunning snowy conditions. Today was about enjoying being alive and making the most of being out running with great mates on a spectacular day for seeing some of the best scenery that Calderdale has to offer.

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.

On Tuesday 17th February I went to the Calderdale Industrial Museum in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Nothing extraordinary about a trip to a museum you might think, but the Calderdale Industrial Museum is different to other museums. The museum only started opening again last year after closing its doors to the public around 2000/01. Even now it only opens three or four times a year due to funding constraints and being staffed entirely by volunteers.

But this also makes it enchanting, mystical even. And this is because the museum at the moment is stuck in a time warp. Everything is as it was fourteen years ago, the signs, the machines even down to a jacket hung up on a wall. But what hits you most is the smell. The thought of fourteen years of grease, oil, soap and metal might sound disgusting to some people but to me it is so evocative, it fires up the senses and the smells turn into images and the imagination is set alight.

Why? Picture the men who made these amazing machines from a solid block of iron or steel weighing several tons or just a few pounds. These blocks of iron would be fashioned into lathes 50 feet long, drills 10 feet tall, multi-coloured weaving looms, machines that can turn reduce steel from 4 inches to 1 millimetre and something so intricate and delicate it is a true wonder of the industrial age. And all it does is make a staple!

And what of the men, women and children who worked these machines? Men,  women and children who would rise before the dawn chorus so that they wouldn’t be late for work and have to go through the special gate just for latecomers. Who would work for 12 hours or more in conditions that would leave their senses dulled by the noise, the lack of light, the dirt and grime they breathed into their lungs and having to keep up with this new machinery that moved as faster than a bird diving for prey hour after hour after hour all day, every day.

And what happened if one of them should fall asleep at their machine or miscalculate the speed of the iron arm going back and forth at 10,000 rpm or more? At worse they might lose a finger, a toe an arm or a leg. At worse they would be killed as they tried to earn a pittance to survive. If they were injured and became too ill or disabled to work they would be cast into the street to beg and steal to live.

It is their lives and deaths I smell as I wander round the museum, the blood, sweat and tears they split everyday onto the wooden floors, the relief at another day over without injury and some money to feed the hungry mouths at home or the cries of pain as a finger was lost in a split second and their life was changed forever. And these smells transform themselves beyond the machines sat there silent but gleaming in all their splendour for the descendants of the workers to admire in awe and wonder. The smells transform into a fully working factory with all the sensory experiences you would have lived through then.

The Calderdale Industrial Museum evokes all this and much more because of what it is in an age of metal boxes. A true step back in time to an era that we should not forget nor sugar coat in a romantic sheen. But experience and understand it for what it is, what it was and what it stands for today.