The rolling hills of the Southern Uplands. Green Lairs and Grey Yade in the Tweeddale hills. Only Grey Yade manages to scrap above 500m above sea level.
Ok I may be jumping to the wrong conclusion here. Less than a month ago the gatepost on the left was toppled along with a section of the dry stone wall reportedly by two or three motorcyclists and a quad biker. The damage then was quickly repaired by the National Trust. This scene awaited me this morning. Too much of a coincidence? It may have been purely accidental. Having stood for two hundred years maybe a sheep tried to scale it. Not as daft as it sounds, I’ve seen sheep atop of walls in the Lake District.
I don’t normally do people but I met someone yesterday climbing Pendle Hill in Lancashire with his grandson. Harry Walker was one of the stars of the sport of fell racing in the 70/80s and one of those I aspired to during my first tentative years in the sport.
We had left a sunny Yorkshire and crossed the border into a wet Lancashire so the young scion could do the Pendle Fell Race. Pendle Hill, in the heart of the Lancashire Witch country, is a huge domed 557m high fell which dominates the area when it is not shrouded in cloud. The Pendle Fell Race up it has a long history. The inaugural race was held in 1956 but in 1974 a new route was devised from the village of Barley. Although shorter at 4¾ miles it was a bit contrived to include an ascent via Pendle’s notorious Big End, 150 metres of climb in 250 metres, a gradient of over 30º. Bill Smith’s 1985 book “Stud Marks on the Summit” (pp299) gives a comprehensive history of the race.
It was appropriate that I met Harry climbing the Big End. The Blackburn Harrier had acquired the reputation of being able to keep running the whole way up. Some feat. Harry won the 1974 race in 30:29, a record which was to stand for seven years. Bill Smith records it as the first of seven victories. Considering yesterday’s winning time was 33 minutes Harry’s time was remarkable. Away from his home fell Harry’s achievements are endless. Wins in the Wasdale, Three Peaks, Ben Nevis to name but three. Fell Runner of the Year in ’73. Victory in the Karrimor Mountain Marathon with partner Stig Berge. Again Smith’s book has a full profile (pp460-3). We reminisced about old races and old faces, and bemoaned about changes to our beloved hills, litter, dog poo bags and shrines. Two old men dreaming of times past. About half way Harry and his grandson turned round and headed back to his marshalling position at the foot of the Big End and i continued up.
Blue skies, a little hazy perhaps but the best view of Roseberry in a week. In the foreground its little brother, Little Roseberry. More of a spur than a hill. Its small knoll doesn’t register a ring contour on the map. The bank of cloud to the west looked ominous but the forecasters said sunshine all day and they were right.
In 1979 I had a battle here with one of the greats of fell running, Joss Naylor. The Cumbrian sheep farmer was at the height of his career, a career with too many accolades to mention. He held the Lake District mountain record climbing 72 peaks in less than 24 hours, a feat covering over 100 miles with about 38,000 feet of ascent and was appointed an MBE for his services to sport and charity. On that July day of 1979 however he had his sights on the Lyke Wake Race, a race across the moors from Ravenscar to Osmotherley, a mere sprint at 39 miles.
In those days the fell running calendar was much leaner than today and the Lyke Wake Race had a much higher profile. The race was run on a handicap basis with the slowest runners setting off first and the fastest last such that, in theory, all competitors would finish at the same time in Osmotherley when the Summer Games were being held. A carnival atmosphere.
Joss and I were both off scratch and I felt good showing him the way across the moors. However in my naivety I didn’t appreciate the amount of drafting I was providing running into the westerly winds. It was about here, coming down from Urra Moor that Joss took the lead. I was spent but did manage to regain contact later at Huthwaite by the judicious use of local knowledge. Joss soon pulled ahead again to take three minutes out of me and win in a new record time of 4 hours 53 minutes. Two years later I did manage to shave 2 minutes of Joss’s time. Vindication of a sort in spite of Joss’s absence.
But enough reminiscing. Today is Joss Naylor’s birthday. He’s 81 and still active on the hills using a pair of walking poles fashioned from hazel rods. Happy Birthday, Joss.
I have mentioned before my discovery on the 1853 Ordnance Survey map that the hill on the right is shown covered in trees and named Mount Vittoria Plantation. It’s modern name being Cold Moor. The boundary stone is inscribed with an ‘E’ and is on the east flank of Cringle Moor which according to the same 1853 O.S. map was named as Cringley Moor.
An overcast morning, with the tops just a few metres below the cloud base. Both moors are on popular walking routes, traversed by the Cleveland Way, but I saw only one person today. Far left, across the vale of Cleveland, is Roseberry Topping.
An overview of Ayton Ironstone Mine or Monument Mine as it was known locally owing to its close proximity to Capt. Cook’s Monument. I’ve posted a photo before (https://fhithich.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/monument-ironstone-mine/). The mine closed in 1931, several concrete foundations still remain hidden amongst the gorse and bracken. I am standing above the main drift of which there is now no trace. The are is extensively used for motor bike scrambling. In the far distance, across the flat lands, is the familiar skyline of the Cleveland Hills.