Running for the pies

Running for the pies

Sunday, 21 October 2012

18th August: Hill

Back over Christmas time when I went up to the in-laws place in Cuppull, Lancashire, I became transfixed by the sight of a tv mast on a hill lightly dusted with snow in the horizon. This is the furthest the eye can see from there, and the thought of a challenge lodged in my mind.

Previously LSS's parents lived in Blackpool and I would go running on the beach bare-footed when there, and even on one occasion I ran to Fleetwood and back along the beach and the sea wall path.

With the flat of the seaside land left behind, there is now the undulating terrain to run across where amongst the now long abandoned mine shafts of the Yarrow Valley, Arkwright built his first mill and kick-started the Industrial Revolution.

After a good check on the map I found that the TV mast in question is mounted atop 'Winter Hill' a place that has seen a fair bit of tragedy over the years, from murder to plane crashes... The most infamous of these being the 'Winter Hill air disaster'.

Sitting down and planning a route through perusing the OS & road maps on-line I found the distance to it was only 8.5 miles, with the return matching that of course!

So early one morning I awoke and dragged my sorry arse out of bed and away I jogged. The previous night it had rained solidly for around 12 hours so the ground was still pretty damp and the sky overcast.

Crossing the motorway chasing the TV Mast

Crossing the reservoir
As I got to Rivington Hall park, the going underfoot changed to uneven cobbles, greasy cobbles still slick with the water coming off the hill, so rather than jogging up them, progress slowed to little more than a walk through not being able to gain traction, even with trail running trainers. I picked my way up to Rivington Pike, the first summit on the hills, then off across the moor to the summit of Winter Hill and the TV mast.
Rivington Pike

From the pike, the view was simple grassy moorland on an incline for about a mile till the mast. Great I thought and off I jogged… Until I found that the moorland was in reality peat bog!

It seems there are several springs on the hillside, something the OS map had already warned me of, but with all the rain they seemed to be springier than normal. I jogged along the bog with care, sometimes watching the ground shimmy and shake all around for a couple of metres as you put your foot down hard on to loose peat. Several times I fell over as I lost my footing, with foot and leg disappearing into a hole in the mud. Eventually I made it to the mast. At this point the tip of it was obscured in the low cloud cover, but I had made it to the summit. Sheltering on the leeward side of the building I stopped for a couple of cereal bars and a breather before the journey back.

Shrouded in mist
The Air disaster memorial
The facts of the hill
A bleak place for a life to end.
The murder memorial standing alone.
With the fun of the bog-running up to the mast I decided that the only thing for it was to go hell-for-leather across the slight descent of the moor to the foot of the pike.

Looking back to the Pike from the mast
Bolton Wanderers' Reebok Stadium
A dozen falls later and sinking up to my waiste at one point I had made it back to the pike... Unfortunately picking-up a groin strain in the process, the journey back down the slopes and the jog back to Coppull became a slow torturous affair of jog-walk-jog.

Eventually I returned covered in mud to the in-laws to recover.

Muddy feet
The hill & mast from the house. The mast is just left of the tree.