Last night, was the Calder Valley Fell Runners night score event where you run around the Calder Valley looking for markers in the dark. I’ve only done one of these events before the winter score and I think I created some sort of record by covering 8.1 miles and only finding one marker and I only found that because someone told me where it was! I decided not to do another score event as while I can run around the Calder Valley all day long, I don’t always know where I’m going or where I’ve been. So why did I do the night score event? Well I sort of got talked into it and found myself at Mytholmroyd Community Centre wondering how lost I would get. This time I had a partner, Sue who knows the Calder Valley very well, so I had more confidence than I did at the winter score event.
The drive over from Oxenhope to Mytholmroyd was stunning. The sky was grey and filled with snow. Large snowflakes swirled about in the air and the moors were half covered in snow making them look like a setting for a Bronte novel. It was very romantic, beautiful and dangerous at the same time and I very nearly pulled over at the top of the climb to run over Wadsworth Moor but carried on down into Hebden Bridge and on to Mytholmroyd. At gathered at Mytholmroyd Community Centre and I looked around at the other runners who had turned up. Everybody else looked to be far faster and more knowledgeable of the area than me so it was a great relief when Sue turned up with her friend Mand. At least I was with two people who had a far better idea of where we were going, and we had a chance of finding at a couple of the twenty controls that had been placed on the 9 mile or so route. We had a brief discussion as to where we would start and the direction we would go in or rather I agreed with Sue and Mand as I had no idea where to go!
We crossed over the road and headed along the canal in the direction of Luddenden Foot and before I knew it we had crossed back over the road and were running through a very wet and muddy field alongside the bank of the Calder river before going back up to the main road and heading towards the start of the Hebden. Everyone on a score event can go in whatever direction and route they want and during the night we kept seeing headtorches all around the area as our follow competitors searched vainly for the controls. By this point we had found two controls, and this doubled the amount I had found on my own at the winter score event, so I was already feeling satisfied with my performance. We kept going on the trail back towards Mytholmroyd with Sue and Mand discussing route choices and then asking me what I thought. The fact that I had no idea where we were on the map and didn’t have a clue where we were on the ground didn’t seem to deter them from asking me questions about which direction, we should go in.
I just agreed with everything they said and followed them around all night.
From the trail that leads to the start of the Hebden we got onto the end of the Hebden and after finding another control we were climbing up to Scout Road and the next part of our mini adventure. At the top of Scout Road, we almost went wrong in following the Hebden route again until I noticed a stile, looked at my map and asked whether we should be going up there? The ladies both agreed with me and I felt a sense of satisfaction in that I had been able to read the map and find the route! At least I had made some small contribution to the event!
We headed across some muddy fields towards Scout Rock and into Scout Woods. I was extremely grateful to be with two ladies who knew the area and could read a map. Without them there’s every chance I would still be up there wandering around now. We headed down a steep and slippery packhorse trail that I really struggled on. I’m not very confident on downhills in daylight and the lower visibility at night made it ten times worse. I had made a wrong shoe choice too something every runner has done at least once. I wore my Roclite 275s when my Mudclaw 300s would have been a better choice given the conditions, but it was my choice and I had to live with it.
At the bottom of the descent it finally flattened out and I could pick up speed again. We had collected a decent amount of controls and met some other runners as we headed through an industrial estate and back toward the community centre. On tarmac I was able to open up my legs and get some pace into my run. It’s good to stretch your legs. At the community centre we were delighted to find we had collected nine controls and weren’t bottom. This was due to Sue’s local knowledge and Mand’s ability to read a map and had nothing to do with my ability to run around like a headless chicken hoping that I find somewhere that has some vague form of life. We had worked as a good team and our reward was we were declared first mixed team back and we each won two small Kit Kats as prizes.
The drive home was more eventful than the drive over. I went the same route and was soon in a snowstorm as I climbed out of Hebden Bridge and up to the top of the moors. The road was covered in snow and there were a few moments where I thought I was going to lose it, but I kept calm and got down the other side in one piece. At home I had a celebratory gin and tonic to round off a good nights running in the Calder Valley with friends.