June 25th, doing too much, learning the hard way


2:25pm. I woke today around 4am hungover. One pink gin too many last night had taken it’s toil on me. I was still determined to run this morning, run to the stones and try and find the Cuckoo Stones too. I wanted to have a rest day on Friday so I’m ready for a run at the weekend. So I got up despite wanting to stay in bed, had a coffee and some fruit and set off before 6am for Penistone Country Park.

I got to Penistone and it was so peaceful and relaxing. I was the only one there unsurprisingly and it was such a good feeling knowing I had the whole place to myself. The sun was just coming up above Haworth creating a picture perfect early morning setting.

I felt lucky to be here and witness this sunrise, it was a special moment for me to be up here so early and it gave me a good feeling about my run. My hangover had gone by now and it was sunny but cool. I felt I had made the right decision to get up and out early and avoid the heat and people and see the moors and fells waking up.

I started my run by going over the road and through the stile, a familiar path but one I enjoy. It’s a lovely little trail to start any run on and gets you ready for whatever is coming up. Despite it being hot yesterday there was still some bogs about and they cooled my feet nicely. I don’t mind feeling cold water against my skin. I soon hit the main trial and I was on my way to the Bronte Waterfalls.

I was taking it easy, I had run over 8 miles in the heat the day before and I didn’t want to overdo it. My knee was still aching a bit and I could feel my glutes aching too so a nice steady pace was the order of the day. I went past the Bronte Waterfalls and up the first climb to the trail above South Dean Beck. I ran on here until I got to the stile and then I began to look at the heather to my right for the Cuckoo Stones and a prehistoric burial mound.

I saw a stone poking out of the heather and assumed it was one of the Cuckoo Stones. I found another stone nearby which may be the other one as one of them is prone to falling over and saw a large mound of earth which looked like a burial mound. Although I can’t say 100% that these are the Cuckoo Stones and the burial mound of the slain giant I am fairly certain they are as there is nothing else around there that could be them. It will be interesting to see what someone else says.

I took a few photos and carried on my run up to Top Withens. At the house I stopped and turned round and was rewarded with the most delightful view of the valley below I had ever seen. The valley was covered in mist and the sun shone brightly above. It felt like a scene from a magical fairy story and I half expected to see some ghostly spirit on horseback come out of the mist towards me. Moments like this are special to me seeing nature at it’s very best and giving me a glimpse of the true beauty of nature.

I carried on up to the stones making a note of a couple of paths that I thought might lead to Withens Height the highest point around here and somewhere I haven’t been to. I ran up to the stones revelling in the early morning sun and the warm breeze on my skin.

I reached the stones and they were as enchanting as ever bathed in the early morning sunshine with everywhere below lying in mist. It reminded me of a scene from a fairytale and all it needed was some druids, wizards and witches and it would have been complete. The views were awe-inspiring today and made the early start worthwhile. I could have stayed there forever taking in the views of Pondon and Stanbury to my right, Boulsworth in front of me and Walshaw Dean to my left. I can’t remember seeing this area so beautiful and magnificent everything was perfect and I could feel the positivity and good feeling coming through the ground and the stones.  I did what I always do at the stones and after taking some more photos I carried on.

On the way back I took a path to my right just before you drop back down to Top Withens that looked like it might take me to Withens Height a place I have been wanting to visit for a long time. It was the first mistake of the day. All it does is loop round back to the trig point but at least I know now.

I carried on from the trig point back down to Top Withens and joined the Pennine Way over to Walshaw Dean Reservoirs. I kept looking to my right for a feint path that would take me up to Withens Height to my amazement I found one. I followed it and it went…nowhere. I ended up in the middle of the moor in amongst bogs and tall grass and had to get back to the Pennine Way the hard way as I had lost the path now.

Back on the path I had a choice to make. Do I turn back and go back to my car or do I carry on down to the reservoirs? Although I felt ok my legs were starting to ache and I should have taken notice of this and gone back to my car. Stupidly I didn’t. I decided to go to the reservoirs and go up and over the hill to Haworth Old Road. This would make the run around 11 miles and 1700ft of climbing. I ran down to the reservoirs and I could feel my legs stiffening up another warning sign I chose to ignore.

At the reservoirs for some reason I decided it would be a good idea to run down to Hardcastle Crags. I carried on the Pennine Way past the reservoirs realising that this was the route Claire runs when she goes to the stones and past the house in the dip at the bottom. This house would be perfect to live in as it is slap bang in the middle of Walshaw Dean and Top Withens, Hardcastle Crags, Blake Dean, Standing Stone Hill and Gorple and Widdop reservoirs. So many stunning and beautiful places around one house. I would never get bored living here.

I was now on the road at the top end of Hardcastle Crags and I noticed a trail going off to the right above Blake Dean. I haven’t explored this side of Blake Dean as I usually run on the other side so I decided to take it and see where it went. I ran on the ridge and got some gorgeous views of Blake Dean down below. It looked so different from this side. I carried on down the side of the dean until the path split into two one going up to the left the other down to the right. I decided to go down to the right which turned out to be another mistake.

I followed this path and it got more and more difficult as it comes and goes in places and is tough to negotiate in places. I was up and down, through water and mud, all over the place. It was impossible to run all I could do was walk. I had done around 9 miles by now and I saw the first people of the day coming the other way a father and daughter walking their dog. This surprised me as this is a path you really have to know about and I can’t imagine too many people going on it. We passed each other and carried on our journeys in separate directions.

I made it through the trail and back onto the main path where I could run again. My legs were aching now and I was starting to seize up but I ran as best as I could. I got to the bridge and took the climb back up to Walshaw the reverse of the Heptonstall fell race. It’s a steep but short climb and cuts out at least 2 miles if not more. I headed through the farm and onto the trail towards Lumb Waterfalls. I detoured up to Shackleton Knoll as I usually do now and headed back down the other side but I somehow lost the path even though I have been up and down here many times.

I got down to Sheep Shit House and headed back down the trail towards Crimsworth Dean Beck and Cross Ends Lane. I saw more people now, everyone had come out. One lass had flip flops on and I wondered if she knew how dangerous it was to wear just flip flops on this trial. I was struggling now, really struggling. I managed to run down the trail and then had my final big climb of the day back up and over to Penistone. I had my last block chew and water at the bottom of the climb and set off. I was red hot by now, the sun was high in the sky blazing down on me but I had no choice but to carry on.

I made steady progress up the climb and got to the top feeling ok a warm breeze helped me. I then tried to run down the other side and I couldn’t. my legs had, had enough and they were refusing to work anymore. It’s a rocky trail back down to Leeshaw Reservoir and I have run down it before but today I wasn’t up to it mentally or physically and I knew it. If I ran down and injured myself it could be hours before I got back to my car or got any help. I couldn’t take the risk as I could feel what energy I had draining away from me rapidly now. Thankfully I wasn’t thirsty although I knew I had to take some liquid on when I got back to the car.

This part of the run went from bad to worse as I could feel the effects of the heat on my exhausted body. My legs had gone and my hamstrings and glutes were screaming in pain at me. I tried to run when I got off the descent but it was too much for my legs and I had to walk. And then the headaches started. I could feel myself going dizzy and lightheaded and I knew this was the sun. I had a peaked cap on so this reduced the effect of the sun and it could have been much, much worse but I was suffering now from running too far in the heat.

I had one last small climb to do again one I’ve run in the past but there was no chance of that today. I could feel the sun burning through my skin now making every step more painful and draining than the last. At the top there is a stile which I somehow managed to get over and then a short trail which is runnable but not today. I had nothing left, nothing at all by now. Thankfully Penistone was just over the road from the bottom of this trail and my car was there with lots of fluid in it.

Back at the car I sat down on a bench and drank 2lts of fluid. I was totally gone now and I didn’t feel safe to drive home straight away. It was a good 15 minutes before I felt ready to drive home. I always have some wine gums in the car and they helped get my energy levels back up so that I felt capable of driving home.

On the way home I popped into the farm shop for a watermelon. It was all I could think of as I drove back. Claire sent me a message asking if I was ok. I messaged her back assuming she had seen my Strava and she said I was crazy running in this heat which I was. It was only when I got home that I saw that I had sent Claire a message when I was drunk and everything started to make sense. I got home and started on the watermelon and my body started to feel normal again. My legs were killing me. I was getting cramps in both legs and it was a struggle to get out of the car without pulling something. I could feel every muscle and tendon ready to snap in half if I wasn’t careful.

Today has so far been a day of life lessons. Don’t push myself too hard and go too far in everything I do. Have a plan and stick to it. Be aware of my limits and listen to my body. Don’t say anything when you’re drunk. Sending drunken messages to people you care about is not a good idea. Gin and me don’t mix. Alcohol and me have always been uneasy bedfellows and it has caused me many problems in many ways. In other words stop pushing myself and others too far and stop being a prick. Have fun and enjoy life without moronic behaviour that causes myself and others problems. And I was miles away from Withens Height. A day of mistakes in running and life.

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