July 2nd, a good day discovering new places

7:46pm. It’s been a good day. Very tiring and at times a bit of worrying but still good. I woke around 4am and got up at 5am ready for a run round Gorple nd Widdop reservoirs. I had wanted to run round these for a while as they appear to the sort of hills I would like. The heavy rain didn’t deter me as I don’t mind running in rain. I find it therapeutic and more rain means less people.

I set off over to the Pack horse Inn at Widdop around 7am and had a pleasant but uneventful drive over. I parked in a layby just past the inn right next to a stile that led me onto the trial for Lower Gorple Reservoir. I checked my kit and discovered I’d forgotten my hat! I wear one now whatever the weather but had to run without one today. So I set off for Gorple Cottages and Lower Gorple Reservoir hatless. The run down to the beck was tricky as the stones were wet and slippy and at one point I went over on my ankle but luckily it wasn’t bad and I was able to carry on.

I ran round the reservoir and found the path to take me over to Widdop reservoir. This path was tricky as it was narrow and deep in water. Already I was wondering if I had worn the wrong shoes as I felt I was struggling in all sorts of way in my Mizuno’s and I was thinking should I have worn my Inov8’s instead? It was too late to turn back now so I had to carry on regardless. I walked the path until I was greeted with the sight of Widdop reservoir and a large outcrop of rocks overlooking it. These rocks are known as Cludders Slack: http://www.watershedlandscape.co.uk/resources/geology-and-archaeology-resources/geology-resources/ and are an impressive outcrop of rocks.

I carried on the path down through the woods and onto the Pennine Bridleway turning right onto the Burnley Way heading towards Slack Road. I was already walking here and my legs didn’t feel like running today so I knew it was going to be a long day. I have OS Maps on my phone and today it proved its worth as I got it out for the first time to check I was going in the right direction. Soon I was heading down towards the beck that feeds the reservoir and back up the other side towards Slack Road.

I got to the road and began to left to my left for a path that would take me onto Black Hamledon my intended route. I could see what I assumed was Black Hameldon but couldn’t see a path so I carried on until I found a bridleway a short distance along. I turned left onto the bridleway but if I had gone right I was on the path for Boulsworth Hill another route I want to do one day. I carried on the bridleway turning left at the crossroads and heading back in the direction of Hurstwood Reservoir although I didn’t know it at the time! I carried on this path as it wound itself down into a valley and then back up the other side.

At the top of the climb I saw a young lass out walking her dog and asked her if she knew how to get to Black Hameldon. She didn’t but she knew how to get to Long Causeway the only problem is that there are any number of Long Causeways littered all over the moors as it is a very common name for any road that is long. I thanked her and ran off up a hill stopping at the top to take a photo.

Here I got OS Maps out again and discovered on was on the road to Wursthorne the opposite direction to where I wanted to go. I passed the young lass again hoping she didn’t think I was some sort of weirdo and checking where I was with her before heading down to the reservoir in search of a path that would take me over the hill and back to Widdop reservoir. It was only when I got home and checked my route that I discovered that if I had carried straight on the path instead of going down to the reservoir I would have ended up on the same path and saved myself a couple of miles.

I ran round the reservoir and turned left onto a trail that took me to another reservoir, Cant Clough.

I got my OS Maps out yet again and discovered I was going the wrong way and I needed to run round the reservoir and up and over the hill. This would take me onto Black Hameldon too and I would be able to see if there was a path on here up to Hoof Stones Height my intended destination. This path was tricky as it was muddy, wet and narrow and I wasn’t sure if I was going in the right direction but I had no choice but to follow it.

Eventually it led me back onto the bridleway and I turned right and headed off up a hill which turned out to be another Long Causeway. I reached the top of the climb and I could see Upper Gorple Reservoir at the other side and I knew if I went that way I would be out for another hour at the most and home soon having something to eat. I looked to my right and saw a feint path leading up a steep hill. This was the Black Hameldon path I had been looking for so I had a choice take the easy route and be home soon or take the route up a steep climb and be home a lot later.

Not being someone to take the easy route and seemingly enjoying making things as difficult as possible for myself I turned right and onto the feint path leading up the steep hill. As usual I kept losing the path and finding it again but at this point it wasn’t too bad and I made steady progress.

Then I got to the climb and my whole world changed. Gone was the views replaced by mist, mile after mile of mist. I was walking up towards Hoof Stones Height in ankle deep mud and water and it was hard work. I kept looking for a trig point but couldn’t see one. This was bleak, proper bleak. All around me was open moorland and mist, nothing else. It made for an eerie, ethereal experience and was what I had been wanting all day long. Here I was on my own I had to survive on my own or I would die. This is when you find out who you really are. I could feel my feet getting really cold and I knew this was the start of hypothermia and I had to keep moving or that might be it. There’s no-one else around and you’re not sure of where you are or how far you have to go. All you can do it carry on and hope you are going in the right direction and it will work out ok in the end.

And then there it was appearing out of the mist standing proud the trig point for Hoof Stones Height. I had made it.

I even took a rare selfie at the trig point. I hate taking selfies and always feel forced into it them but I was happy to take this one because of where I was the it was very atmospheric.

To my surprise I saw two hikers coming up from the other direction so I quickly got my pack on and set off back to my car before I had to speak to them. This descent down to Noah Dale is described by Chirs Goddard as one of the toughest moorland trails around and is not to be attempted when it has been raining because it is so wet.

So of course I did it after a couple of days rain and it was very wet and muddy and hard work. In places I could run, others I had to walk. My legs were screaming at me now and I wasn’t sure where I was, nothing around me looked familiar all fells and moors merging into one. At point my left leg went straight into a bog up to the top of my thigh. Now my left leg was covered in cold, wet, clammy, thick mud and I could feel it clamping round my leg like a pot on a broken leg.

I carried on heading down towards a farm running through freezing cold water. I got to the end of the trail and I surrounded by barded wire fencing. I was forced to retrace my steps and walk slowly past the cows that I thought were going to jump over the fence moments earlier to play with me. They were extremely excited and giddy but the last thing I wanted was to be trampled by four big playful cows!

I carried on the trail and got to a crossroads and there was a sign, Lower Gorple Res ¾ mile! It was just over the hill! I had a chat with two mountain bikers and went on my way. And the path led straight down to Gorple Cottages. I have been up this path a few times from the other side but never this side.

Soon I could see my car and I knew I was down. My legs had, had enough and I felt tired but good at what I had achieved today. 15+ miles over an unfamiliar area but a good route all the same and one I would do again with some slight modifications to the route. I discovered the route to Boulsworth Hill too and crossed over into the badlands of Lancashire.

At home I got all my gear together to go in the wash and I couldn’t find my chakra. I felt a bit down and assumed I had lost it on my run and my washing machine wouldn’t work. I checked my car and there it was on the back seat. I was so relieved. I came back in, tried my washing machine again and it worked.

All in all a good but tiring day. Discovered a beautiful new area to run round with new routes and some really bleak and stark landscapes especially in the mist. A long day but a good day.

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