July 6th, A tough but very satisfying run

8:52pm. Well it’s been quite a day. Despite my best efforts to get drunk and have a hangover this morning so I couldn’t run I didn’t have a hangover and I had no excuse not to run. I got up around 5am and was at Penistone Country Park around 8am ready for a run to Crow Hill or least if not Boulsworth Hill. I chose to go up the Withens Skyline route onto Haworth Moor and then follow the path to the Pennine Way, down to Top Withens and on to Alcomden Stones and decide what to do from there.

The going was tough, mud and water everywhere made it hard work and virtually impossible to run. I kept going and soon I was climbing up from Top Withens to the path that takes you to Alcomden Stones. I managed to break into a run here and got to the stones in good time. I approached the alter stone and as I did I felt a presence behind me, the feeling was incredibly strong and intense as if someone was stood behind me, watching me. I turned round and thought I saw a shadowy figure disappear but it could have been my mind playing tricks on me. Nobody was there, it rare to see anyone at the stones so to have someone follow me up and stand behind me would be pretty much impossible. After I turned back to the alter I still felt someone was there watching me but the feeling wasn’t as strong now or as intense.

I had something to eat and got my phone out to scan the horizon for Crow Hill. OS maps has a VR feature where you can put your phone up to the horizon and it tells you where places are and how far they are away. Crow Hill was not where I expected it to be, it was slightly to the left not straight in front. I now had a choice to make. Do I set out over the moors into the unknown or do I turn back and play it safe? I’ll admit I was scared. I didn’t know the route or what I was getting myself into. There was a very real danger out there, I would be alone in the middle of the moors and if anything happened my chances of rescue where slim. The only way I could be rescued would be by helicopter. This was it. If I set off there was no going back, you can’t just turn round and change your mind. I set off on the path away from the stones knowing that soon it would disappear and I would be on my own in the middle of one of the bleakest and most desolate moors around.

The path did disappear but then to my surprise it reappeared and then there were the boundary markers to follow too. I kept Crow Hill on my right shoulder and went left as I approached it, not climbing it today. There is a path from here down to Ponden Kirk that may be an easier path but it goes over Stanbury Bogs and I didn’t want to be wading through mile after mile of bog today. My aim was Boulsworth Hill. I kept looking back at the stones and imagined how they must have looked to people thousands of years ago coming over these moors and seeing them for the first time.

This part of the run was tough, really tough. Every now and again a path appeared and then disappeared. I’m sure there’s a far better path than I took and at times I seemed to be well off course which didn’t help. It was up and down wading through mud and water, at one point my left leg went down into some mud and my right leg was supporting me. I felt my knee twinge and hoped it wouldn’t tear as my right knee is my weak one. Thankfully the ache soon went as I carried on towards Boulsworth Hill which was now getting within touching distance and looming on the horizon. From this side it doesn’t look high as you are high up already. From the other side it is massive and you really appreciate how big it is.

After a couple of hours walking over some of the toughest terrain I have ever gone over I finally arrived at Boulsworth Hill, found a stile and made it to the trig point. I had finally done one of my running bucket list items although I probably took the hardest route. I’ll look for another route another day.

It was amazing being on top of Boulsworth. I could see for miles around me. The Lakes on one side, Pendle on the other, Trawden below in the valley. The views are truly stunning and well worth the effort of getting to the top.

It was windy and cold on the tops. You are 518m up and exposed to the elements from all directions so after having something to eat I started my journey back. I had a choice, go down towards Wycoller and pick up the path to Watersheddings Reservoir and the Bronte Way route or go back the way I had come and take a path I had seen to the Dove Stones and over to Walshaw Dean Reservoirs. I decided to take the Dove Stones route as this seemed to be the most direct although my VR seemed to be playing tricks on me as Walshaw Dean was too far over to my left. I set off on the path to Dove Stones feeling confident and even running for once!

This route choice turned out to be a bad one. To my horror the path didn’t take me straight over the moor and down to Walshaw Dean but across and away from where I wanted to be. Do I turn back or carry on? On reflection I should have turned back and gone to Watersheddings but being me I carried on and eventually made it to the edge of the moor to be greeted by the sight of Widdop Reservoir below me. I knew where I was but I was further out from my original route than I wanted to be. It was my own fault and no-one elses. The views from the edge were spectacular but hard going so getting down off the moor took a lot longer than I anticipated.

Once I reached the road I knew where I was and how to get beck to Penistone. Through Walshaw Dean estate and up and over the Pennine Way to Top Withens. This was really hard work as my legs had gone a long time ago although to my surprise I was only a minute off my best time over to Top Withens although I also suspect there are two segments for the same route there as I’ve been over it more than twice.

Whatever I finally made it back to my car and I drove home relived that I had made it after 17+ really tough miles. I got home, showered, had something to eat and went to bed. I was beyond shattered. Some poor route choices made today even harder than it was going to be but lessons have been learnt and I had discovered some great new routes that will be better done on a shorter run and seen some more truly astounding, breath taking views that make you glad to be alive. My Mudclaw 300s are destroyed because I either under or over pronate and they are leaning inwards at around 45 degrees which made running hard work as my ankles were at a weird angle which put them under unnecessary stress. Still a good day though and now for some much needed rest now my stupid autistic brain has been satisfied in need to do things.

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