7:54pm. Drinking shandy and getting an early night paid off today. I was up around 5:30am, had breakfast, dressed and ready to by 6:50am. It was a pleasant and relaxing drive over on a crisp summers day, blue sky and sun shining, perfect for a day out over the moors.
I arrived at Claire’s in plenty of time, the roads being traffic free at this time in the morning allowing for a relaxing drive over. Claire invited me in and I was amazed by her house. A big open plan room with a high ceiling and beautiful views over the Calder Valley. The room made me feel free, so much space for my mind to wander, I felt this was a room where I could get creative and see where my mind went, a limitless imagination.
Claire gave me the painting she had promised me, one of Alcomden Stones and not just any view but one of our favourites, the big stone standing high above the others and looking out over Ponden and Stanbury. I recognised it immediately and felt humbled that Claire thought enough of me to let me have this painting as she knows how special the stones and this view in particular are to me.
Ready to go, we both seemed to be taking most of the contents of our houses with us, we set off over to Haworth. The drive over afforded us the opportunity to have a chat, something we haven’t really had a chance to do. Email and messaging are one thing but in person you get so much more from a conversation with someone, their mood, their delivery, body language and so much more add to the conversation and you know when someone is joking, sad, thoughtful, without having to ask a million questions, second guess how the other person is reacting and wonder if you are saying the right thing. It was nice to be able to chat about allsorts even when I had to have my first wee stop of the day, pulling into a layby and Claire guessing what I was doing.
At Haworth we got our running gear on and set off both of us opting to just wear a top as we knew it would get warm and too many layers would have us sweating. And we both wanted to catch the last of this years rays to top up our tans. The worse thing about this race and we both agreed on it is the start. Up, up and up, it seems to never stop. We walked most of it me conscious of the fact that we are doing a Hebden 22 recce on the Friday and I know how tough it will be having done this route several times. Efficiency and conservation of energy was the name of the game today.
We made it to the top of the first hill despite Claire taking a slightly wrong route and me trusting her sense of direction. I’m as bad as I would prove later on. Over the road, past the farmhouse, over the stile and down the field to Lee Lane and past Leeshaw reservoir. We passed three lasses also doing a recce we had seen early on at the car. We said ‘hi’ well Claire did, and left them to their run. We ran past Leeshaw and then walked up Bodkin Lane and Stairs Lane. This bit is steep and energy sapping so I always find it sensible to walk this bit and save my energy for later in the race. At the conduit on Stairs Lane we turned left and ran beside it. This part is slightly uphill but offers a chance to get your breath back and see what pace you have. The views here are spectacular on a day like today. taking in the three peaks as well as the moors. We carried on the conduit and Claire was quiet at this point which worried me a little bit. Because I don’t pick up on body language and facial expressions very well I don’t always know if people are quiet because they’re happy or because of me so I always assume it’s me. I asked Claire and she said she was in a meditative state which put me at ease and we carried on our way.
We over Oxenhope moor and rejoined the Calder Aire Link this bit being particularly difficult as it is wet rock and bog and we both struggled on here. Living close to here I have had some good runs on this bit but only when it’s been dry in summer. We got to the end and ran up Hambleton Lane. I pointed our Thornton Moor reservoir and Claire asked where Queensbury was and I pointed at a random hill and said there. I think it was the right one! Up the lane we started to run again and I took a trail off the main one because I find it more runnable and less of jumping from rock to rock.
We made it down to Weirs and the Steps on Fire. This is a favourite section of mine because it is tough! It’s only a short climb but it takes it out of you. I found the best line for the first time ever and had a good run up avoiding the steps all the way. At the top I said to Claire that I knew the best line over the moor but I was disappointed with my choice of route as I was jumping from path to path too much because of the puddles of water so it wasn’t a very good run over this part.
We got to the Withens and stopped for something to eat and drink, me pointing out yet more local landmarks to Claire. I have to share my knowledge with someone! And then we were on the road, 1 ½ miles of tarmac hell, I probably hate this section more than any other. I slowed on here as usual and Claire had a good, solid run, disappearing into the distance. At the gate to the moor Claire was waiting for me, putting here waterproof on as the wind was picking up and it was colder.
We ran up Nab Rough and I showed Claire the Stanza Stone at one of the four best views in the whole of Yorkshire as decided by the Dalesman. Except I didn’t. I ran up and went to the wrong cairn and got confused and disorientated which worried me and made me glad I was up here with Claire. Claire found it and I was back on the route. Here we stopped and looked at the stone me noticing for the first time the initials of Simon Armitage in the corner and taking a photo of Claire sitting above it.
We carried on this trail another of my favourites because it is muddy, rocky and technical but I find it fun. This trail leads you back to Hambleton Lane and the descent down the Bronte Way to Leeming reservoir. This is another section I feel I struggle on but today I was going well enjoying it until Claire shouted and I stopped only to find she wanted another wee! I ran on leaving Claire to it and felt I was doing good until I got to the bottom of the hill and turned round to see Claire there behind me! So much for me thinking I’d get a rest. No chance!
On through Back Leeming and onto Oxenhope the pair of us chatting away about all sorts. Down to Oxenhope train station and then the run alongside the stream back to Haworth. This is another energy sapping stretch especially as it comes at the end and your legs are tiring but you’re giving it all you have to get a good finish. We chatted on here for a bit and then Claire went for it and it was all I could do to keep her in sight.
At the end I was happy. I had, had a good morning out over the moors with Claire and a good run. Claire had made me work harder than I would have done if I’d been on my own and I was glad of that. Claire was happy with her run too and we had a good laugh on the way home me telling Claire about the umpteen times I have cheated death in one way or another. At one point I did start driving a bit too fast and I sensed it scared Claire a bit so I asked her and apologised and slowed down.
I dropped Claire off, I hate goodbyes, I never know what to do or say, had a bit of parking fun with one of Claire’s neighbours who wanted to park where I was coming out of and drove home cheerful and contented with the day.
I went to the cemetery when I got home and read some more of my book before going to the park and sitting in the sun enjoying the last rays of summer. The four walls of home felt more like a prison and I had to escape them. I looked at the painting of the stones Claire had given me and this brought me some comfort, the stones always do and this helped to clear my muddled head a bit. All in all it’s been a good day. I’ve had a good run over the moors and a nice chat with Claire.