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Bleasdale Circle Fell Race Report 2020

February 18, 2020

by Dave Littler

It was a close-run thing and the approaching Storm Dennis certainly landed some early hefty blows that forced the Bowlander’s hand. But after a flurry of emails, a great deal of sound advice and a sleepless night (did you know that weather sites don’t update every 30 seconds?) – Bowland just came out on top with a points victory. The race was on, albeit in a shortened form.

It was decided to run the race along the normal route up Fairsnape Fell to Paddy’s Pole and back the same way. The run along the ridge to Parlick was abandoned as it was considered too hazardous for the runners and the marshals stationed on Parlick. This gave a course of almost 4 miles and 1200 feet of climbing in old money – throw in the odd gale force gust along with a few damp fields and there was enough to challenge anyone.

In the sideshow that was the race, a reduced field of 59 set-off from the village hall just as the wind started to pick up and the rain came down horizontally. Luckily for the runners, the wind helped carry them up to the summit. Not that we could see from race HQ as anything above 200m was lost to cloud. Apparently, Sam Harrison (Bowland FR) was first to Paddy’s Pole closely followed by Danny Hope (Horwich RMI Harriers). The race back home was won by Sam who had 15 seconds over Danny at the finish. Next home was a quartet of Bowland runners led by Oli Heaton and Sandy Lockett meaning that the Men’s team prize was staying close to home in Bowland.

The women’s race was won by Finty Royle (Chorley A&TC) who had almost three minutes on her closest challenger Debbie Gowans (Accrington RR). Finty was also the winner in the U23 category – another strong performance by the England Mountain Runner who finished 16th in race overall. Bowland ladies carried off the team prize – ably represented by Rowena Browne, Sophie Fosker and Mary Ockenden.

It was quite a challenge for my first year as race organiser. But the smiles and feelings of the runners at beating the course and the weather more than made up for the anxiety on Friday night. Of course, the race would not have been possible without an army of helpers and marshals – there are too many to list here but you all helped get the race on. A special thanks to Leigh Warburton who has organised the race for the past few years who kept me on track and gave me the belief to get the race organised.

Thanks also to Wynn, Pauline and Rosie who warmed-up the runners, helpers and marshals after the race with some great food. A cake sale by Rosie raised £62 which will be donated at Wynn’s request to the Andrew Farmer Melanoma Research Fund.

Roll on 2021



Clough Head Fell Race January 11 2020

January 16, 2020
by Rowena Browne
Matt and Co were not the only Bowlanders out racing last Saturday and where we were, the promised gales most certainly did not wait for us to finish racing.
Indeed there were 5 Bowlanders out, 3 of whom came back with prizes. Also of note there were more Bowland ladies racing than men. Is that a record?
The forecast was such that the organisers made a wise decision to shorten the course and avoid the summit of Clough head itself. The route was flagged and used dibbers that were SIAC enabled. This meant that when you got to the control you did not have to physically put the dibber in the slot but just wave it somewhere nearby and it registered your presence.
On turning at the first checkpoint, I was nearly bowled over by the wind. My legs would not move fast enough as the gales tried hard to push me too fast. Similar winds on the summit of Clough Head would have been dangerous as we would have been blown towards the edge and potentially off it.
Still we all survived and enjoyed a great little race.
Prizes for Helen Ockenden 3rd LU23, Mary Ockenden 2nd LV60 (although looking at the results again today she is down as 1st LV60 as the previous first LV60 is down as missing a control) and John Taylor 3rd MV70
Well done all


January 16, 2020

by the McBourne

I like Ashurst Beacon. When on Christmas Day you’re sat polishing off a slab of Stilton the size of a breeze block and knocking back the Port like it was Um Bongo, you say to yourself “ah, don’t worry, I’ll be back again racing soon”. Well, Ashurst is the “back again racing” bit.
It’s not a massively challenging fell race but it’s a good loosener into the New Year. As my good friend Bill Beckett of Chorley pointed out; the last climb up to the Beacon can feel like a wall after you’ve traipsed five miles over the claggy West Lancashire countryside.
And being near to Cheshire, I Googled famous Cheshire residents and was met with the flowing locks of Harry Styles. Come on Google, don’t you know that Noddy Holder now lives in Cheshire? And we’ve just been singing his most famous song for the past month!
The race itself is a circular six miler with just under 1,000 feet of climb taking in farm tracks, muddy fields, woods and quite a bit of tarmac. You even get a bit of canal tow path chucked in. It’s certainly runnable all the way round, although my Bowland colleague John said that he walked a lot of the up’s before admitting later “I need to get fitter!” As The Carpenters so eloquently put it John, “We’ve only just begun”. Ages to get match fit for 2020.
Not so James Simon who storms his way to a very credible fourth spot overall. I mentioned to John on the way down that we live in crazy weather times; first race in January ran only in a vest. Last race run in November; ran only in a vest! Although the aforementioned James did seem to be having a wardrobe dilemma pre-race. I think I saw him in vest, long sleeve and waterproof. More changes than your average Strictly finalist.
The promised gales held off until after the end of the race, which is a bonus because the view from the Beacon across the Liverpool skyline to North Wales is impressive to say the least. So thoughts now turn to the next race, our own beloved Bleasdale in February. Although I may hold off on the pre-race Gorgonzola from now on in.

Tour of Pendle 2019

November 17, 2019

There it goes again. And I nearly fall flat on my face for no apparent reason. If anyone knows how to remedy what seems to be a trapped nerve atop the foot caused by the lacing on my shoe, your advice will be much appreciated. I’ve had it for years now and can’t seem to find a solution. Different lacing methods haven’t worked, nor has the Salomon lacing system. Elastic laces as Nick H suggests maybe? Anyway, let me know. 

Btw, don’t try and leave comments on here because you can’t; not till I work out how to switch the moderator status over to myself. And that’s easier said than done.

On Thursday evening a bunch of us, organised by Sam, head up to the Kendal Mountain Festival in the middle of Kendal. It’s a sell out and not much meat on the bones of those attending. We are treated to films and live interviews of mountain runners doing great things and star billing is given to our own, because you are Dazbo – kind of, Darren Fishwick. Anyway, he owns the stage and the audience with his performance but he would have done even if he just stood there and ate a sandwich. He’s just one of us foot soldiers with a quirky sense of humour and a dab hand at Northern prose; top job Darren. Sandie wins the £100 raffle, lucky chap.

But the funniest moment was yours truly at the bar trying to order a cup of KMF Rusable for £1. ‘A cup of your finest KMF for one pound’ says I. ‘Wot’? says the comely barmaid. ‘Your finest KMF’ I repeat and point to the sign below the beer taps. The chap beside me sniggers and I turn to see him and the comely barmaid exchange glances. ‘That’s a Kendal Mountain Festival Reuseable Cup for one pound’, she says. Honestly, my eyesight nowadays. I settle for a pint of Guinness.

Race day itself does not start auspiciously. The McBourne bows out with trochanteric bursitis, don’t ask me, but it’s serious if Matt has to miss his favourite end to the season. And then Rowena sends an SOS as she’s run into some debris on the motorway and its slashed one of her tyres – that’s her and Sophie F not going to make it either. 

The day is grey and mizzly but no wind and then the mizzle lifts. For doing this 17 miler the conditions are perfect and there are still a goodly amount of GandOs on the start line. Even though the temperature doesn’t get into double figures I regret not starting in a singlet only. The secret, as anyone who’s familiar with this course will tell you, is to get to Geronimo like you’ve done nothing; for this race does not start till the ascent out of Ashendean. If you’ve over-egged it before this point then you are going to suffer, end of. A case in point is going up the Big End where I encounter a young lad literally staggering backwards – bonked good and proper. Eyes glazed over he is in a world of pain. I give him a Jaffa cake and tell him to keep working through it. The Jaffa cake is provided by Dave ‘the legend’ Tait who’s marshalling the checkpoint at the bottom – he’s set out three plates on a blanket all with various goodies on them; champion Dave.

Yes, the course is a bit soft, actually knee deep in mud in places and a large stone loosed by the runner in front tumbles down onto my shin as we come out of Mearley Clough. As it continues down I holler ‘rolling stone’ which prompts a refrain of ’Satisfaction’ from the runner behind. Humour at that point of proceedings is laudable.

As usual, the Race Organiser, Kieran Carr, and all the CLeM assistants and marshals do a superb job especially with the added difficulty of restricted parking at Barley. It all goes ticketyboo and I know he’ll have fretted himself no end to make it happen so. We love you loads Kieran. I think I also spot the FRA Chairman there. Has anyone noticed that her name, Charmian, is an anagram of her position? A fine example of Nominative Determinism. I, myself, am waiting to turn into a Candle.

I spoke to Charmian at the KMF and what a good egg she is; we’re very lucky to have her.

So for all of our ten quid we get free attendant parking, a t-shirt, a bottle of beer and a run round one of the great landmarks in the north. And if you’re Leigh Warby you also get a winner’s extra swag to walk away with albeit he is run close by the next v60; only four seconds in it. A head to head like that after three hours of racing must have hurt, I bet. Well done everyone.

Some more notable points about this race; John G forgot to bring his usual pork pie mid-race nutrition and is slightly mithered by it.

Dom H is pale and nauseous and eventually sick at the finish and blames the gel he downs on the road run-in. Nothing at all to do with the scrambled eggs and bacon and avocado you had for breakfast then Dom?

Arnside race today for some of the club, good luck to you all.

Also, great result for Sam H at the Kendal Trail race on Friday. This boy is smokin’ right now.

If you are worried for the bonking youth staggering up the Big End, he managed to hold it together and get to the finish eventually. I saw him in the village hall and he seemed okay.

Dom, seated, and long distance Bowland stalwart Martin Hurst all the way from Shropshire


Myself, washing off muck in the cold stream at Barley



Rowena’s SOS



John ‘where’s my pie’ Graham in village hall after the race


John’s forgotten mid-race pick me up

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Dunnerdale Fell Race 2019

November 3, 2019

A huge contingent of GandOs take the field at Dunnerdale. And the lure of free beer means that every care is taken to fill the cars to quota. The answer to global warming is thus revealed – free beer will take 75% of cars off the road. Why has it taken so long to come up with the obvious?

But, disaster, the post race pies haven’t arrived. They’ve been ‘pie-jacked’ says Sean B. Free beer will not compensate a pie-jack.The gaunt faces seem gaunter and anxious eyes scan the horizon. They try to raise a ‘chopper but no pie-lots are available to fly it. Minutes pass and a cheer goes up, distant at first but steadily louder. Hoorah, it’s the pie van and a Praetorian Guard of fell runners escort it to the village hall. The pies are distributed in an orderly and solemn silence; the needy, the old and the very young first. But all will be fed.

Enough. The race…kind of.

It’s been said before and I’ll say it again; there are beautiful fell races and then there is Dunnerdale. Only the uncouth and the contrarian would say otherwise. The whole beauty of the Lake District encapsulated in one five mile race.

Of course, if, like me, you take a few seconds to muse and admire the surroundings, the majesty hereabouts is revealed. Unlike Nick H, who’s suffering under raised lactic stress allows no room for such weakness. Nick has a scintillating run that surprises himself mostly. And Crispin, who is himself in great form. A very good scalp to take.

There is also a very healthy changing of the guard at the sharp end of the club’s front runners. By Richard’s own admission ‘about time too’. Sam H leads the GandOs home just pipping Oliver H, then Rich followed by James G. Long may the contest continue. Several new faces at the club were present – a very warm welcome to you all and great to see the charming Simon Bennett running, all the way from Pontefract. I had the privilege of supporting him on his successful BG earlier in the year.

Prizes went to Nick H for v60 and John T for v70.

Thank you ROs and marshals for a great day out and in particular to Anna Lupton who carried out the principal role with great panache and humour – you were a credit.


Anxious faces scanning horizon for missing pie van

results to follow.

Bowland Ride the lights – Blackpool  29th October 2019

October 22, 2019
From Ruth Turner and Ian Roberts
Our annual “Ride the Lights” event is scheduled for Tuesday 29th October.  All welcome just come prepared – it can be quite balmy or damn “brass monkey” 🙂
We meet at Sainsbury’s Superstore, 80 Red Bank Road, Bispham, Blackpool. FY2 9HH – 6.30 pm set off.  Don’t forget your lights – see and be seen!!!  Post ride we adjourn to the Bispham Kitchen, 14 -22 Red Bank Road, Bispham, Blackpool, FY2 9HR.  

Langdale Horseshoe Fell Race 2019 by The McBourne

October 18, 2019

“Hands, touching hands
Reaching out, touching me, touching you”

Not that Neil Diamond is particularly my bag but I couldn’t get Sweet Caroline out of my mind as I scrambled up Stickle Ghyll. There was a lot of incidental touching of hands, not in the heavy petting type of way but due to the sheer volume of runners squeezing their way to Pavey Ark. You couldn’t avoid the odd friendly nudge here and there.

The Langdale Horseshoe is a chunky monkey of a fell race. Last year the weather was atrocious.  I didn’t do it but was on my annual Jolly Boys trip (see previous Screes Fell Race debacle report) and managed to walk from Wasdale to Styhead Tarn and back, so anyone who managed to complete Langdale last year deserves a big doff of the cap. Usually the form for Lakes races is the weather is great all week then terrible on race day. But following substantial rain during the week, we were promised ‘sunny intervals’ for the race; the one good day of the week.

A light shower greeted the start of the race but that was it really. Following those first climbs up and past checkpoint one Thunacar Knott, it was good running all the way. Despite Martcrag Moor being very boggy terrain, the views of Pike of Stickle and the upcoming race ridge from Bowfell to the Crinkles make it a somewhat enjoyable experience. I think I counted just one solitary case of AOT.

Tantalisingly scooting past an untouched Wainwright (Rossett Pike), the terra becomes more firma and gives you a good chance to increase that Jelly Baby intake towards Angle Tarn and the turn for home. I say ‘home’ but you still have the little matter of the clag and the “dreadful but right” runners trod under Esk Pike. Two choices; take your chances scuttling across slippy moss covered rock, or go calf deep (again) in sticky Lakeland mud, all nicely stodged up further by the couple of hundred runners already through. Or you could potter over the top but I didn’t see any takers this year.

I have fond memories of the route from Bowfell to Pike of Blisco from my Cumbrian Traverse in June. Good clambering to Bowfell summit, map out to take a bearing at Three Tarns before a tough grassy climb to Long Top. It’s a shame you miss out the other Crinkles although in severe weather I imagine it’s a very good option to follow the tourist path.

If I’ve learnt one important thing from running with Bowlanders it’s always listen to Leigh Warby’s route choice tips pre-race. Agreed Warby, there is no point in queuing for the Bad Step when you can shimmy down the ledge on the left. Granted my shimmying would probably plop me straight in the Strictly dance off, but it paid off as I landed in front of two runners I was previously behind.

It’s a welcome relief to finally be able to run full pelt between Great Knott and Cold Pike to the bottom of Pike of Blisco. Since Martcrag Moor there seemed to be a lot of time spent concentrating on mossy boulders. According to the race map, the descent off Blisco is the one place to recce beforehand; notorious for runners going AWOL to Wrynose. I hadn’t recced but was confident in my one mile at ninety degrees then sharp left ten degrees calculation. Bob on. All that was left was the gallop back into Langdale.

Back at the pub there was strong gaggle of Bowlanders. Nothing sums up fellrunning more than the sight of Paul Tierney dishing out the pies at the Old Dungeon Ghyll at the end of the race. Here’s a man who the term ‘legend’ doesn’t quite seem good enough. In fact I don’t think they’ve invented a word to describe Paul Tierney yet. Like many of you I had a tear in my eye watching him complete his complete Wainwright round in a little over six days earlier this year. Funnily enough John Graham also had a tear in his eye when he discovered that there was only cheese pies left by the time he came in at the end of the race. Let’s just say John had checkpoint issues. And I hate to tell you John but (adopts Gregg Wallace from Masterchef demeanour) “pies don’t get any better than this!!!”

Whilst stood in the car park field waiting to leave. I noticed that David Wilson was doing the exactly same thing as me. We were both stood silently looking at the Langdale fells in all their autumnal glory. “It’s a lovely valley” said David. I couldn’t agree more.

All together now; “Bap, bap, baaaaaaa, good times never seemed so good…..”