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Bronte Way Fell Race 2017

October 30, 2017

Burnley, Nelson and Colne. These are towns that get a bad press on the East Lancs boundary. They’re large towns that grew out of the weaving industry and are forever associated with Blake’s ‘dark, satanic mills’. They are places chosen for the cool, damp atmosphere that gives the cloth a tighter, sturdier strength. So, a painful birth for these towns and their fortunes have ebbed and flowed ever since. Ghandi’s boycott of cotton imports gradually closed all the mills and brick by numbered brick they were dismantled and erected somewhere in India.

But there are remnants, and here at Wycoller is one such; it’s a picturesque village down in a vale that also has historical associations with the Bronte sisters who lived 8.05 miles away in Haworth. I know this distance for sure because this is a point-to-point race devised by the devious RO; and, guess what: I had no idea that it was. Fortunately the very amenable Paul Walsh is here with his bro and says he’ll run me back without a flicker; top man, Paul. Saved me an 8-mile yomp back.

And back to that devious RO – a certain Mr Brett Weedon. When he isn’t strumming his guitar and gigging with Clapton and McCartney, he’s usually to be found organising a fell race somewhere on the Yorkshire borders. In terms of influence on this sport, his contribution is immense; and it’s carried out with such great humility and humour; normally out of the back of his camper van. I think I’ve said all this before – but it’s worth repeating. He also put together, runs and Moderates the Fellrunner website, so he’s intelligent as well. Is there no end to his talents and goodness – because it’s all done gratis.

A staggering 284 register for this low key race and its put back half an hour due to the crush.

It’s another bright autumnal day, a day for singlets, albeit it’s chilly down here in Wycoller; it’ll warm up as we climb out of it though. Carlos and Tom S are here too so I’ll have to be on my game with these two about. I’m intrigued by the route as I envision the very diminutive, yet hugely important, Bronte sisters taking a walk out along these paths; that’s 16 miles in those long, ground dragging dresses; sheesh! And as I splatter and splash my way along my respect for their hardiness in pursuit of a simple leisure increases all the while.

There is a lot of queuing on this route as stiles and kissing gates occur frequently and the high numbers give little overtaking opportunities for long stretches. One runner makes to avoid the queue by climbing a dry stone wall; boy do I give him a mouthful, surprising myself with my anger and invective; he does as he is bidden though, fair dues.

Yep, and here’s Carlos just in front of me, he breathes like this is hard work and that he is overstretching himself but that’s just him; he’ll finish a ways in front of me for his revenge of last week. Tom also overtakes me early doors and we yoyo one another right up to the end. While following his lead a whole bunch of us go off course and a barbed wire fence blocks our path. Well Tom just leaps it side-saddle, easy as you like; I do it all the time chasing sheep round the farm, he says. Me, and the rest of us, have to pull up and clumsily negotiate the obstacle. A barb goes deep into my hand and all the while Tom gallivants away into the distance. It’s a route for a fast runner for sure, not really my forte, but I do catch Tom back up after a couple of miles and pass him. In my mind’s eye the finish is in the car park above Haworth so I give it some welly – only to find that it isn’t. Drat! Down to the bottom and up the famed cobbles of the high street. But I’m goosed and six runners pass me, including Tom. He’s a good runner but obviously switches off if there’s no one to target. And there, half way up, amid the shoppers and the tourists and just outside a pub, is the finish. Don’t you just hate that, I have to harden up, I was the stooge for them all.

But that aside, we’re all given a chit for a beer, a pint of TT’s Landlord no less, and they’ve laid on leek and potato soup and a roll. How good is that.

Holmesy’s in the pub and I ask him how he got on; second, he says, neck and neck up the cobbles. That man is a v50 and that is remarkable.

While Paul W drives me back to Wycoller he tells me of his accident and illness 18 months ago. He got hit by a car on his bicycle, went over the handlebars and damaged two discs in his back. While recovering he contracted sepsis and it was touch and go as to his survival. Well he did, thank god, or I’d have had to walk back. But he also beats his rival Breezey who’s had too much of it his own way lately. They’re both rivals in the v70 class; jolly good show Paul.

Results: Bronte Way Fell Race 2017

Peeps, I’ll be out of action now for a few months, a wee operation beckons I’m afraid, but it would be great to read other contributions to the blog. I sometimes feel like I’m ploughing a lonely furrow here. Get running, get going, get up to some shenanigans and then get scripting – please.

 

P.S. Carlos has expressed an interest in accompanying us on any recce’s in the Lakes, Leigh, so could you include him in any of your expeditions. They’ve been few and far between this year but maybe we’ll get back in the swing of it next.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Helena Smith permalink
    November 1, 2017 10:16 pm

    Interesting reading about the Bronte sisters and the routes they travelled. I visited the Bronte museum this year and was particularly interested in the shoes they wore. Firstly they were tiny and when walking on the moors they wore wooden overshoes which were little more than a platform to lift them slightly higher than the surrounding mud! I can’t visualise walking those hills in anything less than high tec footwear! They were stout hearted women.
    Great write up Declan, I often look on the Bowland page to see what you’re all up to, always very entertaining, reading. Thanks, from a Bowland stalker!
    Helena Smith, (Tom’s wife, Joe’s mum)
    Glad to see you on the scoresheet now too!

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