Merry May

The Dorset 100. A Personal View by Gordon Stone.

 

I promised I would write an article to gather my thoughts on my first completion of an LDWA 100, this year’s Hundred down in deepest darkest Dorset.
 
I completed it but only just. 
 
Based on the recommendations on the organisers' website, I chose the noon start on Saturday : hindsight and had I sought advice from fellow East Lancs members would be that I should have gone for the 10am start with the majority (of the 491 starters, 57 started at noon and 27 at 2pm). Last year I retired at the 70 mile point but I had actually covered over 80 miles in 27 hours and wasted probably three hours on Pendle and and on leg 9, so it seemed logical to me to start at 12 noon. I may have also made the decision before deciding that I would walk the first “half” rather than run/jog/walk.
 
My plan was to mainly walk the first day (to breakfast CP at Beaminster) then run/jog where possible on the second half.
 
It soon became apparent that almost everyone on the noon start were running so that I could myself with a chap from London (but with still noticeable Glaswegian accent - Douglas Robinson) at the back. The first few checkpoints came and went then someone caught us up. He had started at 12.20 having taken 7 hours to drive from Worcester for his 10am start (we thought it was bad enough taking 7 hours from Horwich on Friday!). Despite being at the back of my start group, I was way ahead of my 3mph schedule. That was the good point. The bad point was that as early as 5 miles I could feel my right little toe rubbing and by CP2 (16.8 miles), I decided to change to my second pair of socks - I had a spare pair for the first half then two more pairs in my breakfast bag.
 
The fastest of the 2pm starters caught me up by CP2 at Brantspuddle  and then I started to catch the slower of the 10 am starters during the next leg to Dewlish CP3. By evening, my feet were really starting to suffer. I caught a group with a couple of East Lancs members, Helen and Hilary, and stayed with them to CP4 Ansty arriving about 20 minutes after darkness. This was a really busy CP and I was now amongst a good number of fellow walkers. Normally I would able to get a move on, probably walking with a suitable group but my blisters needed attending to. I also decided to wait for Helen who had reccied the next section. Probably 45 to 50 minutes spent at the CP and 11pm on leaving.
 
Despite the bit of knowledge we still managed to go slightly astray (possibly a route change after the recce) but continued through the night to the next CP5 at Buckland Newton (38.8 miles at 2.05am) and CP6 at Worden Hill (46.4 miles and now light at 5.40am).
 
As it was now light, I decided to have only a short break at the CP and then moved to quickly regain some lost time to arrive at Evershot CP7 at 7.11am. It was probably too short a break there then away heading to the Breakfast stop at Beaminster. A young lady walker from Leeds then caught me up. I didn't recall overtaking her because she had been having a nap at  Evershot. We walked together a bit but she moved ahead being suitably refreshed.
I passed a couple more, arriving at Beaminster about 3 hours later than I hoped to be greeted by Julie and the marvellous East Lancs Breakfast team with my feet in a very sorry state.
Whilst waiting for food I was also a bit faint.
 
Would I be able to continue? I wasn’t sure but didn’t want another DNF. I must have used almost the maximum of the two hours permissible then headed on me way for the second "half". Soon after leaving Beaminster there was an extremely steep hill - even with my love of ascending, I found it tough. After an hour, the ibuprofen etc began to kick in and I started to feel a little more positive. I even ran most of the final 1.7 miles (according to my garmin, 1.2 according to the route description!) to the next checkpoint at the most westernmost point, Blackwood. The bit was between my teeth so I start to move quite well gradually hauling in a few in front of me to CP10 (Netherbury, 71.9 miles).
 
Julie had managed to contact me and arranged to meet me en route and walk the last mile or two to the checkpoint, arriving at 6.05pm. I met her just after wading through a sort of ford with no alternative route, soaking my blistered feet. Maybe a slightly longer stop than planned and a change of socks then on my way, passing a few to get to CP11 at Powerstock (76.5 miles) just before dark at 8.52pm. Quickly away and up through Eggardon Hill, catching another walker as the descent started. Then a problem - the first time the route description caused me a problem and I could not determine the correct route, so I waited for the next group, and we managed to hit lucky and pick up the correct route. I decided to stay with them despite much of the remainder of the leg being on roads on which I could have easily gone with greater speed. We arrived at CP12, Loders at 0.39 am and realising that time was pressing and were only 20 minutes inside the cutoff, three of decided to push on at a faster pace as the next cutoff was 4.40am at CP13, Long Bredy (90.7 miles).
 
One of the three of us was struggling a little, especially on the uphill and eventually we were caught by other small groups resulting in about 20 of us together navigating through the dark. Once light, I and a couple of others made a bee-line to get to the CP, and although we all narrowly missed the time, common sense prevailed and we were allowed to continue. Despite it being 4.30 in the morning, Julie was there waiting me to encourage me to make the checkpoint in time. She had also been using her persuasive skills to convince that it would be grossly to unfair to time us all out at 90 miles if we looked capable of completing. So I made sure I was moving as fast as I could as I ran into the checkpoint! Happily all the group were allowed to continue, with the last one through at 5pm. With barely a few minutes respite, I hit the next leg with a vengeance and managed to claw back my four minutes lateness to arrive at the final checkpoint, Portesham at 6.32am, with some 28 minutes to spare. This gave me a little recovery time and most of the final group set off at around 6.50am to head towards and along the Wessex Ridgeway. This should have been straightforward, 6.5 miles with 3 hours to do it in, now daylight and no great navigational complexities. However, the surface was akin to walking  on rocky desert - it looks like easy paths on a ridge, but it was rock hard and rutted everywhere. Added to this was a howling cold cross-wind.

Eventually I dropped down to the valley where Julie was waiting with the gate open so we were all saved one final stile to climb over. She later said that a young German sounding bloke remarked that the route lacked one thing - a chainsaw to deal with the stiles! She then walked in with me along the final couple of miles of road. Just before turning into the finish at the School I was greeted with surprise by Neil Shuttleworth, a fellow runner who I have known for 30 years since my days of composing pages for Northern Runner magazine, for which he provided many of the photographs.

The finish at an LDWA Hundred is quite overwhelming - everyone is clapping and cheering you in as if you had just won the Olympic Marathon. It is quite amazing.
After sitting, gathering my thoughts, chatting to members of East Lancs who were there, removing my shoes and going to thank the couple who had helped me through the night stage to Long Bredy, we headed to find the medical team to get my feet sorted as they were very painful.

While waiting for my turn with medic, I began to feel quite dizzy so my feet had to wait while they carried me to the bed, gave me oxygen and took blood tests. Everything was ok apart from low levels of potassium, probably a bit of heat stroke and dehydration. Bananas were sought and provided and water to sip as I gradually came round sufficiently to have my blisters treated. After 20 minutes or so, I was deemed sufficiently recovered to get to Julie's car (which she was able to bring to the fire exit) and then she took me back to the mill where I went to bed for three hours' sleep.
 
I never got chance to sample the meal at the finish : maybe that's for next time.

On completion, I thought there is no chance of going through that again. However, we'll see. I have never run/walked on such feet damaging surface before, but I was determined to complete. If I do next year's hundred (North York Moors), I will have the opportunity to recce the night sections, which will save time, and hopefully prepare my feet to hopefully reduce the impact of blisters. I will also make use of the 10am start to give me more spare time, and eat more food.
 
 
Gordon
 

 

 

The Dorset 100. Saturday May 28th - Monday May 30th.

 

The flagship event of the LDWA, the 100 mile challenge event was held in Dorset this year. Every checkpoint is manned by a different LDWA group and East Lancs manned one of the most important stops - the breakfast stop in Beaminster. Entrants have the opportunity to change their clothes/shoes as a bag is taken here for them. Then they can have a full breakfast. The full menu offered was:-

Fruit Juice - Apple, Orange, Squash - Orange, Blackcurrant. Water.

Cereals - Weetabix, Meusli, Shreddies, Cornflakes, Porridge (with or without whisky, honey, golden syrup)

Choice of:- Bacon, Sausage, Beans, Tomatoes, Egg - all or any combination of.

Toast, white and brown, Jam, marmalade, marmite.

Tea, coffee, chocolate.

Think about the logistics of serving the above to nigh on 500 people............through the night....... as quickly as possible as they are on a challenge walk........

Yes, it was a challenge to us too. Although the kitchen was one of the best we have seen, really well equipped, there was no HOT WATER! We never did discover why but our biggest challenge became the nightmare of washing up said 500 breakfast pots. There was a wonderful commercial dishwater - which worked off hot water fill. We could let it warm up (took ages) and it did suffice for some lightly soiled dishes but please feel sorry for the washing up team. I must mention Dave and Alma Walsh, Sandra Allen, Julie Stone in particular here as they were heroes and heroines at the sinks. Helped by others of course as duties permitted.

As ever though, East Lancs came through. We received many thanks from the walkers, they are grateful for the care and attention we gave and they went out into the night and day replete and water bottles filled. We went back to the accomodation very tired but knowing that we had done a brilliant job. Why not join us next year? It's hard work but so very rewarding. The first question we will be asking about next year's school in Robin Hoods Bay is --- IS THERE HOT WATER????? Ha ha.

Hilary

 

 

Lancashire Trail Part 1. Wednesday 25th May. St Helens to Parbold Hill. 17 miles. Leaders: Norman Thomas, Chris Langabeer, Ian Pickup.

 

20 Walkers
2 Dogs


After assembling at the Miller and Carter Hotel on Parbold Hill, 2 mini buses took the group to St Helens to start the walk.

After a photo shoot at the statue of Queen Victoria outside the Town Hall, it was off though the streets to reach and walk alongside the St Helens canal which was constructed in 1762. The route then took us alongside Shankey Brook to rejoin the canal. Then passing through a wooded area with strong aromas of Wild Garlic and Hawthorn we eventually walked under the East Lancashire Road to reach Carr Mill Dam.

After a short break, our route took us through very nice countryside to reach Billinge Beacon with it's extensive views of the surounding area. The next objective was the very pleasant Dean Wood, before crossing over the old Golf Course at Roby Mill. Then came a climb up to Ashurst Beacon, one of a chain of Beacons stretching from Liverpool to Lancaster built in the 16th century to warn of invaders.

Onwards, again through great countryside to cross the River Douglas, the Leeds Liverpool canal and the Manchester Southport Railway. Then came the final climb of the day, and probably the hardest, before reaching the Miller and Carter Hotel and our cars. After a change of footwear most members of the party enjoyed a drink in the Hotel.

Thanks to everyone for coming.

The coach for the next section (Parbold to Rivington) is half full, so don't delay in booking.

Chris

 

 

Thirty-Six Degrees. Tuesday/Wednesday May 17/18th. Plodder Walk. Leader: John Pickton

 

After four and a half years the 36 degrees was completed on Wednesday 18th May by the four East Lancs members who have walked every section.
 
We concluded the 200 plus mile walk on the beach at Grimsby. This was an alternative coast to coast walk from the Irish Sea at Ainsdale to the North Sea at Grimsby.
 
Roger organised trophies for each of the stalwarts who have walked every section of the 36 degrees. These were presented before we toasted our leader and each other with champagne on the evening of the penultimate section.
 
After arriving at Grimsby we wet our boots on the beach and then we went to the noted Steeles fish and chip restaurant in Cleethorpes to celebrate our achievement. Just look at the size of the fish!
 
Thanks to John for leading this marathon event.

 

Don
 
Thanks to Don also for the pictures.

 

There is a postscript to the 36 Degrees walk report. On 3 August following
a club walk Phil was presented by Roger with his finishers trophy for the 36
Degree walk. Phil completed all legs but was unable to finish the final leg due
to unforeseen circumstances. Below is a photo of the occasion.

Phil and his 36 Degree Trophy

 

 

Stanza Stones Trail Part 2. Sunday May 15th. 19 miles. Leader: Ken Noble.

 

Unlike the first of the Stanza Stones Circuits which was 11 miles into the walk before we started the Stanza Stones Trail, this, the second one started with the Trail and then left it before reaching Stoodley Pike to find our way back to our cars.

The morning was cool but sunny with no haze, and 18 walkers and a dog followed the Pennine Way, once again crossing the footbridge over the M62. Sue joined us at the White House pub and we continued to the “Rain Stone” where we had an early morning break.

After the break, accompanied by the song of skylarks, we continued to a path junction above Lumbutts, where we left the Pennine Way and the Stanza Stones Trail to start our return to the car park.

Soon we passed Geddings Reservoir and its sandy beach which puts Bolton beach to shame. Better not tell Norman I said that! Normally busy with local families, today was much quieter with only a handful of people enjoying the sun.

After a break for lunch overlooking Walsden, we descended to the Rochdale Canal which we followed all the way to Littleborough. Next stop was at Hollingworth Lake and the opportunity to purchase an ice cream or other refreshment before starting the steady climb up to the car park.

Ken

Click here for Ken's pictures.

 

The pictures below are from Hilary.

 

 

 

Up and Atom. Wednesday May 11th. 13 miles. Leader: Barbara Shelton.

 

The start at Upper Ballgrove Country Park saw 26 people and 3 dogs gathering for the 13 miles of Lancashire (or should that be Yorkshire, Ken?) countryside on offer.

 

The assembled throng set off and we made our way along Colne Water initially before striking up towards Trawden, passing such interestingly named places as ‘Buttock Laithe Farm’! At Trawden a few minutes was taken to look at the famous ‘jam pan’ garden, the central feature being a large jam pan which was recovered in a local field many years ago and put here as a tribute to William Pickles (I kid you not!) Hartley, the famous jam manufacturer. We had the mid morning break at the church, with its lovely peace garden at the back.

 

Then it was up the fields to Coldwell Reservoirs and along a section of the Bronte Way and Pendle Way before the real ‘Up’ of the title – Boulsworth Hill. Normally very boggy, thankfully the top layer of peat was firm enough to walk on, and we hunkered down amongst Lad Law rocks near the top for lunch. Descending by the permissive path we carried on along the Bronte/Pendle Way before heading west towards Wycoller, passing through Fosters Leap Farm, where the kind resident told us how the nearby rocks got their name of Foster’s Leap.

 

Pressing on we went up to the ‘Atom’ of the title, one of the four East Lancashire panopticons, situated on the hillside above Wycoller, a curious egg-shaped sculpture you can go into, and admire the views through holes cut into it.

 

Thankfully the café at Wycoller was open this time so I didn’t lose any brownie points there, and the brews, cakes and ice creams were up to scratch as ever. From there we followed Wycoller Beck and the Ferndean Way back to the car park, and a few of us had a refreshing pint at the Cotton Tree. All in all a good day, with hardly a speck of rain – and clean boots too!

 

Barbara Shelton

 

Thank you to Don for the pictures

 

Thirty Six Degrees. Affetside to Rochdale. Plodder Walk. Wednesday May 4th. 14 miles. Leader: John Pickton.

 

Believe it or not but it is over four years since John Pickton started his Magical Mystery Tour that is the Thirty Six Degrees walk. It is due to finish in two weeks time but today was a rerun of the Affetside to Rochdale leg for the benefit of Bernard who missed the original walk.

Due to problems on the M60/62 and a busy run through Bury it was going on for 11 'o' clock before 8 plodders and 1 dog started the walk from Affetside. Over the fields and down to Tottington where a welcome drink in the sunshine was taken by the War Memorial. Passing the Laurel Centre we followed the old railway track to Burrs country park where it was decided to have an early lunch in glorious sunshine. Moving on we were lucky enough to see a steam train on the East Lancs railway, not many people in the carriages though.

Onwards now making towards Lowes Park golf club with a couple of magical mystery moments as to where we were and where we were going. Through the golf club and over the motorway and heading towards Birtle (or Bircle as the Church sign says) Onwards to Ashworth Valley with its steep sided edges and towards Simpson Clough where the last paper mill in Rochdale makes tea bags. Here we waited for Maureen (Don's wife) to come and pick up Neil who felt unwell. I'm glad to report that he felt much better soon afterwoods. Thanks for your help Maureen.

The rest of the group then followed the Roch back to the cars in Rochdale. The valley still shows an awful amount of rubbish on the river banks from the December flooding. A real shame. We did spot a fox in Springfield Park as we passed through.

No time for an end of walk drink today, the drivers had to be transported back to Affetside. A glorious day though, many lovely views and good company as always.

Thank you to John for leading.

Hilary

The pictures below are from Don

The pictures below are from Hilary

 

 

Three Halls and a Castle. Sunday May 1st. 19 miles. Leaders: Dave and Alma Walsh.

 
Fifteen walkers & one dog set off in drizzly conditions. From the car park a short slope led us up onto Scout Scar for a quick group photo. There were some views, but only just. After following the full length of the scar we dropped down past Helsington Church before arriving at Sizergh Castle. We made use of the facilities & had an early coffee break.
 
Over fields we then made our way to the Village of Levens. A footpath through some fields led us to our first Hall of the day, Levens famous for its topiary. We wandered through the hall's park spotting black fallow deer down by the river & some bagot goats.
 
Briefly leaving the park we crossed the river Kent which was in full spate & then spied our second hall, Sedgwick, a former gentlemen's residence, then a school & now occupied as apartments. Back into Levens Park we followed the river again before following a track & fields to our third hall, Hincaster, a grade two listed building.
 
Shortly after we had lunch, the rain had briefly stopped & jelly babies & licorice allsorts were dished out to try to lift the spirits of the sodden walkers. More paths over fields led us to the village of Sedgwick & another view of Hall two.
 
After safely crossing the flood damaged bridge, we went along the river Kent to the outskirts of Kendal where we had a quick break before the climb back onto Scout Scar. The weather had worsened & we almost missed the mushroom shelter which shows all the mountains you would be able to see if the weather was clearer.
 
From there it was only a 10 minute walk back to the cars. Thanks to all who attended including our West Lancs & South Lakeland friends, despite the poor conditions.
 
Dave & Alma Walsh