Every year Swaledale Runners donate 10% of the Richmond Castle 10K profits to a local charity. This year we chose " Just the Job" a charity and social enterprise empowering adults with disabilities to achieve their potential by doing valuable work in the community. - just-the-job.org.uk. On Saturday 16th Niall presented the organisation with a cheque for £350.73.
There was a great turnout at the Thirsk 10 mile on Sunday 17th:
Jess Young 01:14:14, Jean Bradley 01:27:35, Elizabeth Sowter 01:29:27, Lucy Tulloch 01:31:39, Julia Spittle 01:33:29, Christine Sayer 01:34:52, Roger Brisley 01:35:04, Sheila Cantrell 01:36:52, Niall Cheyne 01:41:46, Helen Baines 01:45:07, Catriona Riley 01:45:41, Caroline Morrell 01:57:13
On 3rd March Emily Abbey had a great 4th Lady overall at the Dalton Park 10k in a time of 43.45.
On the 17th March Martin Randall continued his fine form coming 49th in a time of 1.34.57 at the Northumberland half marathon.
The first of the Fell Race championships took place on 17th March with the Bilsdale 23k/1300m Fell Race. Tim Grimwood had a great 10th place with Claire Stewart winning her age group and Caroline Graham 2nd in hers.
Details of both championships have been published and it's time to start planning your racing year. It doesn't matter if you're not superfast - both are designed to be inclusive and to encourage people to try out races they haven't done before. See details under competitions above,
The saying “Good things come to those who wait” could not be more apt for our running of the Swaledale Watershed. With very rough moorland and endless bogs to cross, we were waiting for an extended dry spell to ease our passage. We had kept our eye on conditions for several years, waiting for a hot, dry summer and finally one arrived this year.
The Swaledale Watershed route had first caught my eye in Richard Gilbert’s book, ‘Wild Walks’. At just under 30 miles long, this circular route follows the highest ground that drains into Great Sleddale Beck, Birkdale Beck, Whitsundale Beck, Stonesdale Beck and a myriad of other moorland streams which eventually form the River Swale. With 1160m of ascent and difficult terrain, it promised to be an adventure.
At 07.00 on 5th July 2018 Neil and I left Muker, jogging along the road to Thwaite. We could have taken the footpath through the meadows but thought we would enjoy some easy running whilst it was available. Conditions were perfect as we set off up the Pennine Way to Great Shunner Fell. The sky was blue, the sun was out and there was a lovely cooling breeze. The summit of Great Shunner Fell (716m) was deserted and we would have liked to linger, but a quick check of the map and it was off on the next section across to Hugh Seat.
Although there was a fence to follow, this was the start of the challenging terrain. Despite being bone dry, it made for energetic running, even downhill, as we dropped into and climbed out of the peat hags. With it being the height of summer, the grass was also very long, which meant that high footsteps were required to get through it, sapping even more energy. After approximately 4km we came to the fence corner that marked the summit of Hugh Seat (689m). After more strenuous work we finally reached Archy Styrigg (695m) which came as a relief, as this top sits on Mallerstang Edge and has a vague path. Those that have run the Yomp will recognise this next section, one of the finest of the race.
The views from Mallerstang Edge into the Eden Valley were stunning. The running was much easier and we made good time along to High Seat, arriving in 2 ½ hours. At 709m, it is the highest point on the ridge and was a good spot to have something to eat as we admired the view. High Pike Hill (642m) then marks the end of the fine ridge running and we dropped down Careless Bank to cross the road at Tailbridge.
Very little navigating is needed for the slog up Nine Standards Rigg, the path is clear at all times. The day was heating up and I was feeling a little worn by the time we reached the summit at 10.30. In the distance we could see other walkers approaching, the first of the day, but we immediately turned off the beaten track and headed out over the wild moorland. The destination was Brownber Hill, which I admit I had never heard of before researching this route.
Races come and races go, but the routes are still out there, waiting to be rediscovered. One such race was the Great Shunner Shuffle, a 30 mile route linking Wensleydale and Swaledale, organised by the Fell Rescue from 1986 to 2000. Although I first heard about this old race a few years ago, I only recently got round to researching it. With the help of Jill King from the Cleveland LDWA I tracked down the checkpoints and some additional route information.
Stu Clarkson and Jan Ilsley were booked as running companions for the day, with a steady run promised as none of us had done much preparation for this distance. Good weather was also booked and shortly after 9.00 on a Saturday in June we left Askrigg. The Great Shunner Shuffle was on!
The route started easily, heading out on a minor road then a footpath through the woods to arrive at Skellgill. After dropping down a track, the route then followed field paths and tracks towards Hardraw. A friendly farmer at West Shaw Cote Farm warned us that the footpath from the lane back into the fields was easy to miss, which was very helpful as it was tucked away in the side wall. We stopped for a shady snack in the lych-gate of Hardraw church, then headed up past the Old School House onto Great Shunner Fell. The race originally started at the (then) Hulme School House but had to move to Askrigg School due to a shortage of parking.
It was cool and clear on the summit of Great Shunner Fell, but the heat was increasing as we dropped into Thwaite, so a cooling ice cream and tea stop in the Kearton Tea Rooms was the order of the day as it was conveniently situated at about half way.
The route then headed up Kisdon on the Pennine Way, for a superb high level traverse above the Swale. Stu and Jan decided that they would take a pleasant short cut back down the valley to Ivelet Bridge, whilst I followed the race route. This took me across the Swale near Keld, onto the C2C route past Crackpot Hall, up Swinner Gill and down ‘the yellow brick road’ to Dyke heads and along the road to meet them at the bridge. I found Stu and Jan standing up to their thighs in the cooling water, so I jumped in to join them.