At the end of December there is a bit of a get together and a semi-unofficial orienteering event put on by the Pennine FR legend that is Jim. I did it a few years ago, but for the last couple of years have been otherwise indisposed on the day of the fun- normally driving back from the Isle of Wight or some such. This year, I was in Glossop and the weather looked... tasty. The tail end of Storm Gerrit was still mooching across the moors with wind gusting from Force 4 to about 7 or 8, and the promise of significant amounts of precipitation. Not so cold as to be *fun* precipitation, but just the right temperature to be *grim*.
Absolutely shorts weather then.
The course is set out like a standard Orienteering map, with checkpoints and corresponding points, though this year, in tribute to a sadly departed stalwart of Pennine (and MDOC)- John Williams, 5 of the checkpoints weren't on the map. Oh no. You had to get to one of the checkpoints (numbers 1-5), where a small map was attached to the flag for the OTHER checkpoint, that was within 750 metres of your current location.... double trouble checkpoint action! Sounds fun? Absolutely. And with a 4 hour cut off, there really is time to run yourself ragged over some pretty gnarly terrain.
Starting from Little Hayfield I took the option to go anti-clockwise, heading to Check1 at the bottom of Sandy Heys, wondering if I would have to double back on myself for the "bonus" checkpoint. Easy running along footpaths and bridleways giving me time to think about onward planning, got me to checkpoint 1 relatively easily.
The paired check was further to the east, so that meant that a potential climb up Sandy Heys to Check3 was disregarded in favour of the direct climb to check 4 (which had more points) at the trig point.
This was a slow leg and I think I've found some very good ground for practicing hill climbs on pretty tough gound! Despite the forecast, it was very clear at this point, and the wind was from the south west, which definitely freshened as you got to the top. The trig was easy to find, and the paired check was down on the fence line halfway up Upper Redbrook. However- there was another checkpoint further to the east up the grough line from Nether Redbrook.
Being an idiot, I decided to kind of try to straight line it, despite the fact that I didn't have a compass out, didn't have anything to aim for, and was going off pure "I reckon it's that way". As I got further and further into it, I recognised that the other side of the coin that was previously disregarded- going to the Northern Edge Path, run along that to Nether Red and then go up the clough- was probably a better idea. So I kind of dropped a bit north until I got close to the path, spied the grough line, dropped into it and then followed it to the Control.
Could have been a lot slicker with that one- might have lost 5mins or so with the faffage.
Previously the idea as to whether to drop from there to the Footbridge at 15, or go to the Sabres at 11 was the question... with a paired checkpoint at Upper Redbrook, it was a no-brainer. To Upper RedBrook, the Sabres, then down the Ashop to 15.
The obvious next place was check 19, up Red Clough- on the map it seems pretty obvious where you should be going. The grough lines look huge. They are indeed deep- but they are not very obvious. It was here that I was starting to second guess myself and ended up wandering around for a while cursing the geography and my inability to find a stream junction. I probably lost a good 5-10 mins here with the faffage, but eventually got the flag after casting around for a fairly specific grough that should have been obvious, and following it. Got it- and then ... well- there's a 60 pointer to the North. It'd be rude not to go for that.
So I've been going for an hour and a half, all good. I've eaten something, am jogging uphill and over Featherbed Moss, all is good. A couple of alterations of course to make sure I'm getting to the right place (and a change of gloves from Warm mitts to Waterproof mitts), and soon enough I'm dropping down towards Snake and the furthest checkpoint. I've been here before and know where it is.
The next few are interesting. Do I go direct West from here to pick up 17, and from there, again West ish to get 18? The ground is, at best, awful- and will be very time sapping. Do I go south along the Pennine Way to pick up 20?
Considering the ground, I decided to go with an easy run to the high point on the PW and drop North West to pick up 17, retrace my steps (ish)- to the PW and then drop south to get 20, retrace steps AGAIN back to the PW to pick up the trod back down toward turfpits for 18. It seems a little round about and uppy-downy, but the trods were a better option (with more points) than attempting to contour through heather and bog.
There was only a mild hiccup as I tried to run towards the wrong clough at check 17, and it took a while for my brain to compute that I needed to be in Span clough, NOT Holden. Doh. Must be getting tired.
So 17, 20. 18, and now a horrible contour through heather, bog and goodness knows what to 5- where there would be a bonus checkpoint. It's getting colder now as I've slowed down a bit, taken on food and am heading into a headwind, and my brain is starting to think about stopping.
The contouring is kind of uppy-downy and over to a section of Bakestone Delph that is very wet indeed. There are a number of ways out of here, but none of them are particularly pleasant. The paired checkpoint is DOWN, which is kind of annoying, but at least it means that I don't have to grovel my way up a full flowing stream, and it suits me well. The next checkpoint I want to get to is over by the Trig. Technically, I *could* fight my way across the bog, but it will be easier underfoot, and probably faster overall to drop to the path to the shooting cabin, up the trod by the grouse butts and across to the trig, even though it's longer.
As I head to the paired check it rains. Then as I go off toward the shooting cabin, it hails, the wind comes in, hood up, both sets of mitts on. Grim- and I'm not moving fast- and there isn't a huge amount of time left. My brain is already planning routes off once I hit this final checkpoint. This is the longest I've been out in months and I'm starting to feel cold and unhappy.
Stop in the windshadow of the hut for a gel and a quick talking to myself, and off up the hill to try to find the trod thay links this grouse butt line across 2 cloughs to the trig point. As I ascend the precipitation reduces a bit, and it is easy to see where I'm going. After a couple of false starts, I find the right line, and get to the trig, and from there to the control, where there is a paired control marked.
Looking at it, it really isn't far away, but it's across a bog. I don't recognise that on the other side of the bog there is a fairly decent path- all my brain is saying is "there is a way off to the West- it goes down and out of the weather. It's runnable and you'll get another checkpoint on the way in".
And I give in to the voice, and go that way.
Looking at it now, it would have been just as easy, and just as fast to go across the bog to the paired checkpoint, and ALSO get the other, final point as well, but, as I say... cold, tired, wet, want to get off th hill, don't want to be out any longer in case I injure myself through fatigue- all contributed to the decision to just head off the easiest and most obvious trail.
Down the hill and off- then a final up and down to the finish, and in with a generous amount of time left. I could *easily* have got that extra 20 points, ah well.
Off and finished- what an excellent time out. Thanks to Jim and PFR for their kind hospitality, and of course to the Lantern Pike Inn (fishfinger sarnies and chip butties!). I wouldn't have been doing much else today, and the chance to get out for 4 hours of hammering around the general area of Kinder was jolly fun. I realise that I haven't quite got the endurance for a 4 hour event at the moment, but that's fine. Plenty of time to do a whole lot of training yet.