It’s been just over three weeks since we returned from our first running residential with the trail running group from SRC Chorley. It still amazes me I can say or even write the words ‘trail running residential’, if you’d have mentioned that we’d have been going away for a weekends running a a year ago I’d have looked at you as if you’d gone completely bonkers but as the weekend approached we got more and more excited until we finally arrived, mid Friday afternoon, at The Bunkhouse, Clapham, which was to be our base for the weekend.
After putting our stuff away, girls in one room, boys in the other, and having a chat and a mug of tea or two with some of the guys it was soon time for our first run. A gentle trail run out of Clapham, through some tunnels and up and down a few hills towards Austwick. A quick piece of creative navigation meant we didn’t get lost – we just took a different route than planned, and it was back to The Bunkhouse for a shower, a couple of well earned pints and a fantastic meal prepared by Mandy who along with Martin had organised the whole trip.
My knee started hurting a bit during this run but a bit of ‘rollering’ once back seemed to fix it. Oh how wrong I was…
Saturday dawned with ice and hail in the air but it would have taken more than a little chill to stop the five of us who set off to run up to the summit of Ingleborough. The other group was doing a slightly gentler 10 or so miles. Knee holding up well and no pain all was good as we ran up through the spectacular gorge at Trow Gill. Although the weather was a little damp and chilly we made good time as we arrived at what I always consider the perfect picnic spot of Gaping Gill, one of the largest pot holes in the country. It was a little misty making the view not the best but you could clearly hear the water cascading into the depths. Amazing to think that during the summer there is a free chair lift to the bottom.
Onwards we climbed, sometimes at a run, sometimes at a walk as we reached the steps going up the side of Ingleborough proper and this is where my knee gave in as I slipped of the track and ended up on my ass. Whether it was my knee that threw me to the ground or lousy footing it made no difference, I’d been slowing down a little anyway, realising that I’d probably been pushing to hard on an already weakened leg and now I was sprawled on the ground.
A few minutes walking and thankfully it was uphill to the summit where the weather was a icy, cold and wet with very limited visibility. It was GREAT. We’d done it and after a quick break for snacks, drinks and the obligatory photos we made our way North East hoping to intercept the track down the mountain. This is where the pain really hit, going downhill was a nightmare but thankfully I was not alone. The guys kept me going, never letting me fall behind and always making sure things were OK. Over Simon Fell, then Park Fell we ran, I managed a little slip down Park Fell but the ground was soft and although it was wet I couldn’t help myself as I laughed, sliding fifty or so feet down the side of the mountain. Like a child on a slide, I think I may have been going a little mad at this point in time.
We had over shot our path by going over Park Fell so ended up running back towards Selside on the ‘main’ B road, not something my weary legs enjoyed but once at Selside we took the bridle path South West back towards Clapham through some truly magnificent countryside, we even had a spot of sunshine.
Three and a half hours after we started and 16 miles on the clock we arrived back at The Bunkhouse, tired, cold and wet but elated. It was one of the best runs I’ve ever done and my longest to date, with great company and I’d do it again right now if asked. Admittedly I’d have preferred not to have done it with a dodgy knee and that’s a lesson I’ll never forget but looking back I’m glad I did it. Not just for the ‘tick’ of running up a mountain but the sense of accomplishment shared by five blokes on top of a mountain in what can only be described as shitty weather.
Showered, warm and with Pie and Peas for lunch I did nothing except relax all afternoon and drink mugs of tea. About half the group went out for another run but my leg wasn’t having any of it. Dinner was once more brilliant, prepared by Mandy with more than a few helpers and we ended the evening with a few quizzes and games of the less strenuous variety while enjoying the odd glass of well earned wine.
Sunday was our final day so after breakfast and a quick tidy round we ventured a bit further North to Ingleborough Falls where we had a great walk, stretching our tired muscles after Saturdays adventures. A hearty lunch at the café and it was time for home, the end of a fantastic weekend with some good friends.
Will we go again? Hell yes… But maybe next time in the spring when it’s a little warmer and most certainly not if I’m carrying any sort of injury.