I sometimes forget just how changeable the weather is here in Lancashire, this past couple of weeks has been a classic example, as I ended up on top of Healey Nab, Chorley, for two consecutive weekends.
Mid February saw a group of us set off from sweatshop Chorley for a 10mile(ish) trail run which went over the Nab down the side of Anglezarke Reservoir, up to the Wellington Bomber Memorial then back North along the other side of the reservoirs to White Coppice then west back to the shop. Although the run started off chilly it wasn’t long before we were taking off our coats and running in short sleeves. The sky was blue and air warm, it was a perfect day to run over the hills.
The following week the weather looked a bit damp and it was definitely cooler so the route was ‘lower’ as we set off once more from the shop in Chorley. This time we headed north along the canal then veered eastwards towards Higher Wheelton. Passing South of Brinscall we headed towards White Coppice but this time we were putting on layers as the sleet / snow arrived on the wind, blowing almost horizontally it was possibly one of the coldest runs I’ve done.
Following the track South we once more ended up on Healey Nab but the stop for the obligatory photo was short as we made our way through increasing unpleasant weather back to the shop for a warm coffee and some biscuits.
Two runs, only a week apart and even though they were in the same area the weather made them completely different, the first although the route itself was tougher was relatively straight forward. The second, without the excellent planning by Mandy, the run leader, in respect to the weather could have become very serious very quickly. It was not a run I’d have liked to have done on my own.
Of course the common element in both these runs apart from the fantastic Lancashire hills and countryside was the company. With the right company any situation is made better, whether it’s looking at reflections on the mirror like surface of the lakes or running, head down through a blizzard, swearing at the elements as you make your way to the shelter of the trees, friends make all these things better.
This latest run did make me stop and think a couple of days later, what if I’d have been separated from the group, what if I had been out on my own or one of my friends had fallen or taken ill, would I have been prepared? Was I, on that day, responsible for my own welfare? Could I have helped if needed?
I like to think that yes, within reason I was. The only thing I didn’t know was our full route but I did know the area well enough to describe our location to any emergency services if needed. The kit I had with me, on both runs, included a basic first aid kit, extra food and water, spare gloves and scarf, a light (Alpkit head torch), full waterproofs (top and bottom). My phone, fully charged, had a complete map as well as OS Locate, an app from Ordnance Survey to aid navigation. The phone is in a Lifeproof case which is fully water and shock proof, which I purchased after wrecking the previously phone sliding down Ingleborough on my ass in the rain. This is my ‘normal’ kit, the things I take every time I go running in the hills, whether it’s in a group or on my own so yes, looking at it now, I think I was prepared and for that I can only thank the time I spend many, many years ago in the Scouts.
Be Prepared is the Scout Motto and it serves me today just as much, if not more so, as it did over thirty five years ago when I was a leader for one of the patrols in 44th Ormskirk Scouts.
Amazingly I’m still using the skills I learnt back in my early teens, who knew all those days and nights camping out in some crazy British weather all those years ago would come in useful one day…