Thursday started dull, with the prospect of rain. It turned out to be bright and sunny. Who knew? We were a baker’s dozen at the car-park, with Dave T arriving in the nick of time. Sadly, in the heat of the moment, Grant understood Dave to say he was ready to go, whereas he actually needed to change his shoes.
Grant set off with two groups following at a respectful/social distance behind. It was only after the first group arrived at the lane beyond the fields, that he found we were two runners short (Dave T and Harry S).
This has to be something of a record, and not one to be lauded. It was clear, after waiting a good minute for them to appear, that the local duo had taken the more usual route out. With no means of contacting them, we had to press on. We proceeded East, climbing gently up to Heaton, then East again to Hawksley Farm. This seemed a good point to muster, as we didn’t want to lose anyone else. Then, after a brief descent Northward along immaculate tarmac, we turned West and re-joined the familiar path from Heatonlow to Hollinhall and Gig Hall (though running in the less usual direction).
After another gentle climb to Whitelee Farm, Grant tried to follow the recce route from Monday (a short trespass), but the local landowner was not keen on that, so the official ‘right-of-way’ had to be followed. Back on familiar turf once again, we followed the Gritstone Trail, heading South to the canal feeder and another brief mustering of the troops, before setting off along the beautifully gravelled pathway alongside the still water.
After a good half mile, things went pear-shaped as the gravel ran out and we were quickly ankle-deep in mud. Fortunately(?) there were only two casualties: Tony slipped on a greasy stile and Taylor lost a shoe in the worst of the mud, but managed to recover it. Then Grant could only remember his last outing over this ground (it wasn’t included in the recce) and went off piste, thinking it was quicker. Big mistake — we would have saved time staying on the feeder path.
However, we soon found our way back onto the planned route and re-acquired the once-again familiar path to the car-park.
Altogether, a run with a mixture of delight and despair. That said, it included a footpath that Mike Lawrence remarked was new to him, a rare event indeed. And, to cap it all, the weather stayed fine to allow a smaller group to enjoy tea and edibles in the carpark.