|The Owls about to set off on the Nocturnal 5 Trigs Run|
The owls, Chris M, Andy G, Howard H and Bruce B, assisted by Charlie B, who kindly volunteered to be our support crew, assembled in the car park of the Clarence public house, Greenfield, in preparation for a midnight departure.
Leaving the Clarence we headed off towards Mossley ad then turned left up past the old co-op building on route to our first trig point upon Alphin. The night was so mild that we ran this section in just long sleeved running tops and didn't don cag's until reaching Chew Reservoir. Chatting away happily between ourselves we made good time up to the summit of Alphin, in around 30 minutes.
|1st trig point of the night - Alphin Pike|
At Chew reservoir we intended to stop briefly for a quick bite to eat so now put on our cag's to keep at bay the chilly wind which was blowing up the valley. After running with us over this first leg it was time for Bruce and Howard to make their return for home via the Dove Stones Valley. It had been great running with them and Andy and I where grateful for their company. Howard, never wanting to miss a little bit of adventure, had come out in the dead of night, even though he wasn't fully recovered from his recent bout of illness. When they left, with the plan of phoning Charlie when they got back to inform him of their safe return, it was time for Andy and myself to continue around the remaining four trigs.
|Howard and Bruce about to descend into the Dovestone Valley|
|Trig point No: 2 - Featherbed Moss|
After a short stop for some liquorice Allsorts and to set a new bearing we set off in search of the next trig point on Black Hill. Moving on a bearing across the wet and sodden moor our feet were by now soaked and we were caked in wet mud up to the knees. After a while we intercepted the foot path leading from Chew Reservoir to Laddow Rocks as planned. Favouring this route instead of heading further across the moor, as often done in daylight, we made good time along the runnable path. Reaching Laddow Rocks we headed generally north, following the Pennine Way, and again made reasonable time in a bid to claw back some of the time spent in the fog on Featherbed Moss.
Black Hill was attained without any problems and we were both still going strong. By now we were thinking of Charlie who was waiting for us at New Snoopy's and we were sure that we could smell the waiting coffee drifting upon the wind. The descent along the flagged section of the Pennine Way was very slippy underfoot and we had to heed caution so has not to slip. With the sky now clearing we enjoyed far reaching views over the illuminated streets of Holmfirth and Huddersfield, where presumably most people were tucked up in warm beds. Suddenly a bright light shot through the sky and illuminated us still high upon the hill. What could be the source of such a powerful beam? Was it the police helicopter or an alien space craft maybe? No it was Charlies million candle watt, super charged, hand lamp guiding us in to New Snoopy's layby. The coffee was waiting! We signalled back to him and continued on, paying less regard now to the slippery slabs underfoot as we hurried to the coffee stop.
|3rd trig - Black Hill|
Charlie greeted us with that big friendly smile he has and full of the enthusiasm that only fellow fellrunners can muster in the early hours of the morning when involved in some similar mad capped idea. He duly pulled out a flask of steaming coffee and poured it into two large Costa Coffee cups. "Get that down you", he said. "I've got two flasks here for you." It was like drinking nectar! Stood there in a windy lay-by, on the Isle of Sky Road, at around 3.30 am in the morning, that coffee was the best coffee I'd tasted anywhere in the world. If Charlie was to make his coffee and sell it on the high street he would put Costa Coffee out of business in no time. Whilst drinking our welcoming brews Charlie informed us of his own adventures, whilst parked in the lay-by, awaiting our arrival. He'd had cars pull up and flash their lights at him hoping for some sort of coded response, the Police had stopped and ask what he was doing there and soon after he witnessed the same police officers in a high speed car chase from Holmfirth towards Saddleworth.
After spending about 10 or 15 minutes with Charlie it was time to set off before our legs seized up. Just as we were getting ready for the off we spotted two head-torches descending the the Pennine Way path from Black Hill. Torn between hanging around to see who else could be out on the hill at this hour and needing to get going we left Charlie with the task of solving the mystery.
Now refuelled with Charlies wonderful coffee we headed off, at a good pace, along the Meltham road for what is a short stretch of tarmac leading to the foot of West Nab. Leaving the road and crossing the fence we made the short ascent to the summit of West Nab and the fourth trig point of the night.
|Four down, one to go - West Nab|
The fifth section of this round is the roughest under foot with barely a trod to be found in daylight let alone at night. Heading west along the flat summit we crossed the fence and then hand-railed Leyzing Clough. Even in winter, when the Turks Heads have died back, this is still a rough and difficult decent where tired legs fail to lift properly and a toe caught on a tussock can cause a fall or at best cursing and swearing as you loose your balance and your stride. Hitting the wide path which runs down Wessenden Valley we turned South East for a short while heading for the Dam Wall of Wessenden Head Reservoir. At this point we met the two individuals who's torches we had seen earlier descending Black Hill. They were male and female members of the Rucksack Club walking Edale to Marsden return, which is a traditional challenge for their club.
After crossing the dam we began our trog up Shiny Brook Clough. In the dark, with the moon occasionally peaking from behind moody clouds, we failed to find the faint trods which can sometimes be located in daylight hours. Even though we were walking we still made good time and we were soon crossing the peat groughs which bisected our route, running into West Grain.
With the fence line attained, we made a quick check of our exact location and planned to follow it south for four hundred meters in order to make the shortest crossing possible to the PW footpath, across what is notoriously a very wet and boggy section of moor. Deviating from our plan a little too early we encountered several tracts of moor which were impassable peat bogs. Like arctic explorers searching for routes around unfrozen leads we wandered back and forth picking our way around the deep bogs, across what little firm ground we could find, loosing time in the process.
Hitting the Pennine Way at a point that should have been a little South of the Cotton Famine Road we made a quick check on the GPS. Bingo! We were 100 meters south. Once again, as done on a couple of occasions tonight, we paced out the distance. " One Hundred meters. Check the GPS Andy." Spot on! we were at the end of the Cotton Famine. Or so we hoped. Setting a bearing we headed off across the moor. Less than a hundred meters west and we were delighted to find that we truly were on the old Cotton Famine Road. Go West young men, go West.
The run along the Cotton Famine was a delight after trudging over sodden tussocky ground where the legs had become caked in heavy wet peat, up to the knees, which saps the energy from already tiring limbs. With the mist once again rolling in, reducing visibility, we encountered a broken section of this early Victorian highway where its course turns North West. Dropping into the sodden gap we made a slight mistake climbing out a little to the South. Looking at the map we where only 400 to 500 meters East of Broadstones Trig Point. "We'll go for it straight on", we decided, instead of retracing our steps back onto the Cotton Famine. Heading across the moor we soon reached Broadstone Clough, close to the rocky outcrop that is Broadstones. In the mist we couldn't accurately recognise a location which we had run past so often in the past. Turning North we soon came upon Sykes Pillar (Broadstones Trig Point) named after the late Frank Sykes, one of the founding members of Saddleworth Runners Club. Now at our fifth and final trig point Andy sent a quick text message home to let Monica know we were ok. Probably more in the hope that she would have bacon butties ready for when he got home! There's Bob Hope and in Andy's case there's NO HOPE!
|Fifth and final trig - Sykes Pillar (Broadstones trig point)|
|Back at the Clarence after 7 hours on the hills|
We had been out on the hill for a little over 7 hours in total. I had envisaged it would take us about 6 hours to complete the 18 to 20 miles circuit, if the weather was kind to us. With stops of about 5 minutes at each trig point for, food and map checks, plus 10 to 15 minutes spent with Charlie and then some time delays in the mist and slow going across a really boggy section of moor we had done quite well for a night round of the Saddleworth 5 Trigs.
It was a fantastic outing enjoyed with great friends. Thanks to Howard and Bruce for joining us over the first part of our journey and a special thanks to Charlie for waiting for us at New Snoopy's with 'The Best Coffee in the World'.
Special Owl points are awarded tonight:
Howard and Bruce get 4 points for running in support, Andy and I get 4 for completing the night time round and Charlie gets 4 honorary points for his support and a further 4 points for is Owl Coffee.
Kit carried between Andy and myself:
- Rucksacks x 2
- Map & Compass x 2
- GPS x 2
- Head-torches x 2 plus spare torch and batteries.
- Mobile phones x 2
- Spare warm clothing including hat, gloves, waterproof cag and over trousers.
- Emergency Bivvi shelter
- Small first aid kit
- Mixed sweets, drinks, ham sandwich, cerial bars, 2 pieces of christmas cake & Kendal Mint Cake.