The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year and is also the birthday of one of the members of Saddleworth Runners. At 8pm on Friday 21st June over twenty club members met at the Clarence Hotel, Greenfield, for birthday drinks before departing on a night-time round of the 20 mile Saddleworth Trigs route. Inspired by a previous, nocturnal winter round by two fellow SRC members, Nicky Torr wanted to complete the route, with friends, to celebrate her 40th Birthday.
|Arriving at the half-way point|
Starting out at 9pm, on what was a perfectly mild summers evening, the group was full of laughter and joy, as the 20 strong group made their way up Alphin Pike to the first trig point of the night. With a bright moon peaking from behind dark clouds the contingent made their way along the Chew Valley edges past Wimberry Rocks to Chew Reservoir and onto the 2nd , and most remote trig point of the round, upon Featherbed Moss. With the conditions ideal the miles were quickly ticked off as the going underfoot, along the Pennine Way, was ideal and Black Hill trig point was soon attained.
|Get the coffee on love they're coming|
|Happy birthday Nicky|
At Snoopy’s lay-by, on the Saddleworth to Holmfirth Road, another group of SRC members were waiting to join the first group for the second leg of their overnight journey. Husband and wife duo, Ruth and Stuart Hutchinson, had offered to set up their outside catering van to provide everyone with copious amounts of their finest coffee. Recently married, the SRC couple, who’s relationship was cemented by a love of the outdoors and a passion for fell running, own a newly established business called ‘Coffee Run’. Their specially kitted-out van can be seen every day, outside Greenfield Railway Station, serving Tea and Coffee to Saddleworth’s early morning commuters. At lunch times they provide hungry workers, at several business premises, with quality sustenance to see them through the remainder of the working day. Having a passion for fell racing they are now looking to set up stall at local fell races, to share their wonderful range of coffee’s and light snacks with fellow hill loving folk. Indeed they recently quenched the thirst of runner’s at two of SRC’s popular races, the Cake Race and the Saddleworth Fell Race.
|Thanks for the wonderful coffee!|
No sooner had their stall been set out, with lanterns glowing and birthday balloons floating in the wind, when a line of head-torches could be seen descending the northern flanks of Black Hill. As the group arrived, Ruth and Stuart set to work serving cup after cup of freshly brewed coffee to the parched runners. Within the space of a few minutes they had served around thirty nocturnal runners with freshly brewed coffee’s and home-baked cakes.
|West Nab trig point - one to go|
With everyone suitably refreshed, the ever growing group set off on the final leg of their Summer Solstice run. Under an angry looking sky we reached the trig point upon the rocky summit of West Nab in good time. A heavy rain now moved in, on an ever increasing wind, and it was time to don cags for the remainder of the outing. Making good progress down Wessenden Valley we once again followed the Pennine Way past Swellands and Black Moss reservoirs before traversing Broadhead Brow to reach South Clough.
With the weather now turning to near winter conditions and the driving rain reducing visibility to only a few metres ,everyone was still in high spirits as we marched on a bearing across the bleak and featureless Wicken Clough Moss. Crossing the Cotton Famine Road we drifted a little too far south and had to readjust our sights in order to reach the final, elusive trig point of the night.
Upon reaching Sykes Pillar (Broadstone trig point), named on OS Maps after the late Frank Sykes, one of Saddleworth Runner’s founding members, we didn’t linger long as some of the group were now beginning to feel the effects of this unusually chilling weather. Dropping off the hill, to escape the worst of the driving rain and bone chilling wind, we headed down Broadstone Clough and past Slades Barn to reach Pobgreen. With dawn now breaking we followed a much more sheltered course along the lower flanks of Primrose Hill, below the Pot’s and Pan’s War Memorial, and into Greenfield were yet another strong contingent of club members had turned out to toast Nicky’s birthday and mark the passing of the solstice.
Nicky had thoroughly enjoyed her birthday run with her husband, Matt – a member of Oldham Mountain Rescue Team – her sister-in-law, who had travelled up from Sheffield to take part in the fun, and all her friends from Saddleworth Runners Club, for making her birthday so special. Nicky would like to pass on her thanks to everyone who turned out to support the run and a special thanks to Ruth and Stuart for providing the freshly brewed, energy giving, coffee’s. If you would like to book the ‘Coffee Run’ to support a race or club event, you can contact them via their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/coffee.run.uk?fref=ts