The morning was bright and chilly. Others, probably more accurately, would have said it was bloody freezing.
Runners of different shapes, sizes and ages gathered at the Robin Hood in Rainow, near Macclesfield on the afternoon of Saturday 2nd February.
The car park at the pub was exremely slippy. It was also on a slope and I was warned by the landlady not to park at the top of the slope: the previous day 2 cars, unmanned (or unwomanned), had slid across the car park – on car had gone through the hedge.
Whatever…a couple of hours prior to the massed gathering of knees, Rob McHarry and I had arrived in order to lay a sawdust trail of around 8 miles around the lumpier bits of the area….the clumps of sawdust were (supposed) to be followed by the runners.
We had A Plan….that is to say ROB had A Plan. It was actually a very good plan. So we sort of changed it by going clockwise rather that widdershins as Rob had originally suggested.
Suitably armed with bags of sawdust we set off, well we slipped and slid off the ice rink of a car park, and wandered off north along a quiet lane in the direction of, well, north.
Leaving the relative safety of ice-packed tarmac we turned left to skirt Rainowlow where some brown squiggly lines on the map were crossed.
A short stretch of tarmac at Billinge Head Farm took us to a nice path that skirted the eastern edges of Billinge Quarries.
Turning east, we followed a nice path that descended to Mellow Brook, then up the other side of the valley to Harrop Fold Farm….where I have hazy memories of camping weekends where lots of beer may have been consumed. Or Martini.
I didn’t drink the litre bottle of Martini. It’s not the sort of thing I’d do. Obv.
A little more tarmac followed, and very icy it was too. The was little warmth from the sun, but as the track was in the shade anyway it would have made little difference.
Our route slowly changed direction to follow a more south-easterly course.
I was a little concerned that the runners following our carefully planned and even more carefully recced <koff> route might lose the sawdust trail; pale sawdust on bright white snow doesn’t stand out particularly well. We needn’t have worried, although we probably went a bit over the top with the clumps of sawdust, nobody got lost. Well not VERY lost.
Another valley crossing followed, this time down to Moss Brook and up the other side by Saddle Cote, this was a bit of a pull and Rob was well ahead of me. In my defence I was taking photographs which slowed me down quite a bit. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
It was around about here that Rob spotted a skier doing what skiers do best. Our route turned hard right to follow the skier's tracks.
Ski tracks. And my shadow. Tsk.
Oh, and there were goats too...I almost forgot to mention them
Another short stretch of tarmac along Bank Lane and then Ewrin Lane took us to Waggoner’s Brow were another hard right turn delivered into more familiar Turkey Trot country, approaching Lamaload Reservoir.
The reservoir dam looked quite spectacular in the freezing temperature, all the buttresses were covered in frost.
A steep descent to cross the infant River Dean, by the waterworks, had me slipping and sliding like a very slippy-slidy thing. But I stayed upright. we continued littering our way in a southerly direction,
It was a bit of a tug up hill. We followed the footpath to the western side of the reservoir to a point just beyond Wickinford Farm. From there we trotted in a south-westerly direction to pass through Valeroyal and very close to the site of the Setter Dog by Walker Barn, and then north by Gulshaw Hollow and Hordern Farm, scattering sawdust trail as we went.
We crossed the icy Berristall Road and descended steeply to the bottom of the valley before climbing equally steeply to pass by Thornsett Farm.
The going became very easy (easy = gently downhill). The Robin Hood hove into view and after another slippy – slidy adventure across the ice rink of a car park we made it back to our cars.
14 runners sat down to enjoy an excellent meal of beef stew followed by fruit crumble and custard….lots of fattening stodge, just what’s needed after a cold day in the hills.
The day was marred by the news of John Potter’s car suffering the same fate as the sliding cars of the previous day. His unmanned car ended up colliding with two other cars in the car park. John, understandably brassed off with what had happened, didn’t stick around for the run.
My thanks to Rob for letting me ‘help’, and for his good company of course….and to Wells the Elder for buggering off to Brazil so creating a temporary Trail-layer vacancy.
GPS track of where we went (clockwise from Rainow):