Saturday 11th July 2015
Last weekend, whilst some of my running buddies were doing their thing further North of the country, I took my family to the glorious Yorkshire Dales where I had planned to run the second instalment of the Dales Trail Series, the DT30 (kilometres, not miles).
Leaving late on Friday and a road closure on the A1 meant that we finally pitched our tent in the campsite of Usha gap farm in Muker at 1AM. It was a muggy night before what was to become a scorching Saturday and I will not mention the midges. Instead, I’ll fast forward eight hours to find the same campsite which, doubling up as race HQ, is now swarming with 100 or so rearing-to-go trail runners complete with hydration vests, buffs, compressions socks and muddy shoes. 10 o’clock comes and sees the runners lining up on a virtual start at the bottom of a hill in the middle of very green nowhere. After a collective count-down and to the sound of “off you go” we are indeed off for 5 miles of varied, but usually uphill gradient. The route takes us along the beautiful River Swale Valley, intersects the Coast-to-Coast path before catching the Pennine Way northward to the mid-way point of the course and highest pub in Great Britain (I’m told), Tan Hill Inn, where some runners cannot resist the lure of a cold beer. After a few hugs and kisses with my nearest and dearest (“Mum you need to go, all the women are overtaking you!”), I’m off again, downhill (-ish) this time but in a head or side wind which on barren high ground is no mean feat. By now, the track has become a single line which meanders on the moor (it is marked as a dotted pink line on my Harvey map); overtaking is difficult and walking embarrassing (no one wants to be that bottleneck). At Ravenseat we hook back onto the Coast-to-Coast and when the farms and hamlets appear again after 2 hours on the moor it feels like going back to civilisation. Soon it’s the waterfall of Keld (and my family again), a run along Kisdon and we are back at Muker, in my case three and a half long hours after I started.
I have fallen in love with the Yorkshire Dales since I first stopped there on my way back from Cumbria 2 months ago and can’t wait to go back at the end of September for the finale of the DT series, a 40-kilometer “race over the rolling hills, lush green valleys and the wild moors of Wensleydale, Wharfedale and Langstrothdale”. If you want to extend your repertoire of trail races but don’t feel quite ready to take on the Cumbrian hills, then running in the Dales might be just the thing for you!