Striding with Rombald

To Yorkshire, this past weekend to parktake in a bimble across Rombald’s and Ilkley Moor, the Rombald ‘s Stride Challenge. I did it last year in glorious sunshine after a dry January, this time it was a bit different. It starts and finishes in Guiseley (Centre Of The Universe). Five hundred of us are lined up in the snow, whippet thin fell runners and fat plodders milling around in the cold, when with a total lack of ceremony a handbell rings and we are off. Those in the know shoot off to get through a couple of narrow gates early in the route before the main pack arrives. Half an hour in, and you have the disconcerting experience of walking through a film set. OK Emmerdale is a TV show not a film set, but the village of Esholt doubled for the fictional village, and the pub is still called the Woolpack.

Up onto the moors and the first of several stops for tea and buns, past horse gallops and golf courses, slipping and slithering through mud and over frozen ground and snow polished smooth by several hundred pairs of boots. Up on the top of the Moor and the wind whips snow showers into short blizzards and I recall I have crampons with me. Once fitted I slither no more. Past the Twelve Apostles (Stone Circle) and on by the transmitters at Whetstone and down into Ilkley Bottom. Another tea break and I catch up with my hosts for the weekend who are running the checkpoint. K had hoped to run in the challenge this year, until diagnosed with DVT, his wife L has made this checkpoint her fiefdom. Apparently the volunteers get very attached to their stations (even the people manning the checkpoints on top in the blizzard).

Up through the Hidden Valley, by the Cow and Calf (large rocks, not the name of a public house) and back on top. The Chevin lurks in the distance, ominously waiting, curiously devoid of snow. Now its about keeping on keeping on. Along the ridge line, punctuated by sharp gullies and down to Burley Woodhead and more tea. No snow, so off with the crampons and away through farms and into the most difficult navigation of the day, through the town of Menston. Finally reaching the foot of the Chevin in the assorted company of Scouts and Long Distance Walkers, veterans and novices. The Chevin is the sting in the tail after almost 20 miles, up, across and down we go, back up and finally over the top. Slither through the most disgusting farmyard mud of the day – there’s a good reason for wearing gaiters – and a quick wash of boots in a ditch before the final stomp down the hill into Guiseley (COTU) and the finish at St Oswald’s School, and the 15th Airdale Scouts are now £8 better off.

K&L are there, but there’s not a minute to waste, my time of 7 hours 35 minutes hasn’t left much room for maneouver, I need to get showered and changed quickly so we can get to Headingley for a 6 PM kick-off. Leeds Rhinos are playing Hull Kingston Rovers in the first game of the new Rugby League season. We park a mile from the ground, and I somehow manage to walk (well it’s more of a waddle) down the hill to the ground. We enter by the cricket ground, and just have time to pick up a pint of Tetley Bitter before kick-off. K&D (his son and heir) are passionate season ticket holders, but the first half does not go well and Hull KR lead at the interval. However, class tells in the second half and the Rhinos run out 20-12 winners in the sub-zero temperatures.

Home for dinner, several Guinnesses and an early night. The following morning admits to a late rise, much stiffness in creaking joints, a depressing viewing of the English performance in the Six Nations and a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant, where I have to pretend to be Welsh. Plans for future adventures are laid and then farewells are said before the Silver Arrow hurtles down the M1 in the dark.

Here are some photos from the adventure:-

~ by @mmonyte on February 5, 2008.

One Response to “Striding with Rombald”

  1. What a fabulous weekend you had! There is nothing more invigorating than a good walk, though I should prefer to have my Springer, Sadie, at my side for such an outing as her enthusiasm for nature rivals none.

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