I was doing the usual working my way to the back of the pack as we climbed on to the featureless, soggy, sticky, slippery Haworth moorland. I do love fell running, but I’m not fast, so am always very careful to check out the route beforehand, to avoid any navigational hitches or embarrassing calls to the rescue services.
Noel and my friend Maika has disappeared into the distance, I didn’t expect to see either of them until I hobbled up the cobbles of Haworth main street to the finish line. As it turned out, I was wrong.
As well as being featureless, the moors can be hostile, cold and bleak, no wonder the Brontes weren’t Misses Chuckletrousers with such a draught blowing around the houses. But I was confident, the Bronte Way was point-to-point, the bus had dropped us at the start and all we had to do was find our way back, eight and a bit miles, or 12ish kilometres in new money.
I was finding it tough going, the ground was spitting smelly mud at me and the rocks were conspiring to bang me on the ankle. I was having a bit of a pity party to be honest, I didn’t seem to be making progress and it took ages to do less than a parkrun. As I struggled up a steep hill, fighting the heather and bracken, my phone rang. That was all I needed, it must be a PPI call in the middle of the moors, who else could it be? And on a Sunday too, I wasn’t going to answer it, I mean, shouldn’t they be bothering someone else? Anyway, I didn’t have the strength to get the damned thing out of my pack, the message pinged and decided to check at the top of the hill, just in case it wasn’t PPI.
Then I heard my name, carried on the wind…’Anne, Anne…’. OK, I was definitely hallucinating, it was the fumes from the bogs. ‘Anne, ANNNNE!!!!’ wow, they were some fumes. But as I glanced down, I saw Maika emerging from the heather at the bottom of the slope. At first I thought she’d been trying out a high-speed roly-poly down the hill to add to her fell-running adventure, she’s Japanese and always up for a challenge. Then I was worried she’d taken a tumble. Either way, she was way off course, but uninjured and obviously very pleased to see me.
As she made her way up the steep slope, almost crying with relief, she told how she’d taken a wrong turn. On the plus side, she’d taken some amazing photos that no-one else on the run had seen. On the minus side, she was well and truly lost, not helped by asking directions from a brusque Yorkshire farmer who had told her ‘Get thissen up t’fell sithee yonder, tha knows’. Despite extensive tuition in advanced Yorkshireness, she had no idea what he meant, but his upward-pointing finger sent her towards the sky. Fortunately, I happened to be passing.
It was Maika who had phoned me, she had panicked when she got lost. I assured her we had no coyotes, wolves or bears on the Yorkshire Moors, though the grouse could get a bit grumpy. Her loss, or getting lost, was definitely my gain, I had company and soon discovered that my slower-than-usual progress wasn’t as bad as I thought as my watch had suddenly started counting in miles, there wasn’t far to go. We chatted as we ran, taking photos and enjoying ourselves, that’s what running’s all about really.
The wonderful Dave Woodhead who, along with his wife Eileen organises and photographs Woodentops fell races, was waiting for us and heard our tale of woe. He thought it was hilarious, well, he would, wouldn’t he? As usual, his photos made us look rather cool. Gotta love that guy!
As we ran up those cobbles, crossing the finish line joint last, we laughed, but not caring one jot. We’d had an adventure, and Maika had another Yorkshire story to tell.