A View From The Back: Whaley Waltz Recce, and Hope Wakes Fell Race

by Pete Fotheringham

Running has taken a bit of a back seat over the last month or so, due to the move to Whaley Bridge. Writing about running, or anything else, has been even further back. But now we’re in the new house, most of the boxes have been unpacked, and I’ve run out of excuses.

Tuesday night’s social run was the traditional pre-race recce of the Whaley Waltz route, so that marshals and participants have some idea of where they will be going on Saturday. With everyone running in a single group, the faster runners have lots of opportunities for looping back, and for planning the optimum line, while those nearer the back have plenty of opportunities to watch and wonder.

I’ve never done the Waltz, and I seem to have missed out on the recce in previous years, so it was all new to me. Well, except for the bit through the park to Macc Road, and across the fields past the Bowen’s residence to Taxal Church of course, which often features in club runs in one direction or the other. I don’t often do the stretch up the fields to Taxal Moor Road, because it’s much more fun going down, but I appreciated the discussion about whether their correct name is ‘Rectory Fields’ (because the house at the bottom is the old Rectory) or ‘Bastard Fields’ (for a reason which completly escapes me). After that there’s the slog up past Terry’s Tree to Taxal Edge, then along the edge and down and up through the woods to Windgather, and that’s the hard bit done.

A refreshing way to end a Tuesday run

After that, the rest of the run is joyful, fast downhill, finishing with the river crossing in the park – optional on the recce, but obligatory in the race. I decided to keep my powder – and my shoes and shorts, and several other people’s car keys – dry for the race on Saturday. The route is just over 6 miles, lots of the uphill is quite runnable, and the downhill is fantastic. There are still a few places available for Saturday’s race if you haven’t got your entry in yet. Or if you’re feeling lazy, then Lucas can always use a few more marshals. Full details on the GVS website. Thanks to Mary for organising the recce.

See that lump between the posts? That’s where we’re going!

Wednesday was the Hope Wakes Fell Race, which is in this year’s GVS Summer Fell Series for which I want to do at least the five races necessary to qualify, so that meant a second night running of 6-plus miles and quite a bit of up. How hard could that be? 🙂 Wednesday was a beautiful day in Whaley, but the drive to Hope was into cloudier and chillier weather. Lots of people and cars milling around at Hope Sports Club, and I arrived to see the end of one of the junior races. There was a good turnout of Striders – surely not only because the race is a counter for the Summer Fell Series 🙂

Not many people running up Hope Brink

The race route skirts clockwise around Win Hill to the Ladybower side, before heading straight up to the summit and steeply down back to Hope. The ‘skirting’ involves a rising traverse of Hope Brink, which may well be runnable, though from my customary position in the field I didn’t see anybody doing anything other than walking. After reaching the ridge, there’s some downhill – quite muddy and rocky, so no flying down here for the likes of me. Then the route undulates as it parallels the banks of Ladybower reservoir. More mud but fewer rocks, so it doesn’t hurt when you trip and narrowly avoid a full face plant. Then it’s a seemingly very long ascent – directly up, out of the woods, to the summit of Win Hill. It gets steeper as you get nearer the top, and the last few feet involve hands as well as feet. Sadly the views from the top weren’t very impressive as the summit was very definitely in the cloud.

Finally, nothing but downhill. Steep enough that you have to concentrate, but not so steep that you can’t enjoy the effects of gravity. Nearer the bottom, the group of runners in front of me, who I thought had left me way behind, came into view and I was able to close the gap as we descended the fields and the road under the railway, back towards the finish. Sadly, it levelled out before I could actually pass anyone, but the runner just in front of me was close enough as we got towards the sports club that I thought I might catch him, so I tried to find what passes for my sprint finish. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough and he finished a little way in front of me, but at least I was suitably knackered and out of breath when I crossed the line.

Several Striders had stayed behind to see me finish and cheer me over the line , and there was plenty of flapjack and squash left at the refreshment tent, so the evening ended on a high note. To cap it all, as I drove home over Rushup Edge, there was a fantastic sunset. It would have made a lovely picture, but I was driving, and the battery on my camera had run out, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

So, this week I learned that if I run 10k / 6 miles, with over 1,000 feet of ascent, on two consecutive days, on the third day I will be quite tired, it will hurt when I try to move, and I definitely won’t feel like joining Helen and friends on a 10 mile walk around Gradbach and the Roaches. On the plus side, I will have the opportunity to sit in the sun, and catch up on my writing.

Now I’m looking forward to the Whaley Waltz, and the rest of the Whaley Bridge Carnival on Saturday tomorrow. I hope I’ll see you there.

Facts, Figure and Links

Whaley Waltz Recce

  • Distance: 10.14 km / 6.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 323m / 1,060 ft
  • Relive
  • Route

Hope Wakes Fell Race