Haigh Woodland Parkrun

Me and my beautiful wife had planned on meeting friends at Witton parkrun near Blackburn, but they had to cancel last minute. Not wanting to run Lancaster parkrun, knowing just how much mud there is at the bottom end of the park, we opted for Haigh Woodland parkrun. This is the closest parkrun to where I work, and Helen had been to the park last year with friends and had really liked it, as well as having a go on the miniature railway.

Unfortunately Helen didn’t sleep too good and was feeling very much under the weather. Being the amazing woman that she is, she still wanted me and Nelly to have a good parkrun, so off we went towards Haigh Woodland, which is situated almost half way between Bolton and Wigan, and equidistant between the M6 and the M61.

My wife tells me that my need to arrive everywhere incredibly early in endearing, although me and Nelly were only there 15 minutes before the start. This did allow time for Nelly to have a poo and for our bligatory pre-parkrun selfie.


There was a pre-run briefing for anyone new to Haigh Woodland (or completely new to parkrun), which was well attended. Cuerden Valley, Pennington Flash and Ormskirk parkruns were all cancelled due to the weather, which might have swelled the ranks.

As it was the 29th February, the run was going in the opposite direction, which probably didn’t make too much of a difference, except that we were told to keep left for the out and back sections. As it was in the other direction we should have been told to keep right. We survived.

Lining up at the start there was also the most amount of dogs at a parkrun that I’ve ever seen. The start was also very narrow, much like at Fountains Abbey, but with mud. Did I mention that I had wanted to avoid the mud at Lancaster? Haigh Woodland had so much mud that you couldn’t avoid it. In the early stages people tried to dither around it, causing everyone to slow down, while Nelly was in full on bonkers mode, wanting to race towards the front. Not today Nelly, I’m taking it easy.

At the start I had overheard a man chatting about the previous weeks Canalathon, so during the run I had a quick chat with him, as I had done the 50km event last year Read about it here). He’d done an early season 20 mile version, but the weather had been so atrocious the organisers had offered discounts to the future 50km or 50mile events. Cannonball Events put on Canalathon, as well as a load of other great races from 5km to Ultras.

The Haigh Woodland parkrun route gradually made its way down, across the miniature railway lines, through some mud and then through more mud. Gradually there was a bit more space so me and Nelly could start to overtake a few people, and a couple of dogs. Nelly was still full of energy for the uphill return, pulling me along nicely, with the usual good humoured comments of ‘can I borrow her’ or ‘that’s cheating’.

A couple of hundred meters to go and we saw another dog, so putting in a sprint, something that I very rarely do at parkrun, we whizzed past the dog and owner, who was wearing a canicross top, and into the finish funnel.

We finished in 59th out of 277 finishers in a time of 25:38, an almost identical time to last weeks parkun at Preston (read about it here), but 40 places higher.

A great little parkrun and one that I would love to do in the summer (on dry paths). The only negative today was having to wait ten minutes to get out of the carpark as the barrier wasn’t working for the car in front. Small things that aren’t that important.

Today was also my 25th different parkun.

Did you parkrun today?

If you did, how many different parkruns have you done?

Injury Update Part II

A couple of days ago I wrote about how my recent injury was getting on (read about it here), and how this Friday I was planning on a longer run. I have entered the Oldham Way Ultra, 40 miles of hills, in seven weeks time, so today was going to be a do or die run. Survive and I’ll be more confident about the ultra, hobble home and I’ll call it off.

My planned route was to park at the top of Littledale, run down the hill and then up the shooters track, join the Clougha Pike to Wards Stone footpath, and then drop down into Roeburndale, finishing off past the Littledale Free Church with the last climb back to the car. I’ve run up or down the main shooters track a few times, but the other parts of the run would combine the recent Littledale run I did with Helen and Nelly (read about it here) with a run over Wards Stone from last year (read about it here). There would only be a short section of a mile or two which I’d never run before, so even if the visibility wasn’t too good, I should be OK.

I wasn’t OK.

Setting off up the shooters track was all fine, a little rain and wind but that was all, apart from having to walk much of it because it’s so steep. However, it soon turned to snow, with ice on the track, and the wind getting stronger and stronger, with visibility not very much. The photo below is where the shooters track crosses the footpath.


The last time I was here I could see the footpath, even if I couldn’t see the top of the hill. This time the path was snow covered. I opted to head towards Clougha Pike in the other direction, a route that I had done many times, although not for a few years. The path was fairly visible, with some footprints visible in the snow from a day or two ago. A moments distraction and suddenly I found myself off the path, in a blizzard, very little visibility and no clue where I should go. I stopped to think, before following my footprints back for what felt like an eternity but was only a couple of minutes, finding the wide and very obvious path once again. A bit annoyed with myself I carried on.


It wasn’t too long before I reached the top of Clougha and started the descent, which was very slow due to the icy rocks, but soon I could see the whole valley once again. Towards the bottom the path was a mud fest as I traced my way back to the car. Cold and wet I headed home.

I had managed 15km in horrible conditions, with 600m of climbing. Not as far as I had planned, but I didn’t feel anything from my injury, which is good. I also realised that as the Oldham Way Ultra has a 13 hour cut-off, even at the pace that I ran/walked today I could still finish in under ten hours. On top of the run I also took Nelly out for two 40 minute walks, and walked into Lancaster to meet my amazing wife for coffee and cake. I’m feeling a lot more optimistic for the ultra, which was what today was all about.

Littledale Run

A couple of weeks ago, me and my beautiful wife, along with our silly pointer went for a run closer to home. To the south of Lancaster is Clougha Pike, part of the Forest of Bowland, and grouse shooting land. As we had Nelly with us we weren’t going up Clougha, but instead skirting it and then back around Littledale.


Parking up on Rigg Lane the first thing you notice are the signs telling you that dogs are not allowed, and then in small writing except if on rights of way, i.e. footpaths. We gentle ran towards a shooters track, which probably isn’t a footpath, but we are out of season, and Nelly is a ‘working’ gun dog. As with any off-road run you start off trying to keep your feet dry, although it wasn’t too long before we gave that up and just ran through the mud.

Off the shooters track and onto a footpath, leaving the grouse behind, much to Nelly’s grumbling. The footpath took us to an overflowing stream, almost up to our knees in muddy water, before finding a nice track to run along. Winding our way through farms we dropped down to cross a small stream.


From there we stumbled upon Littledale Hall and Littledale Free Church, built approximately 1850, but now a ruin.


We imagined how it would look if we had pots of money to turn it into a house. Too much work (and money) for us, but it would look amazing.


We followed the road until another footpath took us through another farm. This was where things took a turn for the worse. A distinct lack of signs meant that we carried on too far and had to climb over a locked gate, lifting Nelly over, and down a track that definitely wasn’t a designated footpath, before re-joining the road at the exact same point where the footpath was.

Nelly then tried to injure herself by being impatient over a very large ladder style sty. Thankfully she was OK as we jogged back along the muddy path to the car. Obligatory post run selfie…


…followed by muddy shoe photo.


Our run was only 8 miles and took almost two hours, but that’s not the point. Getting out and about, seeing new things, even when we’re only a few miles from home, that’s what it’s all about.

Random Wednesday

Strava Challenges

I’ve completed over 700 Strava Virtual Challenges, but this year Strava has introduced a few random ones. In January there was a 50km walk challenge, and in February there was a ski challenge (10 hours) and a triathlon challenge (25 hours). In March there is even a recover challenge, where you have to do at least one session of yoga every week. Probably one that I won’t complete, but I like the idea.


As everyone knows, Greenland has far more ice than Iceland, and Iceland has far more greenery than Greenland. However, the locals in Iceland often feel that Windland would be a better name. Umbrellas are never used by locals in Iceland.


There is a large DFS near where I work in Middlebrook. They are using Wallace and Gromit to advertise new sofas and such like. On the door is a sign saying ‘No Dogs’.


Nelly, our silly pointer, like to chase squirrels. She never catches them, until today. She was very pleased with herself as it squeaked like one of her toys. She couldn’t understand why I was cross with her and told her off.

Injury Update

A few weeks ago I wrote about a small injury that I’d picked up and how to cope with injuries in general (read about it here). I’ve been for a sports massage and I’ve been stretching as well, something I find easy to forget to do. Running wise I have (mostly) been taking it easy with a few gentle 5km runs and a couple slightly longer. On every run, no matter how slow and steady, I feel paranoid that the slightest little twinge is my injury returning, threatening to stop me running for far longer.

In less than two months I should be taking part in the 40 mile Oldham Way Ultra (read about it here), but my longest run so far in 2020 is 12 miles, which was on January 1st. Therefore, this Friday is a bit of a D-Day for me. I will take to the hills above Lancaster and run (slowly) 20-25km, over a mix of trails, road and boggy fell. If my calf survives than mentally I will receive a huge boost to my confidence, and will head towards April’s ultra with renewed vigor. If on the other hand I end up limping back to the car, then I will pull out of the ultra and stick to slow and steady parkruns and good walks with my beautiful wife and our silly pointer. Life’s good either way.

Ingleton Falls

Life is too short to sit around waiting for things to happen, so this morning me and my beautiful wife, while lying in bed, had a look at a couple of maps to see where we should go. There were a couple of walks that looked interesting, but would probably be very wet after the recent rain. Helen then had a brainstorm! Ingleton Falls after the rain would look stunning. Despite cycling in and around Ingleton many times, I’ve never walked to the falls. I made some sandwiches, we loaded Nelly into the car and off we went.

We parked in the large car park and paid £7 to begin the trail. It was half price as the footpath along the River Doe had been partly washed away, meaning that three of the falls were inaccessible. You can see the Falls without paying if you use the footpaths above the falls, but there is very limited parking, plus the upkeep on the paths isn’t cheap so we didn’t object to paying.

We set off up the path alongside the River Twiss, with Nelly scampering ahead, coming back every few minutes to check that we were OK. First photo stop was at the very full money tree, which if I had known existed I would have made sure we had some change with us. Next time. Some of the coins date back over a hundred years, shimmering as the light hit them.


A short while later we came to Pecca Falls, which is a cascade of falls, dangerously full of water.

We also stopped for the obligatory selfie as we crossed the Pecca Bridge.


We continued up, not stopping for a hot dog (there was a food hut, not Nelly), past Holybush Spout and onto Thorton Force, the famous fall painted by JMW Turner in 1816. This fall is also famous because you can scramble behind it. With so much water it wasn’t a good idea today, although Helen did make her way round to the side, much to the consternation of Nelly.


From there is was only a short walk to the top, where I suddenly realised that I had been there before, on a geology field trip as a first year undergraduate. On that day we had come in from the top, which is why I didn’t think that I’d been there before.

We walked along the bridleway which links the two rivers, not stopping at the ice-cream van. I’m not sure how much trade he was doing on a cold and wet February Sunday.


As we’d been informed that the trail was impassible beyond Beezley Farm we followed the quiet road back to Ingleton. We had a look at the open air swimming pool (not open) and the viaduct before sitting on a bench to have some lunch.

We’ll definitely be back to have a look at the three falls on the River Doe, when the path re-opens, and I would definitely recommend going there for a walk if you’re ever in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

Preston Parkrun

I had suggested to my lovely wife that we should do a tourist parkrun this weekend, and that it should be Preston. This was fairly prescient as Lancaster parkrun was cancelled due to the high winds, and Morecambe turned out to be very grim, with 50mph winds and sand blasted into runners faces after the turn around point.

Preston parkrun is located close to the city centre in Avenham Park, and with free parking being a premium we jumped on a train. The times of the trains are not ideal, either arriving with only ten minutes to get to the start, or with 45 minutes. The later train was already running late on its way to Lancaster, so we hurried to catch the earlier one. Obviously Nelly our silly pointer joined us, and was very well behaved on the train, only pumping once or twice. Arriving early also gave us chance to have a walk round Avenham Park, which was an absolutely lovely park, with a Japanese garden and a large cafe. Helen also said a brilliant ‘Dad’ joke on the way which will have me chuckling for a long time.


The River Ribble alongside the park was very angry, flowing fast, with debris indicating that it had been even higher. The Environment Agency had announced that the Ribble was one of many rivers in the area to exceed existing river levels. Those one in a hundred year flood events seem to be occurring every couple of years.

After our little walk around the park we listened to the announcements, with the run director giving a shout out to the nearby Cuerden Valley parkrun, which had been cancelled due to being water logged.

I was running with Nelly so I lined up near the back of the field and chatted to a man with a bib stating that this was his 250th parkrun. Naturally I congratulated him, as did most other people. There was also a woman wearing a ‘this is my 50th parkrun’ bib. I’ve never seen this before, but I like it.

The start of the run was quite busy and slow, with a nasty steep climb, before gently descending for about half a lap. The course is three laps, and by the start of the final lap Nelly was definitely first dog, although the run leader did overtake us as we passed the turn off to the finish tunnel.


There was also a photographer on the course who had uploaded his photos to Flickr before we’d even got home. I’m not sure what kind of a face Nelly is making, but she looks fierce (she isn’t).

feirce nelly

Once across the finish line we waited for Helen to finish, although we didn’t have to wait long. After a slow start Helen had been quicker for each subsequent mile and was third in her age group. I might be a little biased, but my wife is looking fit, although the photographer completely missed her every lap.

We ambled back to the train station and only had to wait five minutes for a train. Once again Nelly was very well behaved, getting admiring looks from everyone.

By ten thirty we were home, uploading to Strava with a brew. An excellent start to the day.

300 Blog Posts

I can’t believe that I’ve written 300 blog posts. More amazing is that this silly little blog of mine has had over 10,000 views. I would never have guessed back in May 2014, when I wrote my first blog, that almost six years later I would still be at it. On average I seem to have blogged once a week, although the first couple of years were fairly slim, meaning that I’m definitely blogging more in the last couple of years.

All I can say is thank you for reading, and here’s to the next 300 blog entries.

Iceland Day 5 – Open Air Swimming

Day 5 and our last day in Reykjavik. It’s gone too fast. To make the most of our last day we were up very early and walked half a mile to the nearest swimming pool.


Swimming is very popular in Reykjavik, with all of the pools heated geo-thermally. The biggest and best is called Laugardalslaug, which comprises a 50m indoor pool, a 50m outdoor pool, a large kids play pool, slides and flumes, and numerous hot tubs. There are also a few rules with regards to swimming in Iceland, which can be off-putting to some. You have to leave your shoes outside the changing rooms, leave your towel in a rack near to the showers, and then shower naked using soap, thoroughly, before pulling on your swimming costume and going for a swim. There is even an attendant present to ensure that you have showered properly. (Male and female areas are completely separate).

Once all of that was completed we walked quickly to the pool steps and went for a swim. It was dark outside, there was snow on the ground and it was minus three degrees, but the pool was just the right temperature. We even had a lane to ourselves for most of our swim. After a gentle 40 minute swim we quickly made our way to a hot tub to relax with the locals for a while. It was a fantastic experience, made even better as it was the first time that Helen had ever swum in a 50m pool, and only my second time. We were buzzing for the whole day, and we even made it back to the hotel before breakfast had finished.

Once packed we left our cases in reception and headed into the centre of Reykjavik to visit the settlement exhibition. A viking farmhouse had been excavated in 2001 and the museum was built around it. It has been estimated that people lived in the farmhouse between 930 and 1000 AD. There was also loads of information about the vikings in general, and how they arrived in Iceland. There were no indigenous people living on the island before the vikings arrived, and many used Iceland as a stop-over before exploring Greenland, Canada and possibly America.

From there were returned to the harbour for a warming Icelandic Coffee, made with the local schnapps. With time against us we jumped on a sight seeing bus, which I have to say was a bit rubbish. It was expensive, even by Iceland standards, with a poor commentary and windows so dirty you could hardly see out of them.

From there it was back to the hotel and onto the airport, spending the last of our Krona on chocolate and dried fish snacks. Due to storm Ciara our flight was delayed by an hour, and the landing was slightly bumpy, but it was good to be home.

Overall we would definitely go back to Iceland, probably one summer. Things we would change next time include more swimming and definitely not going on the sight seeing bus. Our trip also included a trip to the Blue Lagoon, without entry, and we all agreed that we were not bothered about not going, especially as the Secret Lagoon was so good. The reviews of the Blue Lagoon are very mixed. Iceland and Reykjavik are expensive, but it is well worth visiting, especially if you can find an out of season deal.

Day 1 blog can be found here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here and Day 4 here.

Definitely one of the best holidays we’ve ever been on.

Iceland Day 4 – Reykjavik and the Whale Museum

The four of us strolled from the hotel into Reykjavik, stopping to take a photo of Helen’s mum outside the penis museum. I won’t embarrass her by sharing it.

The Whale museum was out on the docks, and was full of life size models of cetaceans. My favorite was the Right whales, named because they were the “right” whales to be harpooned. However, the shear size of the Blue whale is hard to get your head around, weighing in at 120 tonnes.

Helen’s mum and sister disappeared for a quick coffee before going on a whale watching boat trip. We stayed to look at the whale exhibits a bit longer, before finding some unhealthy baked goods.

As the cathedral was closed the previous day we returned and grabbed the lift for some views of the whole city from the top.

We then walked to the front to look at the relatively new viking boat sculpture.

Having been on our feet most of the day we popped into a cafe for a beer and a hot chocolate with rum while we waited for the return of the whale watching boat. The sea hadn’t been as rough, but Helen’s mum and sister had as much luck as we did, i.e. no whales were spotted.

We opted to stay in Reykjavik centre for a very nice meal in a bistro, including sharing some Iceland love balls for pudding. They tasted great, much like deep fried scone mix.

The bistro was opposite the famous Micro pub, which sells 80 different beers, many from Iceland.


One large happy hour beer each followed by a taxi ride back to the hotel. Another brilliant day in Iceland.