Wasdale, Levis 501s, a scattering of snow, and some laughs.

IntrepidEvery year, on the first weekend of March, I spend a couple of days and one night with my brother Phil, my cousin Adrian, and six or seven other people (Adrian’s old College friends, colleagues mainly). The intention of the trip is to go somewhere mountainous (not just ‘hilly’ or ‘scenic’ – that’d never do), and pretend to ourselves that we are Titans of the mountains who’ve just decided to do a simple walk instead of our usual E6 grade climbs.

Saturday's graphGeared up in stuff which far surpasses our ability to warrant it (e.g., my new Garmin forerunner, see right), we have a great day out, tired but splendid evening in a good pub, then a shorter walk on the Sunday, (shorter under the guise of needing to get home that day, but actually shorter because we’re all old and tired).

This year’s trip was a small break from recent tradition of visiting Snowdonia, and instead Adrian chose Wasdale. It was a good choice, leading to much self-congratulation. The snow of 2006 wasn’t about (apart from a few dots on the Summit of Scafell), but we were rewarded with fairly quiet routes (especially Sunday’s stroll up Yewbarrow), and some atmospheric weather.

Good banter is a given when you put eight men together who see each other annually, and it was really a whole lot of fun from start to finish. Some of the highlights included finding a pair of pretty decent Levi 501s at an altitude of about 2,500 feet and a long way from anywhere you’d really need a pair of 501s. John Shepherd has his theory as to how they got there. In any case, I’ll be trying to reunite them with their owner (as well as getting the full story). If not, they#’ll probably go for a tenner on eBay.

One of one hundred and fifty stopsLots of photographing things also goes hand in hand with these trips. That and spending a good 50% of each day discussing how best to photograph things.

Phil uses these trips to become a life coach, and one output of the weekend was to get commitments from Steve Riley to ride the 2007 Three Peaks Cyclocross and for Simon Fox to do the Bob Graham round this summer. And they weren’t even in the pub when this was nailed down. Also discussed at various points of the trip was how most or all of us will be a good deal lighter and fitter next year. I think this was agreed last year too, come to think of it, but this must have been deferred by a year at some meeting I missed.

Thanks, Adrian, for a great time, and I very much look forward to next year. Photos on Flickr here if you want to see them.

A welcome run on a winter’s morning

Click here


I went for alovely run this morning with Elvis and my camera. It’s been a while since I did my back in and I gave it long enough to recouperate, but it wouldn’t play ball – so I just started to run again anyway. After a brief venture up Ingleborough last weekend, I had a 40 minute run this morning up Bull Hill – in the most spectacular anticyclonic weather. Bleeding gorgeous. The back still aches, but running’s designed to hurt anyway, so I intend to carry on, weather permitting.





A few of the 15 minutes of fame ticked off.

Three Peaks Cyclocross Part 1
Part 1 – the video diary

3 peaks cyclocross - video 2
Part 2 – the race

In a slightly odd and certainly unpredictable series of events, I had the enjoyable and very memorable experience working on a video diary with Sam Bailey of BBC’s Countryfile programme the other week. It was all strange in many ways – not least because I’ve worked for the Countryside Commission and then the Countryside Agency for almost twelve years now and have been keen to promote my work on the programme, but when my turn came, it was because of a bike race!Most of the readers here will know of my obsession with the Three Peaks Cyclocross race, a long, hard, mountainous cycling race every September. Every training ride I do is taken over by thoughts of riding the Three Peaks, and part of my obsession has manifested itself in the race blog I keep. Anyway…. to cut a long story short, it’s because of the blog that, when the BBC heard about the race and were doing a feature on the area, they contacted me to do a video diary.I had a great day filming with them (the five hours or so was useful training and mind-preparation!), and the video diary and race were shown on 8th October. Click on the images to the left to watch the coverage, split into two episodes!

Three Peaks cyclo-cross 2006

dave_haygarth_ribblehead_06.jpgIt’s Sunday night, the bikes are washed down, Lily’s in bed, and it’s a lovely moment to sit here and contemplate what a great day I just had. I prepare for this race as if it’s the only race that matters, and can’t say that there’s been a bike ride or fell run during the last year that I haven’t thought about the Three Peaks.

I finished 15th today – my best position from eleven events – and took five minutes off my previous best time. This, despite being seriously delayed by a snapped chain on Penyghent – the final climb – which forced me to run for ten minutes whilst people I’d worked so hard to drop trickled past me. I was in eleventh place at the time and it was looking pretty safe – but that’s the type of race it was – and I’m not bitter because anything in the top 20 would have made me chuffed – I’m bloody elated. Continue reading “Three Peaks cyclo-cross 2006”

Langdale Pikes

A great day out with work – managing to somehow wangle another beautiful day out in the mountains under the name of working – getting to know future colleagues for the impending merger. Yep – life’s tough at times…..

Sep 7, 2006 – 27 Photos

A good day’s work in the north pennines

Had a great day out on the bike with my brother Phil, taking part in the 105 mile Cumberland Cycle Challenge. A challenging but rewarding route with just under 3,000 metres of ascent, based around Brampton near Carlisle. There was weather to put most Belgian cycle classics to shame – including about two hours of hard, driving rain and very strong westerly winds. The event was very well organised (by Border City Wheelers) and I enjoyed riding with Phil all day – a real luxury to spend time like that with your brother and true bonding.
In cycling terms, I was really pleased with how I felt, and it’s the start of my finishing touches to this year’s Three Peaks cyclocross training.

Windy Whittle Pike

Had the great pleasure of doing the Whittle Pike race on Wednesday evening. Whilst it’s not a towering Lakeland peak, it’s a classic fell race, incorporating the most formidable steep climbs and descents you could manage on a relatively small Rossendale hill. There was a good field and a had a really good race – finishing thirteenth out of 112. I lost a couple of places after a nasty ankle twisting incident before a crucial ‘brakes off’ descent near the finish, but I’d done a great run and was really pleased with how fast I went. My fitness is still there even though I’m about four pounds heavier than twelve months ago.


   1    Darren      Kay               Horwich         M         0:38:36
   2    Nick        Barrable          Lothian         M         0:39:06
   3    Steve       Oldfield         Bradford      MV50 (1)     0:40:16
   4    Nick        Leigh             Pudsey          M         0:40:36
   5    Karl        Gray           Calder Valley      M         0:41:21
   6    Jon         Wright         Tod Harriers       M         0:41:40
   7    Alex        Whittam        Tod Harriers       M         0:42:15
   8    Chris       Heys              Horwich         M         0:42:35
   9    Andrew      Grenfell        Rossendale        M         0:42:43
   10   Michael     Corbishley      Rossendale        M         0:42:58
   11   Ian         Greenwood         Clayton      MV40 (1)     0:43:11
   12   Brendon     Taylor          Rossendale        M         0:43:31
   13   Dave        Haygarth            u/a           M         0:43:51
   14   Stuart      Edmondson         Chorley         M         0:44:08
   15   Paul        Burnett        Tod Harriers       M         0:44:44
   16   Phillip     Taylor          Rossendale     MV45 (1)     0:44:59
   17   Shane       Russell         Rossendale       U20        0:45:03
   18   Rick        Solman          Rossendale        M         0:45:17
   19   Richard     Stott           Rossendale     MV45 (2)     0:45:24
   20   Paul        Neild             Bowland         M         0:46:06
   21   Mark        Nutter            Clayton      MV40 (2)     0:46:17
   22   Zdenek      Mazal           Vskmzlubrno       M         0:46:20
   23   Ken         Taylor          Rossendale     MV55 (1)     0:46:28
   24   Tim         Court            Newburgh      MV40 (3)     0:46:44
   25   David       Ralphs           Newburgh      MV45 (3)     0:47:07
   26   Gareth      Jackson            u/a            M         0:47:09
   27   Aaron       Kelly           Rossendale       U18        0:47:28
   28   Darren      Horner            Stadium         M         0:48:13
   29   Pete        Booth             Clayton      MV50 (2)     0:48:30
   30   Phil        Bolton          Rossendale       U18        0:48:47
   31   Andrew      Lee             Rossendale        M         0:48:52
   32   Michael     Soloman         Rossendale        M         0:49:03
   33   John        Thompson         Newburgh         M         0:49:17
   34   Mike        Moran            Rochdale      MV50 (3)     0:49:18
   35   Derek       Schofield       Rossendale     MV50 (4)     0:49:19
   36   Wally       Coppelov         Newburgh      MV45 (4)     0:49:19
   37   Peter       Nuttall         Rossendale     MV45 (5)     0:49:20
   38   Shaun       Jackson         Altrincham        M         0:49:38
   39   Paul        Hulman             u/a         MV40 (4)     0:49:52
   40   Chris       Standish          Bowland         M         0:50:02
   41   Catherine   Wilson          Rossendale      F (1)       0:50:09
   42   Philip      Metcalf             u/a           M         0:50:21
   43   Steffan     Johnson             CFR           M         0:50:42
   44   Jack        Dugdale             u/a          U18        0:50:43
   45   Allan       Yeomans         Rossendale     MV40 (5)     0:50:44
   46   Mike        Cottrill            u/a           M         0:51:09
   47   Vanessa     Peacock           Clayton      FV50 (1)     0:51:52
   48   Andrew      Dugdale           Clayton      MV40 (6)     0:51:58
   49   Chris       Pender           Newburgh         M         0:52:11
   50   Duncan      Pickup              u/a        MV40 (7)     0:52:14
   51   Kieron      Ashworth          Clayton      MV40 (8)     0:52:26
   52   Alan        Heaton            Bowland      MV50 (5)     0:52:37
   53   Andy        Dalton           Newburgh      MV40 (9)     0:52:50
   54   Geoff       Hand             Spectrum      MV50 (6)     0:52:52
   55   Eddie       Lesniak        Achille Ratti   MV50 (7)     0:52:59
   56   Karon       Forster          Spectrum      FV40 (1)     0:53:08
   57   Carole      Fryer             Halifax       F (2)       0:53:16
   58   Stephen     Bury              Clayton     MV40 (10)     0:53:29
   59   Tom         Maden           Rossendale       U18        0:54:08
   60   Neville     Griffiths        Spectrum      MV60 (1)    00:54:09
   61   Mick        Bull             Middleton     MV55 (2)    00:54:19
   62   Wayne       Warburton           u/a           M        00:54:20
   63   Gayle       Benson           Stainland      F (3)      00:54:27
   64   Gerry       Dewhurst        Radcliffe       F (4)      00:54:39
   65   George      Large          Northern Vets   MV60 (2)    00:54:40
   66   Paul        Morton            Bowland         M        00:54:46
   67   Trevor      Metcalfe          Settle       MV55 (3)    00:54:51
   68   Sarah       Massey          Radcliffe       F (5)      00:55:00
   69   Rett        Metcalfe        Hellifield     MV50 (8)    00:55:07
   70   Peter       Bolton           Red Rose      MV45 (6)    00:55:16
   71   Malcolm     Lingard          Spectrum         M        00:55:17
   72   Stephen     Symons          Manc'r YMCA   MV40 (11)    00:55:21
   73   Brian       Kennedy          Newburgh      MV55 (4)    00:55:36
   74   Debbie      Campbell       Skelmersdale     F (6)      00:56:00
   75   Richard     Horrocks           LFRS           M        00:56:10
   76   Mark        Taylor              u/a           M        00:56:23
   77   Tracy       Dean             Stainland     FV40 (2)    00:56:34
   78   John        Leary           Manc'r YMCA    MV55 (5)    00:56:38
   79   Simon       Bond            Rossendale        M        00:56:40
   80   Heather     Parker          Rossendale       U18       00:56:48
   81   Tony        Peacock           Clayton      MV60 (3)    00:56:56
   82   Rebecca     Avanessian      Manc'r YMCA     F (7)      00:57:13
   83   Sharon      McGuire         Rossendale      F (8)      00:57:27
   84   Adam        Godwin          Rossendale        M        00:57:43
   85   George      Thompson          Clayton      MV55 (6)    00:58:18
   86   John        Anketell-Jou     Spectrum         M        00:59:17
   87   Rick        Moore             Clayton     MV40 (12)    00:59:24
   88   Davina      Raidy           Rossendale      F (9)      00:59:27
   89   Katy        Thompson          Clayton      FV50 (2)    00:59:46
   90   Stuart      Smith               u/a           M        01:00:47
   91   Angela      Leonard         Manc'r YMCA    FV40 (3)    01:02:02
   92   Julie       Keys            Rossendale      F (10)     01:02:10
   93   Natalie     Murphy          Rossendale      F (11)     01:02:26
   94   Andrew      Biddle         West Pennine    MV50 (9)    01:02:42
   95   Gerard      Navan           Rossendale     MV60 (3)    01:02:46
   96   Nick        Davy                u/a        MV45 (7)    01:02:55
   97   George      Corbishley      Rossendale     MV60 (4)    01:03:28
   98   Raymond     Johnson             CFR        MV60 (5)    01:03:59
   99   Harry       Johnson          Newburgh      MV70 (1)    01:05:56
  100   Alex        Miller           Newburgh      MV55 (7)    01:06:32
  101   Mark        Taylor              u/a           M        01:06:38
  102   George      Arnold            Preston      MV70 (2)    01:07:07
  103   Frank       Wood              Horwich      MV60 (6)    01:07:52
  104   Pip         Fitzpatrick     Manc'r YMCA     F (12)     01:09:22
  105   David       Dickson         Rossendale     MV65 (1)    01:10:43
  106   Diane       Waite            Stainland     FV40 (4)    01:12:03
  107   Mary        Cowling          Stainland      F (13)     01:12:04
  108   Fiona       Pudge               FRA         F (14)     01:12:04
  109   Peter       Duffy          Northern Vets   MV70 (3)    01:13:43
  110   Eric        Bridge              u/a       MV50 (10)    01:21:41
  111   Darren      Smith           Manc'r YMCA   MV40 (13)    01:22:13
  112   Sue         Todd            Manc'r YMCA    MV45 (8)    01:25:13
  DNF   Lee         Shorrock

Helvellyn via Striding Edge

£2.99A flying trip up to the Lakes with my colleague Gareth for a long awaited summit ascent. Dazzling weather meant a good deal of people had similar ideas, but we managed to circumvent the queues on Striding Edge largely by jumping over people’s heads and standing on their hands. A lovely dip in Red Tarn rounded things off superbly for yet anohter memorable day in this seemingly endless British summer.

The Fred Whitton Challenge – the ups and downs of cycling

I had a great time in the Fred Whitton Challenge. I think it’s probably the hardest shorter distance cycle ‘sportive’ in the country – there are a few 300km rides and such like but they’re for nutters… but the Fred Whitton ride is, in summary:

A ride over all of the (tarmac) Lakeland passes.
114 miles
Approx 4,100 metres of ascent and descent
Very polular (500 plus riders)

I did a respectable ride and finished in 6 hours 38 minutes. I was the 34th finisher from 516 finishers (and quite a few more starters), and was pretty pleased with the result. I’ve never been a good climber so the challenge was always going to be interesting for a 13 stoner. I used the right gears (39 tooth chainring on the front and a bottom gear of 32 teeth on the back). The tiny gears seemed ridiculous at first but as soon as I hit Honister Pass at 48 miles I knew they were a wise choice. Quite a number of people had underestimated the steepness of the climbs and were in for quite a bit of pushing the bike and a long day in (and out of) the saddle.

Fred Whitton ChallengeThe climbs of Newlands Pass (after the first feed at Buttermere) and then Whinlatter Pass were both rhythm climbs which suited me much better than the uneven gradients of the others. I had a good leg from there to the final feed at Gosforth (86 miles). Going on from Gosforth I was starting to get into dodgy territory – the gorgeous surroundings of the lower Eskdale valley were no distraction from the worry I was about to cramp up. I saw the zig zags of the one-in-three climb of Hard Knott pass (101 miles and the highest point on the ride) dotted with people pushing bikes ahead of me and was resigned to a tough climb.

However, to my surprise, riding on my own, I managed to get into some sort of a rhythm and, apart from the stench of burning clutches from all the slow passing cars around me, I felt surprisingly comfortable. The descent of Hard Knott is viscious – with no time to look at the views, and constant braking as you screech down the staircase-like hairpins. The Fred Whitton Challengefinal climb of Wrynose pass is a mere two miles up the valley and I had no problems with my easy gear on the easier side of this high pass. I’d ridden this side of Wrynose with Richard (Hannaford) in 2005 on a bottom gear of 42-23, so I knew I’d be fine.

The final run-in is deceptive, and with about 600 feet of climbing over to Coniston is not to be sniffed at after 107 miles. Still – with so many mountain passes in the bag it was an easy spin and a lovely power ride over the last couple of miles.

Results 2006
Official website
Blogs of note:
Mark Wilson, Southport CC (2003)
Mike Inder (2005)
Someone from Thames Velo (2003)

Time for some sport reports

Haven’t had much sporty stuff on the blog for a bit – time for an update about what I’ve been up to and why I can’t walk faster than a snail’s pace today.

I had a pretty good run in the Three Peaks Race yesterday. It’s not the hilliest fell race there is but at almost 24 miles it’s a hard, hard endurance event. I’m sure there are tougher things to do, but it’ll do me for now. Key headline is that I finished ten minutes quicker than my first one (last year), with a time of 3hrs 44:59(click for split times). My cycling team mate Rob Jebb won for the second year running with 2:54:15 – a four minute improvement on 1995. Somehow, because of a stronger field, I guess, I finished five places further down the field than last time….

The story.
Managed to prepare pretty well but the main worry was that I’d been cycling a bit more than I should have been. There’s not much substitution for running as training for this distance, with the 4,500 feet of climbing and (importantly) hard descending. The main ‘lesson’ I took with me from 2005 was to go out a bit more gently and leave plenty in the tank for the finishing 10 miles. That said, I somehow managed to get up the first mountain, Penyghent, two and a half minutes quicker than 2005. Ooops.

The long stretch after descending the fast track from the summit didn’t seem to take its toll too much – I reached Ribblehead knowing that I hadn’t over-stretched myself a full five minutes quicker than last time. Although I improved on every split, things just got so much harder after Ribblehead. I was starting to get very tight calf muscles (all than non-running training!) and the decline in my wellbeing was compounded by a nasty fall on an innocuous bit of rocky track next to the Settle-Carlisle railway. A lamb ran out in front of me and I just caught a rock with my left toe and went straight down in a heap. Sitting there for 30 seconds or so I was in quite a bit of pain, but made what was to be the right decision in getting up and seeing how I felt. Three or four minutes of limping and nursing a bit of a bloody knee was all it took before it soon mingled in with the rest of the pain and got pushed from my mind.

From the summit of Whernside, the highest and steepest part of the race, I started down the next descent a little bit more cautiously. Partly because of the fall, and partly because of the nagging signs of cramp in my calf muscles. I had a nasty spasm of cramp that I quickly dealt with by belting it with my fist (!), then continued down the steep track, fingers crossed that all the flat tonic water I’d drunk during the race (quinnine reduces cramp, apparantly) was working.

By the time I reached the Hill Inn (the last point you can logically pack in!) I knew I was going to get back in one piece, but had to slow my pace – drastically, to keep the cramp at bay – in would have stopped me dead in my tracks and I knew it – so I had to be wise and mentally strong in letting people run past me. The competitive urge is hard to overcome, but I was right to lay off for a bit. The climb of Ingleborough was satisfying – the end’s almost in sight and although there’s an attrition on the legs that you can’t describe unless you’ve experienced it – you know you’ve done it.

The four mile descent back to Horton in Ribblesdale is a bit of a cruel one. The gradient is gentle, but an uneven path surface is cruel on tired legs and aching feet. Again, I had to let people pass me, knowing that if I tried to stay with them, I’d be rolling on my back in the side of the path with cramp for five minutes. The final false-flat passes excruciatingly slowly, then, ‘you bloody beauty’ – I can see the road only a few hundred yards ahead.

After I came over the line I got a great hug from Lily and it was ace to have some family in support. I really seized up afterwards and have been hobbling about for 24 hours since. Well worth it though.

Matthew (Pixton) defeated his demons, having had to pack in 2005, and overcame some horrible cramp to finish in 4 hrs 49 – will “never do it again” (my words, 2005 – maybe he’s got more conviction than me though!). Carl (Nelson) was not so lucky at his first attempt and blisters got the better of him. His long walk down from Whernside to the bus back to safety added insult to injury. Mike (Cottrill) soldiered round in 5:03 – a hard day out, but got a good finish under his belt.
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Snowd-on ia.

Click HereA perfect weekend of walking in dream-like conditions with brother Phil, cousin Adrian and five otherlucky people. Can’t wait til next year! Day one; Carneddau – including the second highest point in Wales, Day 2; Moel Siabod and a good ridge and great views of all the 3,000 footers from the summit.