Canal Adventure #8 – Burnley to Salterforth and East Marton to Salterforth

When I set out to run all 127 and a quarter miles of the Leeds-Liverpool canal, it didn’t really occur to me that I would have to do some actual planning. God only knows how I thought that I would manage to balance the logistics of (a) not being able to run that far and (b) running in places that are far away, but it’s only this week that I’ve actually made A Plan to do the Here Be Dragons section of the run (i.e. Yorkshire).

And so, ladies and gentlemen, let me present the first of several camping and canal running expeditions as we venture across the Pennines.

Home from work, change clothes, pack car, drive a whole 50 minutes up the M65 to Salterforth, which is to be our home for the next 2 days. It’s grey and a bit breezy. We’ve not put the tent up for nearly twelve months, so it all becomes a bit haphazard. I fling tent parts around with wild abandon, while Ginge is methodical and organised with his conventional approach of putting the groundsheet  under the inner tent and using pegs to stop it flying away…. Once it’s up and everything’s inside, we nip to the shop to pick up things that we’ve forgotten (something of a tradition when we go away), come home, have tea and a glass of wine before settling down to our first night on the air mattress.

Home sweet home

SATURDAY – Burnley to Salterforth
One of the best sounds in the world is rain pitter pattering down on canvas. More specifically, one of the best sounds in the world is rain pitter pattering down on canvas when you’re warm and dry in the tent, possibly with a cup of tea and some flapjack. When you wake up to the tent leaning sideways in the wind and the rain and you realise that you have to go out and run an unknown distance along a canal because that’s the daft idea that you had back in February…let’s just say that it’s not quite as romantic.

I think the sturdiness of the bus shelter reflects the usual sort of weather round these parts

Once again, we were relying on public transport to maximise our mileage, this time catching the number 28 bus to Burnley whilst dressed in our running kit and clutching bottles of water and Powerade. Needless to say, we were the only people on the bus who had picked this look out of the wardrobe that morning.

Bridge 131 - the beginning

Last time we had visited Bridge 131, it had been a gloriously sunny day and I had spent much of the run complaining that I was too hot. There were to be no such complaints this week. Instead, I embraced the ridiculous plan and the fact that we were presented with the choice of run or, well, run. We had one-way bus tickets, a whole £2 to our name and we weren’t entirely certain how far away from home we were. Ah well. Off we went and were treated to a set of lovely mosaics…

These four were my favourites

…four different walks (plants, birds, bridges, locks) illustrated with tiles made by local schools…

This is a spider

…a warning for speed demons…

No worries there...

… and Foulridge Tunnel.

The Foulridge Tunnel

The Foulridge Tunnel is a mile long and is at the summit of the canal. There is no towpath through the tunnel – barges would have been pushed through by the crew lying on their backs and ‘legging’ the boat along the tunnel’s roof (until the advent of steam tugs). In 1912 a cow fell in the canal, swam through the tunnel, emerged the other end and was revived with some brandy at a local pub. The cow’s name was Buttercup.

Legally, all cows must be called Buttercup or Daisy. At a push, Ermintrude.

It turns out that the route was 9.75 miles and we were both ready for a shower (which was worth the £1 token) and a sausage butty when we saw Bridge 151 at the Anchor pub. The rest of the afternoon was spent pottering around the tent and enjoying a (several) very nice pint(s) back at the Anchor (Jennings Cumberland for me, Theakston’s Lightfoot for Ginge). The Anchor also does very good pub food and has stalactites in the cellar – what more can you ask for in a pub?

SUNDAY – East Marton to Salterforth
We awoke to the same sound as the previous day, only louder. Kit on, banana eaten, tent packed up to be off site by 11, in the car, windscreen wipers on… The previous day, Ginge and I had discussed whether he wants to run the entire length of the canal. So far he’s done all but a few miles with me and I think that it’s mad that he’ll end up running nearly but not quite all of it. He says that it’s my daft idea and he’s just there for moral support, safety and logistical reasons. Normally I would argue, but it was peeing down and I could either run a pointless 5 miles in a 10 mile there and back, or be dropped off and run 5 miles to meet Ginge running the other way. No contest. I was dropped off at Bridge 162, which wasn’t half as interesting as the double arched bridge, Bridge 161.

It's a bridge, but it's two bridges!





Bridge 151 again! A blessed relief. I looked like a drowned rat.

I can’t really describe this run without running the risk of sounding whingey. It rained non-stop, I was running into the wind and if I could have weaseled out of it, I probably would have done. Having said that, everyone that I passed (on foot or on boats) responded to my cheery if damp “Good mornings!” and I didn’t even consider punching the man who shouted “You must be keen!”. The route took me past an important milestone as it was the first time that I’d set foot into Yorkshire, although I was a bit disappointed that there was nothing to show where this was – these are two counties that don’t like to see a boundary unmarked – but it was somewhere between bridges 149  and 148.

Despite the weather, we had a fantastic time and I’m looking forward to the next weekend adventure that will take us past Skipton and even further into Yorkshire – it might even be part of Juneathon!

Garmin maps: Burnley to Salterforth and East Marton to Salterforth.

Miles run = 14.9
Canal miles completed = 14.9
Total canal miles = 58.6/127*
Bridges = 131 to 162

It’s been a year already?

It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since I was umming and ahhing about signing up for Juneathon 2010. Having completed Janathon in the meantime (31 days of running in the cold and dark with only one incident of falling on my arse), Juneathon seems like a walk in the park (an acceptable Athon activity by the way). So there was no umming or ahhing as I clicked submit this week.

I will be on holiday in a tent for the last week and this gives me the chance to meet up with JogBlog, the Queen of the Athons herself, as we’re just down the road from her. The rest will be the usual mix of early mornings, social after work runs and I should really come up with a proper training plan seeing as I’m supposed to be running the Folkestone half in September….

I’ve already woken up in a panic thinking that I’ve forgotten to jog, log or blog, so it may even be a blessed relief when it starts! Bring it on…


Review: Polaroid Venture sunglasses (finally…)

This morning’s run was delayed for a bit as I peered out of the window and tried to decide whether I should trust the blue patches of the sky or be suspicious of the much larger areas of dark grey cloud. I erred on the side of caution and put my jacket on, only to spend some of my run squinting and wishing that I’d worn sunglasses (if only to protect my eyes from flying debris and flailing branches – it was incredibly windy out there). The run was largely uneventful; I did my good deed for the day by moving a branch out of the road, I saw some cows, said hello to two cyclists and spotted the very sad sight of a dead sheep in a field (if it was just resting, it definitely needs to find a more relaxed way of lying down). The last mile was done with gritted teeth and distraction techniques as the wind wore me down and I just wanted to get home.

One of the distractions was realising with horror that I’d still not posted a review of the sunglasses that I received ages ago (I’m sorry lovely Laura!), so here we go.

Monkey - as cool as...

There had been a bit of a mix up with the style of glasses and I had been sent these (modelled beautifully above by Monkey), which are lovely if you like that kind of thing, but a bit rubbish for running. After the swap had been arranged, I collected them from the nice men at Royal Mail and opened them up… My initial thought was, “Oooh, these are Ladies’ Glasses” because they were small and pink. I’ve since looked on the Polaroid website and discovered that they are actually red and feature on both the women’s and men’s sections (I assume that if they were actually pink, they would be called a manly word for pink. Like ‘steak’.)

The official photo

The first wear of them was actually driving home from the post office in the low afternoon sun (giving you some idea of how long I’ve had them) and the Polaroid lenses were excellent at reducing the glare and I felt a lot more comfortable with hurtling the car round some winding country lanes. Full marks for driving, but what about running?

The first time that I wore them to run in was on the Parbold to Burscough leg of my canal running (giving you a precise idea of how long I’ve had them…) and I have to admit that initially I wasn’t entirely convinced them. Although they were a comfy fit (they felt a bit smaller than the pair that I reviewed last year), I was able to see the bottom half of the frame, which I found a bit disconcerting, and they weren’t as light as my other pair. When we reached the half way bridge, we had a bit of a sit down and Ginge had a play with them. Being the brains of the operation, he realised that the arms are actually adjustable so you can change the angle at which they sit on your nose. Bingo! Loads more comfortable.

Canal reflected in lenses - artistic eh?

These suited the size of my head (relatively small, since you ask) and I think that they don’t make me look too ridiculous (it’s all I ask for these days, especially when running). Overall, there was no glare, no fogging (despite me sweating even more than usual) and the adjustable arms mean that if you push one arm up and one arm down, you can run and do Eric Morecambe impressions at the same time, which is a vastly underrated feature of sunglasses.

What I did on my holidays part one: New York running

Basically, I am in love with New York. We’ve come back from a week’s holiday in the city and it was absolutely amazing in any number of ways – the touristy things, the energy, the wool, the creativity, the food, the running – rather than try to cram all of this into one epic post, I might witter across several. You lucky lucky people.

Seeing as this is supposed to be a running blog, I may as well start with the running. Before we set off, I had good intentions to use the hotel gym in an attempt to ward off the effects of the food mountain that inevitably would be consumed. I gave up on that plan before we even set off and just packed one lot of running kit and my trusty Garmin. In the event, I was either too busy or too asleep to even consider the treadmill. Although I spent 6 days not running, we spent 7 days doing a lot of walking. It’s a bit of a cliché that walking is the best way to see a city, but in this case it’s definitely true.

Things you see when you walk places

While we we ambled around, I mused on the runners that we saw and developed my usual city running jealousy. I’ve written before about this, but basically I see people running in cities and conjure up a fantasy life for myself where I too am a city runner. In this daydream I am a foot taller, two stone lighter, I bound like a gazelle and my glossy, swishy hair bounces with each not over-pronating step. I have an exciting career that gives me lunch break that isn’t half an hour of not dropping too much food into my keyboard (and I wouldn’t be the sort of woman who drops gravy down my front. Having said that, I probably wouldn’t be the sort of woman who eats gravy and that would be rubbish).

The High Line park - I would definitely run here if I lived in New York

Anyway, after a few days I was becoming a bit intimidated by all  the alpha runners, especially as the female running kit of choice seemed to be bra top and tiny shorts (I’m certain that some of the tops were smaller than my actual sports bra). I was also having difficulty walking as the combination of walking miles, wearing too flat shoes, having gammy feet at the best of times and then doing all of the above in soaking wet shoes and socks had left me with blisters on blisters. Would I actually get to do my run in Central Park? Of course I bloody would, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge after new shoes, plasters and foot cushioning had been purchased.

We eventually got round to it on the penultimate day, which was pretty much perfect – a sunny Sunday morning in the park. We caught the subway in our running kit, mooched across to the park and decided to head for a lap around the running track at the reservoir. The map we had bought warned us that there were rules about how to run legally around the park (clockwise, or possibly anticlockwise, on the inside, or possibly the outside, of the path) and this had made me a bit anxious that we would do something wrong and someone would shout at us (I live in fear of being shouted at by authoritative people). This is how we found ourselves setting off and following a perky lady who looked like she knew where she was going, unfortunately it turned out that she was going home and we were stalking her out of the park…. Back on track, we realised that there were lots of runners who were all doing their own thing and we headed up to the reservoir.

Reservoir complete with running track

I was reassured that there were a lot more normal runners out at the weekend, in fact there were runners of all shapes, sizes, ages and speeds. My favourite was a girl running wearing barefoot running shoes who was running with jazz hands and the same gait as a small girl riding an imaginary pony. It was fantastic being part of all these people doing the same thing, but differently and, for half an hour at least, pretend that I was part of this amazing city.

NYPD buggies - after not running for a week and eating food bigger than my head, I was very tempted to ask if I could borrow one instead of running back

It was just ace...

843 acres of green loveliness in the middle of the city

And just to prove that I did actually run – here’s the Garmin proof – I’m not claiming it’s fast though…