Sunday, March 1, 2009

Off Road Run: Abbey Village - Great Hill - Darwen Tower

I faffed around all morning trying to motivate myself to get out. I was intending doing a long run, maybe 15 miles or so. If I had gone out when I had originally planned I probably would have been fine but I started doing some little jobs instead.

Then I was hungry (this was about 11am) so I had some food then I had to wait for that to digest. I was struggling to make myself go, I tried to decide where I was going - into Cuerden park or to the tramway. Maybe I should do a shorter run this week, the thought of 15 tarmac miles didn't seem a nice thought. As neither option was particularly inviting, I thought I would go run offroad instead.

Got all my kit together and rescued my trail shoes and off I drove to Abbey Village. My plan was to run up Great Hill then down to the Belmont Road and make a decision there as to where next. If tired, back to Abbey Village, if not then some more miles.

It felt weird running up hill from the off, especially on stodgy grass. I decided to run at close to long run effort level, on any easier running sections I aimed for long run pace and on descents I was aiming to stay comfortable. I didn't really start to get into it until getting close to the wide track up to Great Hill. Once on that I did the gradual climb quite comfortably, being Sunday afternoon there were a lot more people around than I'm used to.

I continued on up Great Hill at my usual slow climbing pace though I did notice my heart rate was a lot lower than it was last time I did this run, I wasn't climbing any slower. A brief stop at the summit shelter then I slip/slid my way down towards the road. Some parts of the descent were very cut and boggy, other parts surprisingly good. I did see motocrosser tyre tracks which was a bit worrying. I ran where I could but the nearer this got to the bottom it was more jumping, stumbling and walking.

I got to the road and thought I would carry on but not exactly sure where so I headed to Hollins Head Hall ruins then up the little bridleway (which now has some very cheeky narrow ruts in it, must remember that for on the bike) to the road. I could go left along the road for a short while then up onto the top of the moor or go straight over the road onto some track then onto the Witton Weavers Way. I didn't want to do any tarmac so headed off on the track.

The climb up onto the moor was ok, very stodgy at the top, a few slips. There is an old bench at the top of this climb so I sat on it and had a gel, looking over at Great Hill.

Great Hill

I then headed over towards the Tower on my preference of the two obvious tracks along the top of the moor. It was surprisingly runnable, a lot less boggy than I have seen it so a quite enjoyable jog. I was really enjoying myself.

I continued on and decided to investigate the eroded singletrack to see what state it was really in, ok for running but a dead loss on a bike, best avoided for riding for quite some time I think. I had thought about missing out the tower and going straight back down, being a Sunday afternoon there was bound to be loads of people out. There was but as I was up there I might as well run over to the Tower (legs were feeling quite good at this point).

I dropped down on the track that was really stodgy on Wednesday night and it was now worse, due to lots of foot traffic I think.


Really stodgy, I'm surprised I managed to get as far up it as I did. Strangely when the track began to climb up towards the Tower again it was all dry and firm, unlike Wednesday where the ruts were quite boggy.

I didn't bother stopping at the tower even though I acquired a headwind. I ran along towards one of the steeper descents off the side. I had a look at the top of the long drag to the tower to see if they had done any trail repair. They have, but not as much as I expected. There is a new waterbar at the top and they have filled in the narrow deep rut right at the top but looking further down it looks like they haven't gone overboard with repairs (yet). So it should still be an interesting climb.

I dropped down off the top then down the cobbly track to Ryal Fold. Then it was just the last couple of easy wide woodland track back to the car. My legs started to complain about a mile from the end, I think due to the fact the track had gotten pretty flat and firm. When I stopped running at the main road through Abbey Village and walked to my car I could feel my glutes and quads, lower legs absolutely fine.

12.8 miles at 10:40mm and a very enjoyable run. I can't remember what the ascent is on this run, not as much as it feels like, about 1700/1800ft or there abouts when I last plotted it on Memory Map I think.


  1. That looks very muddy.
    - 12miles up hills like that sounds increadably tough. No wonder your legs ache.

  2. Probably just what you needed to get out in the hills and counts as your long run so perfect!

  3. It was great and fun to do some different running and not take it seriously.