Last Sunday (8th Dec) should have been the Calderdale Way Relay (until they decided to go soft and switch it to May), and I had a hankering for a bit of Calderdale Winter fell racing, so I decided to head over to Mytholmroyd to do the eponymously named fell race that had switched places in the calendar with the CWR.
This is a race I’d never done previously, so that was also a good reason to head over, and make it my 94th race of 2013. No other Abbeys in attendance, but there were friendly faces in the shape of fellow Airienteer, Ian Nixon, and Dave McGuire from Hyde Park and Shane Ewen from Otley.
The race starts with a lovely steep climb straight up Wicken Hill from Mytholmroyd centre. A locked padlock on a gate meant a slightly shortened start and a charge up the first steep climb to make sure that there wasn’t too much queuing at the first kissing gate about 200m in! The steep slog continued up through the fields and over stiles and then up onto the moorland to a road, before a shorter, less steep climb onto the open moor proper and to join the Calderdale Way on the shoulder of Cock Hill.
After a mile and about 270m of climbing, the gently undulating section across the top of the moor around Crow Hill was really nice. A nice, clear day allowed some great views down the valley towards Halifax and over Luddenden Dean with Ovenden Moor wind farm in the background. The moorland section was followed by a muddy, slippery, fairly steep drop down into Luddenden Dean and required concentration all the way down.
A mile or so of interminable farm track along the valley to Castle Carr gatehouse before the second major climb. By this point, my legs were starting to feel very tired and heavy after parkrun, hockey and a night-orienteering race on the Saturday, and the climb up the steps back onto the fell on Wadsworth Moor was a real slog. The run across the top wasn’t much easier, as the breeze that had been behind us earlier, was now a stiff headwind and it was head-down and keep pushing. I did manage to get my head up in time to have a look down the valley towards Stoodley Pike and Todmorden though!
The route now rejoined the Calderdale Way and followed it as it contours around the edge of the moor beneath Cock Hill and round to the top of Wicken Hill. Then it was a return down the steep climb back the way we’d climbed up onto the moor at the beginning of the race, again with some muddy, slippery slopes to contest with, before finally finishing back down in the woods at Mytholmroyd.
A quick dip in the Rochdale canal to wash the mud from my shoes and it was back to the Community Centre for a shower and cup of tea.
I’d really recommend this race to anyone who wants an introduction to Calderdale fell racing – it’s very much in a similar type of character to the CVFR Coiner’s race run on the other side of the valley – a combination of steep climbs and nice open moorland running. It’s also fully flagged, so unless the weather is really horrendous, navigation isn’t an issue either. It’s just a shame that it’s not still held in May – it’d really benefit from some drier, faster running conditions underfoot on the narrow trods, whereas the Calderdale Way Relay could benefit from the extra mud found in December!
1. Joseph Crossfield M CVFR 48:46
26. Sally Newman FV50 CVFR 58:34
51. Richard Foster M Abbey 63:16