Written by Clare Holdcroft - http://www.mountainsinmind.com

Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed; one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Photo courtesy of Woodentops

Photo courtesy of Woodentops

So I was back in Bronte Country for the Haworth Hobble, this was my third year in succession as it’s such a great event.  The 32 mile course is a hilly one with 4400 feet of ascent but is very runnable and enjoyable. I’m not particularly familiar with the area so always seem to struggle with visualising and piecing together the route from one year to the next. Certain bits stick and others don’t, which is a little frustrating so I don’t recommend that you follow me! Entry is either as a team or as a solo runner. This year, Darren and I had decided to enter as a team,  so ran together all the way round.

The race starts on the steep, cobbled high street in Haworth and heads out across Haworth Moor crossing Bronte bridge before winding its way up to the infamous Top Withins at 1400 feet above sea level. It always feels a lot higher than it really is here and the beautifully bleak, remote moorland was no exception today. The easterly winds were quite biting and the remains of snow lay on the ground from the previous day.

 
Top Withins

Top Withins

 

We picked up the Pennine Way and descended on the flagstones, which brought back memories from the last time I was here on the Spine Challenger two months previously, going in the opposite direction on that dark, January night. It was even colder then!

 

I had chosen to run in my Inov8 Trailroc running shoes but the route was a lot muddier than on previous occasions from the the rain we’d had over the past couple of days. I found the trainers didn’t have much grip in the mud so I kept slipping and sliding but they made up for it on the numerous tracks and trails.

We ran past several reservoirs and joined the Mary Townley Loop of the Pennine Way, familiar from the Spine Training weekend in 2013. The route headed along a short stretch of road known as The Long Causeway past a large expanding wind farm and eventually picked up the Calderdale Way. We descended into the valley on the outskirts of Todmorden before immediately climbing back out of the valley steeply on the other side and making our way across a number of fields before arriving at the checkpoint at Mankinholes. I had a cup of perfectly temperate tea and a hot cross bun but sadly no wee dram of single malt as it had all been drank!

Onwards and upwards, one of the highlights of the day is the steep climb towards the summit of Stoodley Pike at 1300 feet. The summit is topped with an impressive 121 foot tall monument, which was completed in 1856 to commemorate Napoleons defeat. From here the route picks up the Pennine Way again, for a fast descent across boggy moorland, before joining a woodland path and descending steeply into Hebden Bridge.

 
Stoodley Pike Monument

Stoodley Pike Monument

 

A little ginnel leads directly out of the town up some steep steps to join the road and continues to climb up to the quaint village of Heptonstall before a descent on a track leads through woodland to the checkpoint at the Blue Ball pub at Hardcastle Crags.

A long climb on a lumpy, bumpy track ensued past a couple of derelict buildings.  I reflected back on the blizzard conditions we encountered previously at this point a couple of years back. Luckily today it had stayed dry.

After the last checkpoint, it was a steep climb on the road to Top O’t Stairs and back onto a stony track. Towards the bottom of the track, I took a tumble. My forearm and thigh taking the majority of the impact. I quickly got back on my feet and dusted myself down. It was a good job I was wearing a long sleeve top and gloves, which prevented severe grazing from the fall. Darren checked I was ok before we determindly continued on our way towards the finish.

Near Penistone Hill, Darren suddenly realised that we could beat our team time from two years ago so picked up the pace as we ran towards the village. I struggled to keep up with him as he found his second wind and we must have overtaken at least 10 other runners at this point. Eventually, we ran through the churchyard where the Bronte family are interred and through the gates onto the high street, it was only a short sprint to the finish now. Darren ran in to register our time and was nicely surprised that we were 7 minutes faster than in 2013, yay!  A cup of tea and a nice bowl of pasta awaited us in the school.

Thanks to all Keighley and Craven AC and their supporters for putting on a great event again.
 
 
Rapidly, merrily, 
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!
Charlotte Bronte 

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