Another night, another run out to the dark peak. The Saturday nearest to solstice was warm and cloudy and gave no need to pack any more than the bare essentials; in this case a sleeping bag with a bivi, a new light airbed, a head torch, some instant coffee, pasta, a pot and a meths stove. I’ve taken lunches into work that weighed more than all of that. Starting out from Hope, I took a route up and over Lose Hill with slow starter miles during the first long climb and along the line of the great ridge. The skies remained grey until I reached the trig point at Mam Tor where a few walkers were stopping to take in the views. As the footpath briefly entered and exited a road I passing a parked car surrounded by clouds of cannabis and teenage boys, so it was hard to say whether the runners high I went on to experience was natural or a result of passive smoking. Either way the miles suddenly fell away easier and the evening became appropriately euphoric with shafts of sun lighting up the dark peak.Edale village allowed a sneak into a campsite to fill water bottles from a communal standpipe, leaving the road again I passed a pop up cafe selling freshly made stone-baked pizzas which smelt and looked incredible, I kicked myself for forgetting to bring cash well aware that stopping for pizza would have meant stopping running too. With an empty stomach I grumbled my way up and around the waterfalls on Grindsbrook Clough before reaching the plateau.
I stopped to speak to a flustered young couple who’s trousers were sporting matching black peat stains up beyond the knees. They’d followed the route of the old Pennine Way from Grindsbrook to Kinder Gates and got hopelessly lost using a phone as a GPS and had spent the last two hours disoriented and scrambling in the peat hags.
I ran to Kinder Low past familiar gritstone outcrops and under a crying Curlew who’s nest must’ve been close by, I found a sheltered place to boil water for a cheap pouch of dried pasta, much to the interest of a thick coated sheep who stopped and stared for the duration.
At 11pm the light of the day was long gone but a full yellow moon brought a new light as I settled into a bivi spot thick with bog cotton not far from Kinder Low above Jacobs Ladder. The wind picked up causing clouds to race past the face of the moon and the grass to blow wildly across the plateau. A good run gave a good nights sleep, even if the birdsong alarm call came well before 5am.
The sun appeared for all of ten minutes before clouds smothered the sky, it was all that was needed, sitting up in a bivi bag with a mug of hot black coffee, not tired or aching, feeling at home in a place I don’t live and wasn’t born anywhere near. The route back was another ten miles, mostly flat and easy following the drop off Kinder and over Brown Knoll, there were new flagstones over the hill but running over the soft springy peat was much easier on the knees. It was before 8am when I reached Mam Tor for the second time on the route, a few drops of rain fell, with the midsummer warmth already in the air a gentle shower was most welcome. The final miles along the ridge were broken only by a farcical rescue mission of a lamb that had somehow got stuck on the wrong side of a fence, along with two walkers we spent the the best part of ten minutes trying to catch it and lift it back over. Twenty miles all in all, with a light pack and no interest in breaking any records for speed, a run on a hill is best measured in quality not quantity, I believe the size of your smile matters more than the speed of your mile.