The Hobble.

The Howarth Hobble is a 33 mile run over the moors and surrounding Bronte countryside. The one disadvantage (besides the 33 miles) is that you have to set off at 8am which means a 5am start from Lancaster. My partner, Val Pownall of South Ribble Orienteering Club decided our tactics - we were just going to saunter round and enjoy the food which would be provided at the refreshment stops. Rain was forecast - and it came! So we donned cagoules and with 200 other pairs of runners and walkers set forth.

Uphill and along the lanes and then down to the first checkpoint ‘Bronte Bridge’. Then we climbed uphill to join the Pennine Way and it soon became apparent that ‘MUD’ would play a big part in our day - as we skidded down the hill towards the reservoir at checkpoint 2.

On the way up to the summit at the fifth checkpoint the black peat got deeper and heavier - a bit like the track over to County Pot but ‘uphill ‘. At one stage I sank up to my knees and had to crawl out. “How much further” I thought, but at last came the downhill run to the checkpoint with tea and orange juice, Bronte biscuits and Mars bars - as much as you wanted.

A pleasant well greased track then heads you down to the Todmorden valley and a stiff climb up to Mankinholes Youth Hostel follows. Again we munched our way through soup, cakes, biscuits, and the drinks supplied to fortify us for the next climb up to Stoodley Pike, a huge Victorian monument (built by public subscription!) with a stone spiral staircase in the centre - but you would need a torch to go up it.

As we ran down from the pike we could see a church tower on the skyline, which is where the next checkpoint is near, the only trouble being that there is a large valley to cross to reach it. However even more to worry about was the row of cottages looming up along the track ahead, each having its own resident savage dog. They were on chains but Val and I are not very brave when it comes to running a gauntlet of seven dogs - this was the most frightening part of the run but it quickened our pace downhill to Hebble End and the delights of Hebden Bridge.

The rain had started again as we set off up a 1 in 3 cobbled lane, the steepness of which gave us time to appreciate the ‘olde worlde’ village of Heptonstall. A pleasant downhill run followed through old oak woodlands to Horse Bridge and yet more refreshments.

As we Jogged through Hardcastle Crags Wood Val said she was getting a little tired but we had only 10 miles to go now, mainly farm fields and tracks with a final steep uphill to Top o’t’ Stair which was now in mist. Then a final run down to the Leeshaw reservoir with Haworth and the finish line now in sight.

After checking in at the community centre, our time being 8hrs. 26mins, we hit the really muddy section — the ladies changing room! Finally to round off a good day out another ‘tuck in’ You really can put on weight with this sort of run.

Sandra Wilkinson

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