Pinhaw Fell Race- out in the Far East


A stark difference in weather conditions from Great Hameldon would surely mean a better event for a Friday night jaunt around Earby. Arriving at the social club Mark ‘More Miles’ Mc Crea (who had 3 pairs of shoes for this race) and I very quickly worked out this race was popular as parking was limited to on street and in front of residential housing. We did the obligatory queuing up for numbers and scouting the room for familiar faces. None to be seen…although the presence of Clayton and Trawden runners was quite overwhelming. Yep, you guessed it, this was the second race of the Burnley Grand Prix, and how could we have forgotten that?
Race numbers collected (waiting for an even one as per usual) pinned to perfection, we made our way out to find the start. Now this is a little puzzle! Following our noses we made our way to the start as the finish funnel was being set up. A good 15 minute walk away from registration, take note folks for next year, arrive in good time!
Finally we met some run buddies, Nicola from Trawden and Richard and Jayne from Garstang and Lancaster, not forgetting baby Sophie. Chatting about London and our aches and pains and it seems the race had started! Off we went up a steep tarmac climb with Pinhaw summit in sight. Mark took off and picked his way through runners and sped into the distance. This is a big long climb that’s for sure. Still feeling London in my legs I quickly started to fade as the ascent gradually got steeper. Lots of Clayton runners seemingly with little effort began to glide past me, I made a decision not to look anymore. Head down and push on.
The route is an out and back of just over 5 miles, not the best, but, given my heavy legs I could use the way up as a plan for my descent and how much to save for later. Two miles in and the front runners are on the way back down and a few familiar faces in the front pack began to emerge from the trig. Richard first from Garstang with a big shout of ‘keep working Pita’ and then of course Mark ‘More Miles’ with a high five.
Touching the trig is something I always have to do, and the marshals standing up there smiled in a knowing way. It’s not just me then 
The descent finally arrives! Way hey!
With way too much giddiness I pick my way through the loose stones and cross with runners still climbing. Now where’s my Clayton vest to follow? Finding a few to target I meet the stone path and glance at the trusty Garmin, 7.20 and my brain has a little melt down! Too fast, save some for the end, you’re going to get leg burn, all the usual wobbling thoughts and then a cluster of marshals gathered on the road crossing, a Trawden flag and a few more marshals and the speed continued. Then the tarmac section…
All I can say is ouch! My knees very quickly protested against the hard surface on the descent, I could feel every single footfall. I just know I will pay for this in a few days’ time!
Finally I get onto the fell and pick my way across the man made path and a runner comes up behind to tell me I’m keeping her going and it’s her very first fell race. We approach the bog (which is nearly dry) and somehow the new runner squeals as I think she found the only wet section! Oh well, welcome to the fells!
The last expanse of tarmac and I’m nearly home, I had hoped for a sub hour time and things were looking very hopeful with what I guessed was about 1.2 miles to go. The tarmac stings your legs on the down, especially when you’ve clocked up over 600 miles in 4 months. Each step reminding me of all the hard sessions and training I put in for London. I usually love this part of a fell race, the last section, but at this point I didn’t ever want to run again. Trying to relax as much as possible I could see Mark ‘More Miles’ waiting on the bottom of the second last climbing section. He very supportively told me I had 400m to go, turns out it was more like 800m. But, there in sight was my man from Clayton, looking beaten, I knew I could overtake him. My breathing was shocking and I had very little left in the tank, so near, but so far. Still no sign of the finish, I pass my Clayton vest and pray that the finish appears soon. Mark does his best to push me on but my legs are dead and I don’t have any control left, the downs are unforgiving if you misjudge them.
I pass the orange and white, turn the last corner and there’s the finish funnel, a quick glance and I’ve made 55 minutes. More than I could have hoped for, and Mark ‘More Miles’ is very quick to remind me that we have run a blinder!
Mark had a great race and finished in a fab time of 40.40 and my finish time of 55.31 meant we were 65th male and 66th female finishers respectively out of a field of 201 competitors. Happy with that and a good base to return to next year.
This short out and back race is a great ‘starter’ fell race for any aspiring fell runners. The paths are mixed, fell, trail and tarmac and the ascent is not brutal, more challenging. On fresh legs the descent would be amazingly quick, and looking at my stats on Strava later in the evening I recorded my fastest ever mile. So, even though the head said one thing, the legs did something else!
Get out there while you can in the fine weather and hope to catch up soon when Mearly Clough is ticked off the list!

Up until 1816, Pinhaw Moor was used as a Beacon Hill. On the summit stood a hut, the remains of which can still be seen.
In this shelter the beacon guards kept watch and near the hut was a stout pole which upheld a tar barrel filled with combustible materials. In 1805 the chief beacon guard was a man called Robert Wilson. He and his two helpers had to keep a sharp lookout, especially to the beacon hill of Bouldsworth, beyond Colne. An attack upon the English coast was expected for
they had heard that Buonaparte had made preparations for an invasion of this country.
In the winter of 1805 there was a great snowstorm which raged over the whole country. The sky was dark and the snow fell for days, keeping the beacon guards prisoners. Their milk and provisions were at last exhausted and Robert Wilson declared that he was going to cross the moor to Moor Side Farm for
supplies. The other men tried to dissuade him, without success. He took his bag and milk can and stepped out into the swirling snow. His companions waited in vain for his return.
When the storm abated the men made their way into the village and a search party was organised. Robert Wilson’s body was found about four hundred yards from the hut.
On the spot where he perished a stone was erected by his friends, on which these words were engraved :”Here was found dead the body of Robert Wilson, one of the beacon guards, who died January 29, 1805, aged 59 years.”. The stone is still there.