Monday, 5 March 2018

New Chew Orienteering Fell Race

The first of the Glossopdale Harriers Fell Champs races was the New Chew Short Score held a few weeks ago. It's a 3.5hr orienteering race from Dovestone Reservoir Sailing Club, and put on by Saddleworth Runners. I ran this race on my own some years ago and knew the area they covered was massive. I was mentally prepared, and this year had fellow club mate Lucy joining me to wander around the course with.

The race didn't disappoint - the biggest area possible was on offer with the potential to get as far out at Holme Moss mast - so I folded the map in half and pretty much ignored the whole eastern half! It was way too big an area for us. Weather was looking decent - clear visibility at the start but a chilly temperature and some snow up on the high ground.

This year there were no check points (CPs) north of the A635 Holmfirth Road so we headed out eastwards to pick up our first CP - 'B' just off the Chew Road. After a decent slog up the road we picked a point to head up the steep slope - it was really steep too, proper grabbing on heather and hoping it held steep! Our nav was spot on and we soon located the CP under a big bouldery crag.

Quite a lot of the CPs were looking to be placed in gnarly nav territory so we picked one we would be confident finding without too much bog bashing. The path by the side of Chew Reservoir was really icy and hard to get any sort of pace going. Heading east over Laddow Moss the path was less clear than I'd hoped. I've never been that way before and imagined it to be a motorway sized path given the areas it connects. The snow patches and innumerable groughs didn't help and we kept losing the path.

I turned to see where we'd come from and noticed the clag coming in. Bugger. Compass out, checked the bearing down a couple of groughs and picked the one most nicely heading where we were going. We eventually got the boundary line, and the fence. Nav choice here...and never being here before I took the safe option to continue south-east on the path to the edge over Crowden Great Brook - right past the marshal point. Then turn south along the edge path before contouring round and into CP 'I' up Oaken Clough.

Nav was spot on and luckily we bumped into a mate who knows the area really well - so I checked if the boundary line had a fence on it all the way south and sure enough it does....great. We navved back heading north west to the fence then followed it back to the stile we'd crossed earlier.  We'd been out 1hr 45 at this point so decided to get back to Chew Reservoir and decide what to do from there.

Nav back westwards was good, recognising bits of the path we'd been on. The decision then was either CP 'C' + CP'A' or just 'A'.  The frozen toes and lack of vis high up made us decide on just 'A'.  'C' would have been a decent and focused challenge and just getting 'A' was good for us.

Down the track we went....toes warming up a little on the way. We didn't pick the easiest of terrain to reach 'A' but it was the foolproof way - handrailing along the obvious wall to the far corner. It included some massive grass tuffs and slimy soggy wetness in between. Not fast going, but the best choice if the clag was down. As it was we weren't pushed for time - we were going to be back well under the 3.5hrs so it didn't matter.

With CP 'A' clipped we ran off the hill and back to the finish at the sailing club. We were almost the first ones back so I grabbed a quick shower and then we settled in to wait for Tim to return. Pie and gravy followed by delicious cakes and tea were well received in the warmth as other runners finished. Tim came in looking quite tired having pushed way out east, but he managed to grab top spot on the short score course. Myself and Lucy were a little lower down the finish table, but not last and no points lost!

A grand adventure on the hills was had, thanks to the marshals over at Laddow and Saddleworth Runners for putting on a great race. Thanks too to the team at the sailing club for sorting results quickly and providing a plentiful supply of food and drinks.

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