running in Derbyshire
Trail running, trail running, trail running. Yes, I am singing those words. Tra la la trail running. And it’s not just me, Mark likes it too. Together now, tra la la…
In typical Brit fashion we headed out on a bleak, drizzly December morning to go for a run in the sog. It was brilliant. We drove for twentyish minutes through Derbyshire to get to our start point. This is a beautiful part of the country – towpaths, rolling hills, stone walls, churches, mills and pubs that put you in the mind of the Industrial Revolution and make you want to say ‘chimney sweep’ and ‘printing press’. We were at Blackrocks, close to Matlock where one of the country’s first mills is situated.
From our car park start it was an easy, flat trot along a wide path – soaking with inch deep soft dark mud – parallel to the woods and sort of going around the hill until our first viewing opportunity. Into the woods and we ducked down a little before turning onto a single track path that was a bed of tree roots, deeper, darker mud and loose stones.
We climbed nicely, wound through some woods that were Forest of Narnia-ish like the ones yesterday and popped out to more of a heath landscape. We were more exposed – biting cold, damp air – and the path wiggled through low bushes and cut back trees with lots of bracken and fern. We rock hopped a bit, passed some sheep and cows and got to our second viewing point (i.e. little rest). Now it was mostly back downhill which I liked less because it was so slippery. We got to a massive rock, yes, massive black rock and decided that needed to be ‘conquered’, it was very blowy at the top but worth the scramble for the lordliness :)
Back down we shimmied further down hill over a lot of loose grey stone and a short flat path back to the car park. Which is where we had the brilliant idea to tackle the canal-car park climb. Brilliant, yes brilliant. So we took the same start of route, turning into the woods, only half way up we pitched down further into the woods, a rooty, bouncy track down down. Across a field and a road until we were beside a charming duck pond and the old railway. The 1.25 mile path back up to the carpark used to be a the railway track. The trains couldn’t manage the 12% gradient under their own power; they had to be winched. And Mark told me it took nine hundred (or something) attempts for him to manage this climb on his bike. Like, I say, brilliant.
Off we trotted. Trail running tra la la… Actually for the first half/ two thirds I was singing to provide distraction and ‘entertainment’, a medley of Bohemian Rhapsody and Papa Don’t Preach, the only two songs that I could remember the lyrics for when under such pressure!
The last third was killer, absolute killer, I was keeping vomit down, I knew my face had gone blue and my legs were pretty much involuntary. I don’t know about Mark, we’d kept pace with each other but we weren’t talking. For sure we were both dead at the top. But it was one of those eureka moments: you hit the flat, make yourself keep going and it’s amazing how the body responds, you’re fine in moments. We ran all the way back to the car pleased with the whole trek, pleased that we’d just missed the proper rain, pleased that we’d never have to do that again :) Next trail please.