Monday, 31 August 2009


I run for two running clubs. Ilkeston RC and Pennine Fellrunners.
Ilkeston was my first club and I run on the roads and XC for them. Although the fells take up more of my time competition wise I occasionally return to the roads or cross country to compete for them. I have now reached the dizzy heights of club Chairman which err really is the easiest job on the commitee. They are a great club and I would never run for anyone else locally as I believe in staying loyal. We have some strong competiton in the area and its not very often we win much but the club has been going for a long time and there are some great people associated with it.

Same event and Im actually about to catch someone for once. I remember these events well as we use to run with the juniors.

The Ilkeston A team at the Pride Park relays. We placed well and im now the oldest member of the team. Not long ago I was the youngest.

Mid flight in Ilkeston colours. The traditional white vest with red band complemented by red shorts and red flats. Shame about the black socks

Asleep for the team photo. Not a good start

This must be about 5 years ago. A winter XC league race for Ilkeston.

Pride Park relays. A long way from the fells. 2 miles of pure pain and ive never done this event under 11 minutes. I find its harder to run 2 miles on the flat than to finish say Borrowdale.
So Id say choose your Running or Athletic club wisely. Clubs are great places to meet people and can be an entry into competition or just a place to run with like minded people.

Saturday, 22 August 2009


I visited Switzerland last year and thought I would post a few pictures
The face of the Eiger. I ran below it despite the warnings

Hoorah ive found the Matterhorn. Not difficult as it dominates the sky above the village of Zeeeeeeermat. Actually I have got YMCA on my I pod and am doing that dance.

This picture wil be familiar to some. Its Ulrikaaa my own cow that the Swiss gave me complete with bell.

The Swiss can knock up a cable car in 40 minutes, Honest they can . Trains and Cable car making is def there game.

Cant remember this bit but thats the Matterhorn on the distance folks.

The world famous Glacier Express train

The famous Matterhorn with the Hornlihutte below it to the left. I ran up to the hut where the climbers stay before they attempt the Mountain. One of the most memorable runs I have ever done.

Painted rocks give the grade of the route. I came across these on every run I did in the Alps

Unlike the fells in England the Swiss Alps have signs on them. I presume to help those who cannot navigate ?

Posing on one of our walks

Just below the face of the Matterhorn

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

In a mood

Now every now and then Badger gets in a mood and Monday was no exception. He started off the run in a mood and ended the run in a mood. Only snapping out of it when he finally managed to winkle out a tin of tuna fish at my mothers house. We set off and ran the Dale Abbey horseshoe run as I call it.

Yawning and we have yet to set off

A quick drink before we carry on. Badger has never drank water from his bowl at home ( you tell me ?). He will drink from our fishpond, canal, puddles, lake, and virtually any other water source.

Always in front and waiting( almost tutting) as I scramble up the rocks behind him.

Waiting again for me.

Racing off in front again

He has come back to find me to see whats going on. After 6 miles he isnt even out of breath.

The beautiful Dale Abbey Arch

The Arch has just been re pointed. My father in laws dad re pointed this many years ago. There is a picture somewhere.

Dale Pond, another drink stop

Now a set up picture I know but I was trying to get him to jump over it

Nope cant be bothered

Okay take 34 and he plays for the camera.
Badger is a wonderful dog and makes me laugh everytime we run together. Border Collies make great pets but you have to exercise them regular. Badger could easily do 60/70 miles a week and not even think about it. I keep him at about 30miles a week as he walks most days with my Mother in law which gives him extra exercise and taxes his mind which Collies thrive upon.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Iron Dale 2

Inside the Central Melting Plant main building
This is the main building that produced the molten metal. A huge operation that ran 24hrs a day for years.
The cupola would be tapped for molten metal during the shift and the ladel's would be filled with the glowing metal and carried away to the spinning plants to be made into pipes.
This part of the plant is where my father in law resided as a works shift foreman. I could never fathom his shifts out even after years of trying to understand them. The workers at the plant in latter years became very flexible to meet production demands but sadly due to either market forces or just simply like other heavy industry here in the UK. It just simply was closed down.
These pictures show the sheer size of the companies molten metal production facility.
It was common to have many members of a family working there. Very often you could sit in the local club and have a pint with them and say have six men sitting around the table and probably count say 200 odd years service between them.

The large WELLMAN crane that hoisted and carried the ladles full of molten metal around the site. A very skilled job and imagine spilling 25 tons of molten metal on the floor wouldnt be like spilling a glass of water.

Two ladles, now rusting with decay. The dummies portray the size of them.

The cupola control room with the famous bench that the cupola's ( tenters ) would sit at waiting to tap the next lot of molten metal from the cupola. Working in extreme tempratures was what this job was all about. As soon as the cry went up of "Wind On" meaning oxygen was being pumped into the cupola the plant would come alive and the men would spring into action under the watchful eye of the shift foreman.

Looking down the main shop

The view from below the crane beams. The building housed two cranes. I presume one was a spare just in case of a breakdown. Without the cranes productuon would most certainly have grinded to a halt.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The Iron Dale

The Erewash Valley was once a massive hive of industry. It was home to one of the largest steelworks in the country. My father in law worked there during the boom years and he also watched the decline of the once mighty steelworks before he retired a few years ago having not quite managed 50 years service. The site that once housed the mighty blast furnaces and steelmaking plants has all but disappeared and more recently the last part of the manufacturing process the Central Melting Plant and pipe making plants are starting to be demolished.
I am reliably told that at one time during my father in laws employment, 14,000 people worked for Stanton and Staveley which was formerly part of British Steel. In more recent years the buisness was aquired by Saint Gobain Industries.
The site is being re developed. Whether that will be a good thing or not is up for debate but from a personal point of view It saddens me to see all this heavy industry disappear.
I have started to take a few pictures of the plant as it gets demolished. The site is now just a stockground for ductile pipes that are imported here from Saint Gobains overseas operations.
Next time you wonder how your water arrived to your tap it would have most certainly have travelled down a pipe manufactured from this site.

The CMP plant in its original form

Central Melting Plant supplied all the spinning plants within the site. Locomotives transfered the molten metal 24hrs a day 7 days a week.

A ladle transfering molten metal
A more modern picture of the plant

A pipe stacking overhead crane

The plant nestling in the valley

A view that will soon be very different

Backside charging area being demolished. These backside cranes were used to transfer scrap steel into the charging area that supplied the massive cupola housed within the main building.

Side view of the scrap stocking area

Keep out. A sign of the times with Health & Safety. I remember when not many years ago you could simply wander through the works and watch what was happening.

The shearer starting to expose the overhead crane beams and colums.

Two more overhead pipe stacking cranes. These two large cranes lifted the largest pipes that the company manufactured.

The building called ( The citadel) which refurbished the company's large ladle's that carried the molten metal around the site. Spare ladel's would be re lined and repaired and then put back into service. This building took two days to demolish.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Borrowdale Fell Race

The Borrowdale Fell Race

The 36th race

The Borrowdale Valley

Checkpoint 1 , Bessyboot summit

Dale Head cairn summit

Plodding through Honister slate mine

Well the Borrowdale race finally came around i thought my preparation had gone well. Ive been doing lots of races and a fair few long fell runs. I know the route pretty well but on a 17mile long fell race with about 7000ft of climb there are lots of chances for things to go wrong.
This is possibly the race were even a fairly laidback person like myself writes all the bearings down and checks them three times. Its a long way from home if you descend down into the wrong valley.
Anyway bang on 11.00 o clock and Scoffer the race organiser sets us on our way. Before I know it im climbing up the fell towards Bessyboot, the first checkpoint. I know something is wrong though and im gasping for breath. I feel awful and can hardly manage to pull myself up the steep fellside. Other runners are passing me and im on all fours just pulling against the grass and rocks with my hands praying for the summit to appear. As desperation sets in I rub the wet grass with my fingers and try to drink from them just to get some fluid in my body.
As the summit appears I clamber up the rocks, shout my number to the summit marshal and start to head for Allen Crags which at this point seem a long long long bloody way off. As I drop down from Bessyboot I realise that I have eaten nowhere near enough food. The energy beans that I purchased from Pete Blands van are quickly consumed. Not one , two but three bags of energy beans are swallowed quickly. I try to re asses and after about 20minutes the energy starts to kick in and im feeling a bit better. As i pass by Allen Crags and head towards Esk Hause I start to pass a few of the runners that passed me on the first climb. The stream at Esk Hause is a godsend. I gulp the cool water rapidly and instantly feel a lot better.
The climb from Esk Hause up to the boulder field and onto the base of Scafell Pike goes very well. I scamper across them and thank my lucky stars my bad patch has disappeared. The pull up to the Pike seems to pass by very quick and ive alread got my compass set to the correct bearing that sees me pick up the famouse corridor scree route that takes you down from Scafell Pike summit to the path towards Styhead Tarn and Great Gable.
I blast down the scree and within seconds im at the bottom. On familiar ground now and I run down the grass and watch others struggle trying to get down the path.
In and out the gully and walkers are watching us fellrunners in amazement as we dance over the rocks whilst they tread gently over the same ground. They think we are mad for carrying so little gear and we think they are mad for carrying so much.
All too soon and I have taken the short cut that gets me directly under Great Gable but im desperate for a drink again and luckily a kind person gives me a bottle of water to quench my thirst.
As i start the plod up the path the famous fellrunner hands me half a mars bar and wishes me well
In fellrunning terms thats like being given a mars bar by Michael Schumacher. Joss is one of the all time legends of fellrunning. An athlete of outstanding talent in his day yet few outside of fell and mountain running circles will have ever have heard of him.
In his 70s he still runs on the fells with his dogs and can be seen supporting at many events in the lake district throughout the year. Amazing.
I climb Gable with the words ( Gan this dawn ya lad thats what its fooor) Thats Cumbrian for eat the bloody stuff and dig in.
I do dig in and manage to run parts of Gable. As i approach the top though i set my compass to 90 degrees and start to have doubts as to whether that bearing will take me down to the shortcut instead of going down the horrible descent to Windy Gap. So i alter it slightly to 80 degrees and vere on the side of caution. As i thank the summit marshal and start to look at my compass in the thick mist i descend and immediatley think ive gone wrong. I lose about 3 minutes faffing about before another runner comes behind me and confirms im on the correct line. We descend together and pick up the trod.
A quick bypass of Green Gable and its not long before Brandreth comes into view and then Grey Knotts. A short blast down to Honister Pass and someone takes my picture and shouts cmon Daz. Ive lost the plot now and the wheels are coming off again. A woman hands me some jelly babies and I start the brutal last climb up to Dale Head cairn we takes forever to reach even though i manage to run some of it.
I turn right and drop down to the tarn and over to the stile before a quick descent down through the old slate mine workings.
A couple of supporters from my other club Ilkeston have come to support me. I thank them and quickly pass down through the high bracken. A short run down to the wooden bridge and then onto the rough track which just zaps all your remaining energy and then I finally arrive at the finish.
Exhausted im happy at just under 3 hrs 45mins although the time isnt my prime concern. Ive completed the Borrowdale Race and thats whats most important.
Just for the record and its an amazing record. Billy Bland the famous fellrunner holds the record which is about 2hrs 30mins. I sit there wondering how the hell could anyone run over that terrain that quick.
I watch as other runners, many of them friends as well as team mates cross the line. The results are carried out in the field and after a quick sandwich and some tea in the village institute its back to the tent and cold shower for a clean up before meeting up with a few teammates and other runners in the Scafell Hotel bar.
What a brilliant day
I wake up late next morning and the weather is a bit better than it was for the race. I decide to have a jog up Catbells before returning home just to stretch my legs.
The drive home takes about 4 hrs but the memories I have of the race and the fells always last forever.
I will be back next year, not to try and be quicker but to run one of the best fellraces thats out there.