Holme Moss Fell – Event Review
Neil Jones talks us through his turbulent experience running the fells of Holme Moss, Huddersfield. An excursion outside of Leeds with a difference.
Having spent 7 years of my life working in sunny Kirklees and running many of the stunning routes in and around the Holme Valley, the Holme moss fell race is an event that I had looked at many a time but never got around to doing. The main reason being is it falls the weekend before the Adidas Thunder run and that had been my main focus for the last few years. However this year with the birth of my son Dylan I thought it too selfish to disappear down to Derby for 3 days.
The day got off to a wet and windy start as I set off to Holmfirth about an hour’s drive from Leeds, on arrival at Cartworth Cricket club the rain had stopped and the sun was out with the wind taking the edge off. I had not recced the course so my plan was to settle into a group with some club runners that had local vests on. The race started about 10 minutes late due to extra entries on the day, the total number swelled to 150 people.
We headed off in the general direction of Holme moss summit about 5 miles away and some steep descents and ascents led us to some really stunning views and enjoyable tracks, all the while leading to the aerial that stands bold at the crest, check point 1 achieved! From this point the race got very interesting and a lot tougher as we headed across to Tooleyshaw moor with some really steep stuff on the way.
Then moving on to West End Moss and Hey Moss and down to the drinks station and Check Point 3 at Crowden, at this point I had grouped with some local runners and my plan seemed to be working. We had been warned at the race brief about a descent that was proceeded by a contour of some cliffs so with that in mind I took extra care to drop down from Check Point 4 and then descend (steeply) to Crowden Great Brook. With 3 good climbs in my legs already we approached a steep climb to the top of Laddow Rocks and Check Point 5, my god this was brutal – I was forced to take a break at the top. On hand were mountain rescue in premeditation of any falls, it’s not uncommon, think scrambling on all fours!
Following this tough climb we then picked up the Pennine way and better run-able tracks all the way to another trig point at Black Hill. I was starting to think I had underestimated both the difficulty and the distance of this race and I was correct – it’s a beast! The only (category A) fell race in West Yorkshire. After conquering the sticky peat bogs that severely zapped the energy levels we altered our course back towards Holme moss once more and what I thought would be an easy descent to Cartworth Cricket club…. Oh boy was I wrong! Check point 7 provided a stunning vista of the Holme Valley and my thoughts rolled back to the Grande Depart in 2014 when the Moss was used for the King of the mountains section.
While wolfing down my chocolate flapjack I descended down a short steep slope, contouring along to Ramsden Clough, following the same route as the outward journey. I could see in the distance there was one final nasty climb coming my way, struggling towards this final hurdle across the moorland it sunk in more ways than one how sore my feet were and how much my stomach rumbled with hunger pains. I crossed the stream and followed the taped route to Riding Wood and started ascending back up the very steep climb onto the moor, all while running on empty.
Gathering my last bit of strength I headed on the track to meet the road which leads directly to the finish at Cartworth Moor Cricket, at this point I started to pick off some runners on the two miles or so back to the finish. I crossed the finish and entered the cricket ground and my thoughts turned immediately to coffee, food and lying down for a while. I finished with a time (3 hours and 52 minutes) over 17.9 miles of running, but, in all honesty the accomplishment of getting around the course safely was a triumph.
If you’re thinking of entering this race be warned, it’s a tough one! Think hills (lots of them), bogs, cramp but all made better by the stunning views and reet friendly folk. Huge respect goes out to Holmfirth Harriers as this was one of the best organised and marshaled routes I’ve ever ran.
Information on the race can be found at: http://runleeds.co.uk/r/holmfirth-harriers/