Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Yorkshire Dales National Park – a ‘green gym’

Fell running has a strong tradition in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, particularly with its link to local shows.  While it's just one way that the contrasting landscapes can be enjoyed, the National Park provides the ideal training ground for a fell runner.

It also doesn’t matter about level of ability. For example, the sheltered flat river bank between Bolton Abbey and Grassington, along the Dales Way, provides an easy run out or a recovery run after a hard race, while the huge mound of Elbolton Hill reef knoll near Thorpe is ideal to increase climbing strength.

Fell running in the Yorkshire Dales to me is a myriad of things – it’s exhilarating, inspiring and stimulating –it takes you to remote places and lets you see hidden gems.

And, despite the physical exertion when you are sometimes pushing yourself to the limit, it can be very therapeutic, releasing anxieties, giving you confidence and providing an escape from everyday life. And, of course, it’s free!

You are travelling fast and light over varied ground against the elements and in all weathers through breathtaking scenery.

On the steep run out of Kettlewell onto the top of Old Cote Moor on a late summer’s evening you are rewarded with a long view up into lovely Littondale, with Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough poking up in the distance.

An evening run around the Ingleborough massif finishes off with the descent to Little Ingleborough in the dark and you know you have been the last person on the summit plateau to watch the blazing red sunset over Morecambe Bay. It’s an experience not to be missed and I make sure I do it every summer.

Then there are night runs in fresh snow above Bordley, when the only sign of life is a fox’s tracks and the moon is so bright you can switch your head torch off.

Fell running club social runs take you across Rylstone and Cracoe Fell to finish off with a warm welcome, and drink at one of the Dales pubs.

Running home from work across Threshfield and Linton Moor up to Rylstone Cross, across Barden Moor bridleway to Embsay Crag, I take a quick stop on the top of the Crag from where I can see home.

On other days I look forward to leaving my car at Ribblehead to set off for a long day of running into the quieter dales – Kingsdale, Barbondale and Dentdale – getting back exhausted, but content.

I always get butterflies in my stomach at the thought of the scree descent and infamous ‘chimney’ in the Kilnsey Crag fell race – it’s soon over with though! And every year I get the same giddy feeling upon reaching the summit on Ingleborough in the Three Peaks Fell Race, with the thought that you have cracked it and it’s just a case of keeping on your feet for the final three miles to the finish line! 

But whatever the occasion – whether it’s a run or a race – it’s just a fantastic feeling to be out in the landscape of the National Park – it really is the perfect, beautiful green gym.

Find out more about 'Getting Active' in the Yorkshire Dales National Park on our website.

Read articles like this in our monthly ‘National Park Notes’ column in the Darlington and Stockton Times.

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