Old Stones of the Central Pennines

The Long Stoop

During the third lockdown, and with fell races still cancelled, Calderdale’s fell runners have been seeking other forms of competition. Todmorden Harrier, Phil Hodgson, compiled an eclectic collection of 65 interesting old stones, consisting of prehistoric standing stones and stone circles, medieval crosses and boundary stones, rocks associated with local legend and folklore, and a few less ancient stones and rock carvings.  All the stones are within 12 kilometres of the centre of Hebden Bridge. They included the Boggart Stones above Widdop Reservoir, The Druid’s Slaughter Stone on Boulsworth Hill, The Hoyning Stone and Churn Milk Joan both on Midgley Moor.

Hangingstone or Watersheddles Cross

The snappily titled Interesting Old Stones of the Central South Pennines Challenge was to visit as many of these locations as possible between 23rd December and the end of January. Many members of both Calder Valley Fell Runners and Todmorden Harriers took up the challenge during their daily exercise.  Although many of the stones were on or near paths, others required bog or tussock bashing. Some were navigationally challenging to locate.

Phil said “Competitors should find them awe inspiring, thought provoking and occasionally disappointing, but all of them are “interesting” and worth a look. A worthy challenge for megalithomaniacs, medievalomaniacs and anyone else who wants to see more of our awesome local area”.

The first person to visit all the stones was Todmorden Harrier, Rob Holdsworth who finished on the 2nd of January and Rosie Holdsworth was the first woman to finish.  Jackie Scarf was the first Calder Valley Fell Runner to complete on the 19th of January, shortly followed by Jon Emberton on the same day. 22 people completed the Challenge by the end of January, however Phil has extended the deadline to the 14th of February to allow more people to finish bagging all the stones.


Max’s running journey so far

GB athlete Max Wharton first started on his route to international competitions through running cross country at Riverside Juniors in Hebden Bridge. He enjoyed that so much, that he went along with some friends, his sister & his Dad to join Al Whitelaw at Calder Valley Fell Runner’s juniors group in Mytholmroyd – later also joining Mark Goldie’s coaching sessions, which is when he really took a serious interest in running.

Wharton recalls, ‘Mark was instrumental in getting me to the level I am now and made me believe I could achieve a lot in the sport’. With Goldie’s help, at only 15 Wharton earned his first Great Britain vest, competing in the 2012 European Mountain Running Championships in Turkey. Three more competitions followed as a junior, with a career best of 15th & a bronze team medal at the 2013 World Mountain Running Championships in Poland. Wharton also continued running cross country, winning the English Schools Fell Running Championship and the UK Inter-Counties Fell Running Championships a couple of times, plus placing 6th at a British Championship Senior Fell race when he was only 16/17.

At this point, Wharton made the shift to track & in his first year of proper training, he became Yorkshire Champion over 800m and came 4th at the English Schools Athletics Championships. Since then, he has added Northern Champion, England Senior Champion and British Universities Champion – whilst studying for my Sports Science degree in London. In 2018, Wharton was fortunate enough to receive a sports scholarship to study for a masters in Sports management at the University of New Mexico and race for their track team, which he describes as ‘an incredible opportunity to be able to train and compete in the collegiate system in America’ and he absolutely loved his time out there.

This last summer, his studies finished, Wharton returned to a very strange time in the UK. He has done well to secure a job as a consultant for a sports agency, working with athletes to help them secure scholarships to America. He is ‘loving being able to support young athletes with their dream of competing and studying in the States’.

Alongside this, Wharton continues to compete, & is looking forward to Olympic Trials this summer. His other aims include to run 4-miles in the 1500m in under 1500m, the 800m is under 1:46 and to make the National team. He is also looking forward to shifting back to fell running (which involves running quite differently – losing speed to be able to run for longer periods of time). He may even go back to fell racing, describing how ‘you can’t beat the atmosphere at a fell race, just a lot of fun – it’s something I miss’.

Alongside this, Wharton has got into coaching, which he is really enjoying & finding helping others incredibly ‘rewarding’. During lockdown, he completed a personal training qualification & has set up his own small coaching/fitness business, through which he hopes to pass on my knowledge in all things health and fitness, & support as many people as possible in achieving their health and fitness goals – no matter how big or small.

‘If you’re looking for an added bit of motivation, a specific event, or just to get fitter and healthier, I am keen to help’.

To find out more about Wharton’s coaching, go to: http://mwfitness.trainingtiltapp.com/




Running tips for winter

Running – Getting started or keeping motivated in the Winter!

Sportshoes & inov8-ambassador, Calder Valley & GB fell runner, Ben Mounsey, & one of CVFR’s press officers, Catherine Jones, have teamed up to write some advice on embracing the cold & keeping active in the cold & dark Winter months:

It is easy to find a million & one reasons not to get out – but our most important tip – Tip #1 – is to avoid making excuses! Even the serious runners among us find the hardest part is getting out the front door! It’s dark by the time your working day is over or when you’ve finished home schooling the kids, it’s icy or snowy or raining, you’re tired and fed up … There are so many reasons not to exercise … but getting out is a great way to clear your head and stay mentally & physically fit.

Avoid making your living room sofa too inviting, don’t say ‘I’ll just have a cup of tea first’; instead, be strict with yourself: Set a time limit or give yourself a small window of time to get out the front door. It can help to have all your clothes ready to go, & to start stretching whilst drinking that cuppa. Whatever you do, DO NOT sit down on the sofa! If you live with other people, tell them you are going to go out & ask them to hold you to it & nag you until you do!

Obviously, it is very dark out, so our Tip #2: it is vital to see clearly & be seen! Make sure you avoid only dark clothes! Lots of running shoes, leggings, socks and jackets have reflective strips, but you can also buy cheap USB rechargeable illuminated running strips, like these from Lightbox for £16.49 which you tie round your arms, legs, etc. Catherine’s found hers invaluable for running on country lanes at dusk & after dark. In addition, wherever you run, it’s also worth investing in a decent head torch. We recommend the UK’s Fellrunner Guide’s great article on choosing a good head torch.

Tip #3 is to find other people to keep you motivated. This can be hard during lockdown, although at present we are allowed to walk or run with one other person. Some local groups, like Hebden Bridge St Pol’s Striders, are offering a running buddying system for women. However, even if there’s no-one for you to physically run with right now, find motivation by joining virtual running groups. Do a virtual couch to 5K, like this one with the NHS, &/or join a supportive community on Facebook (e.g. Transform Your Running), or Instagram, download a running app on your phone, like Strava, which has a free basic version (runs can be recorded on a phone as well as the more expensive running watches). We’ve both met so many great people this way, & you’ll find likeminded people from serious athletes to those who are just starting out (& everyone in between).
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