Great Hameldon hill race report by Phil Gillard

Short report of a trip to the South Pennines for the Great Hameldon Hill Race 6th May 2012 by Phil Gillard

Memories of Accrington in May

My last trip to Accrington was in May 2010; no thoughts of running that day, I was there to support my beloved football team Grimsby Town and help them avoid the drop to the football conference. I will not bore you by reporting on the (lack of football) that day and history will tell you that we were not successful and still lie languishing below the football league. The only saving grace was meeting up with Danny Chan who was in the Grimsby crowd – his mate is a Grimsby supporter.

So how long does it take to banish the demons of such a memory – two years in my case and so on Sunday 6th May I set my sat nav to take me to the Peel Park pub in Turkey Street, Accrington, the venue for the Great Hameldon Hill race. My sat nav has a facility to “avoid”, so duly set to “avoid” Accrington’s football ground it guided me to the race start. How lucky are these people of Accrington (putting football aside) to have such lovely moooooers (that is moors in Lancashire speak) so close to the town, even the kids races were able to get onto open fell within a few hundred yards of the pub.

………..and so it was under the occasional blast of Pennine sunshine we set off on the Great Hameldon Hill race; the route ascends through some woods, down under the A56 and up onto the open fell going straight up onto the trig point, rounding the trig point, a nice descent and back under the A56.

The distance is about 6 miles, the climb is about 1100 feet, the terrain comprises of hard track, some grassy meadow, some tussocky fell and some nice slushy Pennine bog.

Would I recommend it, yes on a number of counts – there is a lovely family atmosphere with the kids races starting an hour before the main race, it is not too taxing and well-marked and marshalled – a good first fell for non-fell runners and the Pennine terrain is something everybody should experience – lovely soft, springy peat. Going a bit further afield also allows you to be beaten by people you haven’t met before and running behind vests from Clayton, Accrington (no football shirts allowed) and Bowland is a bit more of a novelty.

It sounds such fun that the results don’t matter but here for the history books

103rd 19 092   Phil Gillard M50 (013/026) Helsby Running Club 00:53:50



Anniversary Waltz April 2012 – Report by Phil Gillard

The Anniversary Waltz is a classic Lakeland fell race instigated to celebrate Wynn and Steve’s wedding at Newlands church in 1996, it is 11.5 miles long and 3,600 feet of climb. 2011 was my first experience of the event so having entered again this year; I guess this was my Anniversary Waltz anniversary.

Last year the race was a ‘warm up’ for the Scottish Islands race; as a result I felt I was in reasonable shape and came home in 247th position with a time of 2:42:40, however no amount of training on our Cheshire hills can set you up for the Lakeland terrain and I struggled on the last part of the race. This year I was determined to improve my race management even though my fitness level was probably lower.

An early start from Helsby allowed for a coffee stop on the way up, arriving at the village of Stair two hours before the start, time to watch the start of the longer “Teenager” race, recover from the journey and catch up with some fellow runners from Macclesfield, Spectrum etc. The weather was forecast to be close to freezing on the tops with the threat of sleet and hail, so long sleeved top as minimum.

My warm up consisted of a 20 minute climb up and down the lower levels of Cat Bells and some stretching, with fifteen minutes to go, it was time to get onto the start field and the obligatory kit check – well done to the organisers, absolutely essential given the forecast conditions.

In terms of race management, the first part of the course consists of a 3 mile flattish run down the Newlands valley taking us onto a track underneath High Snab and then a very rough hands on knees climb up onto High Snab ridge thereafter taking the ridge line up onto the top of Robinson, my plan was to make the Robinson summit in 70 minutes. My route choice up onto the ridge last year was very direct, taking in a fair amount of scree but avoiding a bit of a scramble on the ridge itself, this year I opted to get onto the ridge earlier and do the scramble and it seemed to work and was pleased to get to the checkpoint on top of Robinson in about 65 minutes.

So, where was the weather, no wind reasonable temperature and fantastic visibility, along with the flattish run off Robinson the lack of clag allowed me to have a cheeky view of the next two peaks – Hindscarth and Dale Head. This is probably the most enjoyable part of the race grassy descents, (nearly) runnable climbs and the feeling you are bagging the peaks quite quickly, I timed myself taking 15 minutes going from peak to peak – Robinson to Hindscarth and Hindscarth to Dale Head.

So far, so good but now the descent from Dalehead to the tarn, I have made this descent many times and have never felt I have done it justice, however speaking to others; this seems to be a pretty common view. The terrain is quite steep, tufts of grass and intermittent groups of boulders; if you get in amongst the boulders you end up looking at the next couple of meters rather than looking 20 meters ahead to pick the best line. I chose a line to the right of the tarn to pick up the walkers path up to High Spy, despite the fact that this ascent is runnable I made the decision to take it easy and save something in the tank for the section across Maiden Moor. The choice of line also worked well in that nestled behind a rock just beyond the stream crossing (eating his lunch) was Joss (Naylor), a knowing nod was exchanged and off I went energised by a blessing from the fell runners Pope.

Maiden Moor – what a pleasure; a flattish / slightly downhill cruise on softish ground with views of Derwentwater on your right, this is where I struggled last year, what a contrast to my recollection of this year – a testament to another year of experience and better race management. Soon the summit of Catbells comes into sight, a welcome site, not quite home yet, keep the concentration make sure you take the runners line on the penultimate descent, make sure you keep your arms pumping on the short ascent to the summit, remember to take a left down the rocks just after the summit, remember to relax on the grassy descent along the contour, set yourself up for the last section of road and the descent on the finish field and then check your watch – an 8 minute improvement on last year and that warm fuzzy feeling you get when a plan comes together.


Happy birthday Phil!

I’m sure he won’t mind us mentioning it, but club stalwart Phil Gillard is now Officially Old.

Choosing to celebrate his move up into a new V50 category with a run out at Hathersage last night, old age clearly seems to be working well for him. Phil’s had a good year so far and a steady improvement in his times, ticking off a fair few fell races along the way.

The club’s present to Phil was the Hathersage Gala fell race in the counter series. 7 vests made it over to the beautiful gritstone high peak, somewhat further afield than our normal outings, and were rewarded with a 4.5m loop with just over 1000′ of climbing. A warm evening and a big turnout, mostly runnable terrain with a couple of short scrambly sections over the back of Higgar Tor (a special place for your author!). Jim made hay with a fast start to avoid most of the queues at the early stiles, caused by the big field, to lead the Helsby charge. A fit local population, along with the catchment of the outdoorsy capital of the UK (Sheffield) meant it was a pretty high standard race with many great performances from talented unattached runners, as well as the regular Peak clubs, and a good dose of people just giving it a go.

A record turnout on the night for the 4.5mile (BS) race with 243 runners in total, 7 of them with the Helsby green vest led by a commanding performance by Jim O’Hara but with strong runs all round.

Full results available here, although I’m not sure why there appears to be no v70 category!

Helsby runners positions and times as below
37 Jim O’Hara 36.44
65 Ian Landucci 38.55
123 Steve Riley 43.07
127 Phil Gillard 43.22
187 Andy Smith 48.01
224 Jackie Keasley 53.33
239 Robbie Webster 58.26

Well done to everyone taking part. Creditable mention for a decent run from Jackie, straight off the back of a tough two days in the Lakes for the SLMM.

Steve (with a prompt from Adair)

…hopefully some pics to follow from Bill and Helen.

Three peaks yacht race (updated!)

Those silver surfers have now got their own blog at

You can also track their progress at on the Josephine.

A quick reminder of their donation pages…