A fantastic day was had by all as 33 Ilkley Harriers participated in running the Dales Way from Bowness to Ilkley as a relay. Dave Wilby and Dan Goodey set of at 5.00am from the shores of Lake Windermere and 13 hours 48 minutes later Kelly Harrison, Adrian Hall, Rob King and others finished at the Old Bridge.
Dan and Dave navigated the first 8 mile section in the dark brilliantly to pass on to Geoff Howard, Alison Eagle and Pete Shields at Bowston. This accomplished trio set off just after sun rise and certainly had the best weather of the day. Their 10 mile route took them from Cumbria over the M6 to the foot of the Howgill fells at the Crook of Lune, an idyllic setting for coffee and toast after handing over to Morgan Williams, John Smith and Paddy Hagan.
A 12 mile section for these 3 then followed the river Lune towards Sedbergh and then the river Dee to finish in the delightful village of Dent. The stormy conditions of Friday evening meant that conditions underfoot ranged from very damp to 6" of standing water! Brian Melia, Phil Jones and Andrew Wilson took over there to continue along Dentdale to the Dent Head viaduct and across Blea Moor to join the road from Ribble Head to Hawes. The weather had started to deteriorate a bit by now and Steve Weston and Brian Melia took the relay over Cam Fell and above Oughtershaw Beck in very blustery conditions to join the River Wharfe near Beckermonds.
Sue Booth, Helela Deeney, Rachel Hagan and Aison Eagle set off fully clad to follow the limestone pavements of the River Wharfe down Langstrothdale to Buckden. Here they arrived several layers lighter then stopped for tea and cakes before retracing their steps to retrieve their car! Andrew Bennett and Roger Pyle were ready and raring to go from the Buckden change over. Morgan raced after them a few minutes later (caught in the Gents when the ladies arrived in front of schedule!) to get some extra miles in (Old Counties Tops training!). The blue bits on the map (marshes) were very blue on the ground! They had a great run, almost spot on estimated time, to pass on to Alison Bennett, David Brown and Amanda Oddie in Kettlewell.
No extra volunteers to join this trio as they made light work of the endless fields and stiles across to Grassington where they raced down the high street to the bridge. Jacqui Weston took over here, having supported Steve earlier in the relay with little Georgia and Felix. Alison Eagle accompanied her (for those extra Old Counties Tops miles too) for a pleasant run along the River Wharfe to Burnsall. Jacqui and Alison made good time and plenty of children and supporters were waiting for them on the bridge.
A fantastic big group for the next section to Barden Bridge consisted of Elaine Cossins, Clare Smith, Caroline Ebert, Lindsay King and Joyce Marshall. Alison Eagle and Jacqui Weston were certainly bitten by the bug and continued for another leg too. Continuing along the river as the weather turned cold and the dusk began to fall, the group began to make inroads into the schedule.
Richard Gray and Andy Sarah warmed up well at Bolton Bridge ready for the change over from Elaine, Caroline and Clare who finished well ahead of their predicted time. Richard and Andy accompanied by Morgan and Joyce had a very swift run along familiar ground to Bolton Bridge where the last runners were ready, armed with head torches as the light was fading fast.
Ahead of schedule Heather Dawe, Kelly Harrison, Dave Wilby, Adrian Hall, Rob King, Joyce Marshall and myself set off for the final section back to Ilkley. The path along the river to Addingham is particularly nice at the moment with scores of snow drops. We only needed head torches for the last 20 minutes or so and Laura King, Scott Marshall and others met us at the tennis club for the final run in to the Old Bridge. We finished in good time and high spirits before adjourning to the pub to meet up with runners from the previous legs to celebrate.
A great day and we raised at least £150 for the Gemma King Memorial Fund. I would like to thank all the runners and supporters for their help and contribution to the relay. All the children involved were super and Harry Williams was a great navigator for me in the campervan!
Click on the thumbnail above to see Alison's photos.
Details of the Gemma King Memorial Fund here (MS Word doc).