On the 25th of may 2018 we arrived in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales for a relaxing weeks camping just outside the stunning villages of Clapham and Austwick, which are both approximately 5 miles West of Settle with Pen-y-Ghent to the North east and Ingleborough to the North West. A gentle week of walking, cycling, pub lunches and camp BBQ’s were the plan. On the campsite we came upon a advertising flyer ‘The Austwick Cuckoo Festival and Street Market’. So called the Cuckoo festival as in years gone by the arrival of the first cuckoo was alleged to bring the village good luck. This end of May Bank Holiday event is now a great fund raiser for the village helping support all the good things that go on in the village with clubs, societies village hall and sports field. The small village streets are closed to traffic with food stalls, Brass and Jazz bands, tombola, children’s competitions, book sale classic cars. You name it it had it, even that well known game jam jar ping pong!
The main event of the day is ‘The Austwick Amble Fell Race’. The senior race starts at 1pm with junior races starting earlier. 11.45 Under 13’s 2.53k, 12.15 under 15’s 3.17k followed by the under17’s and 19’s both at 4.31k. It really is a pretty big event for a small village. Parking was out the village on the grass verge with only a short walk in. The village hall was the port of call for the runners which was more than ample for the record entry of 183 seniors. This was only 50 yards from the start and finish line which was directly outside ‘The Game Cock’ pub.
Well, ive never done a fell run! ive seen a few fell runners, Cant be too tricky, skip up a couple of hills drop down the other side trot in the village, wave to the crowds, couple of pints in the pub job done. After all I am a flat fen road runner, show these Northern folk what running’s all about. Bring it on! Probably should of been a little suspicious with the on the day entry fee of £6 (YES, £6. Yorkshire prices.) Was then advised by a fellow runner ‘what ever you do do not go off fast or it will kill you’.
The gun went off and we had a lovely gentle down hill start for about 400 yards and then we turned left and the road ramped up, runners were walking up as steeper road as ive seen and two things dawned on me.
One, Being naive is not always the best policy.
Two, The word Amble should never be allowed in the same sentence as fell run!
To the more experienced runner the next paragraph is a truer description of the run.
The senior race starts and finishes in Austwick village centre in front of the Game Cock pub. The race is over a loop circuit of approximately 8 miles/13km with a total ascent of 1200ft/370m. The outward journey over the first 4 miles passes through the beautiful Crummockdale limestone scenery and briefly joins Sulber Nick (which connects the Yorkshire Peaks of Pen-Y-Ghent and Ingleborough). The return leg descends slowly back through spectacular scenery to Austwick.
It was truly breath-taking on a cloudless scorching May day. The people were very supportive and friendly, extremely well marshalled with six check points and two water stations. Probably the best £6 ive spent, no T-Shirt, no medal but one of the most deserved buckets of water tipped over me at the end. Came 130th out of 183 in a new PB of 1.21 and thrilled with my achievement, even more thrilled when the compare said ‘next in, number 85, Derek Smith, WERRINGTON JOGGERS’.
Would i do it again? of course i would.
Would i advise people to do it? Most definitely, although the climbing may not be every ones cup of tea its certainly a great box to tick.