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Oswiu's Revenge MMXXIV

Sunday the 12th of May was the second staging of our Oswiu's Revenge trail run. Circa 10 miles, starting and finishing at the parking area below Black Hambleton, two miles outside of Osmotherley within the beautiful hills and dales of the North York Moors National Park.

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone whether you participated in the run or helped with marshalling and registration.

For the second year in a row we had good weather, early mist quickly being replaced by sunshine and blue skies.

At ten o clock everyone set off along the path towards Black Hambleton, for anyone who has run on the Cleveland Way or taken part in Hardmoors events the climb up from Sqaure corner will be familiar to you. 

After following the path for about a third of a mile the route leaves the Cleveland Way and follows national cycle path 265 onto Nether Silton Moor which is mostly mixed plantations of deciduous and non-deciduous trees. For the next mile or so the route descends on a good forest track, before reaching a small car parking area and check point one, where Kate Aspey was on hand to point everyone in the right direction as they left the main track and headed deeper into the plantation.

After checkpoint one the route goes into Crabtree Bank Plantation, where the first climb of the day is soon encountered. After a bit of ducking and diving around some fallen timber the route emerges back out onto one of the main forest rides, following the line of Knipes Hill, which is recorded as the 93rd highest within the North York Moors National Park... The path then follows the ridge line above Nether Silton which gives great views of the Vale of York and the Dales. More ascent then follows, with the route heading up to an impressive hanging stone, and check point two, where Mark Dalton guided runners around a little rock scramble and back onto the main path.

The route then follows another of the main forest rides, log stacks on either side of it evidence of the amount of forestry operations going on in the area. The route then climbs sharply up Thimbleby Bank, twisting and turning between the trees. Near the top there is the remains of old enclosure walls from earlier quarrying activities. 

At the top of the climb the path joins another forest ride which cuts across a ridge above the hamlet of Thimbleby. In this area most of the trees have been felled, at present this is not reflected on mapping. Langerham Plantation and Big Wood are still marked as such, but they now consist of scattered stumps and struggling saplings. In some places wild rhododendrons have taken root, where the trees once stood, adding pools of colour to the hillside. It does however mean that there are expansive views out across the Vales of York and Mowbray, then further west into the Yorkshire Dales. Though, it would be prudent to stop before you admire the view, the exposed roots, fallen trees and stumps interlacing the path turn running into a head down backside up game of hopscotch, where grazed knees and elbows are the painful outcome of inattention as to where your feet are landing.

Once this natural obstacle course has been negotiated the route winds above Thimbleby Hall before dropping down towards Oakdale to join the Cleveland Way. The descent here is a gnarly one, where the roots are still present, but now aided in their attempts to up end you by rocks, running water and the steepness of the hillside. It is one of my favourite descents on the route, where confidence, nimble feet, strength, and good luck all play a part in negotiating it without mishap. The trick is to stay light on your feet and skip down from rock to rock in such a way that you barely land. Yes, it is easier said than done but like everything else you find hard in running, as in life, you must keep doing it.

The reward of the descent is a small section of open woodland, which at this time of the year is resplendent with bluebells and wild garlic, which mingle between the trees in a fusion of colours and heady fragrances. After crossing a wooden footbridge, the path joins the Cleveland Way, at Oakdale where the keepers’ cottages are situated. This was the location of checkpoint three, where Paul Readman directed runners off the Cleveland Way and up the hill towards checkpoint four and some refreshment. This climb is steady and goes from the 170-metre contour line to the 250-metre contour line in around a kilometre or roughly 0.62 of a mile, so it lends itself to a decent hill session…

Apart from the training value the climb also affords you good views down the valley towards the village of Osmotherley.

At the top of the bank, beside Snilesworth Road, Daz Lythe had set up his refreshment bazaar, aka checkpoint four. I hear that the Pick Up bars, a B&M special, being proffered were a particular favourite. After being suitably replenished, runners took to the road for a short section which took them past what used to be the Chequers Inn, now holiday cottages. It is reputed that there was a peat fire in the bar which was kept alight for over two hundred years. The Inn was much used by drovers coming down from Scotland with cattle on their way to York ,Lincoln, and as far afield as London. While their beasts grazed in the fields around the inn the drovers sampled the local ale after reading a sign outside that read, “Be not in haste step in and taste, Ale tomorrow for nothing”.  Of course, tomorrow, is always the day after the day you read the sign, so the only thing they got was an empty purse and a sore head to nurse whilst driving their cattle up the side of Black Hambleton. Yes, I know I digress, after leaving the road the route crosses fields before dropping down to towards Trenholme House where there are some horse gallops, a sign tells you to beware of fast-moving horses from the right. As I passed this point during a route recce my mind wandered to an event in 1913 when Emily Davison, women’s rights activist and suffragette, walked onto the track during the Epsom Derby and was fatally wounded after being struck by one of King George V horses competing in the race. The sacrifice and tenacity shown over many years by Emily Dickson and countless other women activists helped to secure votes for some women in 1918. However, it would be a further 11 years before women aged between 21 and 29 would be able to vote. That tenacity is now coming though in women’s ultra running with more and more of them competing in, and winning some of the toughest races.

Thankfully there were no such incidents during our event, and everyone crossed the gallops onto the green lane beyond without mishap.

The green lane leads down towards Snilesworth road and joins the Cleveland Way which is then followed back to Oakdale and checkpoint 3, where Paul pointed them up the hill towards square corner. This section is all on the Cleveland way and includes the sharp climb up the flagstones near to Oakdale Beck and Jenny Brewster’s Spring. The spring bubbles up on the moor side before flowing down into Oakdale as jenny Brewster’s Gill to join Oakdale Beck. Local stories tell of a terrible witch called Jenny Brewster who lived near the gill, which was synonymous with smuggling, and the running of illicit ale stills which were dotted around the neighbouring dales. I wonder where the witch stories emanated from…

After climbing the flagstones, the route took participants back to the start and finish point at Sqaure Corner, and the start of the “sting in the trail’. After passing through the finish line the route heads up along the Cleveland Way climbing steadily to the top of Black Hambleton, I imagine just like the 17th century drovers with their ale addled heads there was a fair amount of cursing from the lips of the runners as they trotted upwards, the sun above their heads growing ever hotter and the path below their feet growing ever steeper.

Once at the top a smaller trod was followed for a short distance to the triangulation pillar which sits on Hambleton End at a height of 400 metres or 1312ft 4 inches. For some reason Ordnance Survey have called it Dodd End triangulation pillar, Dodd end sits 20 metres below and about a mile to the south of Hambleton end. From the trig point the route follows the Cleveland way back down to the finish at square corner, affording everyone a fast descent to get their hill-tired legs moving.

First back was Jamie Hauxwell in a new course record of 01:38:51, followed by Neil Ridsdale in 01:52:08 and Daz Gentle in 01:56:46

First lady home was Katie Hunter in 02:22:23 followed by Janet Love in 02:37:47 and Kayleigh Hullah in 02:39:35.

During the briefing the runners were given a challenge, apart from conquering the course, to bring back an item of litter from around the route, the most unusual would then be awarded a spot prize.

This was won jointly by Gemma Harcombe-Moore and Vicky Ellis. Gemma found a full bottle of Heineken and Vicky brought back the biggest haul which included an animal bone, well done both of you and everyone else who picked up some litter. In the words of an advert for a well-known supermarket chain, ‘Every little helps”

Our last two events have raised £44 from your parking donations which will be sent to the North York Moors National Park, thank you.

Once again thank you, to everyone who took part in, or helped out with Oswiu’s revenge on Sunday.

Our next event is the Glaisdale Fell Race on the 29th of May.

Followed by The Lamplighter 30, a thirty-mile dusk till dawn run from Goathland Village Hall on the 15th and 16th of June.


Until next time, “trot on” 💪🦍







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