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Othnesbery's Revenge August 21/2022

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

The inaugural Othnesbery's revenge took place on Sunday the 21st of August starting from the car park at Newton Under Roseberry just outside of Great Ayton. This was the second event in the revenge series, the first one Lilla's Revenge took place in February this year. it is planned that there will be four such events in the series one for each season. The events will all be around 10 miles in length however we all know trail miles are long country miles.

All the Revenge events have a little sting in the trail which will mean some climbing towards the end in addition to that on the rest of the course. We wanted to make the runs challenging without being so difficult that those new to trail running would shy away from giving them a go. We also set the numbers relatively low at 50 participants which gives the event a low-key feel.

Registration took place from 10:15 with Hannah McMahon and Sam handling the process with efficient aplomb.

As everyone had received their numbers by 10:30 I decided to start early to save everyone standing about or wasting energy performing exotic lunges and the like. Therefore after a quick brief our sweepers Alison and Kevin Hullah set off up Roseberry Lane to await the runners. Then at precisely 10:45 according to my Le Micky Mouse watch, I told the runners to "Trot On" which 26 of them duly did up the lane towards the base of Roseberry Topping. The iconic hill aka Othnesbery, Othenesberg and Odins Seat to name but a few. It would have been well known to the earliest inhabitants of the North Yorkshire Moors including the Danes who settled in the area that stretched from Northumbria to London and was collectively known as the Danelaw throughout the 9th century. Odin, their chief God was said to sit above them on the hill so he could see into all his realms. It is therefore more than a mere leap of faith to suggest that the earliest names for Roseberry Topping are of Norse origin.

Neil Ridsdale was soon pulling away from the field on the steady climb up to the first gate. From there the route follows the main path up the side of the topping which is well worn and very popular especially on a Sunday morning with blue skies and sunshine.

After reaching the summit runners had a quick turn around the triangulation pillar whilst calling out their numbers to our marshals Steve Whittwood and Chin Chean Yong before starting their first descent of the day.

After crossing Roseberry Common the route joins the main forest track that runs between Bousdale Wood and Hanging Stone Wood. This is a good-sized trail which is non-technical and lends itself to good running, opening the pace and pushing on. About a mile or so further on a minor path heads up into the trees of Hutton Low cross Wood, orange survey flags were placed at the junction to let the runners know to leave the main track and follow the minor one.

This climbs steadily upwards through the trees and at this time of year is quite overgrown, when putting out the flags it was also very wet due to the overnight precipitation. Happily for the runners, it had mostly dried up by the time they trotted through it. After ascending through a couple of contour lines the path eventually joins another substantial forest track which guides you to the path below Hanging Stone. This path climbs steeply up through the forest becoming rocky and rutted just below the stone. Hanging Stone has the appearance of an ancient altar used in the long-forgotten rituals of our prehistoric forefathers and gives wide-ranging views across Guisborough towards the coast. Our runners would have had no such time for rituals or musings as there was a lot more running to be done.

After hanging Stone it was a short clip down a prominent track to the junction near Newton Moor Gate where it joins the Cleveland Way and the second CP being ably controlled by the Baines family, Kirsten, Phil, Charlie and Will. Once again runners checked in with their numbers and were then directed off the Cleveland Way onto another forest track which took them towards Blue lake Wood and Hutton Village. Mostly downhill for just under a mile, this track again suits a stretch of the legs and a quickening of pace. At a T junction orange flags then directed them right up a similar track which wanders uphill to the double gates at the Cleveland Way track junction on the edge of Hutton Moor and Black Nab.

From there the route follows the Cleveland Way, dropping off of Black Nab in the direction of Highcliff. Possibly not noticed by the runners, but definitely worth a look are a couple of path slabs, some distance apart from each other bearing the inscription Deus Nostrum Refugium, these appear to be part of the foundation stone from Holy Trinity School, possibly in Halifax laid down in April 1961. Incidentally, Deus Nostrum Refugium translates from Latin to English as God is our Refuge, which amongst other things has been used at one time as the motto of the Malcolm Clan.

Anyway, I digress, on with the run report.

Leaving the Cleveland Way just before the gate leading to Highcliff Nab the route turned south towards Sleddal and Codhill Heights. As they followed a minor path across the open moor which rises up to the burial mound on top of Codhill Heights runners were treated to a fantastic deep purple carpet of heather curving up to the cerulean blue sky of the near horizon. The burial mound is believed to be from the Bronze Age and around 2000 years old, there is also a concrete slab embedded above it dating from Rememberance day 1943. It is possible that the concrete was linked to the bunker-type structure situated to

the west on Percy Rigg which in conjunction with fires was used as a decoy in order to get enemy aircraft to drop their payload of ordnance in the belief that they were already over Middlesbrough, their intended target.

Dropping down from Codhill Heights the runners joined the track from Sleddale Farm leading to Percy Cross Rigg. A short plod along the minor farm road which runs along the spine of the Rigg brought them to checkpoint number 3 and refreshments. Our marshals at this location were Helen Patterson and Darren Griffiths who did a sterling job taking numbers whilst dolling out jelly babies and fizzy pop. The tracks radiating out from the gateway have been in existence at least since medieval times, the nearby remains of Percy Cross which relates to the Northumbrian Percys who held the manor of Kildale at one time would have marked the way for clerics and laymen travelling between Guisborough Priory and Whitby Abbey.

After CP 3 the route leaves the road and carries on along an old cart track which soon passes the aforementioned bunker before joining up with the Cleveland Way.

This was the end of a loop bringing runners back to CP 2 where they were then directed to follow the Cleveland Way onto Newton Moor in the direction of Roseberry Topping.

Cresting the small rise onto Newton Moor brings the eastern flank of the Topping into view, with its distinctive path snaking up to the summit like a slumbering dragon basking in the reflected magnificence of its golden hoard. Ok yes, I have read the Hobbit, but who hasn't, right? One side of the medal for Othnesbery's Revenge shows this view with the other side showing the crumbled west face from above Newton Wood. Once over Little Roseberry onto Roseberry Common the route follows the main Cleveland Way path back up the side of Othnesbery to the summit where runners were once more greeted by Steve, Chin and an eclectic mix of ramblers, hikers, tourists and Sunday hangover sufferers.

For their second descent runners were directed down the path that leads to the old shooting box above Newton Wood. Although locally known as the shooting box the folly on the southwestern flanks of Othnesbery may well have been built as a summerhouse for victorian walkers resting whilst on their Sunday perambulation to the top of a "mountain".

Once through the gate below the folly, instead of dropping down to Roseberry Lane, the course follows the fence along the woodline back to the gate at the top of the main path where the ever smiling Tony Carr was on hand to direct runners back up the path to summit Othnesbery for the third and final time, the sting in the trail.

Having run round the trig point once more runners descended using the less well-used path on the north side. This is grass clad and looks as if a strip has been mown down the centre making it easy to follow, well at least for the first 100 metres until you enter a jungle of 5ft bracken. At a T junction, flags took the runners right onto another minor path which took them down along Brant Gate and Roseberry Lane. From here it was time for a sprint finish back into the car park. The first runner home was Neil Ridsdale in a time of 1 hr 59:14, the second was Matthew Naylor in 2 hrs 07:38 and the third finisher was Andrew Rogerson in 2 hrs 15:02.

For the ladies, Gemma Harcombe- Moore was the first home and 9th overall in a time of 2 hrs 34:57, the second and 10th overall was Katie Hunter in a time of 2 hrs 38:05, third lady and 12th overall, Jan Rogerson in a time of 2 hrs 45:01. We had 26 finishers out of 26 starters all under 3.5 hrs for the 11.2-mile course which also had a not too shabby 2700ft of elevation for them to contend with. Congratulations to you and everyone who took part in the first Othnesbery,s Revenge, without you the participants and marshals there would not be an event so thank you all for making the day a success.

So until next time trot on...🦍

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