Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Winter Hill before dawn – a place of solitude

Map picture

Monday was my Dad’s birthday so we went to Glasgow to celebrate with him. The weather forecast for the weekend in Glasgow was poor so I decided to get some miles before setting off. The trig point on Winter Hill is just over six miles (by road) from our house which seemed about right for a very early morning run.

I needed to be back by 08:30 so setting off not much after six o’clock seemed about right. The mast lights were concealed by low clouds when I turned on to Diccinson Lane and so it seemed unlikely there would be any views from the top but that doesn’t much matter. Even without a torch the white lines on the mast road are easily seen under almost all conditions and so it was in the pitch dark I turned right on to the mast road only to trigger a huge floodlight on the rear of one of the houses. By the second cattle grid my night vision had returned and I could enjoy being alone in the clag approaching the mast. Turning left to the trig point at the top of the “ramp” I saw, what appeared to be, new lights on the fence around another mast on the right. I was turning away from them and the heavy frost was making the tarmac slippy so I decided to have a closer look on the way back. Patches of black ice called for even more concentration on the ground and then I saw a boot print in the frost!

Looking up, I saw a man with a pair of small dogs walking towards me. We exchanged greetings and having turned to run back down I caught up with him and saw (by the light of his head torch) he was  kitted out with boots, rucksack, gaiters and all. Passing him, I joked “I wasn’t expecting to see anyone else here at this time of day”. He just laughed, with good reason, as I looked up I saw the “new lights”, all forty of them walking towards me as I ran into a large group of walkers heading for the summit at 07:15 on a Saturday morning! Few of them spoke – I suppose they may have been as surprised as I was. Disappointed too, I don’t doubt, because either they were out for a very long day or had hoped to see a spectacular sunrise before the weather broke.

I ran off into the darkness back past the mast, down through Horwich and home having had a surprising start to Saturday.

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