By Steve Elliff
The Grindleford Gallop is one of the most popular fell races in the Peaks. It books up quickly and whilst it’s been on my radar for a while, I’ve never been organised enough to secure a place! The race typically takes place in March, although this year it had to be delayed due to significant snow fall! Rescheduling was a top plan, as the clear skies and autumnal sunshine made for cracking running conditions.
By definition, a gallop involves four feet leaving the ground together. With Graham (my normal fell running buddy) out through injury, this horse had to continue without the front legs, making the gallop more akin to a trot!
With around 600 entrants, the mass start was a little manic! The route quickly funnels down narrow paths and it’s not long before queues form at the many stiles and pinch points. I often get over excited at the start of a race, so this definitely helped avoid this! After crossing the main road, you hit hill one, which pretty much continues all the way to Eyam. From here it’s onto Tideswell Lane, before making your way across the fells to Great Longstone, picking up the Monsal Trail shortly after. After completing much of the first half of the Monsal parkrun, there is a brutal reminder that it’s actually a fell race, as you cross Bakewell golf course and crawl your way up hill two, entering the Chatsworth Estate above Edensor. The effort is swiftly rewarded, with stunning views in every direction as far as the eye can see!
The route makes it way past Chatsworth House, where bemused tourists either gently encourage you, or look at you like you’re mad! A short while later, you tag the final electronic dibber at Baslow, before making your way up hill three onto Baslow Edge. At this point, the running gets a bit more technical, as you weave your way along the tops of the gritstone crags. The final descent comes just after Froggatt Edge and whilst you’d think a long descent would be welcomed, the path continues to be technical and my legs were starting to cramp. After about 10 minutes, I was rather relieved to see Grindleford come into view and a sugary cup of tea was within sprinting distance!
Crossing the line first for Wirksworth, was David Brassington in 3 hours 12 minutes, in 38th place, taking an impressive 17 minutes off his time from last year. I followed in 3 hours 26 minutes, in 63rd place. Clare Eardley crossed in 4 hours 39, closely followed by Malcom Marshall in 4 hours 40 minutes.
If you are keen to enter next year’s race, it returns on 16th March 2024, so watch their website for entry details – www.grindlefordgallop.co.uk.