Some of our members who also run with the Middleton Runners were recently invited to join an interesting running challenge – a 58km loop from Matlock, taking in 11 of our local trig points. The idea came from Shaun, a friend of the Middleton Runners, who wanted to raise money for Ashgate Hospice after his father-in-law was recently diagnosed with cancer. With no time to prepare, Kat and Jake foolishly opted to go for it and see if they could make it all the way round!
Saturday’s forecast was dry, if a little on the warm side, so the group packed up their ultra running picnics, filled their flasks and assembled outside The Newsroom at 7.30. We were a group of ten, plus Luna the pointer, and many of us had never tackled an ultra before (of even a half, in Jake’s case!) so we were feeling slightly nervous about the challenge ahead.
We set off towards the first trigs, a couple of mysterious points hidden deep in the woods north (ish) of Matlock. We wound back around through Darley Dale and headed for trig number 3, Oker Hill. A short and sharp climb up and we had lovely views back over Matlock. About 15km by this point, most of us were feeling pretty good and we took the chance to munch some of our plentiful snacks. The steep and muddy drop back down Oker Hill was made challenging by a certain, strong-pulling pointer (I’ll name no names) but we all made it down unscathed and set off towards trig point 4, Stanton Moor.
With a sneaky chance to refill our bottles on the way up, we arrived refreshed. Around 22km by that point, we were still feeling fairly good. Shortly after, it was Luna’s time to depart homewards for a nap and some well-earned biscuits, while the rest of us continued to trig point 5, Blake Low. After this, we were faced with something of a relentless slog along breezy roads towards the next trig, the very similarly named Blakelow Hill. Luckily this marked the halfway point, as legs and feet were beginning to feel the strain.
On the descent back down from Blakelow Hill we were rewarded with a pit stop at the house of one of our group. Cups of tea, Reese’s Nutrageous bars and Ambrosia rice pudding pots all went down surprisingly well. Sadly, 2 of out number dropped out at this point due to injuries, having still run an incredible 30km. We continued on as a group of 8, but not for long!
At Aldwark, we picked up Bella and Wirksworth runner Gregg, who would be joining us for the final 22km. With around 36km behind up by this point, we were really feeling it! Fresh faces gave us some extra energy and we powered on to trig number 7, the strangely named Slipper Low. We headed from there onto the high peak trail, which felt like a strange mix of homecoming but also slightly relentless repetitiveness! After a tough few kilometres, we made it to Harboro Rocks.
Back onto the trail for more repetitive misery and we were onto to trig 9, Middleton Moor. Around 46km in by then, we were really having to dig deep. In Middleton, the temptation to go home and lie down was very strong, but some familiar faces in The Nelson pulled us onwards and we continued to Black Rocks.
At Black Rocks car park we had a wonderful welcome committee, who had laid out a motivational spread for us. The man who inspired the challenge was also there to give us a final boost to the finish. That, along with the sugar, was desperately needed as at 50km we were really starting to struggle.
We continued up to the trig at Black Rocks before dropping all the way down to Cromford. We could see the final challenge lying between us and Matlock – Masson Hill, another 300m or so up. On very tired legs, this was going to be tough! We trudged up and located the trig point – easier said than done, as the marker was removed due to vandalism and only the concrete base remains!
We knew we didn’t have far left to go, and it was mainly downhill. Trying hard to avoid slips in the mud on tired legs, we trundled down into Matlock and up Bank Road. Back at The Newsroom, nearly 59km later, we finally sat down to a well-earned pint.
If you’ve been inspired and would like to contribute to our fundraising efforts, the link is here.
Thanks are owed to several landowners who granted us permission to access the trig points on the route which are on private land.