2016 so far….

WindyHillFell13 Feb 20106

Windy Hill Fell Race – Feb 2016 – Credit RunningPix

Running and racing for that matter has not really got going this year,niggling injuries, xmas pounds, lost mojo and general lack of motivation are amongst the ever expanding list of excuses to do anything other than run!

I had decided that 2016 was going to be different. I ended 2015 with a spell on the tarmac with the aim of losing a bit of weight and picking up a little speed. It worked. I managed to pick up some PB performances across most distances with 23:22 for 5k and 48:40 for 10k. So i headed into xmas and new year pretty happy… that’s where it all changed.

Like most normal folk, everyone likes to fill there faces with food and booze over the festive period, i am no different, i am still stuffing my face and it’s the middle of Feb! Time to sort it out.

I am going to cross train a little bit more this year and focus on building up my core strength to reduce the amount of niggly injuries i get down to poor position whilst running and my back being the main source of posture support. I have committed to a couple of different events this year already and re-ignited my love for playing Squash, although i am no Nick Matthew by any means!

I have only raced twice this year so far, The Grand Day Out Askham Trail Run in January, which was a brilliant event, born through disaster, produced through fantastic community spirit. It was a pleasure to be involved in the day and i hope it is back next year.


A Grand Day Out Indeed

The second race saw a return to the Windy Hill Fell Race, a 9 mile early season blast with a testing climb up to Blackstone Edge on the bleak Lancashire moors. Considering my lack of meaningful training i was happy overall with 1:36 on a tough day, but nearly 7 minutes down on last year. That said, the conditions on fell races are so varied from year to year that i’m not sure comparing times is even a meaningful progress tracker (unless of course you run quicker).

The event was well put on by Cannonball Events with chip timing, a good route and i even managed to bag a spot prize at the presentation.

Windy 2016

The Pain of the Ascent… – Credit Woodentops

So where next?

Ilkley Moor beckons this weekend, a new race to me and one i am very much looking forward to. I have heard good things and it’ll add some strength to my legs, that’s for sure!

Following Ilkley, some of the events i have booked are:-

Harewood House Trail 1/2 Marathon

Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round

Black Coombe Fell Race

Liverpool 1/2 Marathon

Grizedale Offroad Duathlon

Haglofs Open 5 – South Pennines

Anniversary Waltz Fell Race

Lakeland Trails Staveley

The Ben (Entry Pending)

So, it’s time i got some focus to get out and do these events justice.

See you on the fells…..


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Something Different…

Had a blast tonight at the Ingleton Scenery Race. Just over 4 miles around the Ingleton waterfalls walk. Superbly organised by KCAC as per usual and at £3 you simply can’t go wrong.

Wasn’t about times for me tonight as this marked six days consecutive running and the legs are starting to feel a little weary!

Superb support as usual from the humbug army. Well done to Dale Grimmy on 4th place, John Whiteside on 5th, and 3rd best runner in the Whiteside house with wife Kelly taking 3rd Lady!

Ingleton Scenery - Credit James Williamson.

Ingleton Scenery – Credit James Williamson.

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Catching up….

I made no secret last year that the rigors of working a job that involved long weekend shifts and working away from home affected my enjoyment of racing as my training was sporadic at best. Now that has changed somewhat. Working in full time education means i am based at home full time and the mojo is back!

There has been ups and downs this year, a new 5k pb (shh!) Knocked 20 minutes off my time at the Stan Bradshaw last year, another fabulous run around the Anniversary Waltz, The Calderdale way Relay amongst many other achievements. Slightly soured by missing the Hill Inn cutoff by only a few seconds (43….) But i still feel proud of what i have achieved this year.

Looking up Pen Y Ghent

Looking up Pen Y Ghent

I could write a book about the three peaks experience, it truly is amazing and something every fell-runner simply must get involved in. The pre & post race atmosphere is incredible and the camaraderie among runners is evident all day – although in hindsight, stopping to assist a fellow runner with cramp coming down Whernside maybe not my smartest move! I really don’t want to dwell on the peaks too much, it’s all part of the learning experience, sometimes i forget I’ve only been running since 2012, and, like a good friend said to me “If you get knocked down five times, make sure you get up six” wise words.

So, whats occurring….

Calderdale Way

Calderdale Way Relay

Hutton Roof Fell Race

Hutton Roof Fell Race

Bowley Hill Trail Race

Bowley Hill Trail Race

It’s that time now when there is so much going on that it’s hard to keep track. I find it increasingly difficult each year to get to all my favorite races as there’s just so much choice and it’s always good to keep it fresh.

I did manage to get back to one of my favorites this weekend at Hutton Roof. This is a delightful race on the edge of the Lakes. A 7 mile (ahem..) route skirting in and out of the limestone outcrops that skirt the Dales from the quaint village of Hutton Roof, just outside Kirby Lonsdale. I love this race, part of the annual village fete with all sorts going on to entertain the family whilst you run, but my Mrs is getting wise to the suggestion of lovely country fetes these days. The main attraction has got to be the cake table though, i simply can’t do it justice, i had two slabs, one of which was pre-race fuel, amazing!

I managed to slightly better my time from last year by a minute or so on what was a quite uncomfortable day for me, i don’t tend to run particularly well in the heat and it was by far the warmest day of the year so far. Happy overall though!

Then Monday saw the Bowley Hill Race, organised for the first time by my club (and me) taking place as part of the Great Harwood agricultural show. This was a 5.8 mile ‘Trail’ race over pastures and meadows before a nice little climb over Bowley Hill. It was immense, i loved it and i would certainly recommend it as a ‘fell runners’ trail race with a couple of stern climbs to test the legs and a hands on knees scramble to the top of the hill.

Yes it was fully marked and much of the route was on good tracks and paths but it was certainly as enjoyable as lots of local fell races i have done. I just missed out on my target time of 1 hour but i guess two races in three days with a training run up onto Thieveley pike sandwiched in the middle left the legs a little weary!

Next race may well be Pen Y Ghent on June 6th but in the meantime i will just enjoy the training runs, after all, i smile on training runs….

Keep Smiling...

Keep Smiling…

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Windy Hill

I’ve never been one to write this blog just for the sake of writing, i prefer to wait until something worth talking about arises and this weekend, something worth talking about happened…

The Windy Hill Fell Race…….

This is a new race to the calendar and has been an instant hit with a field of 200+ in it’s first two years, suggesting that it is here to stay long term. Organised by local race promoter John Lloyd it is described on his Cannonball Events website as:-

“A fast fell race run on good visible paths, rolling hills and has one memorable climb. All this takes place on the Pennine moors where the views of Hollingworth Lake and landmarks further afield are stunning.

The route takes on the Old Roman Road at Blackstone Hedge, passes Windy Hill and descends quickly to finish where it started at the back of Hollingworth Lake”

Windy Hill

Ascending the Roman Road – Credit Garry Wilkinson (GW Fitness&Rehab)

The description is pretty much spot on, fast outward running on good tracks to the Old Roman road ascent to the summit of Blackstone Edge before some technical out and out fell terrain that delivers you back onto the Pennine way and some nice fast running back to the finish.

I’ll have to take Cannonball’s word for the views as it was seriously claggy throughout with visibility at a premium.

On a personal level, i have been putting in some decent time lately and also watching what i put in my belly, resulting in said belly reducing in size, so i fancied giving it a good crack. Usually, 9 mile races are more a case of getting round than racing so the fact i fancied going harder tells me i’m making progress.

After the initial heart rate raiser from the start i was able to settle into a decent rhythm and felt relaxed for most of the first half of the race, i also noted a couple of people i had passed who i have never beaten before which was pleasing given i was heading into the part of the race i am usually strongest, the downhill bit!!

Windy Hill 2

Atmospheric – Credit Dave Woodhead

The running on top of Blackstone Edge is fantastic if you love twisty, rocky, boggy natural Lancastrian moorland running, and i was in my element! I managed to pick off a couple of runners in no time at all and soon had a group of 3 or 4 in my sights. As i headed onto the Pennine way i was able to catch this group and pass them on the fast stony paths, i do love this type of running!

Over the M62 bridge and now the finish was starting to enter my mind, but, there was a couple of cheeky little leg sappers to negotiate before a nice singletrack run in to the finish field.

Windy Hill 3

Proper Job! – Credit Steve Bateson (Runningpix)

Overall i was happy with my run, i managed just under 1:30 – I could have only dreamed of this six months ago and it just goes to show that hard work = rewards.

Would i do this race again?

Too right i would, it had it all! Good fast outward tracks to get the legs moving, a stern climb, boggy rough running on top and a great run off to the finish – all for 6 1/2 quid! For anyone that has never heard of Cannonball Events, look them up. They offer superb value for money races that are extremely well organised with fantastic prize tables throughout. The results were out within an hour of finishing, and online by the time i got home!

The Results are HERE

Runningpix.co.uk pics HERE

Woodentops pics HERE

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Happy New year type post….

It only seems polite to wish everyone a happy new year & an injury free 2015!

I hope everyone achieves what they set out to achieve this year, from number of parkrun’s to epic ultra Marathons – you are all amazing.

Speaking of which, today was one of the giving back days, volunteering at one of my local Parkrun events – Pendle. It was amazing to see so many turn out on a pretty nippy morning to have a crack at this testing course. Even better to be able to flip the coin & be the one doing the supporting as the wife ran with the eldest.

Pendle Parkrun

The Hell Hill @ Pendle Parkrun.

Today was ‘supposed’ to be a rest for me after the Auld Lang Syne Fell Race yesterday, marking the end of silly season (The 4 annual Fancy dress races in December) where i tackled the 5.6 mile route dressed as a nun! The race was ran on a variation of the Stoop route due to snow & ice on the bridleway to Top Withens proving an organisers nightmare.

It was great to see local Olymipic duo the Brownlee brothers Alistair & Jonny once again turn up to support this fantastic event – Alistair coming home to take the win, with Jonny in 3rd.

ALS 14 (4)

Nun on the Run

Who knows what this year will bring? I ticked off a few races from my running bucket list in 2014. I fancy a crack at a few more of the Lakeland Classic races & really enjoy the low key LDWA events too – I have two already in the diary this month with The Hebden & That’s Lyth.

The main thing is to enjoy it, and that is what i intend to do!

See you on the fells……




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A Catch Up….

It’s fair to say I have neglected to write much this last year but i aim to improve on this next year.

Here are a few pics just to get us caught up with what i have been up to….

Walkies 1

Spending Time with the Kids

Pendleton 2014 3

Pendleton Fell Race


Feeling Proud

Half Trog 2

Wadsworth Half Trog

Marl Pits XC 1

Cross Country Season

Preston 5k 2

Finally Able to Run with the Mrs!!

Yorkshireman TAC

Team TAC


Thievely Pike


Fancy Dress Fun at the Turkey Trot

Yorkshireman 5

The Full Yorkshireman

Looking back, it’s not been a bad year. I have watched my daughter develop into a good little runner, been able to run with the wife after her 14 month lay off & watched Trawden AC continue to thrive with it’s fantastic Junior section the latest addition.

Personally i have put a few demons to bed. I have got close to my 5k & 10k times of 2012 when i was a lot lighter than i have been these last 18 months. I completed my first marathon at the Yorkshireman & finally made it to the start (and finish) of the Full Tour of Pendle. Throw in a great day at the Ennerdale Trail Run & the Silverdale LDWA and i feel pretty happy with what’s been achieved.

Hope everyone has a good new year & good running in 2015!

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Race of two climates….

So Sunday came & it was finally here, Kentmere Horseshoe 2014.

Due to the fact that this year the FRA had picked the race to be included on the English champs it was a pre-entry only event & it seemed almost an age ago since i signed up. I’ve not had much luck over the last 12 months with pre-entered events as typically i would be asked to work and end up missing out, as was the case last month when i had to forego the Wharfedale Half Marathon. True to form, as i left work on Saturday it was mentioned that it would ‘be appreciated’ if i would work Sunday too as we had a job to get out – this played on my mind but as i got my kit together, feeling like a kid at christmas, it was decision made & i would be heading to the lovely grassy slopes of the Eastern Lakes, just outside Staveley near Kendal.

Like so many areas of Cumbria, the approach into the Kentmere valley is simply stunning and i always get a giddy feeling in my stomach as i eye up the distant peaks i will be scrambling over during the race, and which i can also add to my wainwright tracker as i generally use Lakeland races to bag summits where possible, although this race frustratingly contours under many of the peaks.



As we got out of the car and the relative comfort of the air-con it hit me just how warm it was and even the short walk up to the registration hall had a bead of sweat on the brow, nice & steady was the plan, even though i noticed there was going to be checkpoint cut off times imposed along the route. I wasn’t massively worried about this as the race was split into 4, 3 mile approx legs with an hour between each checkpoint cut off, even though nearly all the climbing was up to the first one at Ill Bell. A Bacon butty, brew & chat with some familiar faces later it was time to get the race head on & make our way to the start. It took a bit of organising getting the 364 starters back to the line so the race could begin, as usual i’m not one to get carried away and started near the back so as not to hold anyone up during the usually frantic first mile when everyone jostles for position and an advantage up the first climb where the snake like field make their way up the hillside..


“Snake to the Summit – Credit Andy Jackson”

It was so hot up that first climb & i suffered, i was not alone as at least 6 runners came back the other way struggling to keep the effort high, trudging upwards through the bracken towards the crest of the first climb i felt like i was having a hairdryer blown directly into my mouth, trying to be conservative with my fluids and only take small sips as there was a long way to go with no known water sources on the route.

Kentmere 1

“Face of Pain – Credit Andy Jackson”

I made it to that first checkpoint a little past the time in 1:02 but the marshal was happy for me to continue provided i was happy i could make the next cut off at High Street an hour later – looking at the splits on the results they gave everyone this option and everyone who decided to continue completed the race. I was happy i would crack on from here as the climb was done & i never troubled the time keeper again all day – reaching High Street 36 Minutes later. This is when everything changed….

On the approach to check 2, up the wall side as i pottered my way up, keeping a nice rhythm i felt the temperature drop ever so slightly, the cloud cover thickened and the light dropped – then it started to rain! In this situation a lot of peoples heads probably go down, they slump over, starting to search for the finish – they don’t want to be there. Not me, i love it, perfect conditions for a big lad, cool air and lovely soothing raindrops to keep the body temperature in check, i knew i could now kick on and as i started to pass people i was confident i was on the verge of notching my best performance in a Lakeland race to date. I passed a couple of runners who i was pretty sure i had never beat before, it only served to spur me on further & even though i must have fallen 10 times on the long descent off Kentmere Pike i was enjoying a nip/tuck battle with a Helm Hill Runner – both spurring each other on in these closing stages and as we both slowed on the last little incline – finish field in sight we shared a ‘may the best man win’ handshake in recognition of the last 5 or 6 mile battle we had. As we hit the road to the finish he went for it, i followed hot on his tail into the field where i was able to find that last little reserve, with the help of a bellowing Dan Taylor to out sprint him to the line – where another handshake was exchanged.

TAC Warriors

“TAC Warriors – Credit Andy Graham”

Before the race, based upon my Anni Waltz time in 2013 of 3:14 i had sort of set a target of getting round in around 3 hours, under that time would be amazing and after Buttermere Sailbeck, not seeing the sweeper runners would also be an added bonus. I got round in 2 hours 45 minutes, i was over the moon! It goes to show that a bit of a plan to the tarining i have been doing is helping, and, i also think the fact i have been doing a good bit of mountain biking as active recovery on non running days is paying dividends getting me up the climbs a bit quicker.

Finish Slip


Special thanks to my Trawden AC teammate Andy Graham for the endless encouragement he has given me over the last few months but as he was only 5 minutes ahead of me i guess i should say, I’m coming for you……


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In full flow…

Just lately i have been getting more aware of the fact that i’m doing a fair bit of running, in some new amazing places and being a bit selfish, keeping them all to myself. Sometimes, those special runs, where you watch the sun set, see some amazing wildlife or simply get out there & be one with the open space in which you choose to venture should be kept sacred as they are our own personal highlights which we as fell runners cherish.

That said & done though, over this Bank holiday weekend i have done two new races, both of which i thought were superb, both in the Yorkshire Dales – an area i am only just really starting to discover & appreciate it’s amazing beauty.

Saturday saw me & a handful of Trawden AC head up to just outside Kirkby Lonsdale for the Hutton Roof Fell Race, a gem of a race i was promised although i had been forewarned about a testing climb up the scree sloped Farleton Knott.

Hutton Roof


“Look Up and Smile – Credit Andy Holden”

The race started with a precessionary lap of the starting field to mass encouragement from the supporting masses, the race is attached to the Hutton Roof Show, famed for its pre race slab of coffee & walnut cake – yes, pre-race cake!!! We headed through the finish arch and off up a gradual tarmac climb before the real graft began with the first tough climb of the day. This wasn’t the real hand on knees stuff i’ve come to know in the Lakes but still it was tough on slippy mud & limestone with little overtaking opportunity.

Once on the top some superb singletrack running followed, well 6 miles of it really only interrupted with the tough ascent of Farleton Knott, but once up here the fantastic running re-commenced with grassy tracks, limestone slabs & some lovely secluded woodland sections which enabled a lovely sense of isolation as it was later in the race when the field had become fragmented.

Hutton Racingsnake

“Wooded Bliss – Credit Mick Kenyon, Racingsnakes

A good finish was all that was left & a final push was easier to find when some of my Trawden AC team mates gave some great shouts to spur me over the line!

Hutton Finish

“Speed Blur”

Hutton TAC

“Team TAC”

Then it was onto today at the “Austwick Amble”, an 8 mile circuit taking in some lovely lowland grassy running in the shadow of Ingleborough. A warm day brought out a decent field with plenty of Humbugs about as it was the third race on the clubs summer series.

I’ll leave the full diagnosis until some pictures are available to accompany the words but i will say it was another cracking run in stunning surroundings, more of which i will be experiencing very soon…..

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Back on the fells at last..

Saturday saw a return to one of my favourite races – The Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round. this race is a testing 10.4 mile circular on Pendle Hill in Lancashire with a decent 2000′ of ascent thrown in for good measure. Whilst it may never offer the sheer brute of a Lakeland race, the fact it is held in the springtime & the top is notoriously boggy with leg sapping peat it offers a stern test for even the most accomplished fellrunners.

As i usually like to do i arrived in good time to get registered & have a chat with my fellow warriors. There were already a good number around Barley village when i got there & i was greeted on the car park by allround top guy Darren Fishwick (aka Tindersticks) who told me he wasn’t running due to a strain – now i thought Daz was the hardest man in fellrunning & had to question again just to be sure, those 472 races last month must have taken their toll 😉

I was happy to see a good number of humbugs arriving to run as my only real apprehension upon switching clubs was that i may end up racing the fells alon but so far this hasn’t been the case with a good showing at the three i’ve done since joining, the custom #teamtac photo was taken & we were soon heading back across the road to the start.



#TeamTAC – Credit:- P.Brown

Away we go & off down the lane by the old waterworks on the way to the fell. There is a couple of sharp inclines on this stretch and even early on people were slowed, hands on knees, to a power walk – sometimes it is easier to adopt this method as it can be quicker than actually running and often offers a touch of respite.  We soon enough reach the start of the first climb to the summit of Pendle, firstly up the gloopy field to Buttock gate where traction was a real issue – god knows what it’ll be like in an hour or so when these 300 people have been up it again!! Through the gate and onwards & upwards now onto the open fell, slippy, damp & unforgiving as we ascended into the fog, i found myself using the onrushing water gully as the rocks under the flow offered the firmest grounding for my already sodden feet.



Into The Mist – Credit:-D.Woodhead (Woodentops)

Once at the trig i knew this was where my race began as i am the first to admit that getting my rump up the hills isn’t exactly the strongest weapon in my arsenal, i would be lucky to score 1 on a top trump card & it was no surprise that i found myself among the tailenders at this point. “Not too worry i thought, you can crack on from here now & get some places back as you usually do.” Not today you won’t old son as what was to come was unexpected. I’ve not been able to get onto Pendle anywhere near as much as i would have liked so wasn’t really aware of the underfoot conditions, even though i have spent a vast amount of time on there over the years very rarely are you following another 250+ pairs of footprints through a wet, gloopy abyss.

I ran hard through this part of the race, around 4 miles traversing nearly the entire length of the hill to Churn Clough Resevoir & beyond to Stainscomb Dole. it was nip tuck in the personal battles we were developing in out little pack that had formed, no less intense than the battles at the business end of the race, make no mistake, we all wanted to come out at the head of this group so every leg sapping ground losing fall was met with anguish as you knew you would have to work harder again to get back snapping at the heels of your nearest rival.



Digging In – Credit:- D.Horner

So following those hard miles i was now faced with the ever testing ‘Stans Climb’ affectionately named after the CLEM legend of whose name the race takes on. It was up this climb that the legs went, i blew up, bonked!

This was new territory for me, never before had this happened – i glanced the garmin i knew i only needed an average finish to be somewhere near last years time, no big disaster i thought. Not a chance! I crawled my way up this climb, wincing with every step, psycologically losing the battles in my head as one after the other the group i wanted to top passed me and made off into the distance – it was now about getting myself over that finish line!

I dug in the best i could to get over the hill and down to Ogden Dam, knowing full well i had the climb up to Buttock to encounter again before what was sure to be a muddy run off to the finish. I was greeted at the dam by some fellow Humbugs here to support on the day, i’m not sure i wouldn’t have chucked the towel in here if not for their encouragement at this point – Come on big lad, you can do this! There was even a shout of encouragement from local pantomime character Chris Barnes.

I zig zagged my way up to Buttock, not one single fibre in my body enjoyed that last climb, it totally finished me – i had one single mile to do, even now after the nightmare of buttock if i could finish strong i could sneak in under 2 hours – i crawled it in 17 minutes!

What happed next was the reason i joined Trawden, not because it was forced, not because anyone asked but simply because it is what being part of a team is all about – all for one. As i made my way through the gate to descend the last deserted field i could see my fellow humbugs waiting, probably freezing at the finish for the last man to come home – Brilliant & Thanks!

All in all a top day out, a good strong TeamTAC showing that the fellrunning side of the club is as vibrant as any other, just superb! Time to get some miles in the legs for the epic Heptonstall monster at the end of the month.



Made It! – Credit:- P.Brown

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Stoops Upside Your Head….(terrible i know!)

So the day finally arrived, the long awaited debut in a Trawden vest at the annual ‘Stoop’ fell race which take place on the Bronte moors above the Yorkshire town of Howarth. 


This was my first time at one of the infamous Woodentops races that are known to attract huge fields of runners with a reputation for good, fun, down to earth racing. There was kids racing going on all around the quarry at Penistone hill, which seemed like the coldest place on earth, it was definitely a base layer day, with gloves & the free Santa hat would take the wind off my sparse bonce too.


After getting some confused looks off a few people as to why i wasn’t in a Clayton vest it was soon time to make our way down to the start in the quarry, there was a really healthy turnout & the pre race Woodhead instructions put everyone in good spirits. Soon after 11.30 am and we were away, heading first out of the quarry before spreading like a football hoolie squad over the carpark & fields down towards the road crossing  and onto a steady track which headed up to the moors!

We were soon off this track and onto the open moorland, the boggy open moorland, and i mean boggy! it was very stop start for a good mile or so and if i’m honest i was glad of the respite as my legs were finding the leg sucking terrain tough going, the bog monsters were out in force trying to pull your feet under at every available opportunity, like a war on fellrunners!

Once at the ‘Stoop Stone’ it was time to descend, an incredibly fun, wet, boggy descent it was too (funny how it doesn’t sap your legs going down 😉 ), people going arse over tit everywhere in an attempt to gain a few places in this downhill jostle – one poor lass decided it was a day & conditions for road shoes!

I was soon back on the outward track near to the start & all that really remained was to firstly be snapped racing in a TAC vest before being spurred magnificantly up that last climb to the finish by my new Humbug teammates!! Mention also to Gaz Wilky for his support on the course!



All that was left was a brief post race dissection of the race at the prizegiving & lots of ‘what happened at Clayton’ questions. Truth is nothing ‘happened’ i just knew i would be happier as a humbug and on early evidence i’m sure of it!

Onto Whinberry Naze on Boxing day and the Battle of the fancy dress!

Pics & results from today can be found HERE on the Woodentops website

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