Monday, 19 March 2012

Falcon Flyer - 17th March 2012

“He goes the extra mile …” a statement associated with that extra little effort, that finishing touch, the icing on the cake … but for me it`s often associated with getting lost: Just as well that we’re raising money today for the Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team .

Today was my first participation in the first of their yearly challenge events – the 20 + miles of the Falcon Flyer: A loop starting from the North Yorkshire coastal village of Ravenscar, heading out into the heart of the eastern moorland and back via farm tracks and the trails just north of Robin Hoods Bay. Sounds simple … No?

Well, the first 10 miles held no navigational surprises but the tracks through Pye Rigg were thoroughly wetted and, once across the A171, deep mud on the field paths through the woods towards Harwood Dale sapped the legs so much that it was a relief to hit the tarmac! Didn’t think I’d say that today…

From Harwood Dale the metalled road was followed along the valley bottom to Lownorth Bridge and check point 2.  I trooped after Gerry, of Osmotherley Phoenix organising fame, through this section of paths and fields; he clearly knew the route well but between us we virtually demolished an old rickety stile before getting to the Bridge; by-passing a steep road loop which proved a bonus so early in the event. A Quick pit stop followed, topped up the water bottle, grabbed a handful of jelly babies along with the first gel of the day and the opportunity to get rid of the rainproof jacket – this pace was warm work for me, pretty much the top of my comfort zone and here Gerry started to get away …

A long uphill section followed as the route headed north to Pike Rigg, Brown Hill and eventually to Burn Howe Duck Pond on the top of High Moor. The rise was relentless but being eminently runnable all the way to the Duck Pond, I chugged on, reached checkpoint 3 at about half way round and the 1.38 time for my first 10 miles was a great reward. I was, however, still blowing very hard here just to keep my place in the pack!

Turning back eastwards, towards Jugger Howe brought the coast back into view ...

Just a pity it was just too cloudy for good pics – then the drizzle came down and forced the camera away and we pressed on. Ever so slightly downhill, this gave the first bit of respite of the race and we settled into a comfortable pace back to the A171 and the Jugger Howe Checkpoint. ... Brilliant marshalling and encouragement here again, very ready for that FlapJack! ... Many thanks for that.

Now, and well replenished, my group, of Fred Clapham, Andrew Lambe and I made a useful three for the last eight miles – Gerry having given us the slip by flying through the checkpoint!. Now the navigation proved very tricky and several points found us standing together facing in different directions looking at our respective maps, mine unprotected against the rain started to bleed its colour markers down the page.

The event website read as follows:

“The long route heads north from the car park and crosses the A171 to Cook House. The walk continues north via Spring Hill to Colcroft Farm. The metalled road is taken west until Kettle Well Cottage where the footpath north is taken. This footpath is followed past Park Wall and Demesne Farm. The route now heads south for a short time until the footpath crossing the old railway is taken to Mill Beck Farm. From here the track to Stoupebrow Cottage is taken and then the road to the old railway line below Stoupe Brow quarry. The old railway line is then taken back to Ravensar and the finish at the village hall.”

Should it be so simple!

I was planning to take a different line from the Park Wall self clip checkpoint; retracing my steps and following a contour line. However, we wisely decided upon Andrew to be the navigator as he’d covered these parts last year and unnervingly he brought us, via Demesne Farm and over Mill Beck to the Boggle Hole Car Park and then Stoupebrow in good order. Well worth the extra mile!!! I thought I knew these parts but I’d visited never-before-seen paths and tracks until the final and all too familiar, and very testing, road climb to the old railway track and the last haul to the finish.

A glimpse of the sweep of the bay over my left shoulder, a quick snap with the camera before we climbed into Ravenscar and back to the village hall. The time: A very satisfying 3.45 from the start. And, a most welcome mug of tea!

I do try to get involved with the many MRT events that occur around the North of England. This is just a great cause and it's very comforting to know that no matter what the weather holds, what time of day or night then the MRT is there for us. A big thanks to Scarborough and Ryedale MRT for a great day out in the hills.

Looking forward to their other challenge events, will you be there??? See you at Ravenscar and Saltergate


  1. Looks like a good event, especially the 2nd half. You'll be well up on the route for next year then.

    Congratulations on your result Mike - top 10 !

  2. Had hoped to get over for the Falcon but a rainy night bike ride had to be done instead. Looks like I missed out on a lot of mud and some tricky nav, so maybe that's a good thing! See you out there somewhere!

  3. J, thanks for that ... I did push hard for the first bit and hung on at the end. Very pleased with the result.

    Dawn, I did look out for you - well done on the bike and the Blubberhouses pics - nav was tricky for the second half and the rain soaked map didn't help!

    Thanks for calling by, see you soon