My favourite running area is the Burbage Valley, close to Hathersage in the Peak District. It is only 10km from the city centre yet gives the feel of being rugged and remote, especially if you can avoid the weekend crowds.
There is plenty of parking at the top and bottom of the valley and a choice of terrain to run on including trail, fell and steep hill. It has everything an off road runner needs and if you park at the Fox House you can reward your efforts with a little "liquid refreshment" afterwards.
I took advantage a brief gap in the wet summer weather to enjoy an evening run, racing the shower clouds around "Burbage".
Starting from the car park at Burbage North I take the upper path above the crags, heading southwards. Recent heavy rain had made the ground wet and boggy and it is a case of dodging puddles and looking for the driest line. After a couple of kilometres a stream makes a natural break in the rocky outcrops separating the north and south sections of the valley and I drop down its side to pick up the lower track. This has been recently improved and makes for faster more even trail running in contrast to the higher path which is more fell running terrain.
Continuing southwards I look across the valley on my right and see the 2 summits of Carl Wark and Higger Tor under a threatening sky, maybe I won't escape a drenching after all.
I could continue to follow the track down to the road and on towards Padley Gorge but I decide to cut right towards Carl Wark on a grassy path and cross the stream by a tricky leap across some rocks. Sometimes this is a simple stride but occasionally after heavy rain it is more a leap of faith! I then climb up through a boggy patch (wet feet again despite it being mid summer) to the ancient hill fort of Carl Wark. It fascinates me to think that this flat topped hill with its natural defences was occupied around 4000 years ago!
A quick trot across the flat, boulder studded plateau and then a short, steep drop before climbing again to Higger Tor and its fantastic views. I pause to look over at the route I've taken and gaze at the towering cotton wool clouds, pure brilliant white from afar but dark and threatening at close quarters with the threat of further rain.
Racing the gathering clouds I press onwards now on the final leg towards Burbage Bridge where the brook passes under the road in 2 sturdy tunnels. I take a quick peek into one before it's back to the car, pleased to have avoided the rain.
This blog was brought to you by Fell Running Guide