The Autumn Equinox Run is well established now (and what a hoot it is!), so I thought it would be nice if its young upstart the Vernal Equinox could get in on the act. So I organised a run. My thoughts when doing this were that by the time it came around on Monday, 20th March, we would be looking at warm sunlight uplands, possibly going topless and sipping sparkling mead (that did happen) under birdsong. However the weather was Baltic (but it stayed dry, to be fair) and the next day saw snow blanket much of the north of Britain, so maybe we angered the Gods somehow. Digby had also pointed out (in his imitable style) that the clocks weren’t going to change until this Sunday, so we’d be better to delay it a week. But I was keen to make it on the day of the Equinox.
I decided on Cairnpapple, as it one of the most important Druidic sites in Scotland, and has an impressive structure on its top to prove it. More of that later. My only experience of the hill was running to its (almost) summit with Neil B when we did the comically-named Bathgate Highland Games Hill Race. I remembered it as basically a road race that had a bit of a climb. However, run leader Lisa assured me we’d be getting all down and dirty through woods and stuff, and so it proved.
I had hoped that someone from the Druid community in Scotland might come out to the hill to meet us, but they seemed very shy, but Jean, a lovely lady from the Pagan Network Scotland got in touch and sent me some words, which I read out on the run:
And so to the run.
Lisa led the way up the hill from the Station into the wilds of the Linlithgow suburbs. We came to the edge of Beecraigs Country Park, where things got more interesting. There was lots of (gradual) climbing and it wasn’t long before we stopped to regroup and found ourselves pretty high, with good views over West Lothian.
Given the distance and time involved we were swithering at this point abut actually making it to Cairnpapple, as it’s a fair stretch from the start, but Jeff had stashed some sparkling mead in the gorse bushes near the summit that lunchtime, so that clinched it. In the end we adjusted our route to take in Witchcraig and Cairnpapple and we missed out Cockleroy.
The running was a mix of hard-packed trails through the woods, country roads, but also some minor hill climbs and mud. A good mix and Lisa kept the pace high. I think we all felt that we’d had a good workout by the time we sat down to eat. The Star & Garter were very accommodating and the food and service was good. A great evening and it’s been suggested we re-run the route in the summer again, perhaps taking in Cockleroy this time.
Some notes on Cairnpapple: Read more…
After a night of howling wind and rain, and the morning not looking any better, it was a surprise that the weather cleared and the sun even came out. The ‘path’ is one of the boggiest, peatiest, gloopiest and slipperiest I’ve ever seen. Swimming was one option for descending, so I had a go. Another acrobatic excursion smashed the camera screen but fortunately I’ve plenty of spares from other cameras I’ve drowned in races. The view from the top is amazing, apparently, but there was no time to hang about. Well organised and fully marked in spite of the conditions.
The Carnethy fasties didn’t figure in the prizes, apart from Charlotte – 3rd lady and 1st FV40.
|2||50.58||Finlay||Wild||M||Lochaber Athletic Club|
|3||53.20||Murray||Strain||M||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|6||54.43||Tom||Martyn||M||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|9||56.40||James||Waldie||M||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|10||56.49||Doug||Tullie||M||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|11||57.03||Andrew||Fallas||M||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|14||58.16||Donald||Naylor||M40||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|16||58.45||Alasdair||Anthony||M||Ochil Hill Runners|
|17||59.12||Luke||Taylor||M||Highland Hill Runners|
|18||59.38||Alastair||Thurlbeck||M||Glasgow University Hares and Hounds|
|19||59.56||Dessie||Flanagan||M40||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|22||61.20||Hamish||Battle||M||Metro Aberdeen Running Club|
|26||62.13||Andrew||Brown||M||Norham Running Club|
|28||62.23||Alex||Luetchford||M||Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds|
|30||63.03||Liam||Braby||M||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|31||63.15||Andrew||Livingstone||M||Annan & District AC|
|32||63.38||James||Callender||M||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|35||64.15||Adam||Anderson||M40||Annan & District AC|
|36||64.22||Gavin||Whiteside||M||Highland Hill Runners|
|38||64.33||Stuart||Malcolm||M40||Highland Hill Runners|
|41||65.14||Craig||Freshwater||M||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|42||65.22||Ray||Ward||M40||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|43||65.43||Michael||Reid||M40||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|44||65.51||Niall||McAlinden||M||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|46||65.58||Georgia||Tindley||F||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|47||66.11||Jamie||Thin||M50||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|49||66.38||Charlotte||Morgan||F40||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|51||67.48||Iain||Maclennan||M40||Highland Hill Runners|
|53||68.02||David||Gallie||M50||Highland Hill Runners|
|54||68.06||Jill||Stephen||F||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|55||68.15||Owen||O'Neill||M||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|57||68.40||John||Busby||M||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|60||69.23||Alasdair||MacInnes||M||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|62||69.32||Alex||Allardyce||M40||Irvine Running Club|
|63||69.38||Chris||Tomlin||M40||Cosmic Hillbashers AAC (aka Cosmics)|
|64||69.52||John||Malcolm||M||Lothian Running Club|
|65||69.56||Dennis||Mcdonald||M50||Cosmic Hillbashers AAC (aka Cosmics)|
|67||70.10||Bruce||Smith||M50||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|68||70.12||Gareth||Brown||M||North Ayrshire Athletic Club|
|69||70.16||Adam||Dickie||M||Dumfries Running Club|
|72||70.38||Tommy||Begley||M40||Irvine Running Club|
|75||70.49||Mark||Whitelaw||M40||Annan & District AC|
|80||71.40||Eric||Duncan||M40||Highland Hill Runners|
|81||71.44||Iain||Ballantyne||M||Glasgow University Hares and Hounds|
|82||71.53||Christopher||Butler||M||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|83||72.27||Dougie||Macdonald||M40||Highland Hill Runners|
|86||73.00||Graham||McLellan||M40||Annan & District AC|
|87||73.01||Alasdair||McCallum||M50||North Ayrshire Athletic Club|
|89||73.42||Dave||Turner||M40||Lomond Hill Runners AAC|
|92||74.19||David||Scott||M60||Ochil Hill Runners|
|95||75.25||Philip||Kammer||M60||Cosmic Hillbashers AAC (aka Cosmics)|
|99||76.16||Gordon||Pryde||M50||Lomond Hill Runners|
|101||76.56||Chris||Tinning||M40||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|103||77.27||Duncan||Davis||M40||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|104||77.34||Ian||Hawkins||M50||Fife Athletic Club|
|105||77.40||Simon||Mortlock||M50||Dumfries Running Club|
|107||78.43||Morag||McClelland||F||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|108||79.02||Alastair||Watson||M50||Highland Hill Runners|
|109||79.41||Rhona||Van Rensburg||F40||Fife Athletic Club|
|110||80.06||Christopher||McKiddie||M||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|111||80.17||Karen||Lyons||F40||Highland Hill Runners|
|112||80.26||William||Pikett||M50||Norham Running Club|
|114||80.50||Rachel||Newstead||F||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|115||80.55||Rebecca||Harding||F||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|116||80.57||Olivier||Germain||M||Heriot-Watt University Athletics|
|117||81.03||Graham||Kelly||M40||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|118||81.33||Roderick||Pugh||M60||Kilmarnock H & AC|
|120||82.05||Gordon||McCaffrey||M60||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|121||82.18||Norman||Neilson||M50||Dumfries Running Club|
|122||82.41||Gordie||Taylor||M50||Highland Hill Runners|
|124||83.26||Alex||Bryson||F||Dalbeattie Running Club|
|125||83.38||Sarah||Cordeaux||F||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|127||83.51||Angus||Bowman||M60||Lomond Hill Runners|
|128||84.05||Alistair||Boyer||M||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|130||84.13||Rosie||Allen||F40||Annan & District AC|
|131||84.28||Maya||Hernes||F||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|132||84.32||Brian||Brennan||M60||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|138||85.21||John||Donnelly||M50||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|139||85.44||Iain||Beedie||M40||Lomond Hill Runners & AAC|
|140||85.48||David||Dickson||M50||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|144||86.45||Digby||Maass||M60||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|145||86.50||Joan||Wilson||F50||Lomond Hill Runners & AAC|
|147||86.55||Sue||Jeffrey||F||Dumfries Running Club|
|148||86.58||Hilary||Ritchie||F50||Fife Athletic Club|
|149||87.06||Darren||Foley||M40||Annan & District AC|
|152||87.33||Fiona||Comrie||F40||North Ayrshire Athletic Club|
|153||87.34||Denise||Burns||F40||Lomond Hill Runners & AAC|
|154||87.44||David||Duncan||M60||Ochil Hill Runners|
|155||88.05||Christine||Menhennet||F60||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|156||88.15||David||White||M40||Helm Hill Runners|
|157||88.15||Kathleen||Aubrey||F50||Helm Hill Runners|
|158||88.48||Ranjit||Thomas||M40||Dumfries Running Club|
|161||91.21||John||Robson||M60||Annan & District AC|
|162||91.35||Roy||Mclachlan||M60||Fife Athletic Club|
|163||91.40||Lucie||Noakes||F||Dunoon Hill Runners|
|164||91.47||John||Hamer||M50||Westerlands Cross Country Club|
|165||92.09||Mohammed||Khan||M||Dumfries Running Club|
|167||92.42||Helen||Wise||F||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|168||93.13||Moira||Stewart||F60||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|169||93.19||Fraser||Gibson||M||Carnethy Hill Racing Club|
|170||94.32||Richard||Toller||M60||Dundee Road Runners AC|
|171||94.36||Phyllis||O'Brien||F50||Hunters Bog Trotters|
|172||96.18||Tom||Scott||M60||Fife Athletic Club|
|173||96.50||Emma||Kerr||F||Annan & District AC|
|174||97.30||Jocelyn||Scott||F60||Fife Athletic Club|
|175||98.18||Ronald||Fraser||M50||Dundee Road Runners AC|
|176||98.45||Alan||Creighton||M60||Annan & District AC|
|177||99.05||Ray||Murdoch||M60||Lochaber Athletic Club|
|179||100.02||Alan||Cameron||M50||Annan & District AC|
|180||100.04||Liz||Killean||F50||Fife Athletic Club|
|181||104.19||Jennifer||Lee||F40||Running Sisters Tayside|
|185||108.52||David||Francis||M60||Fife Athletic Club|
|186||109.21||Hugh||McPherson||M60||Tinto Hill Runners|
|189||112.22||Jean||Bowman||F50||Lomond Hill Runners|
|190||112.58||Billy||Kerr||M50||Annan & District AC|
|191||113.27||Jean||Robson||F60||Annan & District AC|
|195||118.23||Stewart||Davidson||M60||Fife Athletic Club|
|196||126.37||Linda||Cameron||F50||Annan & District AC|
|197||126.37||Yvonne||Kerr||F40||Annan & District AC|
|198||132.12||Eliza||Mclachlan||F60||Fife Athletic Club|
|199||152.09||Ian||Mcmanus||M70||Irvine Running Club|
Half Conga- No takers
|Name||Time||Club||Change since 2015||Age|
|Charlie Burnett||7.50||Carnethy||First timer||14|
|James Burnett||8.44||Carnethy||63 seconds faster||10|
|Sam Kitchin||9.35||–||61 seconds faster||11|
|Bethan Kitchin||10.04||–||(Half Conga in 2015)||9|
A profoundly disappointing turn out. However, the four takers all showed talent and enthusiasm. It is reported that more than half the field in the Chapelgill race were over 50. We have to ask ourselves what could we be doing to encourage youngsters to enjoy the sport of hill running.
As usual, we are grateful to Edel, Val and Mark for vital help in course marking, marshalling, time keeping etc. Thanks also to Kate Kitchin (Muddy Patch Judge) and Neil Burnett (International Smile Judge).
Martin Hyman, the 83 year old disorganiser, would like to know whether folk think it is worth continuing to organise the race in future.
This was the 34th running of the Chapelgill hill race, organised by Robin Morris of Lothian Running Club. Five Carnethies were in the field of 40 runners, whose average age was around the fifty mark, the young fast guys saving themselves for the SHR Championship race at Criffel the following day. I had last done this race back in 2010 when it was a championship counter, finishing back in 56th place.
The start by the sheepfold was sheltered from the cold wind. The race itself is one of the shortest in the SHR calender, but packs in 410m of climbing in less than the mile it takes to reach the summit. After the steep climb to the short runnable ridge I was back in 6th place, but managed to gain 3 places by the turnaround point at the cairn, where Hilary was marshaling. The descent is ludicrously fast, and by taking slightly better lines, stumbled my way to the front to finish just ahead of Stuart Malcolm of Highland Runners, but some way off Phil Davies’s record of 18.50. Joan Wilson of Lomond Hill Runners was first female. The first senior in 6th place was Thomas Knox of Anster Haddies, finishing just behind father Jonny.
The prize giving finished off a grand afternoon out, with 1 in 4 runners receiving prizes of Run and Become vouchers and whisky. This is classic Scottish Hill Racing, turn up in a muddy field at the end of a remote glen, pay £2, race, and back home for tea (and rugby).
Many thanks to Robin for organising, and those that helped out, including Gordon, with registration, and Hilary & Jonathan marshaling.
Would be great to see this as an SHR Championship race again in the near future.
A quick scramble up next to a waterfall brought us out on a small rocky ridge on the lower slopes of Mount Maw. After a pathless trudge up the surprisingly dry hillside we hit the track leading to the summit trig where we regrouped and looked over one of the less viewed vistas of the Pentlands back towards the Kips and west towards the Cairns and West Lothian. The drop from Mount Maw to the dam at Baddinsgill is one of my favourite descents in the Pentlands, the dry, grassy trail at a perfect angle makes for speedy running right down to the reservoir.
We raced up the grassy embankment to the waterline and trotted over the dam to the road leading back to West Linton. We made a quick stop for food orders before following the Cross Borders Drove Road all the way back to the Village with a speedy last kilometer on a dirt road right to the door of the pub. Great food and beer at The Gordon Arms, I think the pate with tattie scones was the highlight of the night for more than a few people!
Thanks to everyone who made it down. There is one more night run to go, Cairnpapple Equinox on Monday at 7pm – see you there!
Carnethy Hill Running Club is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland with registered number SC492072 and having its registered office at 2A King’s Stables Road Edinburgh