Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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A Reflective Walk

Loweswater-3

I’m not doing very well at posting, after my promise. Not to worry, I’ll get there, it may take a wee while to find my  blogging mojo. I’ve all sorts of adventures stacking up ready, just waiting.

I mentioned whilst the fell race was on, I took a stroll along the shores of Loweswater, en route I stopped to watch the fish, suspended in pools of sunshine, seemingly motionless in the flowing water, it is easier to see the shadow than the fish itself.fish river

I admired a handsome doocot*

doocot 

And look, a fine drystone wall and gateway, becomes something quite magical, by the addition of an over arching span of  Cumbrian slate.

stone arch

I listened to the cows, with their methodical munching and tearing of sward, they may get bad press from time to time, and deservedly so, but I’ve an affection for them.

cattle

In the wood, foxgloves  swayed and cow parsley effervesced in the scattered sunlight.

foxgloves in glade_

At the waters edge, I found a swing.

swing @ loweswater_

I had a go at finding my inner child, but concluded that the child needed to concentrate on having a good time. Play on the swing, or take photographs, it isn’t wise to try and combine the two. I have the bruises to prove it. 

selfie @ loweswater_

*it is 23 years since I lived in Scotland, but some words stay with me in  the Scots dialect, swithering, dreek, and poly-poke are a few of my favourites.


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Darren Holloway Memorial Race 2014

Yesterday Mr  Uphilldowndale (Mr Uhdd) and I were up in the Lake District, at  Loweswater for the Darren Holloway memorial  fell race, run in memory of our friend, Darren,  ‘Daz H’. There are handsome trophies for the first male and first female runner.

 

Darren Holloway Race_

‘Dig in’ is just the sort of encouragement Daz would have shouted to others on to be the best they can. We’ve mentioned before how much Daz encouraged all in their running.

Race HQ was at Loweswater village hall

 

Loweswater village Hall

( I think the robin had heard about the wonderful cakes).

 

Amanda and Heathers cup cakes_

Darren’s wife Amanda, with two  members of his Ilkeston Running club, Darren’s ‘home’ club, Darren, also ran with Pennine Fell Runners club.

amanda

 

It was of course an emotional day, but the was much laughter, Darren’s aunt and mum with the trophies

Dig in_

Whilst Mr Uhdd was out on the the hill marshalling part of the race,

Darren Holloway Memorial race

I took the camera for a  contemplative walk.

Loweswater-2

We were able to round the day off by visiting my friend and former colleague in her new home, just a few miles away, she and and her family had only moved in the day before (and all their worldly goods had yet to arrive) so we really did ‘first foot’ them. We didn’t have coal, but we did take cake.


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Woolly Winter Tales

What I can I tell you, we have snow. Is there any part of the UK that doesn’t have snow? I wonder.

The sheep in the next field seem quite unperturbed

snow covered sheep -1

They are fed daily, which seems to make them happy.

contented sheep -1 

It took a wee while to find a sheep that would look me in the eye, as most had their backs to the wind (and wind chill).

Wind from the east-1

I can vaguely remember a farmer telling me this is how sheep end up stuck in snow drifts, they keep working their way along, keeping the wind behind them, scratting for grass until they run out of field and the snow piles in behind them.

heading out of the wind-1

He also told me in the winter of 1963 that whilst many of his flock perished in snow drifts, some were able to survive by eating their own fleece.

But there are people better qualified to comment of sheep and snow, have a look at herdy’s blog, up in Cumbria.

cold nose sheep-1

We’ve just watched a cracking little programme on BBC2 about the winter of ‘63 (flighty, it is worth watching on iplayer (Winterwatch)


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Saying Goodbye To Daz

We met in the Autumn sunshine to say our farewells to Daz H,  Darren Holloway.

Hundreds of family and friends packed into the service, I’d stitched 43 club coloured ribbons for his club mates to wear, it wasn’t enough we were some short.

It was a service  that flowed with fond memories of his life and loves, and captured him so well. Many, many tears were shed. This is my favourite photo of Daz, I think it is an  iconic image of  him: Daz  in full flight.

Daz-2011 (1)

Photo by Andy Holden.

Here are the words that were read at the service, written by a fell running friend Mr 1470, they too capture the essence of Daz.

"Some news just hits you like a bolt from the blue, so unexpected, so bizarre in its nature that it fails to register in your cerebral cortex. It seems like a dream, and you fully expect to wake next morning to find the earth back on its true axis.
After that initial hit, the news creeps insidiously into every pore of your being, overwhelming you with a sadness that just floors you, unable to articulate your feelings and leaving you alone with your thoughts and memories.
On this grey, cold Highland morning, as the mist parts and the hillside across the loch becomes visible, I can’t help but see him descending, as graceful as a gazelle on his favourite rocky, bouldery terrain, lost in a world of concentration, his face contorted with effort, his eyes locked in an almost thousand yard stare, his knee and elbow bloodied from some earlier fall.
He’s gaining now on his rivals (and friends!) and nothing will distract him from his desire to reel them in. I shout encouragement….”go on Darren!”….but there’s not a flicker, he’s immersed in his gladiatorial battle.
As the ground flattens out, he strains every sinew to hold position as the finish line approaches. He crosses the line, totally spent, not an ounce of energy left, having given 100% (as he did to everything in life).
And then, just as suddenly, his demeanour changes and he’s all smiles and handshakes and offering words of congratulations to those around him. But it’s not for him to slink off towards the cafe or the pub with the rest of the front runners. Cup of water in hand, he walks back up the last part of the course, cheering, greeting and offering encouragement to those of us who can only dream of the level of performance which he delivers time and time again.
The word “legend” is much overused these days. He deserves that title, for his mastery of the fells, for his ability to make everyone feel special with well chosen words, for his deep understanding and appreciation of the ethos, history and legacy of the sports he loved, for the total enthusiasm with which he led his life. I only hope he knew just how much people thought of him.
The world is a sadder place for the passing of such people. My world is a sadder place this morning. He showed me true friendship, kindness, support and inspiration. To say I admired and respected him would be a massive understatement. My thoughts are especially with those whom he loved and who loved him. It must be so hard to take in….."

And this was the music


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Head and Heart

The shock and sadness at Daz’s death remains, of course it does. The dark skies this brings to us all are chased with the light of remembering brighter days with Daz.

This is Wasdale, the sort of landscape where Daz was in his element,

Snowbow

the original post is here.

We now know that Daz died from a rare heart condition, Left Ventricular Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy, the same condition that struck  footballer Fabrice Muamba earlier this year. It is  a rare condition, there is more information here, on a website for a foundation set up in memory of  John Taylor, a fell runner and international athlete who also died of cardiomyopathy in 2002. There is something very difficult about understanding this condition, we can read and  understand the science, yes, but not the emotions it raises, it just flies in the face of all we are told about exercise  ‘keeping a healthy heart’. I think fell runners in particular will have difficulty with that. 

I notice on the John Taylor  foundation page, that one of the external links is to CRY, Cardiac Risk in the Young. Some years ago I heard Paddy Jelen, talking about the death of her daughter, she did so very movingly and passionately in her quest to raise awareness of her daughters rare and often misdiagnosed heart condition, Long QT3. At first I hesitated to post the links here, thinking we’d really all read enough ‘sad stuff’ on the Internet in the last few days, but thought better of it. If Paddy can talk about it, I’d be a wuss not to post it.

Go read, please.

(Spud the dog will be back to his regular Sunday postings, some Sunday soon.)


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Before the Race Was Run

We are rocked by disbelief, shocked and desperately sad to hear that Mr Uphilldowndales running partner and  our dear friend Daz H, also know as Darren Holloway, collapsed and died during the  Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay event in Cumbria yesterday. Daz was 42.

Daz 2

Daz was a gifted runner, he could power up a mountain as though jet propelled, and most importantly for a fell runner, he could drop off the other side like a stone, taking the boldest, quickest route down. But that is just part of Daz, he was a competitive cyclist to boot, and some readers will know him as the blogger ‘Laidbackrunner’ but most of all he was a husband, dad and son, it is for his family and their loss that we feel the most.

Daz was a kind, compassionate person, his encouragement of other runners and his sportsmanship are legendary. 

Daz and Mr UHDD ran the Bob Graham Round together in 2008, they spent so much time together training, planning, racing, here they are at the finish, at the Moot Hall (some may also remember Daz’s  rather special tattoo, to mark the occasion?)

Daz H 2

I’ll leave you with the comment Daz made on my post about the Bob Graham, as always with Daz, it was about others, not himself.

Our lives have changed forever for sure. The photos are great, recording a special time in myself and Mr Uhdd’s lives.
The memory of me touching the moot hall and then being told not long after by your youngest son that

‘MY DAD WONT BE LONG’ , had me in tears. I couldn’t hold them back and the lump in my throat as Mr Uhdd ran to the finish was unforgettable.

Daz, dear Daz,  for us, you are unforgettable too, nor can we hold back the tears. And if there could be any doubt about what running meant to you, this post says it all.

I’m sure in years to come I’ll be able to think of how you died doing what you loved so much, in the Autumn sunshine  on the glorious Cumbrian fells; but for the moment I can’t get past the fact that you’ve gone, gone before your race was run, that and the heart ache of those who loved you.

21:59 Edit… I should have included our heartfelt thanks to the emergency services and mountain rescue, and especially those of you who  immediately stepped forward to help Daz, fellow runners, people out on the hill for the day, you stepped forward just as Daz would have done for someone else in need. You are special… you did your best, no one could ask for more. Remember that. Take comfort in that.

uphilldowndale@ofarm.co.uk

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