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


Home and Away

It has been cold here today, bright, crisp, beautiful.


Mr Uphilldowndale has been up to the Lake District, he wanted to visit the  cairn that has been started in Darren’s Memory.




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


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,


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.)


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.



Spud on Sunday Part XXXXVII

Spud having  a fun run

Spud, run-1

Gerry left a comment over on her blog about the nature of dogs…

One of the nice things about dogs is that whenever you get around to taking them for a good walk they are glad to go and joyful at the discoveries of the day. They do not waste time being resentful that yesterday’s walk was short on amenities. They do not spoil today’s pleasures with yesterday’s grievances. I should pay more attention to dogly virtues.


Mr Uphilldowndale and I were looking for  the ‘Roving Lunch Box’, that moves around Derbyshire on a monthly mission to confuse and challenge: we never did find it. The Lunch Box is a long story, but it is sort of geocaching for fell runners, only with less of the satellite navigation and a lot more in the way of mind bending riddles. Spud didn’t give a monkeys that we never found it, everything is an adventure for Spud. In the end Spud and I retired to the car whilst Mr Uhdd continued to pit his wits against the clues; for entertainment  whilst I waited, I read the only available thing, the A-Z of Derbyshire and  I marvelled at the richness of place names in this county. Who wouldn’t want to live at a farm called ‘Puddingpie Farm’. Delicious.


FAQ ‘Is your husband accident prone?’

A. No, life is a numbers game.

Warning this post has some rather graphic images!

‘Is Mr Uphilldowndale accident prone’ I’ve been asked a number of times this week. I don’t think so, it’s more a case that he does rather a lot of ‘stuff’ that has accident potential, it’s a numbers game, just like buying lottery tickets.

Let me explain, we all came back from  our holiday in Wales last weekend, then Joe went to stay with his friend Peter in London, Mr Uphilldowndale went back to Wales to do a week long sailing instructors course at Plas Menai, Tom continued his ‘being a teenager’ studies and I went back to work. On Wednesday I came out of a meeting to find, six missed calls on my mobile, two from Mr Uhdd and four from Tom. The message from Tom went along the lines of ‘Dad’s rung, he say’s you are not to worry… he’s come off his bike and hurt his knee, he’s in A+E at Bangor hospital. Oh yeh, and he says he’s not got much charge left in his phone.’ Lovely.

It transpired that Mr Uhdd had gone for an early morning spin on his bike (he’d taken it with him to nourish his exercise addiction, as he can’t  go fell-running at the moment because of a foot injury). He’d  ridden across a metal swing bridge at Felinheli  (this blog has been to Felinheli before) the bike tyres lost traction on the bridge and down he came, heavily, dislocating his finger and what can only be describe as slicing open his knee.

Now I’ve brought you images of his wounds before, there was the fell-runners knee and the bee-sting incident. But these shots are a little different and if you are of a squeamish disposition, click away now and look at some scenic photographs.

Here we go,

Five… (I’m not sure which is worse, the finger or the knee)

Four… (have you just had lunch?)

Three…(it’s not pretty)

Two ( there is still time to leave)

One… (Ok don’t say I didn’t warn you).

The dislocated finger, now manhandled back into place with the aid of Entonox and local anaesthetic (the white blob is his wedding ring).

Middle finger left hand dislocated

The knee, image taken by Doctor in A+E (you know you’ve done a proper job when the Dr wants a souvenir)

Andy's Knee

The knee took a bit of sorting, two trips into theatre under general anaesthetic and three days in hospital, it is now all stitched up and strapped down and  we are all safely back home now.