Withins Skyline Fell Race,

Penistone Hill, Haworth, Sunday, 8 October, 2017.

“Autumn and the great weather it brings will soon be on its way and that means the challenge of Haworth Moor will be calling you, after all you know you love Penistone Hill and the ‘pleasure’ it brings.”

So said the Woodentops in the build up to the staging of their 26th Withins Skyline Fell Race. This is a somewhat daunting event, held high on the moors of Penistone Hill, above Haworth, but nevertheless, one that continues to attract many runners. This year, 358 runners congregated in a quarry close to Penistone Hill Country Park, among them Northowram Pumas’ very own Robert Shirlaw.

The runners enjoy this descent, and Robert Shirlaw is in there somewhere. But this is just after the start, and there’s a long way to go.

The course set out in front of the runners asks much, with tough climbs – not for nothing does the race call itself ‘Skyline’ – and ankle deep mud pushing them to the limit over 12k. Rising up from the quarry, the runners descend to take up Moorside Lane before swinging left and beginning a clockwise tour of Haworth Moor. The route at one point picks up a section of the Pennine Way, passing Top Withens which, as literary buffs might like to acknowledge, is a ruined farmhouse is said to have been the inspiration for the location of the Earnshaw family house in Emily Bronte’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights’. The course leaves the Pennine Way, veering off to the right to take up Enfield Side Road. This track eventually drops down to cross Bronte Bridge, and the route swings sharp left to pass the Bronte Waterfalls. The runners continue along Enfield Side Road before crossing the moors on the way to rejoining Moorside Lane and the climb up to the finish.

Robert digging in as the runners cross the moors.

With Hallowe’en coming up, the organisers invited the runners to dress up in appropriate costumes, but most didn’t bother, feeling perhaps that the course was scary enough. The set off time was 11.30am, so an unusually late start compared to most, and off they went.

The end is nigh, as Robert reaches the finish line.

The weather was kind – blimey, just imagine what it must have been like had it been pouring down – and Robert, without his trademark cap for once, had a decent run, and finished 195th in 64:10. The winner was Harry Holmes, who finished in 42:40.


Photos courtesy of Woodentops and Linda Grundy.