Oli had suggested a very early start but I thought 9am was fine. It was a glorious morning, not too warm and ideal for running. It wasn't a race though. The aim was simply for Oli to see the wonderful trails around where I live.
We trotted down to Hodge Fold and then up onto the hill above Hyde that gives a wonderful panoramic view of the area. To the east is industrial Manchester, to the west Snake Pass and north we have Holme Moss. Absolutely stunning. Oli is quite a bit faster than me, especially on the hills, but he was the perfect running partner. He loves the same sort of things as me in nature and is quite happy just to look at plants and beasties or a nice view. What's funny is that he said 'morning' to everyone, even the grumpy people who didn't want to engage.
We only took the wrong path once, ending up in a Tom n Barbara housing estate in Compstall. The path into Etherow Country Park was soon found. On the ascent to Marple Road, a man with a heavily panting staffy terrier was almost keeping pace with me when walking. Over the main road though, Oli demonstrated how fast he could actually walk on a steep hill, saying he had used this technique to pass many people who were running during the Slateman triathlon earlier in the year. I didn't feel so bad, especially on remembering Alberto Minnetti's walking energetics stuff he had published in Nature.
We proceeded towards a hill farm, only to hear a farmer shouting 'that's not a footpath'. He kindly directed us to where we should be going though. The path involved traversing a field full of golden yellow buttercups and the length of grass encouraged good running technique. The last time I had come this way was in mid-winter in sub-zero temperatures with snow and ice everywhere. What contrast. We had a choice when we reached a small country road. Either turn right to go round Coombes Edge or left down Far Woodseats. Oli sensibly chose turning left as it was easier and shorter. We had been out for over two hours after all.
We reached the valley floor with the broad bottom, stopping to splash our faces in the river, wishing it was deeper so we could have a swim. It was close to home and my legs knew it as they went from feeling fresh to being jelly like is the space of a few seconds. This donkey was chasing a juicy carrot though, with the newly opened cafe at Lymefields garden centre being to final destination. Although having a similar demographic to a bus holiday, the cafe has great cake and new outside seating. Perfect to enjoy a fine piece of Victoria sponge and a ginger beer. Even better is the farm shop where I bought a slice of cheese n onion pie and coleslaw for lunch, with fresh Marple Bridge milk and strawberries to make into a shake. Part of a scientific nutritional strategy, I hope you understand.