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Thread: The Paddy Buckley Round

  1. #1

    The Paddy Buckley Round

    The Paddy Buckley Round

    A few weeks ago I completed The Paddy Buckley Round in North Wales. The following report contains recollections of unconventional parenting, dysfunctional schooling and more besides...occasionally The Paddy gets a mention.

    For those unfamiliar with The Paddy Buckley Round, also known as The Welsh Classical Round - it’s a circuit of Snowdonia covering 61 miles, 47 tops, with over 28000 feet of ascent. The Paddy has the reputation of being tougher to complete than the Lake District equivalent - The Bob Graham Round.

    The route was devised by the eponymous Paddy Buckley. Unlike the extremely popular Bob Graham Round there is no Membership Club and therefore no rules as such. Runners can attempt The Paddy supported or unsupported whilst starting at any point on the circular route - running clockwise or anti-clockwise. Although no official time limit is set, an arbitrary 24 hours is applied. On completion of the round you email Paddy with your start location, time and splits. Once verified by Paddy, he’ll add you to his list...simples! To date only 133 people have completed the round inside 24 hours since 1982.

    When I was a kid my parents had a static caravan in North Wales. The term ‘holidays from hell’ springs to mind. It would often rain, at times incessantly - resulting in us stuck indoors, in confined quarters for extended periods of time. During one of these rain drenched holidays I’m convinced the claustrophobic isolation had prompted my dad into questionable techniques where the art of swimming tuition is concerned. Without hesitation, he threw me in at the deep end...literally. Through blurry chlorinated eyes I could see my dad standing poolside in his red speedos from my underwater viewpoint at the bottom of the pool. Eventually after what seemed like forever, I was thankfully ‘saved’. Understandably given the circumstances... I thought the holiday was shit.

    The following year I thought my luck had changed - due to unforeseen circumstances I was hopeful I’d be unable to attend the family holiday in Wales. An unexpected altercation with arguably the worst teacher in the educational system had potentially thrown me a lifeline - a get out clause from impending Welsh misery. The teacher in question had taken umbrage after I’d arrived late for class following a compulsory visit to ‘Nitty Nora - The Bug Explorer’. The school nit nurse had been complementary towards my ‘bowl-cut’ hairstyle as it reminded ‘Nora’ of her favourite tennis player Jimmy Connors. We chatted about tennis and I was consequently late for class. My teacher refuted my lateness excuses and accused me of talking nonsense and skiving. I felt discredited and told him his frizzy hair resembled a Brillo pad...my classmates laughed, I was given detention. During detention my further punishment of one million lines seemed excessive but I’d envisaged the lines would prevent me from attending the imminent holiday in Wales...every cloud.

    Just for clarity - no nits were found and Jimmy Connors reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon that year, subsequently winning it the following year by defeating John McEnroe - “you cannot be serious”...honestly he did.

    I told my parents about my punishment, they also thought it excessive. My mum rang her brother for some advice, as he’s always been considered as being the brains in the family due to his college education. He nipped round to our house with his new calculator - using only numbers he could make it display the word ‘boobless’ across the screen by simply turning the calculator upside down - we were impressed. I was then timed whilst writing out, “I must not be disobedient in class”. My uncle got busy with his calculator and worked out it would take me 2 years to complete the lines if writing for approximately 8 hours a day. Anymore than 8 hours would’ve breached working time directive regulations...my uncle was the union representative at his place of work, he knew his stuff. The next day my teacher had a change of heart after my parents had intervened and presented him with my uncles evaluation. He agreed the punishment was ridiculously overzealous and rescinded. Unfortunately I didn’t entirely escape punishment, for once again we holidayed in Wales and unsurprisingly... it was shit.

    Not to be undeterred by my initial introduction to swimming I was eventually taught by a lady called Wendy - a bona fide swimming instructor. I can still recall her name because we nicknamed her ‘Wendy weeble wobble’ in reference to her roly-poly frame being synonymous with the popular Weebles toy. Wendy’s swimming methodology was traditional and the long established use of armbands was practiced, much to our delight. After lessons we’d sing “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down, Wendy teaches us to swim, so we don’t drown”. My mum overheard our derogatory singsong and chastised me in front of my mates. She informed me I was being raised within a home that valued and practiced good manners. A home where disrespectful behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated. The same home where lobbing your child in at the deep end was obviously deemed character building and not unconventional parenting. To be fair to my parents, it was the 70’s and probably par for the course at the time.
    Darren Fishwick, Chorley.

  2. #2
    Years later I discovered fellrunning and ultimately a fondness for Wales that I’d have never thought possible as a youngster. Its diverse landscape - particularly the mountainous Snowdonia region had captured my imagination. What better way to appreciate it than attempt The Paddy Buckley Round...unfortunately my parents caravan was no longer on the scene.

    Jim Turner of Bowland Fell Runners has completed all the big three rounds: The Bob, The Paddy and The Ramsey. He wanted to attempt The Paddy again and try for a faster time. Jim and myself decided to attempt it together, adopting a low-key approach. Jim’s a Nature Reserve warden, he once helped in saving the life of a cow called Jasmine - the greedy bovine had an apple stuck in her throat until Jim came to her rescue. I like Jim, he has a kind face - characteristic of his sincere demeanour. If he ever embarked upon a career change I think Jim would make a great Doctor as he’d be a calming presence when faced with delivering unfortunate test results to patients. Luckily for Jasmine the greedy cow - Jim and his sincerity prefers the great outdoors, she’s in good hands.

    When the day arrives thankfully we’re blessed with decent weather. Once again, like on my Bob Graham, my wife Alison provides all the road support.

    Leg 1 - Capel Curig to Nantmor 20 miles 7900ft

    The longest leg on the whole round so we decided to get it over and done with whilst fresh. It’s also the trickiest to navigate. We opted for an 11am start going on a 22 hour schedule. This start time allows for the night section to be encountered over Snowdon - reputedly the easiest leg to navigate. Jim’s mate Joe met us at the quarry and joined us for the rest of the leg. Joe periodically offered us food, I particularly liked his ginger cake. Joe lives in Lancaster and commutes all the way to Chester - I’m impressed by Joe’s work ethic. Leg finished in 6hrs. Beans and cheese devoured, socks changed - 12 minutes rest.

    Leg 2 - Nantmor to Pont Caer Gors 9 miles 5100ft

    Joe stays onboard for this next leg and keeps us topped up with cake. The first climb up Bryn Banog followed by the ascent of Hebog are disheartening climbs and proper leg sapping. I enjoyed the rest of the leg, especially the descent off Y Garn - great running. Leg finished in 3hrs 42mins. Tomato soup and sliced bread and another change of socks - 9 minutes rest. I thought Alison had seasoned my soup with black pepper, she hadn’t. The black specks in my soup were midges...they were savage. Joe says his goodbyes and we thank him for his help - he was great company.

    Leg 3 - Pont Caer Gors to Llanberis 13 miles 6100ft

    Just after Y Aran we put our head torches on. We’re in thick cloud which keeps bouncing off the torchlight making visibility very poor. Some people are camped in the cafe doorway at Snowdon. They’re waiting for the sunrise, they’re going to be disappointed given the cloud base. Jim does a great job with navigation but worryingly he’s struggling with the pace. Leg finished in 5hrs 6mins. Porridge, bananas and honey followed by another change of socks - 9 minutes rest. Unfortunately after 15hrs Jim calls it a day. He’s been struggling for the last couple of hours and insisted I carried on alone as I’m running strong. Alison doesn’t want me to continue, she’s worried about my safety. I tell her she’d receive a substantial lump sum and a decent death in service pension if anything untoward happens to me. Alison sarcastically says “well what you hanging around for...skidaddle”. At least I hope she was being sarcastic?

    Leg 4 - Llanberis to Ogwen 9.5 miles 5900ft

    To anyone who’s done long solo rounds - you have my full respect. Luckily I’d reccied this leg three times in recent weeks. The last time being only five days earlier. In truth running up a disused slate quarry alone in the dark wasn’t enjoyable. It was a bit ‘Blair Witch Project’. I was out of my comfort zone...shitting myself, not literally - but I was touching cloth. Such was my haste, I knocked 5 minutes of my splits. In the words of the mighty Iron Maiden - “Fear of the dark, fear of the dark. I have a constant fear that something’s always near”. After Elidir Fawr my head torch was removed and the remainder of the leg was actually enjoyable as daylight started to make an appearance. Alison looked extremely pleased to see me...money can’t buy you love.
    Leg finished 4hrs 21mins. A quick drink of flat coke - 3 minutes rest.

    Leg 5 - Ogwen to Capel Curig 9.5 miles 4100ft

    Homeward bound - I’m running on adrenaline despite a sore knee and a tender arse. By now it’s turned into a lovely morning, albeit a little chilly. The climb up Pen yr Ole Wen is slow but steady on the loose shale. The rest of the leg is a joy to behold as I’m taking in the views and loving my Paddy Buckley experience. Leg finished in 3hrs 43mins. Jim turned up to congratulate me at the finish...cheers pal, you’re a gentleman.

    The Paddy Buckley Round - 23hrs 25mins. This wouldn’t have been possible without my amazing wife...thank you Alison x. In summary - it’s a fantastic route with so much variation throughout. Thankfully I ate really well for the full duration and had no real issues...loved it.

    Once back in the van I asked Alison if she’d inspect my sore arse. Reluctantly I’m told I’ve got major chafing between my bum cheeks that portrays the appearance of a clowns mouth whenever I bend forwards. I’m puzzled by Alison’s description so she offers to take a photograph. I decline her kind offer, as now is not the time for ‘sexting’ and say an explanation will suffice. She explains how my red raw chafing looks like haphazardly applied lipstick around the perimeter of my anus - hey presto, a clowns mouth. I’m also informed I have a sweat rash that resembles a teenagers chin...I don’t ask for an explanation and once again declined photographic evidence. Note to self - apply more Vaseline before my next long challenge....The Ramsey?

    In conclusion: Fellrunning opened my eyes to the wonderment of Wales. I’ve still never really taken to swimming and my dad still wears red speedos - usually when he’s sunbathing and weirdly when barbecuing. An RSVP invitation to one of my parents barbecues, delivered via text message, is best replied: “sorry we are otherwise engaged”. In truth witnessing my dad in budgie smugglers that are barely concealing his genitalia is not recommended. Whereas spending time in Wales is highly recommended.

    The Paddy Buckley Round...beltin!
    Last edited by Tindersticks; 12-07-2019 at 09:07 PM.
    Darren Fishwick, Chorley.

  3. #3
    Master JohnK's Avatar
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    Beltin! Well done Darren
    The older I get the Faster I was

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    Member skipchris's Avatar
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    Awesome job, well done!

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    Master PeteS's Avatar
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    Literally cried with laughter. Nice one Darren! 😁

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    Super Moderator Derby Tup's Avatar
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    I’m still sulking but logged on to say well done ‘sticks lad

  7. #7
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derby Tup View Post
    I’m still sulking but logged on to say well done ‘sticks lad
    Great to hear from you again, DT. I couldn't really believe it when you said you were signing off for good; the Forum without DT would be like Just a minute without Nicholas Parsons.

    Things have calmed down over the last few weeks. We do appreciate your contributions, and I in particular remember that you welcomed me when I made my first post.
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Derby Tup's Avatar
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    I noticed things were a little calmer. Welcoming newcomers was something that was done in the past and always struck me as *civil*

  9. #9
    Master JohnK's Avatar
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    Missed yer DT good to hear from you again.
    The older I get the Faster I was

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Derby Tup View Post
    I’m still sulking but logged on to say well done ‘sticks lad
    Thank you Andrew.
    Darren Fishwick, Chorley.

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