Bolts Law Basher 2021

In general I’m a person who doesn’t do regrets, what if’s or wishes they could turn the clock back. As a runner I’ve done everything and more that I wanted to when I started. The only thing I would like to change relates to John Donneky senior. John was already ill and died the year I joined Derwentside A.C. so I never met him. From everything I’ve heard he had a similar love of the fells and it would have been fantastic to know him. The Bolts Law Basher remembers John and continues to get runners out on the fells.

John’s belief everyone should use fell running as part of their training regime led the club to create the John Donneky Senior Bolts Law Basher in 2012. A 7.5 mile loop from Rookhope was created with a mixture of terrain. An initial guided group run of Derwentside A.C. members and John’s friends took place in 2012. An annual event was created. In 2014 the invitation to run was extended to anyone who wanted to attend. Between 2012 and 2019 over 150 different runners have taken part from 20 clubs. A wide variety of speeds, body shapes and experiences but all have enjoyed their run. After a year off in 2020 we are back on the fells in 2021.

View From The Incline

Restrictions Not Lifted

We chose June 29th for the event due to the expected relaxing of coronavirus restrictions on June 21st. Unfortunately the easing was put back until mid July and we were unable to use the village hall to meet and for our post Bolts Law Basher buffet. We are lucky it is a nice night and visibility is good. John’s wife Miranda and son John jnr are in attendance. I give the usual welcome speech and for the third or fourth time introduce Miranda as John’s husband. I’m annoyed I keep getting it wrong even though it always gets a laugh. Despite the clash with England Germany here are nineteen runners a lot of whom I don’t know. They all look prepared which is great as that makes it an easy night. We stop at the bottom of the incline for a photograph then we are off.

At The Bottom Of The Incline
Photograph by Miranda Donneky

Rookhope Incline And Beyond

As usual the runners quickly stretch out running to their comfort zone on the first uphill mile. I feel terrible already. I’m chugging up with Steve and Graham who both look and sound OK but I’m struggling. When we get to the top there are spectators waiting for us. It feels like a mountain stage on the Tour De France without the constant “Alez, Alez, Alez”.

View From The Top Of The Incline

Steve and Graham take the first eight runners to the top of the hill and set off around the rest of the route. John and I split the remaining participants and start out across the fells. I’m warning my group about a few holes in the path when I get my foot stuck in one and end up sprawled out on the heather. It relaxes everyone for the unknown ahead and we head along the trod aiming for the sheepfold.

Following the sheep trod

Making Progress

Back onto the gravel path we run east before turning to Dead Friars Quarry and the road. The weather is just right and the group are moving quickly. We hit the road and there is the usual mix of relief and complaint. Two hundred meters later we are back on the fells with the best part of the Bolts Law Basher. A pathless moor (avoiding the wet bits) and stream crossing before running past the duck pond for some wildlife watching. All of my group are oblivious to this but I don’t hear a “where’s the path” from any of them as we canter down the fell, jump the stream and are disappointed there are no birds on the pond.

Heading out across the fell

Bolts Law

The burnt heather is leaving charcoal lines on our legs like black veins in a horror movie. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone and we attack the climb to the highest point of the run. Compared to some of the paths we have just navigated the rutted, stony and twisty clay path is like a motorway. No chance of getting lost here with the giant summit cairn constantly on the horizon. We have a reunion on top of the hill with the small group in front. They have been enjoying the views.

Bolts Law cairn

The Road Back To Rookhope

All of the climbing is now behind us. Rookhope awaits our return as conquering heroes. The paths across the moor are well used and its easy to find our way to the next short road section. The group is still chatting and enjoying their run. I reflect back on some of the runners we have had in the past and hope this years graduates will come back next year. It has been a fun experience.

Don’t look at the camera John!

A Grassy Finish

A nice grassy finish to the Bolts Law Basher. Gradually descending from the road to the village on a marked path. Another fun part of the run (for most) and time to contemplate that despite Covid-19 we have organised another successful run. As usual we couldn’t do it without the support of Derwentside A.C., John, Graham and Steve for taking the runners round the course and Rookhope Village Hall. Thanks to everyone who sacrificed their chance of seeing England beat Germany to spend the evening with us. Despite being eaten alive by Midges in the car park I look forward to the event hopefully being back to normal in 2022.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the “Bolts Law Basher 2021“. Have you done the Bolts Law Basher? Would you like to come for a run in 2022. Let us know in the comments below.

Read some of our other blog posts for more hilly adventures on

Penine Way Run

Chevy Chase Recce

45 at 45 Challenge

Supporting Juhana’s Bob Graham Round

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