SANTAS rubbed shoulders with Wombles, The Incredibles and the odd priest and nun for one of East Lancashire's most colourful funs.

More than 275 hardy souls from across the north braved blustery Boxing Day conditions to tackle the annual Whinberry Naze fell race, hosted by Rossendale Harriers.

One of the best turnouts for some time tackled a boggy four-mile course, which saw Andrew Worster, from Todmorden Harriers, come home first from the men's contingent and Nichola Jackson cross the line as the leading female.

Clubs from as far afield as Blackburn, Trawden, Wharfedale, Horwich, East Cheshire and Derbyshire were represented at the 750 feet climb, which sets out from the bottom of Hill End Lane in Cloughfold, near Rawtenstall.

Father-and-son Gerrard and Jacob Palmer, aged 10, from Leeds, were among those who were tempted to line up and shed some festive pounds.

Gerrard said: "We were staying with members of our family in Rochdale when we heard about the race.

"Jacob is too young to officially enter the race but he's going to give the course a good go. It's great to see everyone making the effort."

Former Rossendale councillor and ex-Heywood and Middleton MP Liz McInnes had one of the toughest jobs of the morning as she judged the dozens of fancy dress entrants.

The group prize went to The Wombles, a Rossendale Harriers collective featuring Mervyn Keys, Claire Jacobs, Gill Simpson and Lorna Holt, with a dozen more commended for their efforts by the Labour politician.

Nelson-born Andy Holden, who now competes for Wharfedale Harriers, gave it his all despite pitching up in an inflatable Santa costume. Several runners also took their four-legged friends along for support.

And friends Nicola Carr and Kevin Doherty, who made an appearance in 2018 as Freddie Mercury and Brian May from Queen, had a rocking good time again

This time around the pair, who are both members of the Sunderland Strollers running club, returned as a pair of Swiss hikers.