4 Apr 2014

Chagford Challenge LDWA

My first event for quite a while, there were two main reasons for signing up for this one. Firstly to start the build up to my main aim of the year and secondly to introduce my new training partner to LDWA events. I will get to the plans for the rest of the year later.

I know I have said it before but every time I take part in a LDWA event I am amazed at their friendly well organised events they put on, once again this was the case in the Cornwall & Devon LDWA Chagford Challenge. Great support, food and weather.

 Now my new running partner has not done a long run like this before so we decided to enter the middle distance route (20 mile). We got on well together all day and kept a fairly even pace the only problem I had was when he said things like "Dad I think we can run this bit".

The route starts following a beautiful wooded track along the River Teign before turning up a steep hill to Cranbrook Castle. You then travel through field and country lanes to North Bovey. The second big climb on the route took us up onto open moorland. The day had started to warm up and it was nice to have a bit of a breeze on the tops. After a great checkpoint stop at Warren House Inn (peaches and rice pudding) we headed over to Fernworthy reservoir and the last section back to Chagford.

What is next then, well having said how great the LDWA events I have entered some different events this year.

Better start getting the weekly mileage up.

18 Sept 2012

Across Wales Walk 2012

It was only our second attempt at the Across Wales Walk. but already there were people to catch up with since the first time. I slept well on the village hall floor, it helps if you are the one who snores and keeps the others awake.

We set off on the short coach trip to the start at Anchor. It felt a little cold on the start line and I was nervous. As we knew we had not done enough training we started slow with a lot of walking.

The whole route across Wales covers some great landscapes, one of the most enjoyable things is seeing the changes from rural Shropshire to hills and forest to mountain. There were some great running sections, on one of the best we ran down the hill to Llandinam with Marcus. I was still felling good on the next road sections towards Hafren Forest. After consuming some very nice home-made malt loaf at Checkpoint 3 we set off along the Wye River Trail. Emerging from the forest we headed straight up the slope to Plynlimon.

This is where the difficulties began. The wind had picked up and as I reached the ridge I was starting to fell sick and starting to get cold. I put on an extra layer and we headed down towards Nant-y-moch. When we reached the reservoir I was very cold and put on all my spare kit. It was a slow shuffle to the fouth checkpoimt along the road which follows the southern edge of the reservoir. Along the road we decided I should call it a day.

After some soup and tea it was a relief to climb into the back of the mini bus and fall asleep. I tried and failed to persuade Simon that he should carry on as he was still full of beans.

You can say the first half of the course was beautiful, which it was, that the atmosphere was very friendly which it was, and it is a great event to be part of but I was still p'd off. Well next year maybe.

20 Jun 2012

Mid Wales travels

Over the last few years we have been making our way up Offas Dyke. Our Offa's Dyke trips
This year we decided to make a side trip to the Brecon Beacons.

On Friday night we stayed in the YHA hostel at Danywenallt. Next morning we drove along the side of the reservoir to a small car park at Taf Fechan Forest. It was a beautiful bright day but a bit cool in the wind. When we got to the main tracks at the top it was fairly busy, as always, but the high winds added some excitement. We reached the top via Cribyn and then followed the swooping ups and down to Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du. We left the southern ridge at a large cairn on the rocky path which drops back down to the valley.

That night we stayed at Llwyn-y-Celyn, known in our family as the Falklands Hostel. As my Dad and I stayed there the day in April 1982 when the conflict in the South Atlantic started. This is a proper hostel with big tables in the dining room, strange utensils in the kitchen and an ever present whiff of damp coats. Not a wine list in sight.

The next day we headed north to see what else mid Wales had to offer. Our next stop was the River Ifron near Abergwesyn. A beautiful spot where the river narrows and then opens out into a large pool before the ford at The Wash Pool

Our trip continued north towards my latest ebay purchase, more on this later. The last stop was at Red Kite Centre to watch the afternoon feeding. It may not be seeing them in the wilderness but it was inspiring to see them so close and in such numbers.

8 Jun 2012

Sport Relief - What a relief

I have got a bit of a blogging backlog going on. My sense of order means I have to write up one of our previous adventures first.

Will’s challenge for Sport Relief this year was to swim 400 metres, Bike 40 miles and run 4 miles from South Dorset to Somerset (where his grandparents live).

We had to delay this event due to illness a couple of times. Eventually the plan was set for a Sunday in May. The weather forecast was high winds and heavy rain. The weather forecast was right.

Well we decided to set off anyway and see how it went. The swim went well, Bridport leisure centre kindly let him swim during Adult only lanes session because it was a special event.  The first bit of the bike leg to Axminster was hilly and wet and cold. We struggled and I thought this would be the end. But we were saved by our support vehicle (Mum and sister) with hot drinks, dry kit and cake.

As we got nearer to the Somerset border we were turned back twice by flooded roads.After meeting up with the support vehicle a couple of times we eventually made it to the start of the run.

What could go wrong, well nothing until we were a mile from the finish. The fields around the River Tone were flooded and we struggled to even wade through the water to get to the bridge. A great effort and a great day.

19 Apr 2012

Cerne Giant 30

This new LDWA route starts in Cerne Abbas, heads east through villages like Plush and Cross Lanes before reaching Bingham's Melcombe. This is a beautiful 16th century manor with immaculate gardens. We tried not to make too much noise on the gravel paths. From here the route turned west to follow the Wessex Ridgeway north of Cerne Abbas to Sydling St Nicolas. The climb up Shearplace Hill, the final hill, returns to Cerne Abbas.

Walkers started at 8 and runners before 9. We set off just after 8 to allow the field to spread but to gives us enough time to get round and enjoy refuelling at the checkpoints. It was a beautiful day with great views over the Dorset hills.

At the half way point we were passed by a couple of runners who had obviously started long after us and were still full of running. I was pleased to find out afterwards that one of them was Jez Bragg, who went on to finish first.

As always the Dorset LDWA put on a wonderfully friendly and well organised event. At the main checkpoint in Buckland Newton, Simon and I were talking to another runner who said "you don't want to eat too much as it can sit heavily on your stomach". As we watched them leave the checkpoint we shock our heads sadly. They seemed to have missed the point. Now fruit cake or lemon drizzle or both, silly question - both. Our advise if you are concerned about eating too much is slow down, have another sandwich or sausage roll or cake and walk for a bit.

I have not run since and have been working too much, so plans for the next big run have been delayed. Luckily there are some great plans for canoe and biking trips on the horizon.

28 Mar 2012

Sourton run

As a bit of a test run for an upcoming event Simon and I went down to Dartmoor for a run out. We had originally planned to do a some of the Chagford Challenge route but as the weather was clear I decided we should head for open moorland.

We set off from Sourton and followed the steep path up past the church to join the Dartmoor Way below Sourton Tor. Here we spotted our first Ten Tors group in their traditional spring plumage of massive rucksacks.  From here we dropped down to one of my favourite spots, West Okement Valley, and then struggled up to Black Tor. The weather was cold and clear for most of the day but as we headed to High Willhays we entered mist which had settled on the summit.

Lints Tor
From here to Amicombe Brook the going was hard with boggy, clumps of grass slowing us down. I did see a nice camp spot for a small tent SX 583861.


After crossing the top of Tavey Cleave we headed back to via Hare Tor and Great Links Tor to Sourton. This side is more popular than the central section, according to Simon this is because sensible people don't like running over trackless boggy ground. Apparently he is not that keen either.

Are we ready for the Cerne Giant 30? Probably not but we will find out on Sunday.

As you can see I have been using Social Hiking a bit. There is a nice feature where you can overlay a route (where you plan to walk) over the top of a track (where you actually walked). I have also found it useful when your phone battery dies halfway through your trip.

3 Feb 2012

Of mice and drybags

The Llanbder horseshoe is a great long day walk in the Black Mountains.  As I was there for an overnighter I decided to add a bit and cover some other unclimbed hills.

I walked through the village of Llanbedr down a muddy track to the river and up to Crug Mawr. It was still relatively early despite the long drive from Dorset. I was passed by a couple of runners just before the top, the only people I would see all morning. After a short side trip to the nearest top I headed down to the valley through Mynydd Du Forest.

The path down to the valley cut straight through the pine trees directly across a couple of forestry roads. The top section of the path is either very overgrown or I missed it completely. If you get lost in the same place can you pick up my glove that I lost bashing through the trees. After crossing the first forestry road the path is much clearer. The reservoir road was bit of a plod but I was soon off the track climbing through the wood on the other side of the valley.

Chwarel  y Fan
I had made a side trip to Pen Twyn Mawr and it turned out to be a dull mound of a hill. I also double back on myself to Chwarel  y Fan and it was a very worthwhile trip. A classic Black Mountains grassy ridge topped with a summit path through the rocks.(Apologies for the fuzzy phone camera picture in this post, my camera is broken)

I heading back north along the ridge before reaching the small bothy in the valley. It is a tiny one up one down structure with just enough room to refold a double sided OS map. I spent a cold night on the sleeping platform listening to a quiet scratching noise downstairs. As I was preparing breakfast I found something had been through my rubbish bag and one of my dry bags. Although my favourite dry bag had no food in it my new found enemy had nibbled a hole in it. My food bag was untouched. Not happy.

Bothy etiquette says you should leave enough fuel for the next visitor. I didn't really feel I had done this so I  packed up some of the rubbish others had left instead. It was a sad sight as I left in the morning carrying a bag of rubbish and an empty whiskey bottle, sobbing gently. "It was my favourite dry bag as well".

I followed the path up the valley before turn back towards the south. This side of the valley the hills are quiet a bit higher and were covered in a thicker layer of snow. This ridge is what I love about the Black Mountains, open hills with great views.