Thursday, 15 December 2011

Return to the Pilgrim's Way

A day off work and with the London marathon starting to appear on my radar my thoughts are now turning to a return to some serious training. Last Saturday, early morning I was fortunate to be able to get onto the Army land that is less than 2 miles from my door step. The red flags that are usually up in the day at the weekend preventing you to get on the land were down, meaning I could take advantage of the brilliant hills and trails that are available. It was one of those great runs you get once in a while where everything falls into place, the weather was good and there was not another soul around. Beautiful.

With a days rest in between I was out again on the Monday, this time a tough 14 miles over the North Downs. This was my longest and hardest run since the Pilgrims marathon back in September taking in a route that gives you 2000ft of elevation to deal with.

The run takes me from my house along the tarmac through Ash Vale village, out towards Normandy village before getting off the roads and hitting the trails.

Early trails en route
After the early trails it's then on the road again and the start of the hills through Wanborough. After a gradual climb I hit the killer climb to the Hogs back (A31) and up Wanborough Hill, a hill that even cyclists in low gears struggle to climb.

The downhill recovery takes me through the quaint village of Puttenham and the steady climb onto the North Downs.

The Pilgrim's marathon runs from the Village of Seale to Guildford and gets its name from using part of the ancient Pilgrim's Way trackway as part of the course. The full route of the ancient Pilgrim's Way runs from Winchester in Hampshire to London. There is evidence that the trackway was a main trade route between 450 to 500BC. After the growth and importance of London and the decline of Winchester as the Capital with less metal supply coming from the West, the trackway was in danger of becoming redundant. From a trade route the trackway was saved following the murder of Archbishop Becket in 1170 with pilgrims journeying to Becket's shrine along the path, thus gaining the name of the Pilgrims Way. Some of the original medieval cobbles can still be seen today....History lesson over!

The Pilgrims path can still been seen today
In the marathon you have to run up the path which is a never ending climb, but today I was heading the other way and flew down the path desperately trying to avoid turning my ankle on the uneven cobbles. The route then continues along the undulating North Downs and eventually onto the village of Seale, but not before I had the unusual experience of running along side some farm land and being hit with the strong smell of Coriander. It was in abundance in one of the fields where Farmers were at work harvesting the crops. I had no idea where Coriander grew, I thought it was somewhere exotic not just round the corner!

The Beautiful North Downs
After Seale it's time to leave this beautiful side of the Hog's Back and head homeward. To get back over the Hog's Back from Seale I take the brilliantly named Thundery Hill and head back to civilisation.

Having struggled across the Downs the temptation was to call in here......

Water Stop?
....I decline, and before long I'm on the Blackwater valley path that then a brief spell on the Basingstoke Canal before reaching home. I thought I'd share with you in pictures this wonderful route that gives a real testing run but in beautiful surroundings.

One other thing I'd like to share is the brilliant I'm not quite shaw what it is called but it was in my goody bag after the Marathon. When the weather is bitterly cold I like to wear a hat but the trouble I have is that I get too hot after a while. The brilliant thing about my head...thingy, is that it keeps my ears and forehead warm but allows the head to breath and cool out the top. It can also be pulled down as a neck warmer. I would strongly recommend.

More Rambo than Runner!

1 comment:

  1. Love the pics & the history lesson :-). The head thing looks like a Buff (brand name), I have a couple of them & they're brilliant because of the versatility.