When Trail Running goes a bit Blair Witch

Thought I’d have a change of scenery today so I ran the trails around St Brides common (St Brides being the next village to us). I used to walk Soak up here a bit so I knew a little of the area but not that much, today was as much about getting out into different conditions, finding a few hills and just going where the trail took me.  It turned into an 8 mile jaunt which I didn’t really intend to do but I felt fresh and the way i’m feeling at the moment i’m not too worried about the legs for the half on sunday so while the weathers good why not do a little more?

So my journey in photos

 

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Nice easy trail to kick off with some sand to get the muscles working
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Looking down on the River Ogmore
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I ran floodplains
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And saw some geese (Possibly Canadian Geese I don’t know, I’m no avian expert)
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However I know a swan when I see one
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My phone kindly made a panorama for me without being asked
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Climbed a hill – ended up on a golf course. Variation is the spice of life and all that
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First lamb of the year spotted!
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Ok so when is a left turn not the right turn?  When the trail stops and you end up in the woods running along a 45 degree slant with no path.
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Still lost in the woods and it’s all going Blair Witch (Ok I’m using some poetic licence here, I sort of knew where I was I just couldn’t be sure. We used to play around here as kids but it looks different now)
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Success! This is where I was trying to find. the old quarry at Castle Upon Alun.  Scarily we used to happily climb these cliffs as kids with no safety gear whatsoever. Ahhh the feeling of being an indestrucible young un.
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It actually gave me chills realising how steep these things actually are
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Took the scenic route back – All uphill it seemed
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I pass this tree everyday on the way home from work. I call it the “fuck you tree” For some reason it was felled years ago but in defiance it is determined to sprout again and keeps growing year on year.  Can you draw inspiration from a tree?  I do, it reminds me that whenever life beats you down you don’t give up. You get up, dust yourself off, say “fuck you” and grow again.

So all in all a great run which put a smile on my face, especially the ending with my inspiring tree which i’ve wanted to take a photo of for a while and today serendipity happened.

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Blowing away the cobwebs

Well I awoke with a bit of a hangover, a legacy of celebrating the Welsh win against Scotland yesterday (Though the performance wasn’t great I fully admit). So I slothed around a bit until the tide went out and decided to go for a trot to make me feel better inside and out.  And around 10 miles and just under 2 hours later I got back.  Seems like I can run fine with a hangover, in fact it actually got rid of it, I feel fantastic while I write this. Plus on a bright sunny day I got fresh air at the top of cliffs like this.

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Also happily no knee pain today, I wore the Adidas Kanadia which I try to avoid doing in wet and muddy conditions because they’re not in any way, shape or form waterproof. I’m guessing that if it turns out they’re better for my knee then I’ll be sticking with them full time, watery feet or not.

So in a weeks time I will have completed my first trail half or will have perished in the attempt and today was a good confidence boost. Plus I decided to put in some hills for the practice. In particular this bugger which i’m proud to say I made it up in one go!

 

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Cwm Mawr hill training

 

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Looks even steeper from the bottom.

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Dem Bones

A lovely evening to run after work, managed to fit in around 7 miles all offroad by getting to Witches Point at Southerdown then returning. The tide was way out and the sun was setting making it quite the spectacular run down there.  I can’t believe I ignored this place of tranquility and beauty for so long, well at least I’ve rediscovered it now thanks to running.

I felt a bit off for the first 2 or 3 miles today as if something wasn’t clicking then as usual I felt fine afterwards and by mile 6 I felt like I could run forever. Does this ever happen to anyone else? Of course I always beat myself up for the first few miles that it’s going to be a bad run and it so very rarely is. I need to stop listening to my inner voices. Plus a week sunday i need more than ever to be confident and know that it will all come together by halfway!

Oh the title of the post yes …… Dem bones indeed. I mentioned in a post a while back about the bones of local 12th century monks being found buried in the soft part of the cliffs at Cwm Nash.  Well the latest storms have uncoverd more which I actually discovered yesterday but didn’t want to post about until I’d informed the local archeological authorities.  Well they responded to me today that they would investigate so i’m posting as the tide will remove them anyway very soon. Of course as its not the first set of bones found its not national news anymore but I was kinda excited to find them.

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Looks like a leg to me (I’m no doctor)

So yeah – 800 year old bones (or 4-500 year old depending if they’re monks or shipwrecked sailors)

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The storms completely eroded this soft chalk cliff back about 2 or 3 feet in one night by my reckoning
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Todays obligatory sunset photo
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Not Soaky and I making prints anymore but someone had passed this way and it made me feel happy inside that at some point this afternoon a dog has had the time of it’s life at the beach.  If you have a dog give them a cuddle right now – I command it! Every moment you have them is a gift.
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Todays Route

Another Midweek Bounce

Beautiful evening – What is it with wednesdays at the moment! Having been stuck inside and in a chair on a course all day (I haven’t sat in one place for that long for literally years) it was great to get out and head for a run. The tide was out but coming in fast so only time for a short rockhopping session (Yes I do remember vaguely saying I shouldn’t do this but I just can’t help it)

Today I love running =)

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Sunset at Cwm Nash
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Aaaaand this is what happens when you play with the filters on your phone – Looks like i’m running on Mars
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Todays Route

Back on the trail

After a loooong six days off due mainly to weather (does anyone else feel guilty if they can’t get out even if its madness to try) I managed to get out after work today. In fact the conditions were still a long way short of pleasant tonight with a biting wind and rain but I simply couldn’t hack another day without getting out running. I’ve told myself the break has done my body good but it felt a little weird and stiff today. But by the time I was about home (only 3 miles) I felt great again. I must keep this in mind in the trail half coming up, don’t panic in the first few miles when I feel rough.

I also mixed in some hill climbs at the beach on these steep little monsters.

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Hill climbs at Cwm Nash

My only worry really is my knee which was aching again, though then again it was aching in work earlier. Clearly it doesn’t want rest!

Anyway, it was good to get out and good to post again

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Todays Route

 

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Approaching Nash Cwm
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Stormy seas at Nash Point
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Sunset over Nash Sandbar in the Bristol Channel

Midweek Rock Hop

Got home with plenty of time to run. Haven’t been out for a few days and felt fantastic , I think I shall take a few days off prior to the half if this is how I feel. Had so much energy, got to the beach and the tide wasn’t as high as I expected so managed a little sand running but couldn’t resist the lure of a bit of rock hopping. Technically it was a stupid thing to do as at speed it’s risking a broken ankle at worst and a sprain at best but I just couldn’t help myself. It was just one of those days, so a good half an hour spent bouncing around the beach for the joy of it plus some driftwood hunting. All in all a great way to finish off wednesdays daylight =)

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Sunset at Cwm Nash
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My rockhopping playground
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Cwm nash cliffs and pebbled beach
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Me lying in a rockpool
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Just ….. Sunset

Todays route

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Mapping a half marathon trail route

I’ve spent a lot of time running along the beaches and cliffs of the Heritage Coast in South Wales – At least the part I live near which has given me the idea to map a half marathon route from Marcross beach to the river mouth at Ogmore by Sea and back.  Mainly as I wanted to see if I could – I find this a pretty good reason for doing anything.

The map


About the route

This is a half marathon trail course I have run myself in sections plenty of times. As it is a trail the exact distance run may me over or under 13 miles by a significant amount so bear this in mind.

The route takes in both beach and field/grassland running and the beauty of it is that you can run these in different combinations according to taste.

The overall route runs from the carpark at Marcross beach (next to the lighthouse) and along the Heritage Coast to the rivermouth at Ogmore by Sea and back.

If the route on the google map is followed then you will first traverse the rocks and sand of coast as far as Witches Point in Southerndown before climbing up to the top of the point before following the trail to along the cliffs and then the pathway to Ogmore Beach. You will then return along Ogmore Beach and along the same path back to Witches Point where you will, instead of running the beach path run along the top of the cliffs all the way back to Marcross.

Of course if you wish to run the beach on the return journey or indeed the cliffs on the outward journey you can mix and match according to taste.  You can reverse the whole thing starting at Ogmore by Sea, running to Marcross and then returning.

Much of the beach part of this run is dependent on tide times. It cannot be run at high tide and I would recommend running it an hour or so before low tide if you wish to maximise time on the beach. You can run the whole route along the cliffs never touching the beach at high tide.

Warnings – The tides here are the second highest in the world and can catch the unwary out. Always know the tide times before you set off and give yourself plenty of time to get off the beach before the tide comes in.

The route takes you over rocky beaches and care must be taken, slow down on the rocks, although loose rocks and pebbles look solid they often shift underfoot. Some of the smoother paved looking rocks are great to run on when dry but when wet or covered in weed they are treacherous, no matter the grip on your trainers you will slide and fall so slow down. My general rule of thumb is that the darker the colour of the rock the more slippery it is.  Stay clear of the cliffs as rockfalls are common.

Part of the route has you running along cliff tops – show common sense and stay away from the edge. The cliffs are unstable at the best of times and rockfalls happen frequently. Be aware of your surroundings and watch for changes in the path direction as it does come within a few feet of the edge in places.

There is often livestock in the fields, give it a wide berth, especially when new born and young animals are present.

You will be a fair distance from help if you suffer an injury so carry a mobile phone. The weather changes quickly at times and extra clothing is recommended for the cliffs section as the wind is much stronger up top.