Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Sky Tip and Brown Willy

Cassius, the guy at Clay Control, gave us the ok and we wandered our hard-hatted, florescent-jacketed and very thoroughly risk-assessed way onto the abandoned quarry.

Our work led us to the foot of the Sky Tip, a vast old spoil heap that's a local landmark and towers over St Austell. Although vegetated now, it's still basically a big pile of granite gravel. Ferns grew in the rainwater runnels that had been eroded away over the years. It wasn't strictly part of the job - but it had to be done...

The aerial view came in very handy for the surveying work we had to do - an added bonus.

On the way home, on an impulse, I drove up a dead-end road on the edge of Bodmin and headed off for a jog up Brown Willy via Catshole Tor and Brown Willy Downs. It was one of those great simple runs that was made all the better for the lack of planning. There was plenty of tussock hobbling, a fair bit of boggy wet foot action and a good bit of pertex flappery. The route from the downs to the top was surprisingly indistinct and I enjoyed a bit of solitude in the gusts as I took in the views that stretched out over the width of the county.

I'm mindful of something Jim Perrin once wrote in a climbing mag along lines that climbing success isn't measured on "Olympic podia" - "it's in the immediate experience that we mine the pure ore," he said (or words to that effect). Now, Jim loses me sometimes and often uses words that get me reaching for the dictionary, but I like the point he makes which is, I think, in terms of my own running, that you get too tied up trying to become faster and lose touch with the simplicity of running in the hills at your peril.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Shurdington Hill

The hidden gem that's located on the scarp between Leckhampton and Crickley Hills is a good place to be on a cool and sunny Sunday morning. I have been trundling about of late, cautiously getting back on it.

Shadow windmills arms
bounding down on springy grass.
Bell peals come upward.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Lord Hereford's Knob and Nant Bwch

From Capel-y-ffin we headed up through fields and trees onto the hillside. Clear blue skies - a lovely day for it indeed. A pair of buzzards wheeled. It was so quiet you couldn't hear yourself think.

We looked back south down the scooped valley from the bield on the tip of the tongue of Darren Lwyd that impressively fills the end of the valley. Still. To the west Pen y Gadair fawr and Waun Fach were stippled with snow. The lower summit looked higher than its neighbour.

We ran for a bit, wandered around for a bit and then pointed at stuff for a bit. Jamie explained some stuff about geology whilst I tried to remember names like Fluvial and Triassic.

Scoops of snow between the tussocks. Impressively quiet.

Jamie found a sleeping bag which seemed ok despite being waterlogged and set about carrying it back for his daughter.

Back down the Nant Bwch with its lovely waterfalls and many secluded little wild camp spots.

We were back home by 4.30 having had a cracking day away.

The Black Mountains seem to be to the Brecon Beacons what the Howgills are to the more popular of the lakeland fells. Less obviously dramatic perhaps, but more subtle fun when it comes to bogtrotting.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

I lost my mojo

Yeah baby, I put it down somewhere and bugger only knows where I left it. Don't ask me when I last had it because I can't remember.

Right now, the whole body aches and the last thing I feel like doing is going out running. This is bewildering and depressing if I'm honest because as the posts on this blog will testify, running - particularly running on the hills- has previously been a true source of joy. I have tried kick starting the process with training plans, intervals, cutting back the mileage - I even got myself a mountain bike and started going bouldering to help mix things up a bit.

But always, the same thing happens. I go out, don't particularly over-exert myself and then feel like I've been hit by a bus for the next week. I mean whacked out. That tenderised quad feeling that you get climbing the stairs for a week or so after a good thumpy fell race seems to be the norm for now.

After a slower than expected performance at the Shrophire gem, the Cardington Cracker, I did a few short blasty runs up and down the local Lecky hill over the Christmas period. But progressively, things got tougher during January and a general feeling of exhaustion crept in and took hold. Eventually, I got about a hundred metres into an evening run and thought: 'f*ck it' and walked back home.

I now realise that I have been trying to make things happen running-wise for way too long.

I've always tried to retain a sense of naivity about the running experience. A simple, albeit brief escape from the humdrum. Sad day then if running just starts to feel like something you've' got to do.'

Virus? Over-training syndrome? I even went to the GP who told me I had a resting heart rate of 42 and ran a load of blood tests (all of which came back clear fortunately).

Whatever it is, if you see my Mojo on your travels please let me know ;-)