Friday, 10 January 2014

2013

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A quiet end to the year but, not a quiet life. This year seems to be spit in two. The first, dedication to train and run ultra's the 2nd finding motivation with no focus and incorporating change. Life is very different from 12 months ago. We were in a flat, now 2 moves later we are in our dream home, I have a full time job and we have a dog. All 3 looked unreachable last Christmas but now I'm here sat at home, with the dog asleep and I'm looking forward to work in a few days time. Now, I just need to find that mojo to get out running more and to start writing a little more.
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That's the personal stuff out the way. I need to look back at the year and hope it helps rekindle my desire to push myself further as 2014 will be my biggest yet.

2013 started with big plans to run far, to run many. I managed one goal and ironically it was the one I least wanted and had to do it with a stinking cold  - the London Marathon. The rest fell away due to injury and lack of money. January came and went with first the rain then the snow but the training was so varied and enjoyable and rolled into February with an exciting micro adventure up into Snowdonia where the weather tested - or ruined - our equipment.
PhotoWe also finally moved out of our flat to a rental house which reinvigorated us and the weather. Not my foot though, which had not been right (and still isn't fully) and so I rested it and even visited a gym a few times to avoid impact.
PhotoWith a months rest I started up the running again but always knowing that any 'fast' time for a road marathon was gone and so it proved in London. But who cares about roads, in April I manged my first Ultra (27miles) around the Purbecks, always stunning, always tough. Then a good wild camping weekend away in Shropshire with a meet up with fellow Ultra enthusiasts at the Torq trail weekend, great fun- just a shame that I haven't really bumped into anyone again.
PhotoTaking a break from running the bike came out for a Coast to Coast 3 day micro from north to south Devon. An amazing weekend, looking back why I have not fulfilled my promise to return and run around Dartmoor? Only a week later I ran the Ridgeway 40, my bike legs feeling it all the way along and I've never been so pleased to see the finish.
PhotoIn prime fitness I planned my next big challenge - a 2 day variation of the Paddy Buckley. Things went slow but I was loving the movement around the mountains, then my back spasmed and that was it! A painful 5 hrs to return to the car over the Glyders, 5 hrs drinking to forget the pain, a 5hr interrupted sleep and 5hrs through gritted teeth driving home. This was a major set back and the start of losing my motivation and more importantly money. With the injury I didn't work for a bit and then I couldn't find a lot of work. This culminated in me cancelling my dream of holidaying in the Dolomites and sneaking in the Lavaredo Ultra. So, no holiday, no A race and no money. Life kinda sucked.
PhotoI did help out at the SDW100 run by Centurion. I thoroughly enjoy volunteering and as a 'bonus' I now have a free entry + my A race for 2014.
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For July I had won a 2 night break in Devon in a lovely old hotel. We added an extra few nights camping down in South devon adn I picked up the running along with relaxing on the beach. For my birthday, I treated myself to running the entire Test way. Well, nearly, I managed 32miles before I rested up in a pub and the beer and food were a bigger draw than running the final 18miles. One to do again.0
PhotoBut best of all we moved into our home, something we had been wanting for all to long. Typically work picked up just as I was planning on taking time off to vamp up the house and brought low miles in Sept. I did get to North wales again for a splendid climbing weekend managing 2 all time classics, Amphitheater Buttress and Grooved Arete in decent weather. The latter I had been trying to climb for 10+years having been thwarted each and ever time by weather and crowds.
October brought more changes in a permanent job. Not only giving the hope of better stability in life but a chance to run lots of miles.. 9 to 12 miles back from work. This was gonna work for me.
PhotoNovember.. a strange month.. Settling in very nicely and then we find our dog.. she is something special to us and we are so happy to have rescued her and let her become part of us.
I also had a very reflective moment. It came out of the blue. I was running home along the Itchen with just the one headphone on and ran past what I thought was a fisherman night fishing, 20 yards further a nagging doubt took me back up the path to find an old lady in the freezing river up to her waist, in all manner of problems. Once I comforted her and tried, in vain, moving her out.. I went and found her husband in a nearby house and after an age we managed to get her back to the house. This was far from easy with difficulties ever step. What was conflicting is that she was a little hysterical and trying to commit suicide. Difficult to know what exactly to do and the husband said that they had tried help etc and would seek further aide. I visited the next night and all seemed better with the lady more embarrassed than anything. I can only hope it was a weak moment and that this scare will help her focus on living her life better and not trying to end it short.
PhotoDecember I became a dog walker. I walked and walked and walked with very little running. My only consolation was that for Ultra's walking is a good training method..Right? Who cares to be honest when you love taking your dog out out, sacrifices have to be made so until I find a routine that suits me the dog will always come first.
And that was 2013 my worst running mileage since starting 2 years ago... but a lot of changes and sometimes you need routines to enable yourself to find the dedicated time to train .
I ran 1260 miles (3 Ultras, 1 marathon). Biked 300miles (very poor, but did a C2C). 100hrs of other training (i expect this to increase with dog walking now in)


2014 plans.. fingers crossed I actually attempt more of these than I managed in 2013. I hope I can find the needed commitment to participate in all these. Good luck with your 2014 plans and dreams.

Jan - Winters tanner  (oops, that was a good start)
Feb -Punchbowl?
Mar - New Forest Challenge / and/or Ski mountaineering
Apr -
May - Apocalpse 50
           Sussex Weald Ultra
Jun - SDW100
Jul - Rest / wild camping / Biking
Aug - CCC UTMB (Ballot)

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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Best laid plans go up in pain

It rained. All the way to Wales from Hampshire. Miraculously it stopped enough for me to take in the feel of the mountains again. I was up in North Wales to try a plan I have had for a little while now. A variation of the Paddy Buckley Round over 2 days. The PBR is a fell runners dream goal. A target of running the classic mountains in North Wales in under 24hours. It's 60+mile circular route, takes in a staggering 47 peaks and 28,000ft of elevation. I was not ready for this, yet. Plus I wanted to enjoy my mountain running and this mainly means running in daylight. My variation would take in some other summits but miss out on others keeping it a little more compact and splitting the day up to 30miles and 25 miles.


Arriving at the campsite north of Beddgelert in the small village of Rhydd Du. The setting was idyllic, surrounded by mountains and penned in with a forest on one side and a lake the other. Perfect if not for the dark clouds and the ever present rain. With the tent pitched I headed of to the local pub to dry off and enjoy a couple of welsh beers.
Overnight the howling wind bringing with it downpours of rain sobered my mind. I fell asleep praying for better weather and the morning brought grey skies but nothing too threatening in Gods country thankfully. After a pub cooked breakfast I drove to Capel Curig for the first leg of my plan. I would be heading North west in an anti clockwise direction into the Carnedds, then southwards back to the campsite over the Glyders and Snowdon ranges.
Once I got going the excitement set in, this truly did feel like an adventure. It was a pity I would not be sharing this experience with anyone but sometimes you are better alone. Your own pace, your own thoughts and your own decisions.

Fast walking up to the first summit of Pen Llithrig I soon worked up a sweat and was able to remove my base layer and just run in a tech tee shirt, meaning although it looked grim it was far from cold. The views down the Ogwen valley were motivating, it all looked so close but knowing that it would all take patient time to reach. Passing the impressive Cowlynd Resevoir I was out of the muddy marshlands and onto steep terrain to the top. Route finding was tricky to say the least. I couldn't see any trodden paths, the ones I choose became clear that they were used by the sheep community rather than humans but all I had to do is keep climbing until I couldn't go any higher. Then it was a case of following the rollarcoaster ridgeline.
A run down to the saddle and then up to the summit of Helgi Du. Nearing the top scrambling skills were needed which were enjoyed and I looked forward to later in the day when I would be doing more longer scrambling sections in the ranges. I had, for a long time, been looking forward to this sight. I have wanted to climb Craig yr Ysfa and its classic long multi pitch routes for an age. Although I would not be climbing this today it did wet my appetite to return and climb here soon. The joys of the views were interrupted with the squeak of distress as I came across the smallest of baby foxes crying out for its mother. Not wanting too startle it I waited while he tentatively crept away from the path and found shelter within some rocks. He was the cutest thing and with luck I could hear its mother calling and so knew as soon as I disappeared she would come to his rescue.

After another steeper scrambling section it was onto a well trodden path to Carnedd Llewelyn. Approaching the top a change in the weather was visible, a cloud front was hugging the westward side of the mountains, the strong winds willing the clouds over the peaks only to dissipate once sheltered on the leeward side.
Coming down from the top I acknowledged another runner. We did a double take and greeted each other knowing that we knew each other from somewhere, but where? Then he had it it was Andy who I had run with for most of the Longmynd Hike last year. It was good seeing him and we chatted about past and future plans, most of mine on the back burner but Andy was looking forward to his challenges included the 80km Mt Blanc Ultra next month. I now wished I had signed up for this. We said our goodbyes and travelled in opposite directions. Me into the turbulent clouds to Carnedd Dafydd. The weather was certainly deteriorating, the viz went from intermittent views to zero by the time I reached Pen Yr Ole.


I had been on the go now for 2hrs45 and had covered less than 10miles. I decided with time limiting and wanting to try and run more than fast walk I went against my original plan of climbing Tryfan and Bristley ridge and headed straight down, the quickest way down, right. Mistake! The descent took over an hour to descend. With zero visibility I went on the wrong path? that took me too far to the right and after boulder hopping the path all but disappeared and it was left to my instincts on taking the best of the worst way down. I felt a little battered by the bottom having slipped and stumbled my way down 600+ metres of steep terrain, numerous slips sending a jolting pain through my lower back reducing my pace to a painstakingly cautious approach.


Finally at the bottom and enjoying a lamb burger and having a good stretch with the sun making an appearance.I took stock of my situation, with 4 hours now gone and not wanting to waste any more time and I set off running up the main path up Idwal and feeling great. The sun was glistening of the great slabs with climbers sporadically hanging from this classic rock wall. I questioned to myself what to do. I was happy to go up Devils kitchen but then which way? Left would take me over Glyder Fawr and Fach. I could then traverse down to Pen y Pass and take the direct route to Snowdon via Crib Goch or, I could go right and take in Y garn around to Eldir Fawr, down to Nant Peris and route find my way up Cwm Glas and the north ridge of Crib Goch and on to Snowdon. 
My choice was taken away from me from a searing pain ripping through my lower back, my feet buckling under the spasms. I did well not to go down but with 2 guys nearby I didn't want to start wimping out and so put on a brave face and limped past. Staggering around the corner I came to an intense halt and tore off my rucksac. I didn't know what to do. The pain disabled me into any type of movement, so I just stood gripping a rock hoping the spasms would disappear. I saw a rock bridge 20 yards further on which looked good to lay on and maybe I could try and stretch and crack out my back to ‘make it all good again’. 10 minutes of futile stretching where I examined myself and finding that bending over I could only just touch my thigh above the knees confirmed I was in a bad way.


In hindsight I should of just turned around and taken the lower path back to Capil Curig but, I was sure that I could walk it off, not knowing that the next 8 miles would take me 5 hours.
Departing the lake in solemn mood I trudged up into the Devils Kitchen. The going was slow especially when having to take 2 or 3 movements instead of the usual 1 on the larger boulder steps taking me to the shoulder and the Cwn lake then onto the endless scree slope up to Glyder Fawr, this was a brutal 600m ascent in under a mile. But, the decision had been made to take the easier route option! Hoping I could shake this off I still had 2 options open to me. Call it a day and get to the car or veer off at the castles and go for Snowdon.


I always hate the summit of Glyder Fawr. Not sure I have ever been up here in good weather and route finding over the boulders gets me ever time. I always seem to get to far over to the left. The cliffs seemingly barring your way to go anywhere. So skirting around these the summit expanse soon opens up and after another scramble its down the ridge to the Glyder castles. A mass of rock outcrops pointing to the heavens. It was here I meet up with Stu and Jo, some other Ultra runners training for the mighty Andorran Ronda Del Sims and its 13000m of ascent over 170km. The guys looked strong and had already taken in nearly 3000m and wanted another 1000m before calling it a day.

I, on the other hand was feeling bust and decided here to get to the car, my weekend of adventure was over. My back was no better and I knew would not get any better. Better to call it a day and get home to rest on the couch rather than feeling sorry for myself in a tent.
Feeling a little defeated I scrambled on to Glyder fach and climbed the unique cantilever taking in the spectacular views all alone on this popular summit. The descent off proved my decision correct. The mass of rocks made passage tricky each tumble causing a searing pain through my back. On the flatter sections an attempt to run brought abject failure and an over reliance on my poles for support. These poles were life savers, I relied on these constantly and without them my struggles would of been ten fold.

My thoughts turned to this last section and how perfectly runnable the terrain was, though I could only hobble up to the summit of Foel Goch. Not wanting to end the day, with the views and the warmth of the evening sun making me feel better I marched up the final hill rather than skirt around in a more direct, quicker route. The ground was mainly rough weathered grass, undulating smoothly for good ascents and descents. In front of me stood Moel Siabod and the valley forests hiding Betws Coed. Over one shoulder the Snowdon range was silhouetted in evening glow. On the other the stunning Carnedds, the horizon highlighting the ridge line I had taken all those hours ago. Behind me the Glyders, Fach and Fawr hidden by high cloud but Tryfan, my favourite welsh mountain, glowed in the golden sunlight, showcasing it's endless climbing lines.

Seeing the end in sight I called Lou to take my mind off the never ending stroll and to share in my anguish. Only to plod straight into a bog whilst my mind was elsewhere. It did deviate my thoughts off my back and into my cold wet shoes. Bugger.






It was a good feeling to be back at the car, the only problem was I could not get in. I lay on the ground and tried to stretch again, all to no avail. The thought of just getting it over with and having a few, no a lot of beers spurred me to tolerate the hurtful drive back to the pub and campsite.





Under 20miles (+/-2,500m) in 9hrs!! Hard painful work. I will have to return and complete.




Sunday, 12 May 2013

LDWA Ridgeway 40

You can't enjoy every Ultra you run but each brings their own rewards ensuring you return for the experiences again and again. My legs were already telling me that this was gonna be a tough day and within 10 miles they were hurting. Hurting bad. I was not enjoying this at all.

I was doing the Ridgeway 40 LDWA challenge event. This is the first section of the Ridgeway National trail on the Wessex Downs. On modern footwear we were to travel through ancient landscapes used by prehistoric travellers.

Arriving early in Streatley the morning promised good weather, although the forecast was for worse to come so I packed my waterproofs in my already overloaded bag. Unsure of what exactly each Check Point would supply us with I opted to take enough to feed me entirely for the route. I then made my way to the Youth Hostel where large groups of walkers and runners were mingling, whilst we waited for the coaches to transport us to the start. I had a quick introduction and chat with Paul Ali of Ultra Tales and wished him luck on his training run and upcoming GUCR, a 145mile Ultra taking place in just a couple of weeks. I then got talking to Pete as the coaches arrived and we had a good chat about his fell running in the Peak District and I talked about the lack of decent hills in Hampshire.
Arriving at the start we got off the coach and were told to start immediately which threw a few of us. Taking my time I went through my overloaded bag knowing that I could not discard anything but, as it was cold and windy, I could at least put on my waterproof top and get rid of some weight that way! Once I had sorted out the rest of my stuff, put on watch, mp3, buff, sun cream, etc I was on my way, slogging it up Avebury Down. Reaching the top of the first incline I was sweating profusely so off came the waterproof. Then not long after my t-shirt, eventually coming to a comfortable temperature with just my base layer on.

During the first few miles everyone was jockeying for position as runners were finding their pace as well as moving through the mass of walkers taking on this fine challenge. It was not long past Barbury Castle and into the heartland of the Marlborough Downs that the pack really thinned out and you felt alone, unable to see anyone in front or behind for long periods. I did pass a lady around here pulling a tyre!! Huge respect. (I have since found out it's TyreGirl who runs to highlight Eco issues. Great stuff).
I knew, at some point, the route took a northwards approach but at the specific junction I was a little confused as to where I was and as luck would have it a couple of approaching runners assured me this was the place to go north. It was at this point I realised my day was going to be a struggle. As they eased their way away from me, my legs had nothing. I had to walk the smallest of slopes and running was painful.  My thighs weren't just tired they were in pain. I can only think that this was due to biking 100 miles over the bank holiday and that my under trained cycling muscles were not fully recovered and boy,were they letting me know about it now.

Over the next few miles of undulating terrain I would pass some runners only to be re-passed when I slowed to a walk.  This process would repeat itself until suddenly I wasn't get overtaken any more and the people I had been intermittently speaking to had disappeared. This felt strange as I was increasingly taking more walking breaks. I think we all must have been suffering by this point. My legs were screaming at me and my mind was telling me to throw in the towel, play it safe and don't injure yourself. But for reasons unknown we all persevere and at the end of the day I could always walk it in.

The day was interspersed with light rain and threats of sunshine. What was a constant though was the wind. Pretty breezy but at least it was a westerly wind and we were running in an easterly direction.
Around this point I was looking forward to seeing the White Horse of Uffington. It didn't help not knowing where I was, my concentration was fading, and I had lost all awareness of my location. When I arrived at CP5 I was sure I had done 28 miles only to discover in fact it was 23 and that I had missed the White Horse!

My pace was diminishing badly I ended up trying to run five minutes and walk for one. I could only manage a fraction of that and shuffled along for a minute or two and then walked a helluva lot more. Only the sight of walkers up ahead had a motivating affect on me to run for longer than I wanted to.
The miles were slowly ebbing away and what, for an age, looked like faraway chimney pots were now the large eyesores of Didcot power station.

I enjoyed, yes enjoyed, a sit down and a cuppa at CP6 with the wonderful cheery volunteers. The sun was out and we were protected from the wind. Somewhat refreshed I told myself to get in some longer running stretches from here on out. Playing the mental game I considered how I could carry on at a better pace. One thing that worked was to imagine this was a training run for a longer ultra where you would be running on tired sore legs but still have a distance to go. This will happen in the future so why not get use to that feeling, accept it and shuffle on.

Around CP7 I began to pass the walkers from the 20 mile challenge. This helped as it enabled me to have brief chats while taking a walk and hearing the encouragement when running spurred me on to work harder and 'take the pain'. At CP8 I was feeling ecstatic thinking I only had 4 miles left, only to be corrected that we actually had over 5 to go. Bugger. A little deflated but fortunately my mindset was in a far better place than a few hours ago. Talking to a lady on the next hill, who had local knowledge, I heard the welcoming news that it was all downhill from the top and I promised myself to run it in from there.

It was tough, and pretty excruciating, but I managed it and with the sun shining I arrived at the YHA and hobbled up the steep incline to finish. Not quite ALL downhill then!

Overall it was a rewarding day but a different, more drawn out experience compared to what I am used to. Physically I was not up to this Ultra but mental will power pulled me through which can only improve my confidence of running these distances in the future.

Stats : 40miles +/- 850m in 7hrs40mins.

(note to self : Don't take so much food)




Friday, 10 May 2013

Devon C2C Mini Adventure

Timings were to be a theme for the weekend and whether we were just plain damn lucky, or the precision planning by Rob, it made for a smooth no waiting weekend, albeit, not easy on my ticker at times.
Rob picked me up at 7am on the Saturday and we headed west down to Exeter via Sherborne to pick up Greg. To keep me pre-occupied from Rob's rally race to Exeter train station I took on the Badger watch challenge which unfortunately got into the tens of poor badgers not making it across the road.
Arriving in Exeter the station was, typically, on the other side of town and we had 15 minutes and no chance, we thought, of making our train.  Fortunately Rob was still on the case and triumphantly not only got us to the station and onto the train with 2 minutes to spare, but managed to remember to take a photo of the parking number to call in. Although he did forget his arm warmers and hat! A small price to pay to save us from waiting an hour for the next train.
A smooth journey to Barnstaple and we were set to start our Coast to Coast mini adventure. A 100 mile bike ride from North Devon to South mainly along an old disused train track or quiet country lanes.
We set off on the Tarka trail going west out of Barnstaple to Bideford. We decided to miss out on the Illfracombe section due to us not starting out till midday and we thought we had enough on our plates already. We were here to take on a challenge but, more importantly, enjoy it.
The weather was beautiful but the wind on our faces was fierce. It was a good start though, making our way along the River Taw looking out to the breath taking scenery and the mouth watering salted lambs enjoying their last summer. The miles ticked by sedately. So much so, we stopped for a cheeky beer at Instow to celebrate the start of our trip, mmMM Sharps Doombar!
Rested, we saddled up for the next section down the River Torridge only to be stopped in our tracks just a short while later by a disused train carriage serving cake near Bideford. Rude not to try some we thought. The happy cafe owners told us about a small music festival which was on our route and we promised to check it out.
The going so far had been pleasant, only having to contend with the biting wind. But we had decided to stop in Great Torrington to pick up supplies for the night and this resulted in us taking on some tough hills. We struggled up to town then went for the direct route back to the trail, ignoring the warning contour signs on the map, and so went steeply down to a valley bottom only to have to struggle up the opposite hill top and then finally down to the trail. We had our wine though.
It was then cruising mode to East Yarde where we fell upon the music festival. What a find.  A small gathering of people enjoying the multi talented musicians playing easy listening tunes whilst we enjoyed a few fine ales in the afternoon sun. With time drifting we reluctantly pulled ourselves away. We still had a camp site to find. The plan was to set up in a wooded area a few miles away. When we got there though, we realised that the planted forest was just too dense and continuing on we could not find any potential openings! Persevering, things started to open out and exploring an old disused track up a hill we eventually found an acceptable pitch and settled down to camp life. Clearing an area, Rob starting the food, Greg poured the wine and I went foraging for firewood. Very soon we were all chilled out and relaxing after a very enjoyable first days riding, eating a scrumptious supper of chorizo and pasta.
(D1 stats :  30miles +/-600m)

Some people just get up too early (especially if they go too bed early Greg). Rob and I, on the other hand, had enjoyed the evening with a little too much wine. Greg was up and raring to go at it.  Donning his lycra gear. Thankfully he slowed just a little and made us a much welcomed, wakening brew with a bacon and poached egg roll. Lovely.
With heavy head and legs, the camp was cleared and we set off for part 2 of the journey. This would be a monster of a day and so the early start was, in hindsight, a good thing. The morning brought a few short, sharp hills which only emphasised that I had drunk too much. I was struggling whilst Greg was easing up these hills, or could it have been the streamlined lycra he was wearing? This part of the route was on dead quiet country lanes all the way to Okehampton and the visible Tors of Dartmoor.
Once in town we restocked with food and water and set off up the thigh aching slopes to the railway line, quarry pits and Meldon. The views out onto the moors and surroundings areas from up on the viaducts were astounding and highlighted the limitless possibilities to explore. We soon descended away from the moors and took a welcomed break in a pub we happened upon. A comfortable lunch was washed down with a fine Otter ale. All too soon we dragged ourselves away before ordering any more ale and pushed on to Lydford where I (we) got our only puncture of the trip. A quick change with a fresh inner and a, soon to be broken, promise to fix the puncture that night and we were on our way again.
In the quiet sleepy village we came across a small medieval castle and stopped for a spot of sight seeing around this little piece of history. On exiting we decided to take the summer route. Good for me, not so good for Greg and his road bike as this was the first proper stretch of off roading. Once past this section we had our first dilemma. We had planned to stock up on much needed wine at Mary Tavy but it being a Sunday the shop was closed. What to do? Go to a bigger town of course! Like a man on a mission, Rob went flying down to Tavistock while Greg and I descended at a more leisurely pace with the thought that this descent had to be ascended again at some point. In Tavistock we failed to find the 'Flying Andrews' but before Greg could profane any more we finally met up again. Rob loaded up with our precious cargo.
Due to missing out on the Illfracombe top section we had decided if timings were right we would detour off the route and up into Dartmoor for the night. With the day still young we took on a 400m ascent into the National Park. Not wanting to make this too easy we first went the wrong way out of town just to get in an extra couple of miles! The hill was tough, it included taking a needed to stop, rest and scoff down as many sweets as possible to try and get some sugars back in the system. But the thought of camping on the moors, and the pub at the top, drove us on.
Unfortunately, a perfect bank holiday weekend and the pub was closed!! We waiting around for half hour for it to open but when we found out it wasn't to open for another one and half hours we resigned ourselves to just having some wine once we found a camp spot. We went for the biggest Tor around, of course, the views would be the best. This was a struggle and was close to being one hill too many for Greg. Patience was fraying but, before the toys came out the pram and he started demanding to sleep where we stood, a swap to pushing a lighter bike and an energy gel was enough of a boost to make it to the top of Great Staple Tor. And boy, it was worth it. Magnificent, stunning panorama views topped off with a perfect camping spot. Hopefully the pictures can do it justice :




Having taken stock of where we were we climbed on to a high rock and enjoyed a mug of wine feeling very content after a full on day. We then settled into our standard routine quickly, with Rob looking after dinner, Greg keeping us supplied with wine and me, hmm, there's no fire wood up here! With no wood around I took a stroll around the surrounding Tors.  What a place.  Promising myself to return soon and maybe tackle a long run, linking in as many Tors as I can manage in a day or so.

Back in camp and food was ready. These meals are so good. This time it was chicken, chorizo and cous cous. With full bellies and our mugs full we lay back and relaxed as the sun settled over the horizon. Perfection was narrowly missed due the lack of a fire and the moist air, ensuring a feeling of cold dampness.

(D2 stats : 45miles +/-1400m).

Morning dawned and the warmth of the day started to flow into our cold, tired bodies. Another brew, another cooked breakfast and unfortunately time came when we had to leave. There is always a feeling of sadness when having to leave a wild camp. Taking on small risks, small challenges, unknowns and enjoying good company in the outdoor environment all amounts to a satisfying adventure.
A body shaking fun descent moved us down off the Tor to a bridleway path we had decided to take (we saw a car use it the previous day). The first kilometre was fine on a rocky, old road but then this gave way to a track of dried mud and rocks which was good fun for Rob and I but resulted in Greg having to walk this section out. With a lack of drinking water we pit stopped to refill in a stream we passed on the way. Soon the tough path was replaced by worn tarmac and we peddled our way out through the valley on country lanes down to Walkhampton and finally back onto the C2C trail running parallel with the River Meavy merging with the Plym at Dewerstone.
This was a fascinating section. All downhill on an easy trail passing through tunnels, crossing bridges, in between cut out rock faces for the old railway line, all in a deep wooded vale, surrounded by the colours of spring. Just beautiful and it was shame to all of a sudden then to be within the city limits of Plymouth where beauty was replaced with the trash of poor living, old industry and traffic congested roads. We quickly made our way through the mass of tourists, uneasy with the sudden influx of crowds and noise.We made our way down to the Waterfront bar, a fitting end to our mini adventure, and enjoyed cold beers and pub grub. At some point Rob, realising the time, got us on our feet for a quick exit and a sprint through town to arrive at the train station with minutes to spare. Bikes stored away it was not long before we were all sleeping soundly until we got back to Exeter. With the car fully loaded we made our way home after a very rewarding weekend.
(D3 stats: 25miles +/-800m).

A super route for all bike types and nothing too taxing (if you stay on route) so we could enjoy the tour and take our time to take in all that Devon has to offer. I'm looking forward to the next adventure. Cheers Rob and Greg for being fantastic micro companions and for the organising and logistics.

Overall stats : 3 days, 100miles,  +/-2800m elevation, 10 beers, 6 litres of wine and plenty of food.