Monday, September 13, 2010

A Run at Northam Burrows Country Park Devon

For my run this morning I returned to Northam Burrows Country Park  for a 70 minute run. At the moment my half marathon training is about concentrating on building up base mileage so I get used to running on a regular 5 day a week basis again.

My long run is based on time and 70 minutes is my long run at present though over the next 6 weeks this will increase to 1hr 50 mins .

I am continuing to use the heart rate monitor and running acording to heart rate zones rather than pace per mile. I am hoping by  this method of listening more to my body that I will avoid injury. In the meantime my Garmin has remained unused as I really prefer the on board coach which comes with the Adidas Micoach. This  connects to my IPOD so you are listening to music and podcasts but get regularly updates from your coach which cuts in  and replaces the audio from the IPOD as and when required.

As I was on my long run I ventured much further into the Northam Burrows. The early morning sunshine was bright but fairly weak and with a strong breeze kept conditions dry and good for running.

Plenty of golfers out this morning and I had to time my runs as in one or two places the pathway ran along the edge of one or two greens.

I ran well but on the sand dunes I had to put in more effort and to keep within the green moderate heart rate zone consequently slowed my pace. Another run bagged and home for porridge.

Listened to Darwin Deez on my ipod after buying the album of the same name. First cd I have bought in months from FOPP.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Boscastle Cornwall

On the way back from Tintagel we called into another village which I remember visiting as a child Boscastle. It is a lovely village with some fine walks around the harbour.

We parked in the car park near the River Valency and walked around the harbour and village shops. As we walked many of the buildings showed tide marks very high up on the walls as a reminder of the awful flood that occurred here in 2004. Very heavy rain for 8 hours caused a flash flood which will never be forgotten here.

Remarkably 6 years on the village is very beautiful and as a passing stranger you could be forgiven for not knowing that a major disaster occurred here. The local community pulled together and one year later after one mighty tidy up the village which is 90% dependent on tourism reopened.

No lives were lost during the flood which is pretty amazing if you watch the video.

Tintagel Cornwell

If you are ever visiting the south west of England and are in the North Devon area then a short car journey to Tintagel is highly recommended. From Westward Ho! the journey is less than an hour and is interesting in it self with wonderful views, hedgerows full of montbretia and as you cross the border Cornish flags proclaiming their identity.

Tintagel is home to all things associated with the legend of King Arthur a legendary British leader. Nobody can actually prove whether King Arthur actually existed but just for a day when you visit Tintagel Castle you can believe as you are sucked in to the aura and mystery of the castle ruins, rugged cliffs and dramatic views from this site looked after by English Heritage.

There are loads of car parks in Tintagel but give the first one you come to on the left a miss ( a friendly man advised us that if we parked opposite it would cost us half as much) as this is short term parking and expensive.

As you walk through the village every shop and pub has an an Arthur, Merlin , Tristan or Isolde theme and you cannot blame them but resist the temptation until after your visit to the castle as you will need all of your energy and your climbing legs. You can use the land rover service to get to and from the castle but you will miss a lovely short walk.

The castle itself is built half on the mainland and half on a rocky promontory which is virtually an island. The ruins are of a castle built by Richard the 3rd Earl of Cornwall in the 13th century. However there is evidence of occupation since the late Roam period in the 4th century. The latest thinking is that the island was a stronghold for the Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia.

The 12th century historian, Geoffrey of Monmouth cites Tintagel as the place where King Arthur was born . Son of Uther Pendragon  and Igraine , Arthur was said to be crowned king of England when he was 15. He married Guinevere and built his court at Camelot. It is said that Arthur is sleeping in a cave until his leadership is needed again!

You will need a good head for heights and plenty of puff as you climb up the steps on to the island , into the old courtyard and down to the beach.

On the beach we visited Merlin's Cave which was almost pitch dark but was occupied by some wonderful Cornish singers who made full use of the good acoustics in the cave.

The walk back up to the village was steeper than we thought but a Cornish pastie awaited!,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Run at Cornborough Cliff and Abbotsham Devon


It was overcast this morning as I set off for a run from Westward Ho!

The path I followed was along Cornborough Cliff.Initially although I was running up hill the path was good as I was following an old railway line. The route was wide and initially tar maced before turning into a green lane pathway which was good to run on. This is part of the South West Coast Path and apart from the odd dog walker was all mine at 7am.The  South West Coast path is 630 miles long and described as one of the worlds greatest walks. Very hard to compare walks around the world and what makes a walk good for one person might be very different for another but there is some really good walking to enjoy here.
There was an initial climb of around 240 foot to get out of Westward Ho!  I was running along the cliff path and above me was a hill known as Kipling Tor.The name derives from Rudyard Kipling, who attended the United Services College in Westward Ho!

The island of Lundy which is normally visible was obscured by  cloud. Boat trips to see the bird life and seals on the island are promoted in the area but I am not good at boat journeys so unfortunately I miss out on these type of attractions.

Beyond Cornborough Cliff the path became a series of ups and downs. This was quite hard running as once you had descended to sea level you then had a few climbs where I had to walk as it was quicker than my running!

My run this morning was around 5 miles - 2.5 miles out and back along this cliff. I think I turned around at somewhere called Abbotsham Cliff the return journey having more down hill running was a little quicker.

I am trying on this holiday to keep up with my half marathon training schedule and to date have succeeded.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Clovelly Devon

About 12 miles along the coast from Westward Ho! lies the well known fishing village Clovelly. The village has been built into the side of a cleft in the 400 foot high rocks and is mostly cobbled lanes and traffic-free.
As a visitor to Clovelly you park at the top of the village in a large car park and enter the village through a tourist visitors centre. Entrance for an adult is worth every penny and costs just under £6. We watched an audio film at the centre on our return from the village.

If you are a little worried about heights, or unable to walk up and down hills then you can take a land rover ride however you will miss the wonderful cottages along the pebbled streets and the donkeys which used to be used for carrying goods up the hill. Not sure if this is still the practice?

Outside many of the cottages you will see sledges or large bread trays used to bring things down the hill as they easily skim over the surface of the cobbles.
Clovelly has a rich maritime history and there is much to see in fisherman's cottage which has been opened to the public as a museum. There are stunning views in all directions and you need your camera permanently to hand here.

Clovelly is a privately owned village and has been in the hands of the same family for hundreds of years

The climate is mild and certainly suits the many butterflies you will see here. When you reach the bottom of the hill there is fresh mackerel and lobsters to be had though as we had packed a lunch we walked along the pebble beach to a waterfall. It is said that the Arthurian legend Merlin was born here!

The walk back up the hill will set your heart racing and we stopped for an ice cream with clotted cream and then for a pint at the New Inn Hotel.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A run at Northam Burrows Country Park Devon

My second run during my holiday was a morning run from Westward Ho! along the coastline to Northam Burrows. The weather was good warm and dry but the run was hard over a large area of sand dunes.

I really had to watch my feet to avoid going into the many holes. This was a tough run much of it over soft sand up and down dunes never allowing you to get into any rhythm but nevertheless different from my normal runs so the difference was enjoyable.
Sunrise over Northam Burrows

Northam Burrows is dominated by a large golf course home to the Royal North Devon Golf Club. The oldest golf club in England and I had to always keep an eye out for any flying balls. However my run was early in the morning and there were very few golfers about.

Westward Ho! from Northam Burrows
There is said to be a rich variety of birds, insects and wild flowers in the grassland and salt marsh area . Northam Burrows is common land which means there is a right for locals to graze  Horses, cattle and sheep. The path I was following was often blocked by horses and unsure of how they might react I slowed down initially as I passed but they were clearly used to people and were not spooked in anyway by my presence.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A run at Westward Ho! Devon


I have returned from an enjoyable holiday in Devon and will update with a number of posts on where I ran and visited during our week away.

Travelling to Devon from Suffolk is about a 5 hour journey in the car and we choose to travel on the motorways for a quicker journey , following the A14 , M11, M25 , M4 and M5. The M25 in particularly can be very busy and with roadworks can slow you down considerably but we had a very easy journey. The weather was as predicted very wet with some torrential short sharp rain showers.

 We have many relatives in the Barnstaple and Bideford area of North Devon so our visit had a twofold purpose to have a holiday break and catch up with the relatives. We stayed at the Golden Bay Holiday Village at Westward Ho! This is a tiny seaside village which was named after the book of the same name written by Charles Kingsley in 1855.  Kingsley was the author of the Water Babies. There are very few places in the world with an exclamation mark in their name and I believe this to be the only place in Britain.

Our chalet apartment backed on the promenade with views out to the Bideford Bay. Surfing is very popular at Westward Ho! and there are also wide expanses of sand.

You can visit a surfers web cam of Westward Ho! here 

My first run after the long car journey was a gentle jog along the seafront just to get a feel for the place. Strong tides had some of the biggest waves splashing over the sea wall and you had to be mindful not to run too close or face an unexpected shower.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Holiday in Devon

I am away for around 10 days in Devon with no computer access so no posts until I return. I hope to get in lots of running and give an update on my return

Sunday, September 05, 2010

An early morning run and a trip to Cambridge


An early start this morning as I needed to get my scheduled run in before a visit to Cambridge.

My half marathon schedule called for a 40 minute run. Using my Adidas miCoach pacer and heart rate monitor I warmed up with a 5 minute blue zone easy run. The meat of the run was a green zone medium paced run before finishing with a 5 minute blue zone warm down.

This was my 5th run of the week and meant I have totalled 23 miles for the week. This is the most I have achieved since returning to running at the beginning of August. Hopefully I can continue to build up the mileage in the next few weeks and avoid injury.

In Cambridge we visited my daughter who has just started university there.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A seven mile run at Great LIvermere Suffolk

Broad Water
I drove out to the village of Gt Livermere a village about 6 miles North West of Bury St Edmunds.

According to Ekwall the meaning of Gt Livermere's name is the lake where rush or iris grew.
I parked close to the church called St Peter and commenced my run setting of past the large memorial stone around the village before heading past the church.

St Peter & St Paul at Lt Livermere
The weather was sunny with lots of fluffy clouds as I prepared to set off for my long run of the week which is up 1 hr and 10 minutes. Today's run called for a 5 minute blue zone easy jog followed by an hour in the green zone medium effort running before finishing with another 5 minutes of easy running.

Oldbroom Plantation
Looking towards Ampton
Gt Livermere is dominated by the large Livermere Park.I entered through an impressive gate house with large pillars. Once in the park it appears to be something of a wildlife sanctuary for bird life.  The park is over 400 acres and I literally had the run of the place to myself as I never saw anyone else during my 70 minute run.

Every where there were geese not only on the large lake called Broad Waters but all over the estate. The former house of the estate built in 1700 was demolished in the 1920's.

Ampton Water
There is a right of way path which takes you through the park emerging at the village of Ampton. Looking at the Ordnance Survey Map Explorer 229 I thought I would follow a marked pathway which would take me on a circular journey around the estate and village.  The run was on a mixture of soft sandy paths, flint pathways , woodland trails and fields.

Initially I crossed the lake at a narrow part known as Long Water. From here there are some views of St Peter & St Paul a derelict church in the village of Little Livermere. I tried running there once only to find keep out signs.

Footbridge at Ampton Water
Gt Livermere
The right of way path takes you away from the lake on a direct route to the village of Ampton. You emerge out of the park through the gatehouses on the Ampton side of the estate but I wasn;t choosing that route today. Instead I took a left turn following a small sign that could be easily missed directly across fields. As the fields had recently been ploughed I found I was running in and out of the furrows. This was difficult to master so as to avoid running like a crab as one moment you might find one foot in the furrow and the other on the ridge.

This short field section took me back to the lake in the section known as Ampton Water. There is a lovely footbridge to cross over and with beautiful views in all directions you just want to keep crossing the lake over and over again.

Ampton Water
Once over the bridge you enter woodland known as the Oldbroom Plantation. I was expecting to run about a kilometre in the woods before returning to Great Livermere by the road. However after several twists and turns in the lovely cool wood the pathway was blocked by some felled trees. Initially I decided to do a U turn but I decided to see if I could get over or round the trees. After being stung on the legs a few times I admitted defeat and turned around. It was a pity not to be able to complete the circular run but it gave me an excuse to run over the footbridge again.

I then had time to run over to Ampton and the far side of the estate. My longest run to date went well albeit at a slow pace . I am just aiming for time and distance on my feet with my training at the moment. The schedule I am following has yet to introduce any harder paced intervals.

Footpath at Livermere Park
This really is a great place to run so peaceful and quiet. I guess at weekends you are more likely to bump into the odd birdwatcher or walker or farmer. As you run through this park you are filled with thoughts of the former history of this estate which was in private hands for over 200 years.

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