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Two go trail running together!

Two go trail running together!

Postby Dave » 24 Apr 2021 15:21

This morning, my wife and I did a fantastic walk-run that we agreed was probably our best ever. :)

We drove the 10 miles-or-so to Chilham, a wonderful village that's right on the North Downs Way, with a big free car park and a small railway station. We walked a little under a mile to the station and took a train to Wye, the next stop along the line. Wye is also on the North Downs Way, so we were able to follow this wonderful trail all the way back to the car at Chilham.

I paused my watch for the train journey, which is why the map shows a dead-straight line between Chilham and Wye. I also need to explain that the North Downs Way (shown in faint blue) splits near Boughton Aluph (top-left of map) providing two different routes to Dover, with the southern fork passing through Wye and the northern fork passing through Chilham:

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The plan was to walk up hills - including any discernable inclines! - and jog or run on the flats and descents. But this wasn't a race and we were happy to stop to take the occasional photo. ;)

Looking back up the hill into Chilham. The car park is on the other side of the village and here we're walking the 0.8 miles to the station:

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It's been decades since I was last on a (non-holiday) train. The 6 minute journey to Wye cost us £4.20 each! Here, we're crossing the line to join the NDW, which passes by the station:

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Almost immediately, we were crossing fields on our way to King's Wood - just visible on the ridge to the right. The walk-run had several main parts: a gentle incline across farmland, a steep climb up to the woods, a generally level bit through the woods, and finally a steep descent that gradually levelled off as we neared Chilham.

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Another of several fields - and no problem with route-finding!

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Here we're about to begin the steep climb to King's Wood. This field was covered in cowslips, but the photo doesn't do the scene justice:

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I started with a thin Adidas running jacket over my very thin Rab base layer top. The jacket came off a mile or so back and the sleeves were rolled up - this hill at Soakham Downs was our longest walking section and accounted for most of the route's 800ft ascent (or about 1,300ft if you believe Google Earth!).

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Entering the huge expanse of King's Wood. This ancient woodland is part of the Blean and is well known for its magnificent display of bluebells. They won't be at their best for a few weeks yet, but we were hopeful...

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We were indeed early, but a blue carpet was visible. As with the cowslips earlier, the photo doesn't do the display justice. Oh, and that's me eating a flapjack... :)

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A couple of zoomed-in shots:

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A couple of miles later, we're arriving back in Chilham by The Elephant House.

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I've walked and run this section of the North Downs Way a great many times (and often with my wife), but I've never seen anything like as many people as I did this morning. There were scores of walkers - including three large groups - a good many cyclists, and a few runners. Without exaggeration, I reckon there were ten times as many people as I've ever seen before!

So why did we do a walk-run? I forgot to mention that this was the first 7-and-a-bit miles of the Pilgrim's Way Challenge 2021 - a 55km charity walk (and/or run) that we're doing in a few week's time. We wanted to test out the possibility of jogging a bit when conditions were favourable in order to get off to a good start! :)
Dave

Booked cruise 2019: December - Caribbean on Marella Explorer 2
Remaining land-based holidays 2019: July - Peak District, August - Harris and Highlands, October - Brecon Beacons
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Two go trail running together!

Postby Gillzajoker » 25 Apr 2021 14:46

Well done to you both - and the bluebells were beautiful. Good luck with the rest of the challenge! :D
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Two go trail running together!

Postby Dave » 25 Apr 2021 14:51

Gillzajoker wrote:Well done to you both - and the bluebells were beautiful. Good luck with the rest of the challenge! :D


Thanks Gill. :D

Actually, I was being a bit ambiguous in saying that was the first part of the Pilgrims Way Challenge. We've still got to do that bit on the day - we were just testing the ground, as it were! ;)
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Re: Two go trail running together!

Postby rdw123 » 26 Apr 2021 07:43

It’s been years since I saw a field of cowslips like that, wonderful to see. They seem to be in a bit of a decline. Another couple of weeks and the bluebells will be in all their glory. Good luck with your challenge both of you.
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Re: Two go trail running together!

Postby Dave » 26 Apr 2021 08:56

rdw123 wrote:It’s been years since I saw a field of cowslips like that, wonderful to see. They seem to be in a bit of a decline. Another couple of weeks and the bluebells will be in all their glory. Good luck with your challenge both of you.

I'd heard that cowslips are in decline, but they certainly seem to be thriving on the North Downs. I often come across great numbers on south-facing chalky slopes.
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Two go trail running together!

Postby Dave » 09 May 2021 15:25

Two weeks ago, we parked at Chilham, near Canterbury, took a train to Wye, then ran back to Chilham along the North Downs Way. With the North Downs Way running roughly parallel to the railway line, a number of other combinations of stations presented themselves. :)

Early this morning, we drove to the village of Charing, which is further away than Chilham but quicker to get to from home. Unlike Chilham, Charing has a car park that costs just £1 on a Sunday and ours was the only car there. This time, we didn't go just one station down the line, but three... to the lovely village of Hollingborne. The ticket machine at Charing was out-of-order and a note said to use the ticket office. But that was closed, so we got on the train hoping to be able to pay on the way, but the carriages were deserted - as was the ticket office at Hollingbourne. Oh well...

From Hollingbourne station, we headed up to the North Downs Way about a mile away. We ran along the NDW for 8 miles, before heading down to Charing - making about 10 miles in all.

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Coming into Hollingbourne from the station with the rolling North Downs in view:

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I was trying out my new running backpack today, which is my excuse for forgetting to pack my phone.

The result was that there are no photos of my wife - just ones of me. This is me somewhere near Harrietsham: ;)

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The North Downs Way runs parallel to the Pilgrim's Way for much of the time, but in this area they often share the same track. A popular photo-op is the pilgrim taking a rest on a bench by the path...

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Another feature of this part of the NDW is having wide open views across farmland to one side and hills (often wooded) to the other:

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Near Lenham, we paused for my wife to take some photos of the Lenham Cross, set into the hillside. Last October, I began my Virtual London Marathon walk to Whitstable from here. Luckily, it wasn't raining on this occasion!

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Another photo with me in... :)

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As we neared Charing, we spotted an unfamiliar animal on the path ahead. At first, I wondered if it was a stoat, but it was far too big. Also, I imagined that stoats wouldn't be white in May. We walked very quietly towards it, hoping for a good photo, but fully expecting it to vanish into the undergrowth any moment. On the contrary, it came towards us and seemed completely unconcerned by our close proximity. It was almost certainly a ferret, and possibly an escapee and used to people.

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With a mile to go, we were level with Charing and so we left the NDW and ran down through the beautiful old village and on to the railway station.

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This was another extremely enjoyable run along our favourite national trail - more are certain to follow!
Dave

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Re: Two go trail running together!

Postby rdw123 » 10 May 2021 08:16

Lovely photos Dave of a lovely area. It’s a wonder the ferret didn’t tag along with you! Many years ago we owned a 2CV, a bright yellow one we named “the yellow peril”. A very versatile car until someone skidded in the snow and hit the front of it causing it to be written off. Enjoy your walks/runs. I enjoy your photos.
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Two go trail running together!

Postby Gillzajoker » 10 May 2021 10:04

Lovely photos - Fred has a talent there as well! Great shot of the ferret, and the timbered buildings :thumbup:
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Re: Two go trail running together!

Postby Camela » 10 May 2021 18:53

Dave, you are promotinging your county so well, it might have to go on my 'holiday at home' list and this from an Essex girl :o ;)
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