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Two go trail running together!

Two go trail running together!

Postby Dave » 18 Jul 2021 14:53

We're extremely lucky to live very close to Clowes Wood, a completely open-access wood that's less than 15 minutes away on foot, and part of the 11 sq mile Blean Woods complex of ancient woodland. Clowes Wood is not only nearby, but it's also our very favourite place to run - bar none! :)

The weather this morning was very hot and so we headed for the shade of the woods for our weekend run. The plan was very simple - do a clockwise circuit around Clowes Wood using any previously unexplored paths and tracks we came across that looked promising...

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The woods are very varied; that's me near the start in a small area of pine. Pine isn't my favourite kind of woodland, but the ground is always great to run on.

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In the early stages, we followed a wide open track that we rarely use because the clay surface is usually either sticky and slippery, or lumpy and rock hard. Today though it was somewhere in between and quite pleasant. Being out of the shade wasn't so good though and we were pleased to get back under cover! There was a lot of willowherb lining the clay way (right):

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Somewhere in the woods!

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We took several paths that are usually perfectly passable, but which today made for tough going. Not only were they very overgrown, but the ground was extremely muddy. We'd prepared by wearing longer socks than we normally would have chosen, but I still got lots of scratches from brambles.

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Even this path at the edge of the woods which is usually nice and clear proved a nettle-y, bramble-y challenge today!

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Despite there being plenty of clear running, we did our slowest trail run to date, averaging just 4mph.

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Another small area of pine as we neared the end of our 7.4 mile run. One of the many highlights of our outing today was taking a few paths we'd not used before - including this final bit:

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Another reason for our slow progress today was the heat - even in the shade it was bloomin' hot! The first thing I did when we got back was to make myself my favourite cool-down drink: a double espresso poured over a lot of ice in a pint glass, topped up with cold soya milk and chocolate soya milk. :)
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 » 19 Jul 2021 10:46

You chose well for your run, Dave - I like woodland photos. Wouldn't like your 'treat' though, I don't
like anything made with milk - whatever the derivation! :D
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Two go trail running together!

Postby Dave » 25 Jul 2021 17:21

We had hoped to do a 40+ mile walk today between Blue Bell Hill on the North Downs Way and home, but with the weather forecast talking about thunderstorms and heavy downpours and the fact that my knee has been a bit dodgy this week, we decided to postpone it until next week (I hope!).

It's been a few years since we visited the area near Blue Bell Hill so, as a sort of reconnaissance, we decided to do a fast hike from a country park near Detling to Blue Bell Hill and back - following the Pilgrim's Way there and the North Downs Way back - and take a chance on the weather not being too bad!

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Although it's been a while since we've done that area, I knew that this bit of the North Downs Way has some of the most challenging sections in Kent. Here's the elevation map, which is showing more than 2,000ft elevation gain over the 13.7 mile route:

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We arrived at an empty car park at the White Horse Country Park on Detling Hill early on a muggy, murky morning. At least it wasn't raining yet... well, not much!:

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We went down a long, steep hill to Thurnham then headed along the Pilgrim's Way to the village of Detling.

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Just as we were leaving Detling, it started to rain quite heavily. We put our rain jackets on over our backpacks, which not only keeps our stuff dry but also helps to prevent us overheating. Despite the rain, it was still very humid!

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Near to where the Pilgrim's Way joins the North Downs Way at the foot of Blue Bell Hill, we passed the White Horse Stone - a neolithic megalith.

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A little further on, we began the long, steep climb along a byway to the top of Blue Bell Hill. Although the first section wasn't steep, it was very muddy!

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After an exhausting climb, we arrived at the car park at the view point on Blue Bell Hill. This is where we'll be dropped off to begin our long walk home one day soon.

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The views from here are wonderful - and even better on a clear day. At least the rain had stopped though, and it never really got started again until we were driving home again. It's an excellent place to start a long trek because the first mile is all downhill!

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About half way down the hill, we passed Kit's Coty House - a neolithic burial chamber. Without a map it's easily missed, because the NDW goes past it through a tunnel of trees to one side. It can be best to use the field margin instead.

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The elevation chart above has a marker at what was probably the steepest part of the route, and the slope is showing 33%. The hill here doesn't seem to have a name, but it's a climb that's well known for being really tough! There are lots of steps (always a bad sign) and my wife ran up the first lot - but none of the rest!

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I puffed my way up - hands on thighs - does this hill never end?...

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Eventually, the path levelled off and we made good progress for a few miles along gentle undulations. This part is wooded and the NDW runs along the top of a ridge, with very steep drops to one side.

Leaving the woods, we descended into Detling, then did our final climbs and descents over the rolling hills as we headed back to the country park:

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Nearly there. The White Horse Country Park is higher up to our left, while Thurnham, where we joined the Pilgrim's Way about 3 hours ago is at the bottom of the hill to our right:

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The BBC weather forecast had predicted thundery showers all morning, while the Met Office's forecast was far more benign. Of course, the Met Office was spot on and, apart from a short spell of rain early on, the weather was pretty much perfect for a fast hike. We did 13.7 miles in 3hr 22mins giving an average speed of 4.1mph which, considering the steepness of some of the climbs, a fair bit of mud and several surprisingly overgrown paths (this is a national trail after all!), we were very happy with. :)
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 » 26 Jul 2021 10:03

Wow, that certainly was one varied trek - excellent views and interesting stones - with mixed weather.
Certainly some heights covered too - wouldn't do for me, I get puffed stepping up on to the pavement! :D
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