I am lucky enough to live by the sea, which makes for some fantastic running routes, but as much as I love the variations of the coast path and the crashing waves cheering me on, I have a particular fascination with the moors so when ever I get the chance I head inland for my moorland fix.
Until I took up this challenge, a trip over to Dartmoor involved nothing more strenuous than making a flask of coffee and a picnic and finding somewhere quiet to soak up the silence. These days, however, I find myself taking in a wholly different view of the moors. There is something quite remarkable about a long ribbon of road stretching ahead for miles through the wilderness, far from seeming daunting and never ending, it inspires me onwards, and rather than the aching relief when I come to the end of one of my usual routes there is always a kind of regret when I finish a run on the moor. I could have gone further, run for longer...
Last week I was lucky enough to don my running shoes and head out across both Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. We hit Dartmoor later in the day than we had planned. As is so often the case, shopping and errands took twice as long as expected and it was already late afternoon when we arrived. And cold! Boy, was it cold! It's the first time I've run on a truly cold day and for the first mile I was really having to force myself to carry on, to focus on my feet pounding the tarmac rather than the burning in my ears and my bitter cold fingers. I don't know if it really warmed up, or if I simply became numb to the pain, but beyond that first mile it seemed milder, less distracting.
Andy, as he usually does, followed my progress in the car, hopping from lay by to car park along the way, occasionally slowing as he passed me to offer advice or correct my stride. It's always interesting when he does this. He picks up on things I would never notice, and for a novice like me that's very useful...even if I do find it frustrating when he says 'OK, that's enough for today'. At one point I wondered what on earth I was doing wrong when he was wildly gesticulating from the side of the road, until I was close enough that the wind didn't snatch his voice away before it reached me, and he was yelling 'TURN AROUND'. Still not understanding I followed his instructions to be greeted by a spectacular rainbow stretching across the moor behind me.
Unfortunately we didn't have the camera ready in time to capture the magnificent display, but as it turned out that was fine, Mother Nature wasn't finished with me yet.
The cold was less noticeable, and I felt I could go on much further but dusk was lowering across that wide, open sky so Andy reigned me in with the promise of another run on the moor the next day.
And so it was that Saturday afternoon saw me enjoying my first ever proper off road run. Oh, I've run sections of the coast path before as part of a longer run, but for the first time I was to head out across open moorland.
This time it was Bodmin Moor, and we parked up at Minions. I had in mind a circular route, of about three or four miles, heading out past The Hurlers Stone Circle into the wilds, and coming back via the Cheesewring. With the Levellers on my MP3 and the wind in my hair, I set out on my new adventure.
It had rained heavily during the night, and the ground was very boggy indeed, but my new NB's coped admirably with the terrain, draining well leaving my feet wet but not soggy and uncomfortable.
I didn't really mind the wet though, it was a small price to pay for sights like these.