Wednesday, 27 June 2018

O What a Beautiful Mo-o-o-orning...!

Well, what a glorious morning for a run! I really ought to get a post out while the mood is upon me, especially in the light of what I wrote a couple of days ago...

I was up at six, and at Burton Bradstock by about half-past. Apart from a solitary dog-walker the vista was human-free. Perfect. After a gentle trot round a clifftop field to warm up I headed off towards West Bay, via the Freshwater Beach Holiday Park and Bridport Golf Course. It was simply sublime, the morning air cool and crystal clear, the sea calm and as blue as you like. Apart from a lone golfer and a greenkeeper, fairway life was mostly avian: a few Pied Wags, Crows and other typical June stuff. Coming off the golf course, you drop down through a rough field into West Bay. The view was well worth pausing for...

West Bay is far from my favourite seaside resort, but just look at that coastline...

Then it was round to the sea, and up that vicious cliff path which featured distantly in a photo in the previous post. Arriving at the top I stopped to catch my breath, using the excuse that it was only polite to at least have a cursory look for the plant which Steve Gale mentioned in a recent comment: stinking goosefoot. I had actually checked out some photos online, so knew it was green. Well, there was a lot of green stuff on view. Loads. All of it supremely cryptic. I gave up and headed on, soon coming to the 'stairs'...

The steps on the far side of the dip are actually much steeper than these ones. Even so, a controlled descent is required here; those are proper cliffs, with a proper vertical drop.

After climbing that far slope you drop down the other side to the Freshwater Beach Holiday Park again. Arriving there I was reminded once more of something that they never tell you about running. Not before you first start anyway. No, they let beginners find out all about it when they are out for a run one day in the middle of an extremely public, built-up area, far, far from the nearest loo. Yes, that's right. One of the joys of running is the occasional digestive malfunction...

The prudent runner knows the precise location and opening times of each and every public loo on his/her patch. Well, let me tell you, The Freshwater Beach Holiday Park has a sumptuous shower and toilet block. Well-maintained and delightfully clean. For which I am very grateful.

There is a stiff climb up the cliffs again from Freshwater Beach, and then a smashing path along the top, back to the car. I finished off with another brief jog around the field where I started, a bit of a stretch, and then home.

As a birder - even a pretty shabby one - you can't help noticing birds, wherever you are. In Bridport town centre recently I glanced up and spotted a Peregrine circling, only the second I've seen away from the coast here. Likewise, this morning I couldn't help noticing birds everywhere. As it's still June I didn't bother looking too closely - except at Starlings - but I'm very conscious that autumn will soon be here, and anywhere along the Lyme Bay coast can potentially produce just about anything. I have very fond memories of Beer Head, near Seaton, and the many good birds I saw there, and running along this local stretch of coast reminded me of it very much. In fact, I remembered that we used to see runners at Beer Head quite regularly, and back then I did used to wonder how many decent birds they must have run past during the course of a year...

Which brought another memory flooding back. A runner at Beer Head. A female runner. Late August 2006. Yes, she ran right past a good bird that day. A really good bird. And flushed it...

Beer Head Ortolan
Disclaimer: may not be actual bird on actual date

Should I apologise for finding yet another reason to trot out this lovely little bit of grip?

Nah!

And anyway, it might just happen again. Right here on this beautiful stretch of coastline, while I'm out for a run. So, stay tuned for some sweaty-browed, bins-less stringing...

Monday, 25 June 2018

The Joy of Offroad

There is a satisfying, unpretentious pleasure to be had from running offroad. Tracks, footpaths, bridleways...all provide an unambiguous connection with the proper outdoors that roads and pavements cannot. The River Chess valley near Rickmansworth provided just such jollies for a much younger me - you could go miles and miles with barely a hint of tarmac - so it will come as no surprise to learn that I've been seeking similar routes locally. But I am beginning to draw a depressing conclusion: away from the coast the footpaths are mostly dreadful. Frequently overgrown, unsigned, so rock-strewn and rutted that you daren't raise your eyes from the ground and can't really run at all, or in some other way deeply unsatisfactory.

Here's a typical example...

This photo was taken on May 29th, following three weeks of bone-dry weather. Prior to that it was a lake.

However, when you get near the sea it's a very different matter. I've barely scratched the surface yet, but already feel quite spoiled by what is on offer locally. And there is so much scope for exploration along the coast here...

Clifftop view from Burton Bradstock, early morning. Just me and the odd dog-walker. Bliss.

Roughly 7:00am last Saturday morning, the East Cliffs at West Bay. Twice, so far, I have run up that slope. Well, not 'run' exactly... Anyway, it is as steep as it looks, and demands three lungs at least. On the top is a golf course, and a great view.

Regular readers will hopefully forgive the weeks of utter silence, and the blithe segue into running mode. Standard NQS protocol of course...