Sunday, 11 September 2011

Wistanstow Walk - 10/09/2011

A rather disorganised start as I realise I haven't checked to see if anyone
knows where they're going, Em laughs, and Drew just looks strong...
Photo courtesy Al Tye
Despite being named the Wistanstow Walk, this was very definitely a run for us!

The Walk is a Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) event, organised by Phil Clarke (also of Mercia Fell Runners). I'd entered as practise for the hike and Em wanted to see if she could do a marathon (the route was about 26.5 miles).

We set off from Wistanstow at just after 8:30, running with Em's colleague Drew and heading gently up a road and lane to reach a footpath which dropped down through a little wooded dingle to Horderley, where Al Tye was waiting to take our pictures as we crossed the bridge over the River Onny. Climbing out of the village to the west we reached the first "SC" (self clip) checkpoint and clipped our tallies (2 miles, 28 min).

Em and Drew on a farm lane about a mile into the route
The three of us at Horderley Bridge, two miles down, 24 to go!
Photo courtesy Al Tye
The next leg took us across fields and along the edge of a wood, down a peculiar little ridge and then about a 1km section of road to Edgton. We joined up with three guys from Stretton including Dave who marshalls some of our races, and spent the next 10 miles or so leapfrogging them. At Edgton the outward and inbound routes divided. We headed south then south west, climbing gently to skirt the pass through a wood before dropping down a steady slope into Kempton, where we crossed the river to reach the first manned "CP" (checkpoint), at 6.5 miles, in 1 hr 24 min. This was the back of someone's car, but there was a very welcome cup of squash to sustain us on the next leg.

The climb out of Horderley
Em at about mile 4, with the south end of the Long Mynd behind
This climbed steeply up Clunton Hill, passing through another section of wood before dropping down and passing through Clunton. Em was on home ground now, having used the next section of the route before on horse rides to the Welsh coast. Drew was struggling a bit with an ankle injury he kept aggravating and we didn't run much despite easy flatish ground through the woods to SC2 at 10.25 miles (2:16).

The Stretton boys, Drew, Em and Colin Williamson climbing Clunton Hill
Me and Drew, running through Clunton
Photo courtesy Al Tye
Em, a few yards behind us at Clunton
Photo courtesy Al Tye
The next leg was the shortest, dropping down mostly on minor roads to reach a scenic ford and footbridge on the edge of Clun.

Drew, entering Clun
Em, followed by the Stretton lads, on the way into Clun
CP2 (11.5 miles, 2:34) was in Clun Fire Station (the walk is supported by Shropshire Fire and Rescue and in aid of the Fire Fighters' Charity and Wistanstow Under 5s). I adjusted my footwear, topped up the painkilling gel on my ankle sprain (left) and achilles (right), scoffed a quick bowl of fruit cocktail, and we headed off.

On the hill from Clun towards Bury Ditches, we reluctantly bid farewell to Drew and started to run on ahead. The next self clip, SC3 (13.5 miles and just over half way, reached in 3:03) was at the south edge of the woods by Bury Ditches. We ran on down to Acton and then across the A488 before climbing a couple of hundred feet and skirting Blakeridge wood to reach SC4 (15.75 miles, 3:31).

Em with the map out, under Blakeridge Wood, just before CP4. I was pleased
 to have a long break from navigating on the leg from Clun to BC - you lose
 concentration and can make silly mistakes after a while...
The route then dropped down to Colebatch with glorious views north to the upper Onny Valley, surrounded by the Stiperstones and Long Mynd.

Fantastic panorama of the Upper Onny Valleys from above Colebatch
From Colebatch the ground was easier, across fields before quite suddely entering Bishop's Castle and reaching CP3 at the Fire Station there (17.5 miles and 3:56). I had another bowl of fruit cocktail and Em and I both had a cup of weak warm tea which we drank on the run out of town. Fortunately BC youths don't seem to have caught on to torching litter bins so we could dump the cups easily enough.

We climbed across fields to Oakeley Farm and then steeply up through woodland (SC5, 4:20) to reach a path with traversed the north side of Oakeley Mynd about 50' below the top. Coming down we saw Al Tye again, parked up on a farm lane just above Totterton.

Running down from Oakeley Mynd to Totterton: neither of us looking
too tired after 19.5 miles
Photo courtesy Al Tye
We'd been running behind a couple who seemed to be going faster than us an were surprised as they caught us up and passed us on the road to Plowden - they'd had a nav muck-up on Oakeley Mynd somehow and we'd passed them without seeing them. Em started to suffer a bit on this section with sore hips and knees - I'm sure this is what happens to all fellrunners when we run on the road, and nothing to do with the distance travelled! We reached the Plowden checkpoint (21.5 miles and 4:52) pretty much together, with Dick Scroop (Mercia ultra-running legend) just behind us. I had more squash and some kind of jaffa cake on steroids which was unbelievably sweet without being sickly, just what I needed. By now we realised we were going to finish...

The last big climb was a sod though, and started right after we'd made our only nav mistake of the day, going a hundred yards too far down the road as we sorted our bottles etc out from the checkpoint. We seemed to climb up through Plowden Woods for ages, and drop down on the other side very little as we reached Edgton. We made a fairly determined effort on the road section here and had the couple in front of us in sight most of the time as we returned to SC1 (now SC6) at 24 miles (5:29).

We were there with 31 minutes to go before six hours were up, but it was a long two miles back to Wistanstow, with the climb up out of the dingle seeming to take ages, and the final mile of farm track and then road taking it out of both of us. We did manage a decent run down the road to the Village Hall and crashed through the doors together to finish 19th equal in 5 hours 58 minutes.

My GPS made it 26.6 miles in all and surprisingly 4,080' of ascent. I'd felt fairly comfortable all round, apart from having to manage pre-existing aches and pains (right achilles and bruised toe, left ankle sprain) and one new one a soreness at the left edge of the top of the tongue on my right shoe. I used the Saucony Peregrines with new Sorbothane insoles in and these worked well, with no blisters and only the tongue problem, which I'll try to solve before the hike...

A great day was rounded off with beer, hotpot and dancing at a fellrunning ceilidh in Church Stretton school.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Jim, I finally know what you guys look like, having held one of the gates open near the start, so I will say "Hello" next time our paths cross.

    It's just taken me ages to do my write up, I took that many pictures !

    Cracking time.