Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blackdown Beast

After the Blackdown Beauty of last summer we didn't hesitate to sign up for this event as soon as we heard of it a few months ago. We were expecting a relaxing and fun outing with great countryside and company, and were not disappointed.

We drove to Dunkeswell via Pete Jakeman's house so we could give him a lift. We could have used his SatNav because Dunkeswell is well hidden at the edge of the Blackdown Hills, and we had to navigate several icy, narrow and windy lanes. We arrived half an hour early with only fellow YTRRC member Richard Dodge in the carpark of the Royal Oak, but the place soon filled up with car-loads of runners from AVR, Honiton and other local clubs.

Lin, Richard, Pete and I started at a good pace, joined by the famous Lean, Mean Runner Bean aka Garry Perratt from Axe Valley Runners. I'm afraid we rather took advantage of his speed and map-reading skills rather than attempting to follow the directions (or open gates) much ourselves. However the route was fairly straightforward, and well marked with vari-coloured drawing pins stuck into strategic posts, etc.

The high point of the run (gastronomically, not geographically) was mulled cider and pasty at the first stop after 6.5 miles or so.

Leg 2 was more of the same superb countryside with bright blue skies overhead. The sun was melting the frost, revealing plenty of deep mud to catch the unwary. The Pub at Uppottery was warm and welcoming, despite the amount of mud we must have tracked into the bar. An excellent pint of Otter ale barely touched the sides going down!

Leg 3 was about a mile of road, then across a boggy field, and a bridge, and up into the woods with a brief detour halfway up a private drive. We wondered why this collie was barking at us so furiously. Probably thought we were up to no good, or postmen or similar threats to house and home. On the way out we saw the private sign that we had been too busy nattering to notice.

Arriving at Luppit home of the Lollop, a race which fell victim to Foot & Mouth, but which is indelibly etched in the minds of those who ran it because of the start which is up one of the steepest hills in East Devon. Halfway up this was the pub - the Luppit Inn, a charmingly miniscule establishment with an 87-year old landlady.

We didn't stay long, mainly because the place was only big enough for a handful of customers at a time. Garry didn't even get to finish his pint, a shame because it was good beer, even though pulled from a keg sitting on what looked like the kitchen table.

Up the infamous hill, and then down a similar one on the other side into Dunkeswell, where Pete gamely battled for the honour of YTRRC against a much younger and more sober chap - apparently running it "dry" we didn't think that was allowed. Pete and this guy opened up a useful lead on the descent into Dunkeswell, very useful because it meant that they didn't see the turning onto a side road which was the proper and much shorter route back to the pub. So they did an extra quarter mile and a tour of the new housing estate at the top of the hill on the far side of the village and were a lot less amused than we were about it when they arrived at the finish to find us waiting for them.

Fish and chips at the start/finish point, the Royal Oak was good value at a fiver each, while we recovered and chatted before heading home, in our case well over an hour, but more than worth the trip.

Many thanks to Nick Thorpe and his team from Honiton RC and those providing the hospitality at the various stops. What a great event.

Photos to follow when Lin retrieves her phone from the pub where she left it!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year's Pub Stagger

Unusually well attended for a Maiden Newton Runners event, I think everyone had a good time on Saturday and thanks to all those who came along and made it a success.  Various Wessex Wizards and Yeovil Town Road Runners swelled the numbers and the weather was absolutely perfect, if a little on the chilly side.

We left Cattistock in two groups as some people did not understand that we were leaving at 10.30am real time, not 10.30am Yeovil Running Club time...however this allowed the slower paced runners to get a good head start en route to the Greyhound at Sydling where we paused for some well earned refreshment.

After that it was a stiff climb up onto the ridge and along towards Stratton.  We re-grouped at the Turning Point where we were lucky enough to find a cache of champagne to toast the New Year and nibbles to boost the blood sugar levels.  All downhill from there to the Saxon at Stratton where some of us took the opportunity to top up on the alcohol levels.

Another split into two groups with the faster runners putting in an extra mile or so around Bradford Peverell whilst the others headed staright for the cycle path, but we all merged back into one group before arriving at the Chalk and Cheese.

And finally the last leg up the river path to Chilfrome and onto the Fox where we were just in time for last orders - perfect end to a perfect day.  Martin has put some pictures on Maiden Newton Runners Facebook page (  but for those of you who don't have time to waste on such frivolity here are a few others:-

Heading out of Sydling

The champage break