Running to the sea

Yesterday I ran to the sea. Since returning from Lundy island, I’ve been dreaming of more adventures. On Lundy, it was easy to do crazy things outside my comfort zone: sleeping under rocks away from the village, snorkelling with puffins at sunrise, kayaking through rough waves, and swimming the length of the island. However, in Cambridge and at home near Bath there is less scope for these sort of things (although I did sleep under a hedge a few times in Cambridge), so I decided to do a mini adventure. I’ve never really considered my house to be near the sea, but a quick look at google maps confirms that it is only 27 miles away. Judging from my experience running along the south west coast path last Easter (see a previous blog), this is definitely achievable in one day. To make things more exciting, I decided not to take a map.

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The start

I set off at 8:40 in the morning, having slept under the stars in the garden. The route was pretty simple: Run upstream along the river that passes my house until you reach a big lake. Run west from this lake to another lake. Find the river exiting this second lake, and follow it down to the sea. For the first few miles I was running at a decent pace next to the river. I found a disused canal partially filled with water, ducks, and reeds, and followed it for a bit. I had an amazing close up view of a kingfisher, and found a flooded woodland which looked like the sort of place you could imagine seeing a beaver.

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Disused canal with ducks and black headed gulls
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Swampy woodland

After about an hour, I came across a stream entering the river from a mysterious and ancient looking wood, so decided to do a detour to check it out. I ended up following some more streams and taking a slightly hillier route to the first lake. I was unsure exactly where I was for most of the time, but if you keep moving in roughly the right direction you will probably get there in the end.

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Trees
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Killer sheep added another layer of excitement

Then there was a little bit of running on the flat, to reach the second lake, which involved passing the yeo valley yogurt farm (probably a significant proportion of the atoms in my body originate from these yogurts). At around midday, I reached a sign which said 13 miles to Weston super Mare (the sea). I decided that, with 4 hours of daylight left, I could easily afford to take another scenic detour. Instead of following the river down to the sea, I contoured along the edge of the valley, through some woodland, bracken, and grasslands. There were also 2 very impressive gorges.

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A detour through the woods
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Impressive limestone gorge with rare calcareous grassland habitat

However at this point my legs were hurting and I only had 2 hours left before sunset, so after emerging from the woods I decided to run the last 9 miles along the verge of a main road.

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A random missile next to the road
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A boring route but faster than going on footpaths
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Funky graffiti
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Nearly there, but a bit lost in the urban jungle

My idea was that then I could arrive at the beach in time to photograph the epic sunset reflected in the sea. In reality I got lost in Weston super Mare, photographed some funky graffiti instead, and arrived at the beach at low tide to witness a disappointing sunset with no reflection, and took one photo before my phone died. In hindsight it would have been better to do a slightly longer off-road route. To get home, I got a train back to Bath.

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The beach! But unfortunately no epic sunset

The whole thing took about 7 hours and it was probably around 30 miles (google maps said 27, but I did some detours), so I was not very fast (I also stopped a few times to eat food). However it was definitely a fun adventure that I would recommend – it’s amazing how many different places you can experience and how much you can challenge yourself in just one day.

 

To see some of my wildlife photography and films, please check out my other website http://www.joshuaharriswildlife.co.uk

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