A few weeks ago a new 14 (ish) mile challenge came to my attention and it was right on our doorstep writes Hamish Spence.
One of our Mighty Green distance runners told of his early morning jaunt on a newish trail that takes the participant on a picturesque journey into some of the most beautiful countryside around the town of Sidmouth. A trail that goes through parts of the town into woodlands, forests and villages. It weaves across heathland and fields, meanders along tracks and country lanes and over a few hills with stunning views. I had a feeling that this trail might catch the eyes of others in the Sidmouth Running Club.
I was not wrong and it wasn’t long before others in the Mighty Green tribe had reported that they too had completed the trail. Then I overheard a plan for an early Sunday morning mission to take on the trail on the last Sunday of January. A mixed ability group of eight set off at just after 8am from the Sailing Club for a steady run and warm up along the esplanade. It was then a slow climb up the Bickwell valley to Ice House Lane and a long tiring climb up Core Hill Road. Here, it’s a left turn and a climb over the first of many styes for the first bit of off-road running. It was straight into a boggy field and needless to say we all got wet, muddy feet, a theme that repeated itself many times. The trail skirts through some woodland and then up onto Fire Beacon, but not to the trig point. It was then through the woodlands to White Cross along the East Devon Way. At White Cross we turned right through a gate and descended down the hill to the pretty village of Sidbury. We followed the main road, turned into Bridge Road, over the bridge immediately turning right at the cottage. This was our first stop, drinks and snacks were consumed and photos were taken. Pushing on along Deepway we passed the cemetery and headed on through Buckton Farm to Harcombe. The route then took us around Knowle House and a hard climb up Paccombe Hill to the A3052.
After crossing the road we made our way towards the coastal path through the Donkey Sanctuary and Dunscombe Manor finally arriving
on the coastal path to be greeted with a cold head wind and a bit of rain. They group was spreading out a bit here with myself taking up residence at the back and beginning to wonder if i would be bowing out. My pace slowed to walk for half a mile
The coastal path took the group into the small village of Salcombe Regis and after the church, we turned left up the hill towards the monument. I managed to catch the group up again here just before they reached the junction to turn left through the woodland. We continued onto the Frogstone as a group again along the Coastal Path to Salcombe Hill via the trig point down into Sidmouth.
There have been more groups taking on the Sidmouth Ring since our group ran it, with a large group led by Terry Bewes doing it last Sunday (2nd of Feb). Some members have even tried it out in reverse and found it that the hills were much steeper that way around!
Shoe choice is a bit of a problem with over 4 miles running on the road. When it’s very wet, as it was on Sunday, the off-road sections were very slippery, so could have done with full studs. However they are not ideal on tarmac. We recorded various distances between us, but it’s just over 14 miles with the diversion around Alma Bridge. This is an excellent route and challenge with some beautiful views.