When SRC’s Becky (Bex) McDonald approached chairman Terry Bewes about organising a club outing to Haytor to run The Templer Way having previously experienced and enjoyed the ‘downhill’ route the weather wasn’t an issue. But it was no mean feat to organise as a low tide was crucial and the trip, which was put out to all club members, had been postponed once. Was it knowing this that pulling out was not an option despite a yellow weather warning or that Mighty Greens aren’t made of sugar as said by vice chair, Sarah Watkins? Either way, 18 club runners, some like Kerry Salter, way out of their comfort zone, boarded the coach at Teignmouth, having driven through heavy rain and flooded roads to get there. There was hysterical laughter when press officer Alexa Baker asked how everyone was feeling as the coach driver dropped them off in disbelief into thick fog and rain, Haytor nowhere to be seen.
Haytor is there somewhere!
Wisely Bex suggested the runners kept together to pick up The Templer way, a scenic and historic waymarked route linking Dartmoor and the South coast of Devon. With Richard King keeping everyone’s spirits up by repeatedly saying ‘it’s not cold though’, it wasn’t long before the distinctive granite rails were visible. It was great teamwork between Adrian Harris, Mark Andow and Bex for safely navigating everyone from the coach to the start requiring exemplary navigation skills and knowledge of Dartmoor in such poor visibility.
Running through very poor visibility on Dartmoor
At this point the larger group naturally split into 3 based on pace; the faster group had the advantage of Bex’s knowledge and GPX technology were soon out of sight, the second group realising their map reading skills left a lot to be desired teamed up with Clare Luke, Donna and Grahame Womersley-Westlake who also had the technology. The group still managed to doubt themselves mainly because the markers were few and far between especially on the road section which they doubled back on! On the outskirts of Bovey Tracey, Clive thought about diverting to the House of Marbles as he felt he had lost his a few miles earlier while luckily for the second group Kathy Jordan had remembered reading about going past the House of Marbles which put them back on the right track having followed Grahame’s GPX through some nearby woods. A quick chat to a local put them back on the right (cycle) track where the groups split again.
Following the granite tram lines
On reaching Newton Abbott, Yasmin Salter picked up her prearranged dry lift home whilst the other members of her group ploughed on.
You don’t go over THAT bridge!
For the second group it was where it all went disastrously wrong, having asked for directions when they couldn’t see a way marker anywhere, they ended up the wrong side of the wrong river having run around the edge of Newton Abbot racecourse! There was no time to be disheartened, the only option was to retrace their steps. A quick call to Richard in the advance party (they were already in Shaldon having waded through several flooded areas) put them back on the right track.
Richard testing the depth of the flood water
There are two hours within low tide to access the Teign Estuary shoreline, which is uneven and very slippery after heavy rain, never mind during it but this didn’t stop the advance party running on it. Although at least one member in each group slipped and fell on this stretch whether they were running or walking it. It felt monotonous at times having to skirt the edges to avoid the sinking mud but the rain had finally stopped and the sight of Grahame’s coat ahead in the distance lifted the misguided groups spirits as did the sight of the Shaldon/Teignmouth road bridge.
The Estuary path
Respect to Becky Knapman, Amanda Stokes, Stuart Moul, Louise Dalton, Clive, Mark, Adrian, Richard and Bex for running beyond the bridge to the official end of the trail despite the ferry not running.
Teignmouth in sight
The other runners were content to get back to the car park especially Clare who had not run for 7 weeks and the group that ended up running 20 miles. It turned out to be a great London marathon training session for Kathy, who doubled the distance of her previous longest run, had to dig deep to keep going especially when retracing her steps and kept on running through the atrocious weather!
Pleased to have found a sign!
To round off the day some of the earlier runners got changed and enjoyed a late lunch while Naomi Garrick entertained her group as she tried to prevent a flock of seagulls eating her well deserved ice cream before heading back to Sidmouth through the floods. A Mighty Green thank you to Bex and Terry for organising this memorable outing. Clive now feels that SRC members should be issued with care(less) instructions that read “Mighty Greens may still run even if immersed in water at 20 degrees”!
Smiling all the way!