The Sidmouth Ring
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.
Fourteen members of the Sidmouth Running Club ventured out into the beautiful East Devon countryside to take part in The Blackdown Beast on Saturday the 25th of January.
This very popular event is a very sociable, non timed and self-navigating 10 or 17(ish) very muddy mile run that travels through some of the stunning Blackdown Hills.
The Mighty Green team members were Jessica Raynor, Sarah Watkins, Paul Williamson, Helen Palmer, Millie Frankpitt, Cathy Keast, Monica Reid, Richard King, Els Laureys, Jane Hemsworth, Simon Hollyer, Richard Summerhayes, Carine Silver and Alan
They all made their getaway from Dunkerswell at 10:00hrs and headed along 7.6 miles of infrequently used footpaths to Smeatharpe where a reward of a delicious hot pasty and some mulled cider was served up in the village hall. Then it was just a 2.5 mile jog along some lanes and country paths which dropped down into the village of Upottery. It was into the Sidmouth Arms where more sustenance was consumed. The 10 mile option finishes here and so did Millie who opted to jump on the bus back to Dunkerswell and head to Exeter for the rugby…mixed priorities here Milly! The 17 milers continued along the road to Rawridge where they turned right, crossed the river Otter and climbed to the top of the ridge to the viewpoint above Luppitt. Here they enjoyed a non-existent panoramic view of the grey sogginess mascaraing as the surrounding countryside, it was very wet and misty! However, it was just a short soggy 3 mile jaunt to the Luppitt Inn for yet more very welcomed delights that any self-respecting public house would have on offer. Lastly a 2 mile section, cross-country over the Luppitt Common and back into Dunkeswell for a very well earned drink and some more food at the race Hq.
There was welcoming atmosphere at Sunday’s SW Veterans Championship Race at Sidford playing fields despite it having rained all night and morning.
As a result of the rain, the course was muddy, in places, inches deep and although flat this made the course very challenging, especially for myself (Ann) since I had no tread on my shoes!
The event was a competitive field and had attracted entrants from as far afield as Newquay, Bristol, Westbury and Salisbury. Most of the mud had stuck onto my shoes which slowed progress around the course. So, it came as no surprise that I crossed the finish line 47h05s later taking the wooden spoon. John Sharples fared a bit better than myself, but only a bit.
This run made John Sharples realise that he is genetically programmed to run only in straight lines! The course was a series of 90 degree turns around several rugby and football pitches. Every corner neatly sodden after the heavy rain. John commented “My technique was to apply the brakes as I approached each turn, with the intention of elegantly drifting around, likeTodd Carter in Dancing on Ice. Sadly this did not work” !
If you were travelling up Haldon Hill at 9.30am on the morning of Saturday 25th, you may well have wondered what on earth was occurring.
Around a thousand cars were queuing to get into the Exeter Racecourse for the first ever Exeter Epic Trail 10K which was organised by Tough Runner UK. This was a very popular event and judging by the club names on competitors shirts, was attended by runners from all parts of the country, such is the following and reputation for Tough Runner events.
Lining up at the start were Terry Bewes, Adrian Gripper Horne and Derek Blackburn. This was a chip timed race, so it was not a problem to hang around in the middle of the crowd and out of the chilly wind whilst the race got underway. The start was well organised considering there were 1200 runners setting off, but with this many competing, the first mile was very steady making it difficult to pass those in front. The first part of the course proceeded along and down a half mile tarmac road, then into the forest along stony paths and muddy tracks. Once again the Mighty Greens came into their element heading straight through the middle, while others tried to keep their shoes clean by shuffling and around missing the mud. This gave a huge advantage to the Sidmouth trio and many were passed. This was not a hilly course by any Mighty Green standard with only a mere 434 feet of elevation gain, but one where the hill training we get to do, really paid off.
For the last bit the forest opens up with a sprint for the finish being back on the tarmac again. First Mighty Green runner back home was Adrian in 55:25, first in age group at 330th overall an excellent result.
Derek was very pleased to arrive back in under the hour in 58:33 taking 2nd in his age group and finally Terry in 1:06:27. There were a total of 1281 finishers.
Two Mighty Greens Debbie Marriott and daughter Kate were helping on the stalls and Don Cawthera on parking control which gave them an entry into a different race .
Collecting their medals for the photo none of them looked forward to joining the queue of cars leaving the car park, but thanks again to the organisation it all went very smoothly. Praise goes to the organisation, marshals, First Aid cover, food and drink stalls were all first class.
Fri 28 Feb – Otterton Village Green Click here for details. Map.
Fri 21 Feb – Land of Canaan CP, Ottery St Mary. Click here for details. Map.
Fri 14 Feb – Newton Poppleford Tennis Courts CP Click here for details. Map.
Fri 7 Feb – Lime Kiln Car Park – Budleigh Salterton
Wed 26th 19:00 Sailing Club, Sidmouth. Beginners Group: Terry/Kyle/Alexa | Improvers Group: Tim M/Paul | 3 miles: Laura | 4 – 5 miles & Warm Up: David | 6 miles steady: Simon | Interval/Speed: Ben/Adrian | Floater: Hamish |Map click here.
Wed 19th 19:00 Sailing Club, Sidmouth. Beginners Group: Terry/Kyle/Alexa | Improvers Group: Tim M/Paul | 3 miles: Jo | 4 – 5 miles & Warm Up: Rob | 6 miles steady: Martin | Interval/Speed: Ben | Floater: Chris |Map click here.