Wiltshire Winter Wonders

Ah the joy of winter running. No sweat dripping into your eyes. No exposing of too much flesh to an unsuspecting general public. No beetroot red face.

Unfortunately it’s also no feeling in my fingers, no chance for shoes to properly dry out between runs, and no chance of avoiding mud or ice.

Despite this, I’ve managed a few runs in this January’s torrential rain and freezing cold. I feel slow, heavy and unmotivated. I slipped over on the ice at one point when I stopped to take my hat off (“I had a fall!”) but I’m getting out and that’s all that matters at the moment.

Roll on spring!

Frosty sunrise
A rare day when it wasn’t frosty or raining
Always good to have someone cheering you on from the sidelines

Off Road Training 

After struggling at the Marshfield Mudlark, and realising the Wickstead Wander was fast approaching I decided I’d better do some training. So on Sunday I planned a route involving hills, mud, more hills, woods and also a tweak on a route I’ve run before. The beautiful parts of the run were breathtaking (although that could have been the hills). Autumn in the woods is so beautiful and so full of colour. 

Photo of Autumnal leaves
Imagine running through those leaves

Six and a half miles of beautiful exploring was exactly what I needed after another stressful week at work. 

An interesting point of the run was when I ran past a new housing development. Two years ago this was a derelict MOD site which sat atop miles of tunnels. This was one of the Government’s secret bunkers in the Cold War, and I wrote about how it looked here.  As a sneak preview, 2 years ago the approach looked like this:-

and today it looks like this:-

Funniest though is how all but 1 of the three ‘slope shafts’ have disappeared. I wonder if the houses are described as having “extensive cellars”?! 

Photo of remaining slope shaft
Just a small issue here still to deal with …

From here, a new route headed back towards the woods and so onto home. You know you’ve chosen a hilly route when you stand atop the slope you’re about to run down and think “I’ve sledged down here!”

So, training done.  Bring on the Wickstead Wander …

Happy Halloween!

Okay, so not *quite* Halloween but close enough. A short run showed me my allotment neighbour’s impressive pumpkin

Photo of pumpkin
Pumpkin. Sadly not mine

I then ran past the pile of wood waiting to become our village bonfire:-Looping back through the village I first passed a house that had peaked too early:-

Peaked too early. It was only 29th October

and then a house with a basket of windfall apples with a sign saying “Help yourself”. Would have been rude not to, so final few metres were run whilst clutching an armful of goodies.

Photo of scrumped apples
Scrumped apples

which were later turned into apple crumble and custard. Fabulous recovery food!

From the depths of the woods, to urban decay

In just a few miles, I ran from the middle of woods to a scene of urban decay, and back to beautiful countryside. It’s a varied landscape around North Wiltshire.

As I came out of the woods, this is the view down the valley
As I came out of the woods, this is the view down the valley

Along the main road, brings you to this abandoned MOD property
Along the main road, brings you to this abandoned MOD property

Contrary to appearances, this isn't a prison camp
Contrary to appearances, this isn’t a prison camp

A little further down the road and I ran through the small town of Corsham. My mental map involved turning at the old Police Station, so I was understandably confused when I found this:-

The old police station looking a little different to how I last saw it
The old police station looking a little different to how I last saw it

Another couple of miles, and I was back in the empty countryside again. Lots to pack into 7 miles, and I didn’t even mention the peacock in a cage I saw!

A long run. With many photos

I ran 19 miles yesterday. Well, I walked a bit, had a couple of stops, but mostly I ran. I also took a few photographs as I went along just so I could share them with you. Not because i wanted a rest, of course not.

The route I took went along a disused railway line which is now a cycle path that links Chippenham to Calne. My turnaround point was Black Dog Halt, complete with platform and beautiful gates. My son used to be train mad when he was little, my parents live very close by, and it was always a good day if they took him up there.

At this point I was heading to Calne (5 miles) not Chippenham (1 mile)
At this point I was heading to Calne (5 miles) not Chippenham (1 mile)

The start of Chippenham's very own "Love Lock" bridge
The start of Chippenham’s very own “Love Lock” bridge. I love Wilkos too

The view from the Love Lock Bridge
The view from the Love Lock Bridge

Everything but a train
Everything but a train

I used the platform to lean against and do some stretches, then turned around and ran back home.

Black Dog Halt. best gates ever
Black Dog Halt. best gates ever

Arty grasses. Just because.
Arty grasses. Just because.

Well of course I "woo hoo"ed through it
Well of course I “woo hoo”ed through it

Back home after a shower and a change, I loaded up a tray with lunch and retired to the sofa. Even Big Cat joined me – a rare treat.

All the essentials. Don't judge
All the essentials. Don’t judge


Purring massage
Purring massage

Farmers using Psychology

On my run down through a field today I spotted two signs, one on either side of the footpath both in a crop. Being nosey of course I had to stop and read them.

“This is malting barley to make beer. Please keep your dogs out”

“This is wheat to be made into bread and biscuits . Please keep your dogs out”

Of all the ways to get people to keep their dogs out of the crops, I thought this was brilliant. Self interest is a very powerful motivator!

Oh and for a quick kitten fix, these were my little cheerleaders seeing me off on my run today:-


An unplanned half marathon

I needed a long run, set off without a planned route, and ended up running a half marathon today. I ran where I felt like it, incorporated parts of routes run by my running club, stopped to find a geocache, failed to resist a set of steps I’d never noticed before, and took lots of photos.

Beautiful blossom arch

Peaceful River Avon

Best advice -" run towards the light"

Best bit of this run though was running through town and having an old man say in his broad Wiltshire accent “Oi loike your daps*!”

Who could resist these bright beauties?

Yes -I’m not surprised. I like them too.

* if you’re not familiar with this Westcountry word, ‘daps’ are what people from the north west would call ‘pumps’, and other people would call plimsolls. Caused no end of confusion first time I had to buy some for my daughter.

“Like a Bird on the Wire”

Ah yes – the famous Leonard Cohen song. ‘Like a Bird on the Wire.’ Famous throughout the world,  like many such classics this song has many people trying to record their own, unique version; to stamp their own personality onto it. (Yes, I am thinking of Jennifer Saunders as Edina Monsoon in ‘Ab Fab’ at this point).

However I think the lovely village where I live might have out done itself, and Edina Monsoon, this time. Forget “Like a Bird on the Wire”, I give you “Like a Duck on the Hedge”.

Like a Duck on the Hedge. Leonard Cohen eat your heart out
Like a Duck on the Hedge. Leonard Cohen eat your heart out

I thank you.

Thing I saw on my Run today

It was cold, I needed a long run but was feeling uninspired, so I tried to distract myself from the process of running by listening to music (through one earbud) and by having a good look around as I ran.

First up, thrown into a hedge, I can only imagine by a hipster who’d just heard that brown corduroy trousers had gone out of anti-fashion 15 minutes ago.


Secondly, whilst pounding the streets of middle England I spotted this. It’s health and safety gone mad, I tell you.

Look carefully


Running at dusk. On 31st October. It had to be a Halloween run! I passed a few treat or treaters on the lane, then running over the field I had bats swooping around my head. Very atmospheric.

Hallowe’en Moon

In my own little homage to Hallowe’en I tried another run picture (see here for my first, and more successful attempt). In my defence, it was a bit dark to see what I was doing.