This morning I set off bright and early to meet Kim. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the walk along the river to our meeting point at Woodmill was lovely. The morning air was cool and I was singing a little song in my head as I walked. Heat might become an issue later in the day but I was fairly confident this was going to be a beautiful, if rather long, walk.
Plotting routes for long training walks isn’t always easy, especially if you want to keep things interesting. An out and back route is the easiest but it means covering the same ground twice and I much prefer a circular walk. After a lot of messing about with maps I thought I had a fairly interesting eighteen mile route planned but there was one fly in the ointment. Avoiding walking along Wide Lane twice meant taking the trail across Monks Brook Meadows and, with all the building work going on there, I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to get through. Luckily, Commando had a session at the Running School this afternoon so I thought I’d check out the footpath while he was being tortured.
After our sodden sixteenish miles last week and our equally wet weekend hill adventure, this week was all about shorter walks and hills. On Monday morning it was nice to see clear blue skies when I set out to meet Kim at Woodmill. The downside to the blue sky was the heat, even before eight in the morning, but I guess you can’t have everything and we were only planning to walk eight miles anyway.
This morning began with an early drive to the airport to drop Commando and Rob off. They were catching a train, not a plane, heading for Winchester and a summer social run with a small group of Hamwic Harriers. Kim and I would be conquering a few hills around Mansbridge while we waited for them to come back. It all sounded great, apart from the fact it was raining again.
Romsey is the newest parkrun in Hampshire and, since the first event back in March, we’ve been meaning to check it out. This parkrun is held on the playing fields of Mountbatten School, near the Broadlands Estate in Romsey, home of the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma. The course is more or less flat and mostly on grass, which was good news for Rob who has been suffering with a heel problem since Thunder Run.
Sixteen miles isn’t an easy distance to walk, at least not for most normal mortals. It’s the point when everything starts to feel tough and muscles start to protest. Knowing this, I’d spent some time planning an interesting route with some really pretty bits in the second half to take Kim’s mind off her aching legs and feet. In fact I was looking forward to it because I’d found an unexplored footpath that I was fairly sure would take us onto the Itchen Navigation at Kiln Lane. It was one I’d passed many times but had never actually walked.
After a night of alarmingly high winds, Southampton Common looked a little the worse for wear when we arrived this morning. There were leaves, twigs and even small branches littering the path as we headed towards the start area. As this path is also part of the course, it was a bit of a worry but we knew ED Rob, RD Kate and park ranger Ian would have walked or cycled round the course to do a risk assessment.
Feeling almost unreasonably excited, or at least I was, we walked across the expanse of rough grass towards the peculiar little monument. It had the look of a tiny white church with a triangular spire sitting on a steep sided grassy mound. If I hadn’t known better I could have thought the mound beneath the monument was one of the ancient burial mounds I’d read about on the big map earlier. In fact is is a burial mound of a very different kind.
Today was Commando’s birthday and it really should have been his day to do what he wanted. After all the card and present opening though, it seemed he wanted to take me for a walk. It’s no secret that I’ve been a little worried about all the hills at the end of the Clarendon Marathon, especially Farley Mount. Things don’t tend to get called ‘mount’ unless they’re pretty high after all.
One of the worrying things about the Clarendon Marathon, apart from having to walk twenty six point two miles in under eight hours, is the last five miles. By all accounts they are very hilly, including a trek up Farley Mount (the Mount part is a particular worry). With this in mind I thought our short walks should be hilly ones. On Sunday morning I scouted out part of today’s eight mile route and I was fairly sure Kim wouldn’t thank me for it, at least not today. Maybe on Marathon day though, she would.