Archive for November, 2013

Surrey Hills Run

Sunday, November 24th, 2013
The Ugly Truth!

The Ugly Truth!

The Juniper Valley Route that we intended to run!

The Juniper Valley Route that we intended to run!

Gareth, Laura and Anthony. It's not that cold Gareth!

Gareth, Laura and Anthony. It’s not that cold Gareth!

24th November 2013

This was the first event organised by the South Dock Running Club – Fell Running Division. It may well be the last if our map reading skills don’t improve. Having recently discovered that Anthony had entered the Mount Blanc Marathon we felt some hill training would be in order. The plan was to drive to Headley Heath and park by the arrow on the map (coming soon!) We would warm up thoroughly and set off on a 9 km circuit which would take us to the bottom of Juniper Valley and up to Box Hill and around the North Downs Path with spectacular views over the Mole valley with another steep ascent and a jog back to the car. Basically a big hilly circle. How could it possibly go wrong? Gareth and Laura are now well accustomed to passing the same things two or even three times after experiencing one of my “circuits” of Oxleas Wood (just keep the fence on the right and you can’t go wrong). Laura was a bit worried about joining the Surrey Hills circuit in the first place and once we arrived at the same junction for the third time she smelt a rat and decided to call it a day. Gareth either being gallant or also smelling the rat offered to accompany her back to the Cock Inn at Headley. Anthony and I thought we would push on a bit further. We headed off in opposite directions. Twenty minutes later we met each other running along the same path the opposite way! Undeterred Anthony and I ran on faintly convinced that it we head north west we simply must find Box Hill. The thing is Box Hill is a massive great big hill so it can’t be hard to find surely. It is Surreys biggest tourist attraction. We sheepishly asked a walker, the Ordnance Survey map and compass swinging from my neck. “Oh, just go down there and up the other side and you can’t miss it”. We had just come from “there” but thought maybe we will give it another go. Twenty minutes later we were back where we had asked the lady the way. Anthony by now had realised that I was totally hopeless with the map, “all the gear no idea” kind of thing. I don’t really like to admit how rubbish I am with maps but I had better own up and get some training before I get seriously lost. Prudently Anthony suggested that we should finish off our running by running up the three hills that departed from the bottom of the valley as a kind of three pronged circuit. We could’nt get lost because we would stay in sight of the junction. So that is what we did. At this point I took off my rucksack with the Sports Tracker and left it at the junction. We ran up the steps and down, ran up the hill and down, hopped up the steps and down, and towed each other up the hill and down. Then we did some short hill sprints. Note that the Sports Tracker was static in my bag so when you see the picture of our actual attempt at the route it didn’t even include these runs. Nevertheless there are FIVE runs along the same path on what should have been ONE lap! That is how rubbish my map reading was.
We never got to Box Hill, never saw the views!
We met up with Laura and Gareth in the pub and had a huge beef sandwich and a pint of London Pride. We had run about 9 hilly miles so all was not lost.

Weasdale Circuit

Monday, November 11th, 2013
Weasdale Circuit

Weasdale Circuit

8th November 2013

I have been up in the Lake District doing an Industrial Rope Access course with Gareth from work. It involved a lot of hanging about in the most exciting way. As it happens Gareth likes a good run and is a founding member of the famous South Dock Running Club (est 2013) so we planned on getting up into the hills together. We bought an OS map and found a few paths near to Teabay where we were staying in the Cross Keys Pub. Dave Ellis from Lyon Equipment, who were training us, got wind that we fancied a run and very kindly came up with a very promising looking circuit just a five mile drive from Tebay. It was a route that the local Mountain Rescue Team used to take on Friday nights after work. This was re-assuring because at least they will know where to find us. We managed to persuade Victor to join us. Victor was from Spain and was completing a series of work at height courses at Lyon and then in Aberdeen. Poor Victor completely confused us with people who know what they are doing! On a wet and dark Wednesday evening we jumped in my car in search for the run. It was pretty hard just working out where to park the car and after about five minutes running we were officially lost. With one fading head torch, a hand torch and another dull head torch we gazed at the map and compass and shot off through a woody lane. However there were no woods on the map. We stopped again and half heartedly convinced ourselves it was off to the left, but it wasn’t. After about 30 minutes of getting rather cold we eventually found the start of the run. We knew it was the start because of a map on a post saying “You are here”. We set off a little way up the very wet and muddy trail before deciding to call it day. For a bit of exercise we ran up and down a road hill a few times (Victor wondering why we had to run back up having just ran down – good question) then jumped into the car and had a goat curry in the pub.

However, on Friday after we had all successfully completed our exam we decided to celebrate and have another go at it. Victor wisely pulled out. Time was slipping by so we purchased more batteries got changed and headed to the start. This time we parked right next to the start of the run and set off. The ground was wet and soft but runnable as we followed a dry stone wall until the sheepfold. We then set our compass and ran SSW up the gradient. I say “run” but actually by the time we were half way up the 586 m hill we began to walk. As the light faded away we were afforded some spectacular views, just a hint of what we were missing by running in the dark. At the near top we found some quad tracks which led south to the first “summit”. Here the land drops steeply away then rises again until you reach a cairn on Randygil Top.
Time to celebrate with a massive chunk of marzipan. Now the cloud had dropped in and the visibility was very low as well as it being a moonless night. We set the compass and ran off in a NE direction following some rough tracks. Running again it was very pleasant but even with nobbly trail shoes it was occasionally very slippy. We skirted the edge off Green Bell (605 m) and relaxed into a 3 or 4 km run down towards the east edge of the enclosed field. We hit the road bang on target and ran the last 1 km or so along the road back to the car. It took about 1 hour 50 but could have been faster with more light. We joined Victor at the Cross Keys for supper and some celebration beers.

The distance was about 9 km.

Russian Meeting No2

Monday, November 4th, 2013

1st November 2013

Davy’s Wine Bar – Greenwich

Maxine and Dirk had kindly agreed to meet us for a chat over dinner. By amazing coincidence we found out about Maxine’s amazing exploits early this year when we saw a car with Russian number plates parked in Greenwich. Asking if Dirk was Russian he replied that he wasn’t but his girlfriend was (well Dutch but Russian speaking) and it transpired that she was planning to join a yacht “Tanui” to sail through the same canal that we were planning to sail through. In fact she was going much further than we were planning and actually stayed on the yacht for four months travelling from Tromso all the way to the Black Sea making if the first ever foreign flagged yacht to accomplish the task. Maxine and the Skipper will  be writing a book for Imray in the near future. I could not do justice to all the tales we heard in this little blog but we have convinced her that a talk at Greenwich Yacht Club would be well received and we are hoping Norman can organise it. From our chat we did learn some important tips. Firstly the Russian speaker is totally vital and it would be unlikely (if allowed) for one shared speaker to be enough. On a more upbeat note, there was a mere hint of a faint possibility that just maybe Maxine could be persuaded to do a little bit more Russian Canal Sailing in 2015?! As far as the 3,000 euro fee to transit the canal, Maxine did not think it was nearly that much so that would be very helpful for our budgets. It seems that some training in Vodka drinking is going to be needed.

I’m looking forward to hearing Maxine’s talk.

Russian Meeting No 1

Friday, November 1st, 2013
Charlotte Sykpes Vladimir

Charlotte Sykpes Vladimir

Then have a lovely meal

Then have a lovely meal

While we all watch on

While we all watch on

30th October 2013

Charlotte had organised everything! The team met up at the Pineapple Pub in Kentish town. I didn’t make it to the pub having had to bail out of the overcrowded tube and run half way across London. I joined the meeting at Ashcombe Street where Charlotte was staying whilst in London. I burst in to find everyone totally engrossed in a long Skype session with Vladimir from St Petersburg. Vladimir has enabled many yachts to pass smoothly through the often complex Russian bureaucracy and is generally regarded as a top dog hero to every yacht person who ventures into Russia. It was very kind of Vladimir to take part in this Skype session as it was about midnight in St Peterburg.

Present at the meeting was:
Graham from the Baltic Section of the CA
Tim hoping to skipper Thembi
John and Selma hoping to take Brimble with their family
Norman and Christine probably not joining in their yacht but certainly in spirit.
Coll Hutchieson who is hoping to sail anti-clockwise in 2014
Alasdair (me!) and Grit intending to take Sumara on the grand trip
and of course Charlotte who will be taking Svarte and the Good Ship Pouncer.

Business was conducted over a massive Bolognese with beer and wine.

Our big question was “Clockwise or anti clockwise?”. The original plan had certainly been to go anti-clockwise. In fact Selma and John managed to winter their yacht on the South East coast of Norway in anticipation. However we have now decided to go clockwise! Charlotte will transport Pouncer overland from North Sweden to Tromso in the spring of 2015. In the summer of 2014 Thembi will sail towards Tromso from Scotland, Brimble will about turn and sail up the west coast of Norway and Sumara will head out of London.

The hope is to rendezvous for some climbing in Lofoten on 19th July 2014 (Hey might as well give it a date!) before mouching on up to Tromso where the yacht will spend the winter.

In the spring of 2015 there will be hectic fitting out combined with skiing in preparation for the long trip around the North Cape towards Archangel to clear Russian Customs before heading to the canal entrance. Vladimir had suggested Archangel was easier to clear customs than Murmansk which was mainly a military port.

We have been warned that there is a 3,000 euro charge to pass through the canal and we are going to make enquiries as to whether there were any further charges to be expected.

Tonight Grit and I are meeting Maxine and Dirk. Maxine, a fluent Russian speaker, sailed through the canal this year on Tanui joined by Dirk for some sections. We are looking forward to hearing their tales.