I go to Smugglers Top

Wrote before about how children’s literature had a big effect on me and heres a short post related to that.

As you know I’m running a stage of the GBrelay 2014 from Beer Head Devon to Lyme Regis Dorset-It will be a night run starting at 1.50 and going along the Undercliff Coast Path , well it had to be recced for my knowledge. Working again yesterday at Bournemouth track I introduced 14 kids from Ringwood school to the thrill of brakeless fixed gear bike riding, then headed to the 18.09 train to Weymouth. Tonight’s objective- ride to Lyme and leave the bike,  then run the night section 8.5 miles and sleep in Seaton. Last time I rode from Weymouth to Seaton was to celebrate the end of The Great Tour 2010, seemed like a couple of hours so off I went. Slight error here- I didnt have the westerly map and there 16 miles of up and down hills to Bridport alone….decision to cab it from Bridport was made as I ground up to Swyre head- seriously steep. I had the work bike too with pannier so nothing like the rocket ride I did it on before. That section of road is well worth a ride by the way, the other side A35 out of Bridport is vile so wasnt too sad about losing that section in a cab. Locking up the bike and pannier / helmet against the post next to the taxi rank we set off and I arrived at Lyme 915. (So mission accomplished- Bournemouth train to Weymouth. Bike Weymouth- Bridport. Cab- Bridport- Lyme Regis. Run- Lyme Regis- Seaton).

Looking back towards Weymouth from Swyre head- love this view of the Chesil Beach, its on every schoolkids Geography around Britain lesson still.

Chesil Beach/ Swyre Head
Chesil Beach/ Swyre Head



Next section was the run. Turning on my new toy Strava I set off at 9.30 into the sunset. Had a map visible through the Alpkit bag, but didn’t need it to get up onto the cliff path, and start of the adventure, bearing in mind I had just done 16 tough miles plus work wasn’t expecting much other than a steady run. This is superb wooded wild country, really rooty, and lots of up and down, when on the down sections there’s all the joy of trusting youre ability to make decisions rapidly and trust yourself to not stack. Navigation easy and shortly I’m with the headtorch on to help. Again on these types of challenge its  me against the mental state of mind, I always say to trainees on Orienteering ‘Positive mental thought loops’

Full Moon Rising
Full Moon Rising


If I may Ill indulge in the post title- I go to Smugglers top. The aim of the game is to make it to the end of this hard trail running in one piece in the pitch dark in time. From way back when my kick comes from setting these sorts of challenges and seeing what happens, even as a young boy would get such satisfaction from the journey- the journey of navigation, and arrival. I read all Enid Blytons Famous Fives, all 21 as a kid, and loved them.

Smugglers Top
Smugglers Top


My favourite was 5 go to Smugglers top, where they set off through dark tunnels and this is how last night felt. Can you relate??  Blyton based her stories around fictional Kirrin cottage Dorset, where she lived and the running last night was fed by this, wildness, outdoors and self sufficiency. Silence, total dark and Moonlight were all that was there, aside of the odd badger crashing out of the bushes nothing other than the spiders webs got in my way.  There’s a section that closed just west of some cliffs,  but the  helpful locals have put ropes up to climb, descend. So I’m having this adventure and remembering all the wild times whilst nearing Seaton, not sure how far or long but looking forward to the sleeping bag and mat on the beach! Made it over and earn’t a cleansing Otter Ale before settling down on a perfect summer night under the stars.

Heres my Strava result-

what a great night run,   super tough, looking forward to the 24 June when Ill do it again in reverse- from Beer- Lyme, Ill be carrying the Casey data recorder and you can follow me on that here-  

Today- bus, bus, ride the road in reverse, train, now its time to go and judge at track league and do the Mcing. Life- Live it. Have a great weekend in the Summer.



One Comment

  1. Roger Thetford

    Nice tale – and thanks for the photo of my stage of the GBR!

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