A very Nietzche-esque thing to do

If there is one thing that running teaches you, it is perseverance.  I thought this as I walked home on Friday night with three heavy bags of shopping, stopping only once to answer my mobile.  And I thought it again this morning as I ran off down the road aiming for a slightly longer than normal run.

Which is why I started off at a sensible pace, one that neither Nick nor Cliff can run at: slow!

I headed out to Oldlands Mill, but then rather than take the Ditchling route I turned right and dropped down into Hassocks, running through the back-streets to the station.  In an attempt to find some new paths I ended up running down more back-streets before emerging to the south of the village and running to Clayton at the base of the Downs.

Here the path takes the scarp slope head on and I engaged low gear and kept running as far as Jack & Jill.  Recognising that I normally walk across the car-park before carrying on up the hill (effectively breaking the hill into two) I decided just to keep going for a change.  I might not have stopped, but I have to confess to having had a little help… in the form of a couple of jelly babies.  Well, two at the bottom of the hill and two more at the very top to be exact.

I then ran across to Ditchling Beacon and whilst I had loosely planning to continue running towards Lewes, something caught my eye.  It was a group of three people contemplating a matched pair of barbed wire fences in the corner of a field.  I stopped to offer assistance, although since two of them were in their elegant seventies, I guess that they weren’t about to take me up on my offer.

Agreeing that the best way for them to go was back the way they had come, I then took the path in front of me which lead all the way down to Westmeston.  But on reaching Westmeston, a strange thought occurred to me, worthy of Cliff or Pete.  Why not run back up the hill?  

I was all out of reasons so I headed back aloft, taking the path goes pretty much directly from the bottom to the top.  At the top I chatted briefly to the group who had also made it back to the safety of the stile, before I headed off back towards the Beacon.  Nietzche would have been proud!

I took the path down before the road, but half way down my sense of curiosity took me off to the left from normal, across up-slope from a house with a tennis court to the beacon road and down to the car park at the bottom of the hill.  Here I turned left along Underhill Lane and then right onto the path that leads to Ditchling.  The village now boasts two tree-houses of which I am envious.  One is clearly for children, bearing in mind the assault course that enables them to get down.  The other, apparently, was designed with adults in mind… taking G&T’s on the deck looked like a very appealing prospect.

I ran up Lodge Hill and back via Oldlands Mill, feeling that I was finishing at pretty much the same pace that I started… still slow, but not quite fading, although that might have been something to do with another four or six jelly babies which I had callously chewed.  Overall the time was two hours, 34 minutes for 14.7 miles… a mere 5.72 mph.

However m’lud, I would like to introduce some mitigating circumstances: the time as I left the Beacon was 1 hour 45 and the speed up to that point, including two scarp climbs, was 5.35mph.  The 5.3 miles home from there was dispatched in 49 minutes… 6.5mph.  Still slow by comparison to the boys, but not that slow!

And I did have some additional weight to carry.

Blisteringly hot new paths


I’m hoping that by sitting in the cool of my office, writing, my energy will return.  For two hours now I have been walking slowly about the house, shallow breath, eating gently, spending a long time in the shower.  The latter because I had too little energy to lift the soap.

It has been a beautiful morning, certainly ever since I rose at 7.30am.  This may have been a trifle early for a sunday but it gave me a chance to sit supping espresso in the garden, reading at my leisure.

I had made a mistake yesterday, twice walking into town in a pair of old boat shoes and creating, then destroying, the blisters that quickly formed on both heels.  I scoured the house for Compeed to no avail, but found some this morning in my depleted first aid kit.  What would we do without Compeed?

I set out with one of my vague notions to visit the Beacon, or at least notgo north off the map again!  My nose went south along Keymer Road, branching off left towards Oldland Mill and I dutifully followed.  I was merrily hoofing along on firm ground when my feet disappeared into a heavily disguised puddle of almost liquid mud and I had to stop to take the picture above.

Once past the mill, I dropped down towards Ditchling but skirted right and across to Keymer.  Here I aimed for Clayton and a very kind dog-walker pointed me in the direction of a boggy wood (with the delightful name of Lag Wood) at the point where I thought I was lost.  This turned out to be quite beautiful, with a stream meandering its way through and though I initially scoffed at the use of the word boggy, I did indeed manage to find a stretch of deeper mud to splosh through.

Somewhere along the way I passed a glorious house with a statue of a traveller sitting by a pond.  Overall quite idyllic.


Once through Clayton, there is a really (really!) steep path to Jack and Jill and I put my legs in low gear and made myself run the whole way…


… and then past and on to the very top of the hill.  I took the next photo because you can just see the bright white Oldland Mill facing the Downs, almost in the middle of the shot.  I thought it might give a sense of how far I had run.  Especially bearing in mind that I was really feeling it by this stage.


From the Beacon, I dropped directly down into Ditchling and back up the lane to Oldland Mill again, where a chap kindly explained the presence of a marquee and assorted paraphernalia.  It’s an open day today, so if you act fast, you might still be able to get there while the food lasts.  And if the wind blows, which seems remotely possible, they will be letting the sails turn.


 The stretch home from there was hard work, but I just kept the legs going, avoiding the odd squishy puddle and then avoiding the cars on Keymer Road.  As I stood gasping for air and stretching my muscles out at the front door, so my neighbour emerged, probably to take his family off somewhere for lunch dressed in their summer clothes.  They must have thought I was certifiable, standing there in my muddy trainers and shorts… and the recently removed and sweaty t-shirt that I had the dignity to put back on when they emerged!

Overall, it was just shy of a half marathon distance, at 20.5km or 12.8 miles, but I would have won no prizes for the two hours thirteen that it had taken me to complete.  Set against the slow pace (5.78mph or 10.4 minutes per mile) was the fact that I explored a whole new set of paths through some very pretty places, did a small chunk of the South Downs Way with its stunning views, had no pain whatsoever from my busted blisters and managed to keep going without the need to walk.

I’m feeling better already!