This was planned to be a bit of a fun run as I wanted to take my camera and stop for some pictures of the River Severn. As I somehow consumed two bottles of wine yesterday, I failed to manage an early start and it was about 10.15 by the time I set off.
My shoes were still cold and damp from my last run on Sunday so I decided it was probably just as well to get stuck straight into my favorite muddy footpaths. I had a roughly 7 minute warm-up on pavement before I got to the footpath behind Blists Hill Victorian Village. It was lovely - squelchy, soggy mud and puddles and I had a big smile on face. Fortunately, no-one else was daft enough to be using the path today so I could laugh and squeal to my heart's content. I had one or two dodgy moments when I thought I might lose my footing but I survived and for some reason the song "Slip-Sliding Away" popped into my head and stayed there throughout the first long muddy downhill section. I had to climb over gates again as someone has kindly put chains on the gates to the public footpaths. This was quite challenging as the gates were rather slippery and slimy due to the recent rain, and I was trying not to get covered in the mud from my feet ! I was soon quite nicely warmed up and had to strip down to my running t-shirt.
The next stretch was a nicely gravelled path, followed by a short stretch of road, then a flat muddy track alongside the River Severn. I was greeted by a bouncy young dog who wiped his muddy paws all down my arms - I assured the owners it wasn't a problem as I was already so muddy. A couple of horse riders were coming the other way so I stopped to let them past - I wasn't sure how they'd react to a muddy, red-faced woman running towards them.
I came to the Boat Inn in Jackfield - yesterday, the river was so high that the pub was flooded but the waters had receded today and it sounded as if they were busily drying out the ground floor. There is a footbridge over the river at this point and I decided that as I'd been having several breaks to take pictures I ought to challenge myself a bit more in between "rests". I set myself the challenge of running up every set of steps I came to, knowing there were a few sets on the route I had planned. I also knew that I'd always walked up them before and still found it hard work. I started with a sprint up the footbridge steps, then down the other side, where I found another set of steps and decided to loop around and do that set a few times. As it was, after two loops the footpath got rather busy so I ran away instead.
After another section of running alongside the other side of the river, I headed for more woodland. And lots of steps and lots of mud. The steps were challenging but I managed to run up them all. My plan was to photograph each set - then I HAD to run up them just so I could say I had ! The top of the hill seemed a very long way off and it was very steep (the steps are steeper than they look in my photos). At last I got there and followed the footpath along the top of the ridge before heading back through the woodland roughly in the direction of Blists Hill. I was surprised to find a decorated Christmas tree in the woodland, surrounded by lots and lots of mud ! There were many places where it got just too deep and slippery to run and I was giggling again. I wasn't sure of the route back and there was something nice and free about feeling lost when I knew I wasn't really that far from home.
Eventually, I found myself next to a familiar sight (a pub!). A couple of roads to cross, a couple of small sections on hilly woodland to run through, with fallen branches to jump over (giggling again!) and I was home again, very muddy, very achy and very happy after 8km of mud, hills and steps
There's a little slideshow here, following my route. If you click "show info", I've explained where some of the piccies were taken. Hope you like them:
Hope you've all had a lovely Christmas !