I have two areas for my long runs: the canal, which I have talked about at length and Ashridge. Today was Ashridge.
“Running across the borders of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire and along the ridge of the Chiltern Hills, this area comprises a series of common-pasture woodlands, chalk downland and commons. Once a medieval deerpark, this estate covers some 5,000 acres. Walkers will enjoy the 16-mile boundary walk or the six shorter self-guided trails. Points of interest include the Monument, built in 1832 in honour of the third Duke of Bridgwater, the pioneer of Britain’s canals, and there’s a visitor centre near here too. A good time to visit the estate is late spring for a dazzling display of bluebells, and you can take in some super views too, if you climb Steps Hill to Ivinghoe Beacon. Look on the estate for a good number of surviving ancient oak and beech trees. Frithsden Beeches is not surprisingly a good area for the latter, whilst Berkhamsted Common and Aldbury Common are good locations for the oaks.” (Woodland Trust)
There are still plenty of deer and this morning two herds crossed my trail. The first time they were just milling about, the path was dappled with sunlight and there was a sense of quietness and peace. I looked at them for a while and then continued; they then ran off but I was smiling.
These moments lift the spirits and it is one of the reasons why I will not describe today as a training run. Training implies that what you are doing is preparation for something else whereas this is what I run for - it is the whole point. It does not mean that I will not put in training miles – there will always be those. It just means there are some days when you realise what the training is for.
Looks like this is another entry in my manifesto for the soft-core runner - except I don't want it to sound as if its written by some bucolic Polyanna.