Day 295 Mile 295: A Run Around the Horseblock

Day 295 Mile 295: A Run Around the Horseblock. It is always interesting revisiting places where you grew up, not least because a lot of the things which you perceived as completely normal because they were just always there turn out to be quite unusual. In the case of the lanes around there I can completely understand the nomenclature of Stoney Lane and even take a guess at Pound Lane, but Horseblock Lane seems a bit of an odd one.

Horseblock is a road which to this day winds across open commonland, running at a forty five degree angle down the escarpment where either side of the road a pair of national speed limit signs stare out of between the limbs of the trees like the eyes of an arboreal giant squid. In the base of the valley the road hairpins a figure seven back upon itself, the bend forming the border between 2 counties to this day and then ventures back up the other side of the valley past the house that used to be owned by the aptly named Mr. Lane the farmer, and the one where the giant emu used to live (yes, I know, I had to check I didn’t imagine it!).

It turns out that during the 1640s and the English Civil War, Parliamentary soldiers were billeted in the area. Being roughly equidistant between 3 historic market towns those of Tring, Chesham and Berkhamseted the common provided a strategic base but also ample grazing for horses. Local folklore has it that far from simply being named after the box people may have stood to mount their steeds the road got its name from a particularly fierce encounter between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists, which became so desperate on both sides that even horses that had fallen in the skirmish were used to form a barricade across the road from which the name of the lane is derived.

Today there are no such obstacles and the air is nostalgically thick with the wood smoke of the first Sunday fires of the coming winter. It’s quite nice charging about the lanes, there is something magical about running (especially downhill) through the tunnel of trees and hedgerows that only very old lanes can achieve, winding pathways through the landscape which over the centuries have sunk ditches between backs into the hillside with use as the canopy grows to meet overhead. 

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 3766.8 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

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Day 294 Mile 294: Parkrun and Chill(i)

Day 294 Mile 294: Parkrun and Chill(i). Attempting to run every day for a year is destined to be full of ups and downs, sometimes due to fitness or injury and at others due to random stuff that the world throws out.

Running can provide a buffer zone, a time when even among other people you can be alone with your psyche and capability. If you want to slow up and admire the world you can, or alternatively, lung-busting leg-screaming self-inflicted catharsis is only a few paces away should the need arise.

My Dad took his own life last Saturday, so the fact that I am out and about at all is nothing short of a miracle, and I knew better than to expect a good time over today’s 5 Km Parkrun. I got to the start, pressed go on my watch, put it in my back pocket and ran, slowly, but, I, ran.

It is a clear autumn day, russet leaves a blue sky and a strong breeze. There are nice people at the back of the pack; families running together, slow folk out to better themselves and strong people having a ‘day off’. I chat, I run, I contemplate life, along with the chilli I plan to cook for my Mum and two cousins later.

I had a while to consider this, while not being passed by the 10 year old in the Bayern München t-shirt. I think I thought for too long. As I sit writing this with pen and paper in the bath, having gone shopping directly after running, the ingredients of what may be possibly the most elaborate chilli ever sit on the side in the kitchen ready for cooking.

Oh Well! 🙂

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 5051.6 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 293 Mile 293: Windmills and Toads

Day 293 Mile 293: Windmills and Toads. According to contemporary maps a windmill has stood on Cholesbury Common since roughly the 17th century. The Hawridge Wind and Steam Mill was a smock mill constructed in 1863 by the Norwich Wind and Steam Company, who also installed a steam engine and built an engine house with a tall chimney. The smock mill was bought and sold at least twice; on the second occasion, in 1881, together with the related properties it raised a heady £600. However it appears not to have been profitable due to; its design, faults in the construction, and the cost of coal. It was demolished in 1883. Another mill was built on the same site in1883. This was a tower mill, thought to be one of the last of its kind built in England. It was built by Hillsdon’s of Tring. The next year the tall chimney associated with the steam mill was brought down and grain store was added shortly after. The original mill owners struggled to make it profitable and it was leased as a going concern when a more experienced miller took over. He remained in charge until the mill finally ceased operation in 1912. It became a private residence in 1913.

After the mill ceased operation in1912 it was converted along with the mill house into a house. It was advertised in the spring of 1913 and was taken by Gilbert Cannan and his new wife Mary (née Ansell), who had previously been married to J. M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. In the 1930s the mill was used as an art studio and for classes by the artist Bernard Adams and during the Second World War it was used as a look out post for the Home Guard. It has been one of those places just down the road that is easy to take for granted and never really know about.

Today’s run took me from beside the windmill down one side of the escarpement and up the other side of the valley known as Ray’s Hill. It is one of those wonderful quirks of English place naming that the incline on either side of the steep valley seems to be known as Ray’s Hill. Which ever way you come at it you will encounter the hill, but being a valley seems to me to imply quite the opposite of ‘hill’ with two clearly defined and separate inclines, one on either side of the floor.

At the top on the far side there is a wonderful little pond where as a child we used to collect frog and toad spawn and watch it grow into tadpoles in a bucket before releasing it back a few days latter. You are porbably not allowed to do that these days but for me the transformation was nothing short of magical. Its also great to see that there is still a length of blue nylong rope dangling from the tree on the ‘Harrup Farm’ side of the pond, where generations of kids has slung out over the green and glistening duck weed and more than a few have got a ducking themselves.

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1664.3 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 292 Mile 292: Beckoning Beacon(ing) Hill

Day 292 Mile 292: Beckoning Beacon(ing) Hill. No matter how much of a romantic ideal you have of waving a flag from a hilltop, it will never work as a selfie!!

Ellesborough is a village at the foot of the Chiltern Hills notable for being the home of Formula One world champion racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart, the country residence ot the UK Prime Ministers and most importantly, having a really big (by local standards) hill.
In the Domesday Book of 1086 it was recorded as Esenberge Old English for “hill where asses are pastured” (note at least one set of Westminster based residents!). The road through the village, follows the route of the Icknield Way, an ancient trackway used by man in the neolithic age (3000 to 1800 BC) which ran from Norfolk to Avebury in Wiltshire.

cunoTowering over the village is the dominating Beacon Hill, with its grassy mound and lone tree, iconic amongst the Chiltern Hills when viewed from within the Aylesbury Vale. It is also the site of Cymbeline’s Mount, also known as Cymbeline’s Castle, referred to in the Shakespeare play Cymbeline. In reality, the name refers to the British King Cunobelinus who, alongside his sons, is said to have battled at this site against the Roman Invasion of the British Isles.

Today’s run went to the top of Beacon Hill before charging down the open grassland to find the motte and bailey of Cunobelinus/Cymbeline’s Castle prior to rejoining the footpath running across to the 15th-century Church.

It has some amazing views and was great to be just above a Red Kite as it hovered in the wind looking for rodents in the grass. It was close enough to see idividual tail feathers controlling its pitch and yaw as it hung in the sky.

It was lovely also to be joined by my Mum and Humphrey the dog who came out for a walk, doing a shortened version of my loop at chattering at crossover points along the way 🙂

For those who are wondering the flag is that of Buckinghamshire, the county I am in and where I grew up 🙂

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1607.6 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Random earworm for the day, cant quite get past the melancholic feel to it though!

Day 291 Mile 291. ‘Heaven is a (Iron-Age) Half-Pipe’

Day 291 Mile 291. ‘Heaven is a (Iron-Age) Half-Pipe’. Cholesbury Camp is on the borders of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. The ovoid plateau-fort is protected by two banks and a median ditch, with an extra bank and ditch on the south-east and west; entrances were on the south-west and north-east. The fort has been reasonably dated to the 1st/2nd centuries BC thanks to Iron-Age pottery fragments found within the interior. Cholesbury Church was built within the ramparts of the ancient fort.

The camp survives well; the interior has seen little disturbance and the greater part of the defences remain largely unaltered. It is one of the most visually impressive prehistoric settlements of the Chilterns, and one of the few in the region to have seen a sample excavation. The interior contains well-preserved buried remains from the period of occupation, with evidence of metal-working.

It makes for an impressive set of earthworks set in a beech forest and a wonderful place for a run. Being a place of historical significance it should probably be treated with immense respect but quite honestly I have a huge number of happy childhood memories running up and down the sides of the earthworks with my Dad and his dogs and in later years repeating the same with bicycle in place of golden retriever. It’s also an astoundingly good earworm for today 🙂

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1621.4 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 290 Mile 290: Hawridge Common

Day 290 Mile 290: Hawridge Common.Today’s run is an un-square mile around where I grew up. It’s a beautiful and nostalgic jaunt through the leafy paths and lanes of Buckinghamshire; the smell of the late cut grass mingling with the rain.

After the weirdness of not-quite-hurricane Opheilia it’s nice to see the world getting back to some semblance of order!

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 2303.2 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Genuine thanks as ever to do many people for all the support!

Ed

Properly earwormed by this today…. probably won’t be the same again!!!

Day 289 Mile 289: One Way

Day 289 Mile 289: One Way. Today I’m at my Mum’s house which presents a wonderful opportunity to charge around the woods and fields where I grew up. Returning to where one grew up can often bring on mixed emotions even if you were fortunate to have a nice childhood. It’s nice to reminisce amoung the trees and hedges. 

Today’s earworm feels particularly pertinent. The details are a bit sketchy but the sentiment is spot on!
Levellers: One Way

There’s only one way of life
And that’s your own, your own, your own

My father when I was younger took me up on to the hill
That looks down on the city smog and above the factory spill
He said, “Now this is where I come when I wanted to be free”
But he never was in his lifetime, but these words stuck with me, hey

There’s only one way of life
And that’s your own, your own, your own

And so I ran from all of this and I climbed that highest hill
I looked down on to my life above the factory spill
I looked down onto my life as the family disgrace
Then all my friends on the starting line their wages off to chase
Yes and all my friends and all their jobs and all the bloody waste

There’s only one way of life
And that’s your own, your own, your own

For Bryan Wright 10/7/45 – 15/10/17. Love you always.

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1694.9 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

View more on Strava

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed