Tag Archives: Devon

Back to Back – Cliff Runs

How time flies.

We had last been down to Devon some weeks before and now here we are at the end of October, Halloween pumpkins adorning the streets and the first fireworks making an appearance in the evening skies.

Jacob's Ladder at Sunrise, Sidmouth

We had to travel back down to Ottery St Mary as my mother’s ashes were being interred on the Saturday morning, but we had also decided to make a weekend of it as it was carnival weekend in Ottery. I had decided if the weather was good that I would take the opportunity of a couple of early morning runs along the seafront, taking in the hills. I was not to be disappointed.

On the first of my runs I started out around dawn and was delighted by the sun rise along the cliff edge and horizon to the east. As a fairly substantial wind was coming from the west, I decided to make my way in that direction first, first along the seafront to Jacob’s ladder, past the rock pools that the children enjoyed playing in so much in the summer months. With the tide high and the wind fierce though, the tiny creatures in those rock pools were surely being battered by the waves as the crashed down repeatedly.

Past Jacob’s Ladder and on up the switch-back Tarmac to the start of a long narrow field adorning the cliff edge. I made my way steadily up, remembering how easy running uphill had felt last year, and how much work I still have to do to get back to form, but also how far I have come in the last few months since starting running again. I made it to the top of the hill, hot but happy, and allowed myself the indulgence of stopping to take a photo of the dawn sky before enjoying the view further while on the move back down the hill, retracing my steps back to the seafront.

Seafront Sunrise

I saw a few other runners and walkers, enjoying the brisk air, on my way along the front, as sleepy Sidmouth awoke, and I enjoyed the fact the wind was now behind me, as I prepared to take on Salcombe Hill – hardly comparable with the 1000m of Hope Pass, but for now, it would have to do.

I wound my way up the edge of the cliff, with it’s diversion inland necessary because of the erosion and fragility of the coastline, but eventually found my way up to the base of the open field which marked the final traverse to the pinnacle of my run for today.

How glorious it was to once again be running up hills with gorgeous weather as well! I was suitably breathless by the top of the run, but the strategically positioned bench near the summit was a welcome place to spend a moment soaking in the sights.

As I made my way down again I noted how difficult I now found it to get my legs moving quickly, even with the advantage of the gradient. This was something I would have to work on! I continued to contemplate my future training needs as I meandered my way along the streets back down to the seafront where I could not resist stopping for another photo opportunity.

The smile on my face was evident the moment I stepped back into our hotel room.

My run the next day, although similar, was still enjoyable but for a host of other reasons.

Cliff to Cliff - Coastal Path

I chose to run first through the town this time, but due to the size of Sidmouth, this only took me about a minute 😉 after which a resumed my now almost familiar easterly seafront run. The mist covering the hills on either side of the town didn’t look out of place, given it was the day before Halloween, and put paid to any chance of artistic dawn breaking photos today. As I had come out at a similar time to the previous day, the sea was at high tide again, but seemed ominously more angry.

As I ran once again along Jacob’s ladder, the narrow path at the base of the sedimentary cliffs to the east, the sea seemed intent on revealing it’s power to me and only careful timing and occasional sheltering in the rocky alcoves prevented a soaking.

Up the Tarmac I meandered again and disappeared into the eerie mist at the top of the hill, where I went a little further than the previous day before turning and trying again to test my speed on the soft, downhill , grassy slope.

As I found my way back to the sea, the waves were still crashing over the edge of the curved sea wall as another couple of runners came rapidly round the corner having clearly just missed a dousing. As I turned the corner myself, I startled another runner who, stuck in an alcove, appeared to be trying to judge the timing of continuing her run past this local display of nature’s elements. I acknowledged her and ran on, but five seconds later my luck ran out as my back was drenched by the reach of the latest onslaught. I could do nothing but smile, and ran on past the battered rock pools, now paying a little more attention to judging the timing of the ebb and flow of the waves.

As I continued along the front, the power of the sea was more evident where shingle kicked up from the beaches turned the smooth promenade into a challenge of epic ankle breaking proportions – think marbles on an ice rink. Having negotiated this final obstacle without incident, which was made even more interesting as I was wearing my Vivo Barefoot Evos, I made the short journey back up the cliff path again before turn back to our hotel.

So, in the end two days with similar routes and yet totally different experiences, both highly enjoyable in their own way, and after all, I’m just glad to be back running.