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Sunday, 5 February 2012


As a 'Rock Music Fan' I used to love watching clips of Pete Townshend of The Who 'windmilling' with his arms in front of his guitar. I went to Kent Uni which was also attended by Jonathan Creek star Alan Davies (whos character lived in a windmill) . My Univeristy Lecturer Frank Burnett also lived in a Windmill, As did Windy Miller who was in Trumpton which has a great episode about Window Cleaners . I also 'hung out' with a band called the Amazing Windmills when I was at college. The chance to add another windmill encounter in my life was about to occur......

The next stage of our training exploration of the greensand way was to get to the end of 'map 4' on the surrey website. I was very pleased to learn this would include a 'run by' of the Windmill in Ewhurst. It sits atop Pitch Hill and is the highest Windmill in Surrey and was built in 1840.

Claire and I set off on Saturday morning where temps overnight had been minus 9. We had sensibly taken it easy the night before by staying out until 2.30 am and going to the 10th anniversary of the rock club night 'Schism' in Woking. We had loaded up on energy drinks (with cute little shots in them) and the odd lager so we had plenty of calories avaiable the next day for our run.

Dave texted whilst doing a training run in Portsmouth where the minus 9 temp had frozen his camelback drink solid and made his hair crunchy and solid. I avoid freezing in my camelback by using 'human friendly'  antifreeze in my water.......ribena.

Greensand Way view just east of the White Horse Pub

The very low temperatures and 'slight hangovers' took their toll on this run, as did me forgetting to take my running jacket and being forced to opt for an additional fleece instead. As we started from the White Horse pub I had estimated the distance to the windmill at about 7 or 8 miles. It turned out to be closer to 10. It is becoming a trait of mine to massively underestimate distance and fail to notice 'steep terrain'. I would probably call Everest a slight uphill 4 mile jog.

As usual the route was easy to follow with all the Greensand Way signs and we soon crossed a disused part of the Wey Navigation Canal.

crossing the disused Wey Navigation on the Greensand Way

As we began the steady climb into the Winterfold Heath towards the top of pitch hill the run felt very similar to the first time we slogged up towards Gibbet Hill. The views from this area are amazing and the Heath is owned by the Bray family who have had it since it was gifted to them by King Henry VII 500 years ago. The scenery was so epic and distracting that Claire was a 'tumbling tosser' (a hash house harriers term) and fell over without hurting herself.

Climbing into Winterfold Heath on the Greensand Way

Getting to the top of Pitch Hill involved running along the ridge and eventually after zig zagging through the paths near the top we reached the Ewhurst Windmill. It is privately owned so we couldnt look round it. Instead we sat in the freezing cold and drank some coffee and stuffed ourselves with food and having taken 2 hours to run 10 miles set off again 15 minutes later to try to get home before 4pm.

The only angle I could photograph the Ewhurst Windmill on the Greensand Way

Despite a few miles of the journey back being downhill it was obvious to both of us on the way back that the conditions, temperatures and physical state was making progress very hard. We were running along with ALL the clothes we brought with us on including the extra clothes to wear just when we were standing around having lunch.  Running in these temperatures is very, very draining on your energy levels.

As we got to within a few miles of the White Horse we decided sensibly to end the run early as Claire had picked up a painful foot injury which was making running very difficult. We had already run 15 miles at that stage which was further than I had planned anyway. Risking making an injury far worse for the sake of a few more miles just wasnt worth it. Fortunately Claire was fine by the evening.

We stood like cold school kids by the A281 in Grafham and got picked up by my wife who brought a warm car and biscuits!

Greensand Way near Rooks Hill Farm in Grafham

This run has allowed us to map out and get familiar with another stretch of the Greensand Way. It was also the first time I used my android app Backcountry Navigator which is an excellent GPS app that superimposes your location on an Ordnance Survey Map so you can see real time exactly where on the footpaths you are.

We are beginning to get a bit tired of the large sugar intake required for these distance runs so I'm going to spend this week looking for savoury snacks that are calorie rich we can maybe try instead of the endless jelly babies.

 I also learnt that if you use 'tiger balm' as a deep heat remedy on tired muscles and then dont wash your hands then jelly babies taste 'odd'.

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