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Sunday, 20 May 2012

Kent Day 2 - Fake Birds, Danger Exits, Big Doody, Briny Beverages, Jurassic Park, Racing Motorbikes, Losing a bit of Lees eyebrow and the Seven Stages of Running Grief

Sorry its taken so long to get the blogs up for our long Greensand Way Kent 55 mile weekend. Here is the blog for day 2! Day 1 will follow soon. (sorry about the crazy order!)

Warning! Long runs mean long blogs. Feel free to digest this in two halfs as A LOT happened on this day but I dont want to bore you to tears. Ill put a half time in so you can go make a cup of tea or something. OK??

We pick up the fun after a days running and an overnight stay in the Scout Hut at Boughton Monchelsea.

The Vango Banshee 200 is a fantastic tent. Lightweight, easy to put up and spacious if you are 5 ft 4 like me.

A scout hut by comparison is like staying in the Grosvenor House Hotel. Indoor Toilet, A KITCHEN! TV , X Box and HEATING ! This was a luxurious overnight stay indeed. Despite our 30 or so miles the previous day we awoke surprisingly untired and with very few aches and pains. I had used KT Tape the previous day on my calves and they didnt feel at all stiff that morning.

Lee KT Taped Up with 'Go Faster Stripes' and ready to run on the Greensand Way

I got the night on the leather couch (because I got first shotgun dibs on it and I am not chivalrous) and Claire woke up on the floor nearby on her thermarest.

Lee waking up on the Greensand Way at Boughton Monchelsea Scout Hut

I had a cup of tea with sugar with the teabag left in. Claire had a three spoon cup of coffee and we both had hot porridge for breakfast ( I had sugar in mine). We set off 15 minutes AHEAD OF SCHEDULE with the sun shining and a pure blue sky.

Claire leaving the Scout Hut at Boughton Monchelsea on the Greensand Way

We were starting our run towards Linton which was a few miles east. We ran south for a mile to hook back up with the Greensand Way and then picked up the trail running past Linton Park to our left. We gave previous owners Robert Mann and Thomas Cubitt a wave.

Linton House at Linton Park on the Greensand Way
We got to Linton quickly and enjoyed the start of the day. There were the usual sheep (and sheep jokes including one about having a 'woolly head' and ' baaaaaarbed wire').

Running through Linton on the Greensand Way

The next stage of the run was to head towards Yalding. This proved to be one of the big highlights of the days running. We were basically running along a ridge with nothing but totally flat Kent laid out to the South of us. The landscape stretched for miles and miles. In the foreground we had endless orchards and oast houses. The wind swept across us and sun shone down. It was utterly magic.

Oasthouses and Orchards - View from the Greensand Way between Linton and Yalding

We also go the chance to do a bit of ' Smacking' surrey style !

Claire 'Smacking' smiling with her back on the Greensand Way near Yalding

As we skirted round the Malice Wood I got my first chance for a 'computer screensaver' type photo. This was the first of many that day. Like day one the orienteering side of things was quite intensive. There werent a lot of signs and the paths were often unclear especially in the orchards but 'science' was the new 'maverick' app on my phone which was a GPS showing your position on an ordnance survey map and it worked a treat.

View near the Malice Wood on the Greensand Way near Yalding

We got to Yalding and the maps indicated that the terrain would differ from here on for a while. This stretch would be the 'wet' part of the run, not rainy, but with canals and rivers and waterways and marinas. I was very pleased to find a place named after me that was a base for a large number of canoeists who were doing an organised clean up of the Medway River whilst we were there.

Lee in an Oilseed Rape field on the Greensand Way near West Peckham

We also came across a large bird of prey acting very strangely. It had large but very square looking wings and was hovering low to the ground. It was like no bird I had ever seen before. It wasnt until we got closer we realised it was a fake bird that was a kite on a pole to scare birds off the crops.

Fake bird on the Greensand Way near Yalding

Lee at the Lees in Yalding on the Greensand Way

Canoeist on the River Medway at Yalding on the Greensand Way

We got to run over a medieval bridge which was wide enough only for traffic in one way. As the highway code says walkers should walk facing head on into traffic, we didnt know whether to run when the lights were green or red. We chose green and raced in front of a massive lorry and made it to the other side just in time.

Along the canal and over the railway line (again no bridge like the day before, just the gate and walking over when we felt like it) and we were back out into the glorious countryside again with more screensaver opportunities. What is great about the Kent stretch of the Greensand Way is the fact that you get a good 3 or 4 miles of unspoilt countryside with regular 'village breaks' inbetween. It sort of goes in this order -

orchard orchard orchard
oast house
oast house
oast house
norman church

and repeat

The Greensand Way between Yalding and West Peckham

We ran past a Deer Park somewhere near Roydon Hall where we could see a heard including a massive Stag which was calling/mooing/bleating/growling (what noise does a stag make?!) at us.

Deer on the Greensand Way near West Peckham

Although the Greensand Way in Kent is not well signposted except for random bits of yellow stuff we did come across a few unusual Greensand Way signs including this cool hand carved one.

Hand Made Greensand Way sign near West Peckham

We also came across a big pile of doody which made us feel much more at home.

Claire knows big doody on the Greensand Way
When running cross country there is always an element of danger lurking round every corner. As we ran through another orchard we came across this interesting sign , but failed to find out what the danger actually was and ran on bravely without incident.

The 'Danger Exit' on the Greensand Way near West Peckham
As the morning part of the run went on and I got closer to the 10 mile mark I found I had my 'minor reh' of the day earlier than the day before. Unlike hitting the wall I just find myself a bit short of energy and it becomes like running through custard. Claire was fine but I found the next few miles until our lunch stop a bit trying.

We thought about having lunch in Dunks Green in an old pub called the Kentish Rifleman, but decided to push on for another mile or so and eat in Shipbourne. The pub there is called the Chaser Inn.

What struck us about the pub when we arrived in Shipbourne was that there was nothing wrong with it. It was just like any 'chain' pub in surrey. Clean , busy , smart , corporate. But the day before ,being deep in Kent, we had had two pub visits that were absolutely lovely. We had even been driven home from the second by the landlord who had taken pity on our obvious tired state and lack of taxis.  These were pubs where the landlord and landlady worked behind the bar, and cared because it was there business.  As we returned to the managed style of pub we were reminded what we lose when pubs get taken over by chains. When we run this in June it'll be the Kentish Rifleman we visit for lunch not the Chaser Inn for this reason.

As we needed power for my phone (we use it as a GPS and it makes it very power hungry) we had to sit at the only table near a power socket. This was also next to the main front door. So we got a nice cold blast of air everytime someone left or arrived.

We ordered steak wraps and chips and when the food came I asked for another pint of Cola and some salt (for my chips). I find I sweat a lot so I often crave salt when im running.

Claire enjoys food while I sip on my Salty Coke in the Chaser Inn in Shipbourne on the Greensand Way

When the pint of Cola came the waitress said 'heres your coke with salt in' and ran off busy with the next customer. A few cautious sips revealed she had indeed put salt in my cola.

I drank it anyway.

It tasted ok.


and while you are at it why not visit this website

After my lunch a briny beverage we set off past the church at Shipbourne and I felt reasonably refreshed and ready for another 15 miles of running.

Igtham Mote on the Greensand Way

We ran past Igtham Mote which is a house built in the 13th century and as we carried on west towards Surrey we noticed that the long flat countryside of Kent was started to get 'Surreyfied'. The flat was getting less flat . It was starting to look hilly. We began a steep ascent into One Tree Hill and its ancient woodland and bluebells and were finally screened from the wind.

Claire running along the Chestnut Path in Knole Park on the Greensand Way

The signposting was terrible as usual and my GPS had a bit of a reh at one tree hill so we relied on maps Claire had brought with her ( a guider is always prepared) and she did a sterling job of stearing us safely and correctly into Knole Park. Knole Park is a 1000 acre site with a long dead straight paths that are all over a mile long. It has a 'jurassic park' feel as the perimeter fences are very high and all the ancient trees look like they have been half eaten by a large dinosaur.

Some rare signange on the Greensand Way in Knole Park that was...useless

We ran out of the park and crossed a very busy road and ran into something we just never expected. We found ourselves in the middle of motorcross event. And I do mean in the middle of it. It was noisy , there was the smell of petrol , the dust kicking up. It was frantic and it was happening on the Greensand Way.

Lee and Claire join a Motorcross event on the Greensand Way on Beechmont Bank
We had to wait while the stewards let us cross the track in about 4 different places. they were very friendly and helpful and we were utterly bemused. It was such a surreal surprise and put a massive smile on both our faces.

Lee crossing under the A21 on the Greensand Way near Sevenoaks Weald
We eventually crossed under the A21 and headed towards Sevenoaks Weald. It was here that my second minor reh occured.  I hadnt 'hit the wall' like I did in the Surrey 55 mile weekend. I had eaten more during the day and had more varied food too. This staved off a major 'hit the wall' moment but as i entered the 22 mile stage of the days run I found I was running through custard again. In front of us lay Ide Hill , Toys Hill and Mariners Hill which were the highest points in Kent and a 'Big Finish' for our final destination at Goodley Stock.

Cute Little Lambs on the Greensand Way near Sevenoaks Weald
As the run progressed I had to concentrate more and more on just keeping running. I was no longer taking in the scenery as much even though it was hillier and we could see as far as Bough Beech Resevoir in the far distance. The signposting remained sporadic and we left the path a few times too and had to work hard to get back on track due to tiredness and low blood sugar.

Once I go beyond the Marathon mileage and go into Ultra Marathon territory I find I take very few pictures, and have to focus entirely on just moving through what feels like custard. Claire was fine and spurred me on and pointed out that I had entered the Seven stages of Running Grief

1. Shock and Denial -  isnt the lamb pretty...this is such a lovely run ....It cant be far now

2. Pain and Guilt - My feet hurt and I think I should have trained more.

3. Anger and Bargaining -  Im annoyed because Claire wont let us take a shortcut and miss out the French Street section of the run and get home quicker.

4. Depression reflection and Loniless - I feel a bit 'wob wob wob' , Its been a good run but I just want it to end, where is everyone ?

5. The Upward Turn -  Man up . Claire is a girl and is fine,  you are a wimp.

6. Reconstruction and Working Through -  just got to get through the next few hills and Ill be fine

7. Acceptance and Hope -  Of course you hurt , of course you are tired you've run over 50 miles in 2 days. you are nearly at the car that will take you home to bed. Go for It !

I got to stage 7 somewhere around French Street on the map. A place where a hoard of iron age coins were found in 1927 and a place where I found a chunk of actual green coloured Greensand Stone. I gave this to our friend Tim who had done a brilliant job of manning 'Greensand Way HQ' (our twitter and Facebook page) over the weekend.

Lee and Claire Finishing where we started the last time on the Greensand Way near Goodley Stock

Then I was fine. We were laughing on the last two miles We got to the end in high spirits . It was amazing to have Tim and Dr G waiting for us at the end and we got a picture of us by the signpost where we started out 55 mile Surrey Weekend run a month before.

Arseing around on the Greensand Way

We improved on our Surrey Running Weekend in many ways. I didn't hit the wall as hard as I have in the past on either day by eating much much more. We spent the whole weekend navigating all new terrain and our orienteering skills saw us through. We stayed on target for our weypoints and stops and arrived both days within about 15 minutes of when we planned to. Ive now bought tri clips to stop the straps on my bag loosening every 10 minutes. We got live on the radio....... and most of all we had a blast (and it didnt rain ALL WEEKEND!) The idea that we would be running for another 2 whole days was one im still coming to terms with. We've for 2 weeks to go now until THE BIG WEEKEND. The fundraising is going great and people have been so generous and supportive with donations and messages of support whilst we have been running.

More excellent Kent Footpath signposting on the Greensand Way

Claire relaxing on the Greensand Way near Goodley Stock

Oh and one last thing. Claire noticed the next day that wearing sunglasses whilst running for two days in a row had worn away part of my eyebrow. So er , Ill need an alternative pair that doesnt do that next time (assuming it ever grows back).

Wearing out Lees  eyebrow on the Greensand Way

My eyebrow bit hasnt grown back yet.


  1. You (almost) make it sound like fun!

    The main event starts 31 May?

    Lesley x.

  2. Your description of Kent (orchards, oasts, Norman churches) is shockingly accurate. Also, it's a shame the Chaser sucks now, it was quite good when I went there a few years ago.