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Wednesday 14 November 2012

Walking on Water Doesn't Work Unless You're Jesus

A perfect Autumn day. Bright blue sky like a forget-me-not, but with a coolness to remind you that it was November. It always confuses me what to wear in this weather. Do I freeze for the first 3 miles without a jacket or take a jacket and end up running the last ¾ of the run with the running top tied around my waist and flapping away like a skirt as I run? Decided on the flappy skirt look. I hate being cold.

Flooding in a field just outside Kempsford
The Mr accompanied me for the first 15 minutes on a ‘No Garmin’ run as he’d forgotten his 305 and thought he’d do a gentle half hour run. As I had company and I was running in lanes not pavements, I didn’t put an audiobook on like I normally would for a long run. The first thing I noticed were the birds – so noisy! I kept expecting a pig in a glass house. Also I really noticed the thump, thump of the Mr’s footsteps, he sounds so heavy from the way he runs. He can’t be running badly as I can’t remember him ever picking up an injury in the 10 years or so he’s been running, but he sounds as though he’s trying to drill his way through the road using his Asics.

Left the Mr at the bend in the road and I carried on over the river towards Castle Eaton until I got to a footpath. I’ve always liked the look of the footpath on the right just before the bridge. It always looks a bit hidden and interesting and I’ve never driven past it without wondering where it went. 

Interesting looking footpath
I went though the gate and down the steps to the trail below. A bit damp underfoot ... very damp underfoot ... And I got to the field which was a sodden mess of water. And sunk. Great. There was a tennis ball in the midst of a big puddle. Looked a bit as though it was there to tempt particularly suicidal dogs. Like a doughnut left just out of arms reach. 

Yep. That's a ball in the middle of the water.
Ran through Castle Eaton and stopped briefly at the Red Lion pub to see whether they were open. I’d only gone about 2 miles but I had wet feet and a diet coke would have cheered me up. Irritatingly, (or possibly luckily) it wasn’t quite noon so it wasn’t open and I didn’t want to wait around for 5 minutes in the cold outside the pub.

Came out the other side of the village and turned left onto a small lane leading to the Thames Path. It was a small, narrow road bordered by trees with vivid orange leaves. The leaves were in a carpet across the road, so I’d be able to hear my footsteps one moment and not the next. Ahead of me as I came round a corner was a family dressed warmly in their Autumn coats and gloves. With the 2 kids and dog and the leaves underfoot and the sun shining through the trees they looked like a picture of a family in a clothing catalogue. All rosy cheeks and cheery smiles. And here was me spoiling it all by puffing and panting round the corner in my running gear sounding like a prank caller with a love of lycra. 

Gorgeous lane to run through!
 Suddenly, I was out from under the trees and onto a quiet road. I was running alone enjoying the silence and suddenly out from the hedgerow in front of me came a large fox. More brown than red. He paused when he saw me to consider whether I was a threat, then he quickly moved across the road and into the field. There was no sign of him in the field when I came level to the gateway.

Up to a signpost which pointed me past a house up into their garden and onto a grassy farm track. The grass was sodden from the rain last night and the track was wet underfoot. I followed it through the field, hopping from tyre-rut to tyre-rut to try to keep my feet dry. Passed a couple walking a black and white Springer Spaniel who was full of Springer enthusiasm and wanted to run with me.

Past a gate which led into a copse of trees with bright red berries onto the river bank. Tempting, but a path for another time ...

I came to a junction in the track. Onwards through a gap in the hedge or following the tyre ruts round to the right and where I could see houses in the distance? There wasn’t a signpost or marker to show either way. The river would stay on my left if I carried on through the gap in the hedge and as I was following the Thames Path, I decided it would make sense to stay with the river.

A gate at the end and out on a narrow road by a bridge. I looked to my left and saw the village in the distance. I was only about a mile down the road from my starting point. I’d definitely taken the long – and interesting – route today. I ran away from the village, down the quiet road, keeping in to the right, out of the way of mad Sunday drivers on a mission towards their Sunday roasts.

These might take some cleaning ...
The road bends sharply to the right, but it’s actually a crossroads and I followed the Thames Path sign and took the left fork down a narrow tree-lined track towards a farm. The track was very wet and muddy but the farmer had thoughtfully put down straw which had formed a sort of mushy bridge over some of the mud. It also meant that the straw ‘buttressed’ the mud so my shoes quickly became Mud Super-Shoes and weighed a ton. It was probably quite an effective cross training workout having weighted shoes, but I ended up doing a lot of walking on verges and hopping from dry patch to dry patch over muddy oceans. Probably looked like a complete lunatic. 

Haven't you heard of mud runs?
A gateway up ahead and a patch of dry track which turned a corner by a clump of trees. I came round the corner and startled 4 or 5 partridges which flew up into the sky noisily, their wings whirring. Then like a round of applause another partridge shot skyward from the bank by my ankles. 

Wade, squelch, splat ...
It was very muddy. I waded onwards in the hope that the track would get better up ahead and I would be able to run again. I wasn’t able to run even if I didn’t mind getting covered in mud as the path was so rutted and slippery, my legs would be spinning like a cartoon character. I paused by a barred track to see whether it was another footpath and as I looked, a stag ran across the clearing with high antlers. I noticed the deer prints in the mud now. Lots of them.

Finally, after about half a mile of wading, I got onto grass tracks again. The fields either side of the tracks were flooded with standing water, but the centre was raised slightly higher so I could run. 

Nice dry path ...

That would be the footpath sign on the left then ...
 The path must have dipped slightly as it entered a gap in the hedge and the whole pathway was completely flooded. There wasn't even a way to hold onto the hedge and edge my way round on the bank. I walked up my side of the field looking for a gap in the hedgerow but nothing except solid bushes and thorns. Retraced my steps on the grass track in the centre of the field and managed a jump across to the other side of the pathway but the water seemed even deeper on this side. I again walked the side of the field but even if I’d got through the hedge, there was a flooded ditch barring my way. I got back to the track again and tested its depth with a stick. It was deep. However there was probably only about 25ft of the path underwater.  

I took a deep breath. And a run up. Jumped. And sank. I floundered around and dragged myself onto the bank again.

There was nothing else for it. I turned around.

I may be wet. Very wet. But at least the trainers were free of mud now. 


Fell over in the mud. Mud everywhere. Oh well. At least my top doesn't have mud on it. Oh. It does? Sent a text to The Mr saying I was on my way home. And telling him I may need to use the garden hose. On myself.

Saw a couple of hikers on their way through and warned them that the Thames Path was flooded. Had a nice chat but the hikers reckoned they could make it through. Their little ankle walking boots and fluorescent gloves must endow them with watery super powers that mere runners don’t possess.

Dragged myself home with squelchy sound effects and leaving a trail of wet footprints. The three year-old greeted me at the door and looked me up and down. 

“Fell in mud AGAIN, mummy?”


  1. Sounds like a great run to me :-)
    ...and kids are great, aren't they?!

    1. It was good fun ... but think it might be time to invest in some new trainers ! :) (Any excuse!) I don't know what it is with 3 year olds but they manage to be so patronising - it's hilarious! (If she could have clicked her tongue at me I think she would have) :)

  2. Fab Post Sarah, don't you just love MUD!!!!!

    1. I think mud loves ME, Paul! It seems to follow me wherever I go!! :)