Whiteley out of town shopping centre is a busy combination of shops and restaurants but what most of the people who go there probably don’t know is that there’s easily accesssible trails, very near by, to walk or in our case run. After parking in front of the Zurich building there’s a trail that’s hidden from the main road that leads to the map board of the area, “insuring” you, of the route to take.
The red spot marks where you are and the forestry commission sign “reassures” you that you’ll be in for a scenic, wooded experience. The main trail is fairly wide and straight for a good mile, until it bears left up a gradual hill. The signs of forestry management are all around you with a huge pile of tree trunks piled high that look like they could be for a giants fireplace as well as areas of newly planted trees with their protective casings. The top of the hill is also a crossroads with three alternative routes. I took the first left which ultimately heads towards Curdbridge and has a good gradient to go down and come back up i.e. another hill !!
I ran at 6pm, with an hour in mind, so this meant glimpses of the late sunshine through the trees. The whole area is quite lush after the summer but the changing season can be seen with the brown and gold colourings of the bushes and ferns, in short it’s a pleasure being out here. My reason for coming to Whiteley pastures was to meet an old friend who I hadn’t seen for a while, and it was about time I paid “the woods” a visit. Conditions under foot are more varied off the main trail so tree roots, some mud and uneven ground mean you have to keep your wits about you which is an enjoyable challenge after my recent training.
I take the next trail on the other side of the cross roads and head up to Botley Wood. The sun has definitely lowered in the sky as it shines through the trees now and in contrast the woods look dark and intriguing, I wonder what awaits me ? I weave my way through the forest with only the sound of my foot steps breaking the silence. As today’s run has no pace expectations I stop and take a snap of a grand old tree that rises up higher than most, its thick trunk suggests it has been there for some time but I bet very little has changed around it for years. I marvel at how quiet it is, as apart from the sound of its branches swaying in the wind, I seem to be alone. As I start running there’s a rustle in the undergrowth and it makes me jump and laugh with equal measures, “I’m not alone” (dramatic inverted commas) oh it’s was a rabbit, panic over 🙂
I take a different route back that I’m fairly sure of, which starts with a corridor, almost a tunnel of trees and bushes that block a lot of the fading light, I come out into a clearing and realise it is getting darker. I follow the trail and after awhile come across two small bridges so I know I’m in the right place. More patches of mud, a couple of fallen trees and a sharp over hanging bush later and I’m back out on the main trail and rewarded with the view of pink and red coloured clouds ahead of the sunset.
55 minutes and 6 miles of pure enjoyment, a few photos and video clips for the blog, it’s been great catching up with my old friend “the woods” same time next week ? Irunoffroad, I certainly do, if you’ve enjoyed the read – why don’t you ? 🙂