As a trail running blogger, by definition, I love to write about where I’ve been. I enjoy sharing my experiences and maybe, just maybe it will motivate others to follow in my trainer footsteps on a rural run.
My most recent run was along the Meon Valley Trail (MVT) which heads north out of Wickham with a gradual incline, as befits an old railway line, on its way toward West Meon.
The trail is reasonably wide and is sheltered on either side by well established trees that form a green tunnel of foliage at this time of the year. I planned seven miles of the MVT which would take me to the point where the South Downs Way crosses and I’d use this to run up Old Winchester Hill.
I ran on a Friday morning which curiously gave my adventure an unexpected feeling of freedom, on the one hand I felt like I was skipping school (even though that was many years ago) and on the over I knew most people would be on their way to work. Starting at 7.30 a.m. also gave me a mindful experience with few distractions.
My early start was rewarded with the views of a white carpet of frost on many of the fields that back onto the MVT as well as the birdsong that comes from there being no one else interfering with their morning rituals.
To my left the Meon River winds its way towards Wickham and ultimately Titchfield and the sea. The water flows at quite a pace due to the gradual incline and it is crystal clear. On a good day you could potentially spot either a kingfisher or a vowel. An additional benefit of today’s run was the seasonal abundance of beautiful bluebells.
The wind swishes through the trees and there’s an occasional rustle of branches, probably due to a squirrel. Days like today are to be fully absorbed, who needs headphones when there’s so much to take in.
As I reach my appointment with the South Downs Way I leave the shelter of the trees and start the climb up towards Old Winchester Hill. I can immediately feel the sun on my face and the wind on my cheek as the elements welcome me to the open countryside.
The trail isn’t too muddy but I pay attention to the sections were horses have churned up the soil. As my elevation ramps up the tree roots that appear from under the hedgerows remind me that taking in the views needs to be combined with focusing on the matter at hand.
My next reminder of Spring is the sight of lambs with their protective parents. I try my best not to startle them but I guess they’re quite familiar with ramblers and runners.
Reaching Old Winchester Hill the surrounding countryside pans out 360 degrees around you from the trig point.
Green, yellow and brown farmers fields all contrast against the mornings blue sky. Again on a good day Red Kites and buzzards can be spotted, however it was man made fight that I observed today with two paragliders.
There’s one last drag up to the highest point in this area of the park and it kept the best until last. Yet more contrasts of colour.
All that was left was to retrace my steps, take care on the downhill and carry on soaking up both the views and the peace and quiet.
Mindfulness is all about living in the moment even if that moment lasted 18 miles and just over 3 hours.
Go for a run in the country and connect with your surroundings.
Thanks for reading