Darkness on the edge of town

Here in Burnham-on -Sea we really are fortunate to have such testing climbs like Brent Knoll and Brean Down within a few miles. At this time of year, when the clocks have fallen back an hour and darkness is all around from 5.00pm, these locations are of interest to the casual head torch runner.

I had tried to get a group of us interested in a night run up Brean Down but the weather had been very poor recently with lots of wind and rain. Life, being as it is, prevented some from from committing to a run. The reasons being sadness and happiness. The Yin and Yang of life really. Every action has a reaction. I have found that it’s very important to have a balance and realise things happen, and for a reason, and to keep events into some kind of perspective.

For example, this week I forgot to buy some cat litter and I felt devestated. Like I was unworthy and useless but I can name at least two people who’s lives are to be potentially turned upside down in the next few weeks. Mental health issues can be sporadic, random, irrational and just bloody weird. Although I’m learning to use the tools to give me logic to a situation and be able to rationalise and quantify it. It is a new concept to me and needs challenging. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that that you can please some of the people some of the time, but to please everybody any of the time requires a f*cking miracle which is beyond me.

Anyway the group ended up being a pair, Kelly Sherriff and myself. Kelly is terrific company as, dare I say it, because she can talk at least while she can breathe. Life has made me a listener but I do enjoy interacting and once I get going I hope I’m interesting and fun. I never used to run with others before but now I really like it and actively look for company. Whereas in my previous life I was pushing myself all the time and often nobody but myself could push me to that maximum. I love chatting now and mentoring where I can. I like people again.

Weston-Super-Mare, the Pearl of the Somerset Riviera

Picture courtesy of Kelly Sherriff

Kelly parked up at a pub car park at Brean which gave us a mile warm up jog to the Down. A steep road is the easiest access to the start of the climb where we’re greeted by a supreme panoramic view of Weston-Super-Mare and the bay. Needless to say without street lighting it’s bloody dark up there but is easily navigated along a path on the Weston side to the the fort. The fort is creepy during daylight so as darkness falls your imagination can run wild. The views are still tremendous even in the dark. The lights of Cardiff to the North West and Hinkley Point power station to the South West.

Hinkley Point lights up the sky

Picture courtesy of Kelly Sherriff

The Bristol Channel was a convenient area to practice the Dambusters raids and on a night like tonight I could see why. The solitude and the silence, apart from the waves crashing, was quite deafening and challenges your senses. The darkness adds to the eerieness of the fort. What happened here to provoke such thoughts?

Our intrepid explorers

We ran back over the top. At the bottom a couple of coastguards were waiting for back up. Apparently some concerned individual had seen lights at the bottom of Brean Down at high tide. We hoped it wasn’t us that caused the shout but we were always at the top so it couldn’t have been us. We had seen some walkers when we started our run on the lower areas. Thankfully everything was okay and the coastguards, after their reconnaissance, were stood down. We completed 5 miles back to Kelly’s car. The pub was still closed so I couldn’t buy her the comforting Bailey’s I had promised but maybe next time.

Saturday was All Hallows Eve, Halloween, and I thought it would be fun to run around our local park run in the dark and with head torches to provoke the local apparitions to reveal themselves.

Several turned up wearing fabulous themed costumes and soon after the darkness fell we set off, The run and how it was to be organised was always dependent on numbers. We had 10 turn up with 3 run leaders so as an organised club run we fell well into England Athletics post covid-19 guidelines. The Burnham and Highbridge park run takes in Apex Park with it’s lake and wildlife and the sea front. I’ve ran this many times in the dark with a headtorch but most of my co-runners hadn’t. As they were regularpark run participants, back in the day, this was quite a novelty.

Looks like Big Dave’s Pee Pee has had an idea!

Picture courtesy of Kelly Sherriff

Thanks to Kelly, during the run we had regular updates on England’s rugby 6 Nations match against Italy but Boris Johnson’s coronavirus statement to the nation waited, at least for me, until later and the news wasn’t nice.

Picture courtesy of Kelly Sherriff

The run was accepted in the way that I that I hoped it would be with the faster, keener runners stopping to allow the slower ones to catch up. The whole intention was for the run to be fun and sociable and that’s how it turned out. Hopefully everybody enjoyed it. We had Quality Street™ chocolates at the finish and Kelly arranged some wonderful medals as a memento of the event.

Winners are grinners

Incidentally, England won the 6 Nations Championship and Boris locked us down again.

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