Monday, 16 February 2015

August Challenge: The Great Yorkshire River Run - Day 3 (Selby to Hull)

Selby Abbey
After a good sleep to try and recover as much as possible it was about 5.30am and time to get up and get prepared for the day ahead. Despite the tiredness and stiffness associated with over 100 miles – mostly run – in less than three days there was an immediate positive to start today, a cooked breakfast. My B&B option here in Selby had a fantastically early breakfast start time of 6.30am. So after taking time to get dressed, bag readied and feet patched up – yesterday’s blister plasters were mostly off so I took great care to adhere more “moleskins” to the sore patches on the balls of my feet – I was downstairs at just after 6.30. And I wasn’t even the first down in the breakfast room!

Cereal, fresh orange and then scrambled egg on toast really filled my tank up nicely, without stuffing myself. I then paid my bill and I was off at 7.16am. I walked at first through Selby to gently ease stiff joints into motion, before breaking into a ‘slog’ (how it felt at times and an my ongoing abbreviation for 'slow jog') down the main street and over the Ouse bridge. My choice route on the river-side, transpennine trail cycle path out of town was off-limits as blocked by works on the railway bridge. So a detour through industrial Selby followed, before meeting the river about half-a-mile out of town.

A quiet boulevard in the
south M62 'empty land'
I now followed hard, stoney track or flood embankment top path for the following few miles tracking large bends in the river, which really made the route far from direct today. The legs didn’t have much speed today, but by running long periods with much shorter walk-breaks I was making faster than 4mph progress as per yesterday. The bounce of harder surfaces was faster, but the softer embankment top path was kinder on swollen feet, on the condition that the path was even and didn’t aggravate the blisters!

After some more fun with cows, much as per yesterday pre-York, I arrived at a place called Newhay and was greeted by an aggressive dog at a path junction, where I was unsure of the correct path. The grumpy owner came over from his front garden after making some snide trespassing comment - despite me being at the path junction still – gave me some less than cheerily-toned guidance. I got back on my way, a bit upset/wound up by this as the map wasn’t conclusive. My last word on this should I see the man again would be, if this happens enough to bother you then why not aid the long-distance walkers, runners, cyclists who frequent this route with a helpful sign? I would.

Long straight roads and passing skies
Back onto the embankment path down the Ouse and at Barmby tidal barrage I decided to deviate from my planned route along the river and go through Barmby towards Howden – conscious my route today had large sections of little civilisation and I really could do with a shop before not too long to top-up water and maybe get some lunch in for later. If not my next “sure thing” was Brough where I wouldn’t be until potentially hours after lunchtime. Barmby didn’t offer much, but it was a gimme few miles along a straight road before I hit Howden.

I only skimmed the southern edge of Howden and I looked like not hitting a shop. Should I deviate further into town as surely there would be a shop? Or do I push on and make do with the water I have and snacks I have until Brough? I decided on the latter and it worked out well enough as I came within only a 100yard detour from a garage on the way out of town. I put my money to good use snapping up a meal deal; a big chicken Caesar wrap, crisps and water. I topped up by bottles and packed the wrap. I wouldn’t be able to stash the crisps in my relatively full pack without crushing them so I had a mid-to-late morning snack on-the-walk as I undertook one of the only climbs of my day to rise a few dozen feet over the M62 on the road bridge.

Goodbye Ouse, hello Humber
Heading south of the M62 between Goole and South Cave took me into the large super-flat and not unpleasant (on a sunny day like today), expanse of farming land that I think of as a little step back in time every time I visit. I would now have miles and hours of quiet roads and paths and would probably see as many transpennine trail cyclists as I would cars in this time. Such an experience may not be unique in our country, but would more likely be experienced in the upland areas of the UK.

I passed through Kilpin and Laxton before winding my way closer to the river through Yokefleet and then joining the bank at Blacktoft. I decided to run atop the flood bank again here for a while so I could try and photograph the end of the river Ouse as it spilt out into the Humber Estuary. After so many miles and so many of them on road my leg motion was very restricted by tiredness and stiffness, so even running on the relatively-even grass bank top was slow going. So I slowed to a walk to eat my wrap and try and recharge my batteries.

Outside the village and I was back onto quiet minor roads as regained a stiff jog. My overall pace today was marginally faster than the previous two days, the slowest being the first day. But on the first day I tackled more off-road and hill and seemed to walk a fair bit more as I gabbed with Mark. Day two had seen a preference for road, but some off-road that was far more challenging than today. Today I simply had to ‘slog’ most of the time, otherwise I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere fast.

More of that ugly, cross-eyed bloke
I moved onto a gravelly track and then as that swung north and off-route to a village I followed straight on to a path marked on the map. Which was really now a mostly chewed-up field edge between a ditch and dried-mud plowed fields (very uncomfortable on blistered feet). Even running bits I slowed massively here and motivation nosedived. I was glad to eventually get a grassy track to a farm and – after trying to figure my way out of the yard for a few minutes – another grassy flood embankment in the land between riverside marshes and lots more fields.

This was quite a good surface for progress, the natives, 100’s of sheep had beat nice trod along the flat-topped bank. And running through the numbers of these gentle creatures cheered me up simply because they weren’t aggressive cows for a change! And also reminded me of my little boy at home whose favourite toy is his fluffy sheep ‘Bah-bara’. At the edge of Brough a different emotion was stirred as my path passed the Humber Yawl club. I choked up a bit as I had in the past picked up my late-mother from here after she’d been sailing with members of the blind/partially-sighted activity group she supported.

Better than Cows!
I was back to civilisation, in the large village/small town of Brough. Which had shops, cafes, pubs, you name it…. But I just wanted to get on with it and all I needed was a water top-up. Before that though, it was a sure sign I was back in familiar territories as I ran into a friend of my dad’s, who was taking on a gruelling challenge of his own, landscaping the garden of the house his son had brought. I stopped to chat and tell him of my venture and got some more sponsorship.

I got a bottle of water to fill my bottles and a ‘for goodness shake’, which I stashed in the bag for after I finished today. And then headed out of Brough via the only slightly hilly section of the day through Welton, Melton and then over the A63 to Ferriby. I then headed back downhill to the riverbank and stiffly-jogged along the riverside path towards Hessle. After a brief stop to picture the outlines and plaques of the historic “Ferriby Boats” to add to my collection of journey memorabilia. 

Old boats....
How old you ask?
My path now followed a fine line of solid land between high-reeds and marshy land by the river and the A63 dual-carriageway, the central artery between Hull and the outside world. Still mostly beating out a slog with my swollen, sometimes painful feet I rounded the old overgrown and dilapidated docks which sandwiched the St Andrews Quay retail park with my first view of “jewels”  of civilisation such as Starbucks and McDonalds since York.

The Humber Bridge
The sun was out this afternoon so I passed numerous people out walking the river and further family groups as I headed into the shaded paths of the country park. From here I climbed the short section of steps from the old quarry and followed the raised path with great views under the vast Humber bridge. As I skirted Hessle and rejoined the river at the edge of Hull my thoughts were now “last leg”. I used to live in Hessle and would sometimes run to work in Hull centre so I knew it was little over 5m using the most direct route. However my riverside path weaved a bit more so it could be more like 10k left today.

Under the bridge....
I was now journeying back into the old-industry areas of landscape that fill many of my midweek run miles each week. Leaving St Andrews quay I got lucky that although the old dock-buildings to the east had started the process of being demolished since I had last past not that long ago, I could get through and didn’t have to take a detour at this late stage. One more ascent and descent as I passed over the raised walkway built over the Albert dock warehouses (which I always thought a pleasant, unusual an theatrical way for this path to enter the city, but it’s good for a city panorama).
Rising above the docks...
It was then across the lockgate of the marina and through the old fruit market area before crossing the river Hull – dividing the tribes of east and west – on the millennium bridge, around the dramatic deep building at Sammy’s point and onto the path along the riverfront of the Victoria dock village. I’d contacted Clare at 5pm and maybe 3.5m ago to arrange to meet me at about 6pm at the end of the village. Which meant I had little respite from slog-speed if I wanted to stop at the shop and collect a cool drink to sink at the end. In fact, just as I ran up the road to the roundabout, Clare who was driving up, spotted me. In a rare event me and Clare were both a few minutes early! 10hrs40 and 43.2m today.

Past the tidal barrier....
It was great to see Clare and Isaac, who I’d missed so much (this being the longest I’d not seen Isaac for in his 20mths). I got home and I was able to relax that little bit more than previous days. Although, relax isn’t in Isaacs vocab yet, so I also had to offer some low-key playtime. After a bath we got a takeaway Chinese from our great local and I think I was asleep not long after.

And 'The Deep' and I'm nearly done today.
It was great to be home, but there was still significant mileage and possibly a challenging riverbank route tomorrow taking me out of town from where I’d stopped today through miles and miles of mostly deserted reclaimed farmland to my eventual challenge endpoint at Spurn point. It wasn’t a mileage or route that would usually phase me, but my body had taken a battering already. The damage seemed to have been accelerated today. As well as a general stiffness and achiness, my legs were almost seized up now. The blisters weren’t really any worse, but my feet were now really swollen and my big toes in particular had taken quite a battering.

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