Late on Tuesday afternoon, I parked up at the gallops, about 1.5 miles north-west of Baydon, Wiltshire, just to the north of the M4, where a minor roads crosses over it. I was on my way home from a delivery, taking advantage of an opportunity to run in some excellent country.
I followed the open, rolling bridleway, which is usable throughout the winter and has a wonderful sense of space, north-west for 2 miles to the Ridgeway near the large transmitter mast at Fox Hill. The mast marks the end of the long section of the Ridgeway that crosses almost the whole of OS Landranger 174 without following any roads bar a 100m dog-leg on the A338 (although of course several have to be crossed).
The wind whistled between my slightly numb fingers, and I regretted not wearing my gloves, but the sun was out and the views were good.
Once on the Ridgeway, there’s little to be said for going south-west, as the track goes down quite steeply to the road in 250m. Instead, I turned north-east, which gives several options. The one I took was to turn left after about a mile, into the beautiful dry valley that takes you down into Bishopstone. I turned around before that, at the first gate where the valley opens up, and ran straight back up to the Ridgeway.
There is another bridleway that goes back more directly to where I parked, reached by simply crossing straight over the Ridgeway at the top of the dry valley, but it is ‘ordinary’ compared to the one I ran out on, so I headed back the way I came, giving me a bit more distance and an extra, fairly stiff climb up to Fox Hill.
I’d been running fairly gently, but I got a couple of faster, fartlek sections in as I followed the bridleway back to the van. The light was fading now and I was hungry, but feeling good after that nice little session, snatched at the end of my working day. My thoughts turned to food and I headed off home.