Tried a new run today through Cliveden which is a local National Trust property. Started out from Cookham and crossed the Thames at Cookham Bridge. Then straight across a muddy field, through some houses and then uphill along quite an awkward trail that follows the road. Had to run around a recently fallen tree (didn't fancy risking going under it as it was propped up on a fence).
Then I started working out a way into the estate. The main house and gardens is closed at this time of year but a section of woodlands (aptly called Woodlands) is open so I ended up running all the way to this part of the estate with a car park. This wasn't particularly pleasant as I had to run along the road for some sections as the path disappeared. I anticipated I might have this problem which is why I chose not to bring Fleet on the run.
Anyway I reached the Woodlands Car Park entrance (National Trust) and I asked the chap at the gate if it was possible to pass all the way through the estate so I didn't have to risk the road. He said I couldn't as it was private, this confused me a little but what he meant was it was all owned by the National Trust ... I showed him my membership card and said 'That's different then!' - made me feel quite important, part of the Club :-) He then proceeded to tell me that I should be able to get through the estate and out of the entrance reserved for the hotel and that I could probably use this route in the future, just explain to anybody that I was going to/from Woodlands and keep away from the house. I'd been reluctant to try this entrance on the way up as (called Hedsor Gate), despite my earlier post about going round fields, I'm actually quite a law abiding sort of guy and don't like getting in trouble unnecessarily.
So after chatting a little more to the helpful National Trust chap during which time we both complained about how few public footpaths there were that side of the river, I set off. Now he said to follow the route along the river and then up the road which keeps some distance from the house where the 'expensive' hotel is. Well I tried this but alas, workmen were digging up the road I need to run along. I had a choice to either turn round and run all the way back or risk running up to the house ... gulp! After a bit of thought I figured that I would risk the house (expensive hotel) route and explain that I was just trying to find the way out and was a bit lost, which was actually true! Besides, I'm grey enough such that younger people are disinclined to confront me and older ones might think I was a guest, there are some benefits to premature greying, although I'm sadly getting to the age where it might not be considered premature anymore, sigh! I spotted a path through the woods that had a sign that said, very helpfully, 'The House'. Surely I wasn't going to come across men in camouflage gear and air rifles ... surely not :-s (read previous post for explanation).
I ran out of the woods and I was at the house! 'Keep running', I thought. I decided that I would keep away from open areas, not because of snipers ... really (previous post reference again). I ran past the Orangery Restaurant all the time convinced I would bump into somebody important. I was relieved when I arrived at the road in front of the house only to see workmen in a truck with fluorescent jackets (always a sign of authority) looking at me! Yipes!
What to do?
Well you'll be pleased to know that I walked boldly up to them, told them that I was lost and was trying to find the Hedsor Gate (the name of the entrance/exit). They were actually very helpful and friendly and it was only just a few hundred metres up the road :-) They probably thought I was a guest! Incidentally, a hotel car did drive past me with two young staff members in it (a young man and lady), they smiled and waved at me ... they must have thought I was a guest too, or they might have been skiving, or I looked too much like their Dad and they really wouldn't want to confront me. I was quickly out of the estate and ran back home.
So it was a muddy run but one I would definitely will do again. When the workmen have finished the road repairs it will be even easier and the Woodlands area has an outdoor exercise trail thingy. Now I know how quickly I can run past the house I hardly think it will be a problem. Once the house is open again it will be even easier.
The route was 8.5 miles altogether but I could make it shorter in the future. Next place I want to investigate running through is Taplow Court which is Buddhist owned ... I have a relation who helps out there in the coffee shop on weekends so she might be able to give me the lay of the land ;-)
So my total Janathon mileage is 53 miles, I hadn't planned to run quite so far today.