Friday, October 25, 2013

Milford Haven to Seascale

On Monday night I went to see Ned Boulting talk at the Showroom cinema in Sheffield.  We left at around 8:30 then I headed home to pickup my passport for my site visit on Wednesday and I drove down to Newport in South Wales.  This took me until midnight at which point I spent around 1 hour faffing and trying to wind down from the drive, getting to sleep about 1:30am.

On Tuesday morning I left the hotel at 8 to get to Milford Haven for 10:50 to allow myself enough time for a site induction.  I arrived in town 45 minutes early then my head shut down and I spent the next 50 minutes making myself late.

After my meeting I started the long drive to Seascale to attend my Wednesday site visit.

The meeting didn't finish until 3pm so I had to eat lunch and dinner on the road.  I damn well decided to take some of my life back and stopped for a short run on the North Pembrokeshire coastline where it was pretty windy and I could only just see the sea.

I didn't feel like running at all on account of the raging headache and intense breeze but run I did - to a certain extent.  I didn't manage to run over to the very tempting crag on the other side of the valley but I promised I would visit it next time and ran around my particular hillock instead.  With all of these things, the trip back to the car is always shorter as you know where you are.

Despite the howling wind, it was pretty warm and I stood around next to the car luxuriating in the warm breeze and sitting out on the still-hot engine of the audi wishing I'd packed coffee before retreating inside to change out of my wet shoes and hit the road again.

The drive North from then was pretty depressing - especially when it got so dark I couldn't see what was going on around me.  I just concentrated on the traffic and drove until I needed more fuel then drove some more until I reached Lymm truckstop - last refuge before the M6.  At least I didn't need to worry about the sweaty runner look.

3 hours later and I checked into my hotel at Seascale complete with sea-view (well I can hear the ocean and I understand it is located on the other side of the road from my darkened hotel window).  It's still midnight by the time I've showered and gone to bed.

Morning comes and I am exhausted.  So exhausted that I turn my early morning run alarm off in my sleep and instead get up at 10-to-breakfast time.

I eat breakfast with my colleague. 

I go to site and discuss projects and measurements and I say reassuring things.   As the meeting draws to a close, I am starting to wish everyone would be quiet because I don't want anyone to say anything important because there's a high likelihood that my tired brain will miss it.  I escape unscathed, have my second 3pm lunch in as many days  which I eat watching 2ft waves crash into the sea wall, thinking about the Whitehaven killings as the stark memory of the police cars lined outside the caf where I'm eating my lunch comes to mind.  There's now a memorial in the park to all the lives which Derrek Bird stole from the villages in 2010.

I slink off back to my hotel, which I've checked into for another night and attempt to sleep-off 2 days of long driving evenings  in 1.5 hours.  I wake up groggy but have to get outside and do some exercise.  It's a day for the gym really, with the wind blowing so hard but nature's gym will have to do today so I set off on the bike after much faffing with bikes and clothing and my new light.

It's tricky staying upright but I hide behind sheep and undergrowth and I get 20 minutes of riding in  before the light goes on.  I've ridden out of the village and set off down a trail through a farmyard, field and along track.  I can see the iconic image of site on the horizon but unfortunately it's a bit too dark for the camera to capture it clearly.

We cross a hay field diagonally which is odd because the hay has been mown down to stubs which are just long enough to skim the bottoms of my cycling shoes every time my foot reaches the bottom of its stroke.  I can also hear the tyres crushing the stems as I ride in a steady rhythm of the tillered rows.  The lake district is tucking itself in under a cloudy duvet beyond.

My path stops at a meeting of the ways… and none of the ways are passable.  They're all massively puddled (not in the mood for wet feet), consist mainly of mown brambles or are made up of chossy grass-covered rock lumps which stop me with every pedal rev.  I give up and retreat to try another route. 

I ride along a bridlepath towards the coast line in the hope of picking up a trail which passes along boundary of open access.

I am riding alongside the Drigg storage facility and get the feeling I am being watched by some uniformed fellows in charge of CCTV somewhere.  I think of taking a picture of the "nuclear facility" signs but think better of it and ride straight through to the beach, just in time to see the last embers of sunset.

The expected tracks don't appear and I'm not for picking my way across the heathland in what is now quite serious darkness, no matter how strong my new lights are.

I've not been out for long and the hardest part of my ride was opening gates.  The most rewarding was this view and the most benefit I got from it was finding out how bright my new lights are.

I decided to call it quits at 7:30 and went for dinner.  Sometimes when you start work in a new area it's just about finding your way around, discovering which bridleways are good to use… and this case, which to avoid.  Tomorrow: the other end of the village.

Afterblog: In the morning, sleep and diligence got the better of me (initially) but since it was *such* a nice day, I had to stop and do this little run before I hit the M6.

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