When we first moved to Cumbria a trip to Talkin Tarn each weekend was almost obligatory. My running route of preference was the 10km from my house, along the Dandy Line and through Rowbank Woods, round the Tarn and back along the road. The year that we had a month of snow the children were pulled around the Tarn on sledges on Christmas Day; the day I discovered I was pregnant with Edward was when I had been for a run of a couple of laps around the Tarn, told the friend I was running with I couldn’t possibly be pregnant, and got home to do a (positive) pregnancy test. I have run around the Tarn on a dark winter’s night with a headtorch on, loving the beauty of its stillness under a black sky reflecting stars; as a family we were photographed up there for Woman & Home, David and I looking as if we loved each other although the two of us knew already that the cracks were beginning to show; and Alex learnt to cycle up there. And the most recent triathlon I did, even though that was a few years ago now, was Talkin Tarn triathlon-became-a-duathlon (the water was freezing).
For some reason it’s not a route I have taken much over the past year or longer. Perhaps it’s that with training for Kielder marathon I got a bit more adventurous, trying out routes along Hadrian’s Wall and even the northern Pennine Way; perhaps it’s that having discovered Talkin Fell, the hills now always seem to beckon me: the places I can run to, stand on top, and look far into the distance, to the sea and to the sky. Or perhaps it’s just that the ‘normal’ route up to and back from the Tarn involves a mile or more on road, and I just don’t like running on roads any longer.
Perhaps it’s also that I no longer go out with David and the children to run: he can run while they cycle, or used to run with two of them cycling and one in the running buggy: I never could, getting frustrated by having to push cyclists and finding the running buggy really uncomfortable. Now that I run on my own more often, the woods and the hills beckon.
But today for some reason the Tarn called to me. Too tired and lazy to run all the way up there, I ‘cheated’ and drove up there and parked in the car park (free after 6pm). I had worked at Taste of Tynedale all weekend and whilst I enjoy catering enormously (both the prep., the cooking and the customer service), it’s tiring and I had been on my feet all day both days (and chopped a copious amount of onions). Last night when I got home I needed to go for a walk up a hill and today I wanted to get out for a short and gentle run. The more-or-less level Tarn was the perfect option.
As I ran I thought about my weekend. I happened to be in Hexham on Friday as well, and so I have been to Hexham for each of the past three days. It’s a lovely town which I’ve now got to know a little better, and which I think I may visit more often. I was working mostly with a group of 17-22 year olds, and really enjoyed it: they are so enthusiastic about life, and at 50+ and as a mother, I didn’t need to impress them nor try to be ‘cool’ as I took it for granted that I wouldn’t be. Not being quite so bothered about what people think about me is something which has probably only really been the case for the the past few months (yes, I said months: it’s sad, but better to have got to this stage now than never). I really admire the apparent confidence of the lovely people I was working with, and hope that they all retain it and their joie de vivre as they go through life. They’re so refreshing: as of course are most positive, energetic, enthusiastic people.
As I ran around the Tarn I considered my surroundings too. There have been a few changes recently, such as a family of wooden hedgehogs having replaced the old wooden dog. Today the impressive sky contained the most amazing variety of clouds, the dark grey of the impending rain contrasting with the brightness of the sunlight which was vanishing. As I came out from the new wooded area (which surely must add a little extra distance to a lap), the whiteness of the swans glowed against the darkening sky reflected in the lake. And then, running through the last bit of wood, I found raspberries growing wild – not quite ripe yet but a few days and they will be (please don’t all go up there and steal them – I’d like some!).
When I got home I finally remembered to text my friend Kerry (with whom I trained for Kielder marathon) to arrange a run. She, her husband Kevin and I are all running Kielder 10km in October and struggling to get fit enough for it, but now is a good time to start. I’m running in aid of Medecins sans Frontieres, for the amazing work they do around the globe, often in places where they are not only saving lives but their own lives are at risk. If you’d like to sponsor me then please follow this link to my JustGiving page…