Complaints to Andy H about the easy weather conditions on the Hunter Wreck race and the forecast for more easy weather on this Wednesday's Warts alternative run, prompted Andy to suggest the more challenging outing of Ouzeldon. In John D's absence, Willy was volunteered to put the venue on the Warts calendar. Recollections of last year's trip to Ouzeldon reminded us (about 20) of the primordial nature of the area so there was a collective will to avoid that part of it at the end of the run.
At least three leaders, Andy, Bob and Ian, took us up the track from the start up through the woods to the Birchinlee Pasture. Over the years I have learned not to be misled by areas named "pastures" which imply smooth and closely cropped grassy fields. Birchinlee proved to be no exception as we wobbled over the tussocks and deep heather. Compensation for the bumpiness, however, was made by Lucy's flights of imagination on future Olympic events, including backwards running which was deftly demonstrated by her for 50 yards. Clive and I both struggled to keep up!! After this athleticism, Lucy disappeared into the night towards the edge path above Alport Castles.
Our descent down the northern end of the Castles led us into its rocky and steep terrain and up to the Tower where refreshments were taken before making the now routine head torch light show on the descent to, and the climb out of, the boulder field.
Regrouping on the edge path, plans were made for the optimum return route to Ouzeldon, avoiding last year's previous excitements. So, a dash was made on the edge path paving stones, causing Toria to twist her ankle. When the time came to turn off the path for Ouzeldon, calls were made by Tom to wait for Toria and Fi F generously became her guardian angel. The terrain returned to the heathery tussocks and the group, including newcomer Fiona (what a first run!), headed towards Ouzeldon. As the way started to become suspiciously steep and rocky, Andy declared we'd cut off from the edge path too early. We then crawled, slid and staggered down through the heather and bracken covered rock garden of the landslip (?) outcrop in Alport Grain. It became increasingly apparent as we waded through the undergrowth that tonight's "run" was neither far nor fast at 3-ish miles and 2 hours! Whilst Andy wisely chose to cross Alport Grain and into the forest, the rest of us ploughed on through the jungle to reach Ouzeldon and, eventually, the track to the cars. Andy arrived at about the same time (slightly smugly??). After a decent wait, concerns were growing for Fi and Toria who were still "out there". Both Tom and Lucy went back up the track looking for them but to no avail and questions were asked about what our health and safety procedure was. As the emergency mobile phones were being brought out, Fi and Toria arrived, smiling, having used the Andy route through the wood.
Will we ever find the optimum route? Should we recce the route in daylight? Who will become the chief pathfinder? Will Ouzeldon generate a Pertex winner? So many questions, but at the moment Ouzeldon wins again!!