On Saturday, Christmas came early for 40+ eager trail-loving runners as Trailscape once again partnered with Never Stop London and explored Christmas Common in the Chilterns, Oxfordshire.
We left the motorway and passed through small sleepy villages, the bus winding its’ way through narrow, double-parked rural streets and one-way countryside lanes. Just an hour after leaving the city, I looked out the window to see rows upon rows of tiny young Christmas trees, like a vineyard only with spiky firs instead of vines, and realised our destination – Christmas Common – and the clue that Trailscape had left for us on their Instagram, #Christmas, became clear. Hopping off the bus opposite a country-style pub, the start and end point of our 10.5 mile run, I was eager as ever to explore. The weather was dry, a little humid, but bright, and I was glad I had filled both of my soft flasks with water in Pret before leaving, popping them into my Salomon vest to carry while I ran. There would be no toilet or water stops on our route so we were told to wild-wee before starting (!) as well as carry enough water and fuel for the entirety.
In a similar fashion to all of the other Trailscape runs I’ve been lucky enough to join, Nick led us off and kept a quick pace at the front and I tried to follow, while Hannah back-marked and made sure the whole group was together. I chatted to Nick as we ran along and he told me a little story about how the name Christmas Common came about – not, as I initially I had thought, because of the Christmas tree plantation we spotted on our travels, but because of a Christmas Day truce in 1643 between combatants in the English Civil War.
Trailscape had a beautiful route of trail running in store for us and initially warned us that this was the most undulating course they’d taken us on, so I wasn’t surprised when we approached the first huge downhill and the shrieks of pure joy I could hear behind me as we hurled ourselves down a very steep grassy slope! Of course, what goes down, must also go up (or is it the other way around!?) so the next section climbed slowly up through a beautiful wooded section before we were treated to another wonderful downhill towards a marked path on The Ridgeway. We hopped over stiles and through old wooden gates, into fields full of young sheep and even a few very friendly horses, quickly clocking up the miles without even knowing it, and before long we were on the home stretch and pub-ward bound.
Another great adventure with my Never Stop London family thanks to Trailscape, and with each trail exploration I go on with these guys, the friendships grow as does my love of escaping the city. Rumour has it there’s another adventure in the planning stages for the end of the month so keep your eye out on the Facebook page and sign up as soon as you see something! I promise it’s well worth the early Saturday morning start – this weekend’s adventure has kept my itchy trail-loving feet at bay for a short time! but I’ll be back in this neck of the woods (the beautiful Chilterns) for our next trip this weekend as Nige and I take on the OMM!