Photography & Fatigue
Today I met up with Phil Barrett a local and brilliant Photographer who’s put on a exhibition at the Space gallery in Ellesmere. Phil’s work is nothing short of inspirational, and I’ve been a big fan for quite while but we’d never met up until now. His work is hugely emotive and it’s easy to see he’s no stranger to thinking outside of the box and comes up with some absolutely blinding images. If you get chance make sure you go and see his work as I really can’t recommend it highly enough.
After spending some time talking to Phil and finding out more about his work, it was time to make a move and begin my run. I said goodbye and picked up a copy of his book “Making An Impact” before leaving – a complete bargain for a tenner showing loads of his incredible work.
Ellesmere is quite a small town but there’s something about it that I love, maybe it’s all the time we spent there as kids, going in the park or eating breakfast at Pete’s Cafe on the high street. I made my way up the high street and towards the Wharfage which has changed a great deal in recent years, the biggest change being the arrival of Tesco to Ellesmere which has been blamed for putting a strain on local businesses. Its a shame as this once quaint town has to submit and let these commercial giants in. I’m sure it adds convenience but I just hope that the smaller businesses can survive and that Ellesmere isn’t forced to be like other areas, where people are drawn to the big chain stores out of town and the high streets suffer as a result.
The wharfage is a hive of activity for tourists with a canal path running from it which sees dozens of narrow boats moored while their passengers enjoy what Ellesmere has to offer for a day or two. I must admit that if everywhere was as beautiful and as interesting as this, running would be a lot easier and even though I’m simply passing through you can still appreciate the laid back chilled out vibe from the area. It really is one of the places where you could just sit on a bench and let time pass you by. Unfortunately, there was no time to stop and do such a thing and before I knew it, I’ve cut off the main canal path and am working my way through a wooded area. The ground here is less forgiving with steep climbs and uneven ground but its still all very exciting and I find it easy to concentrate.
I meet up with the main road into Ellesmere from Shrewsbury and catch a glimpse of the Mere – a vast expanse of water which is undeniably one of Shropshire’s most beautiful areas. It’s actually one of nine mere’s in the “North Shropshire Lake District”. Their existence comes from back in the Ice Age when large blocks of ice were left behind by the deminishing glaciers. They were buried by mounds of debris and in time the ice melted leaving hollows which became lakes filled with water.
There was little time to stop and take it in though as I made my way along the waters edge. Ducks and Swans greeted me with their loud almost laugh-like quacking … perhaps they knew what was ahead of me. I ignored their mocking and made my way through Ellesmere Park and into the Woodland Walk, which stretches for a distance around the mere. I’d spoken to my Dad who’d advised me that you could only get so far around the lake and was keen to make sure I didn’t go too far before I reached a dead end. I carried on running passing plenty of walkers into denser and denser wooded areas although the path still looked well maintained, so I knew I couldn’t possibly have gone too far.
I’d looked on a map before leaving and worked out a rough route, and figured that I should be aiming to be turning off the path soon. Sure enough there was a sign post pointing towards Welshampton, which although didn’t ring any bells, I thought that this must be the direction I should be heading in despite the sign post pointing Ellesmere in the direction I had come from.
The path I was on was far from well maintained with rough uneven surfaces and thick grass, but I carried on regardless convinced that I’d see a main road soon. At the end of the pathway a farm road stretched out in front of me. One direction was signed as a rather unfriendly looking private road and so I took the other way. A farm loomed in the distance and so I thought I must be near a main road. I continued on my way heading towards the farm and veering off down some country lanes, this must be it I thought …
Oh … wait …
And with that I’d hit a dead end, the walking path continued through the fields but now I knew I must have taken a wrong turn. In front of me a large hill offered a better vantage point so I could get my bearings and possibly find a main road closeby. This possibly optimistic thought was proven wrong when I reached the top. Instead, fields spread out in front of me and in the very distance I could make out Ellesmere. There were no roads nearby and no signs of life.
There was nothing for it, I would have to backtrack. I had obviously gotten confused around the Mere and stupidly gone too far. I hate backtracking as I find it tedious and dull to cover the same ground on the same run. This is why you’ll find most of my runs end up being loops rather than to a set point and back. I was pretty unmotivated as I made my way back down to the path wiping the stinging sweat from my eyes. I looked down at my watch only to realise that I’d only got half an hour to get back to my car as knowing the luck I was having so far, chances are I’d get a ticket. I hurried up, a little more motivated at the thought of a parking warden putting a big clamp on my car and me being stranded.
The scenery seemed to pass by quickly and it didn’t seem very long till I was back at the woodland walk. I found the next exit off the walk and ended up on a road … success at last. On the side of the road was a church and graveyard … perhaps some of its inhabitants hadn’t quite made their way back from a run around the lake I pondered.
More and more signs pointed me towards town counting down 800 metres …. 400 meters till I knew where I was. I looked at my Blackberry which told me I’d done 4.6 miles. Determined, I figured I could probably run around the high street in a circle to make it up to 5 miles and still be back in time to see my car clamp free.
So I did.
I can’t begin to describe the sense of achievement that I felt, and OK … I had got lost but I’d finally hit the 5 mile marker, something I’d been keen to do for a while. I decided it was definately cause for celebration so grabbed a pasty from the deli and made a bee-line for the Red Lion for a cheeky pint of Wainwright … it hit the spot perfectly although my celebration was cut short when I realised that it was raining – hard and didn’t show any signs of stopping. I grabbed my newspaper trying to cover my head in some kind of futile attempt to stay dry which was clearly destined to fail and ran back to my car.