Pembury Walks SAX District Event, 9th January

This was one of the few events I’ve done South-East of London – the map is near Tunbridge Wells. I did the Brown course, which at 8.5km and 215m climb was one of the harder Browns. I really did manage to mess this one up, making numerous errors, particularly legs 5, 6, 12, 14, 19 and 21 (I made many other smaller errors too – this was not a great technical run on my part!)

Leg 5-6 can (just) be seen in the second extract below. My mistake here was to optmistically plunge into the “Undergrowth walk” just south of control 5. For January, this was pretty overgrown. I out of it eventually, only to get stuck on more vegetation just south of the stream. 3-4 was an interesting one, too – the cliff just to the north was huge, and I approached the 4th control having gone down the wrong path and on the “blind” side of the cliff. The first extract shows some later controls – I made a big (>5 minute) mistake coming to number 19, missed the control and went rushing up the path to the east, only realising what I’d done when I came to the steep earth bank beside the path, 500m down. 21 also was tough – a “bingo” control in featureless, poor visibility terrain – I hit the road behind the control and had to relocate.

Northern section of Brown course at Pembury Walks

My time in the end was 91:16, a disappointing 10.7 mins/km. The winner did 64:16 though (7.6 mins/km) so it wasn’t the quickest of areas for South England!

Pembury Walks sampleThis was the first Pembury Walks event for 25 years – the area, an RSPB reserve, used to be regularly used until a bypass was built right through the heart. The course necessitated a hair-raising (but untimed) cross of the dual carriageway at one end, and a long, tedious and unpleasant crossing by a long-winded bridge at the other end – made worse as it dropped you into an uninteresting part of the map. Without the bypass, this would be a nice area indeed. The northern-most part is flat and fast, and there is a nice heathery/open section right in the middle of the map that felt more Yorkshire for a moment than Kent.

One thing to note though – this event was in early January, when you would normally expect vegetation to be at its lowest. But there was a lot of vegetation out there, some of it very unpleasant. Any other time of the year, this map would probably be too overgrown to have an event on.

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