Since last year’s escapade with a helicopter I’ve been considering renewing my mountain first aid certificate, and so last weekend I headed west to Hafren Forest for a two-day course with CRT Medical. Suffice to say it was really useful, with almost continual learning, but a lot of fun too (and a certain amount of awkward getting up-close-and-personal with people you’ve only just met during practical exercises).
We had a great group and instructors, which made the whole thing very enjoyable. Despite a late finish on Saturday night (some of which I spent lying on the forest floor covered in fake blood, pretending to be unconscious), I got out reasonably early on Sunday morning for a run.
I’d worked out that the source of the River Severn was nearby, and so I determined to bloody well get there. The first few minutes of dull forestry path in half-darkness on the Severn Way made me question the wisdom of my decision. Soon though, blanket pines gave way to deciduous native woodland and its attendant wildlife. I found myself winding – steeply – up a little gorge before emerging from the trees onto open moorland.
With time marching onwards I pushed as far as I could, knowing that I couldn’t be too far away from the source. Just as my watch flicked over to my self-imposed turnaround time, a marker post came into view and a few seconds later I reached my destination.
The source itself isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s in a lovely location, and it’s amazing to think that the peaty, babbling stream is the start of the UK’s longest river, ending up with the largest water flow in England and Wales, and the third-largest tidal range in the world.
A boggy start, technical middle and flat-out final section gave brilliant running on the return leg, in glorious sunshine (it’s been a while since I’ve seen any of that!).
I was soon back at the car park, and heading ‘home’ for some more learning. The road back to the bunkhouse struck me as being brilliant driving terrain, but I must still have been half-asleep because it took me another ten minutes to work out that there has been a WRC stage running through Hafren for many years.
Day two of the course was just as enjoyable as the first, with a couple of practical scenarios to get us thinking (a paraglider, mountain biker and walker all suffering serious injury within 20m of each other – what are the chances?!) and the drive home wasn’t even too bad since the first half is all on brilliant driving roads where it’s impossible to get bored.