Running on the Quantock Hills – route details at

At this time of year, as the changing of the clocks marks the final step out into the colder, darker months, I find myself making sure my stocks of warmth and sunshine are full and ready to access whenever I feel the chills of winter penetrating a little too deep.  In days gone by when I used to work in an office, I remember the dread of this time of year: getting up in the dark, leaving for work in the dark, leaving work in the dark, clothes and shoes designed for indoors offering little protection from the cold and damp.  Running, during the week at least, took on a new dimension, occurring only within the confines of a long, narrow tunnel of light beamed through the night from my head torch.  Nowadays, although over all I’m busier, with self-employment and parenthood filling most of my waking hours (and many of my former sleeping hours too), I no longer feel that dread.  Winter has its own peculiar warmth in the way it makes you seek out cosy places, from wrapping a warm scarf to wrapping of hands around a mug; from seeking out the nearest seat to the fire to retreating inwards to memories and plans of warmth and light.

Although the year ahead is to bring many as-yet unknown adventures, it’s also requiring a degree of planning ahead I haven’t ever managed before.  Being about to embark on a trip for a year necessitates the tying up of ends and a knowledge about where we’ll be for the whole of the 12 months to come.  So I’ve been spending lots of time thinking about the places we’ll want to explore when it’s warm and sunny and dry and, as a result, remembering and reliving our warm weather adventures and the running and exploring we’ve done in the summer months before.  Looking through our photo archives I stumbled upon this picture of a day out on the Quantock Hills.  Although, as I sit here, all around is turning wintry and cold it instantly transports me to that time and place on Somerset’s rolling grassy uplands, freely winding my way along perfect running trails.  And suddenly I feel brighter inside, as though I’ve accessed my cache of sunshine like a squirrel digs up a nut that has grown plump and nutritious through the spring and summer and ripened to imbue its goodness as the season fades.  And suddenly I feel emboldened to venture out into the challenging weather and fortified against the coming cold and dark.  For the light and warmth of the summer is never too far away, and will feel all the better for it.