Running Dog: The Sheepstor Ascent
Man's best friend, they say. But when you're running, your dogs can be very unfriendly indeed. Especially if you decide to start off running uphill. Man's best training partner perhaps, but certainly not friend, certainly not when you're running straight up the south western side of Sheepstor. Dogs just don't feel hills like I do. They don't stop, they barely pant, they just run.
If you want to get your heart pumping from the off, this is the route for you. If you like more of a build-up – go the other way round.
After five minutes of this run, all straight up, I was in a state. The last time I'd been quite as breathless was when I was "boxed" by a fast bowler on the cricket pitch. If you're not familiar with the term, it's the sort of impact injury that can leave you doubled over, choking, and crawling on all fours.
But, however fast you go up Sheepstor, the ascent is worth it. Ships anchored off the Sound, the Eddystone, Burrator, and the beauty of south-west Dartmoor are all included in this tor's very special 360-degree view. And the climb opens the door to some fabulous cross-country running trails. This route starts at the first parking spot you come to after turning left immediately before you get to Sheepstor village from Burrator dam. From there, follow the track up, and up, and up. It's an easy route to follow. But beware, this hill has more false brows than a circus clown.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef wellingtons
Must book to qualify and present voucher on arrival 01209860332
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Wednesday, December 11 2013
When you do make the top, pause – if you're as fit as me you'll have to – and take in the view. Then proceed in the same direction towards the open moor, and over the fabulous Yellowmead down. It looks like African savannah, but as you bounce down the hill it quickly becomes quite wet underfoot. The tracks are easy to follow and you can bank left and head down through the woods towards the reservoir for a shorter run. I went straight ahead, there's a clear trail across some very open moor, with only the occasional ditch to negotiate.
A slight incline is tempered by the space. First the Roughtor plantation then Cuckoo Rock on your left. It's classic moor running. When the Princetown mast is on your immediate left, the trail splits. Take the right hand and soon you will hit a much clearer track. Right again and head down towards a small plantation on the left of the track. Cross the ford, hit the road right at the T-junction, through the idyllic Sheepstor village, then right again. Up, down and round. It's a brilliant five-miler.
Running time: 72 minutes, 5.13 miles.
Running weather: Autumn evening sun to moonlight
Running song: Battery, Metallica.