The Vanguard Way was where I discovered trail running back in 2016. It’s my local trail & will always hold special memories for me. For a long time, I’d been wanting to run the whole trail from home in Croydon down to Newhaven on the South Coast.
I knew I would need the best part of a day to complete it so started before 5 am at East Croydon. The first 16 miles or so I know pretty well. Navigation was easy, conditions were pretty good. The trail is marked as VGW but there are large sections later on with no signs at all which made navigation at times tricky. At other times signs were there but they were so well hidden by the overgrowth they were difficult to find.
I used a combination of the gpx breadcrumb file on my Fenix 3, the OS Maps App & the wayfinder signs to navigate. But even with all three, there were still a couple of sections that I got lost on - I added on a few bonus miles!
Being the middle of summer, some sections were so overgrown that it was difficult to traverse the trail. The trail as a whole is not well maintained & there were some fields to cross with no obvious sign of a path, but it is well worth the effort. It's scenic & picturesque with some stunning views over the North Downs, South Downs, Surrey Hills & the High Weald. Although there was also a little too much tarmac for my liking.
I plan to return to some sections to run them at a more leisurely pace - I was on a bit of a time limit as I knew I had to get to Newhaven in time for the last train back to Croydon - I made it with 90 minutes to spare!
I stocked up on supplies twice. Once at the Co-op in Forest Row (helpfully right on the trail) & once at the BP Garage in Golden Cross. The BP Garage was about a quarter of a mile off the trail but I had planned for the detour as I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry all I needed.
In total, I got through about 6 litres of water, juice & coke. Numerous peanut butter sandwiches, six gels, a banana, cereal bar, vegan sausage roll & a few handfuls of sweets. I found self-supported tough due to the weight of my bag - 2.5 litres of fluid + the usual trail kit (first aid kit, waterproof, warm clothes for after, etc). I’d love to give this another go carrying less weight & with less overgrowth & better navigation!
When I have had time to process the whole journey I will be writing more about it on my blog at photogirlruns.blog