The Royal Marines have a little gem hidden in Woodbury Common they use to test their recruits.
Lympstone in Devon holds the keys to some of the most picturesque, and brutally challenging terrain to get you ready for your next mud run.
Woodbury Common is one of the country’s best outdoor gyms shared by local ramblers, and the Royal Marines – who’ve constructed the brutal “Endurance Course” for their recruits.
What to expect
To the ordinary person it’s an area of outstanding beauty, but to those who’ve just signed up to the latest Spartan race it’s a clatter of hill sprints, tunnels and river to challenge your inner Bear Grylls..
More than a physical challenge, the course is designed to put you under mental stress while demanding immense cardiovascular fitness.
The lay out
When you start off, as we did under the loud instruction of a Commando PTI, you go down a sweeping hill towards the first tunnel, not for the claustrophobic!
It’s shaped like a ‘Z’ and as you enter the pitch black you find yourself reaching into the darkness to make sure your head isn’t about to smack a solid wall.
That’s when you’re not listening to your knees cry out for mercy from the concrete and stones.
Immerging into the light you go on a short run before coming to the first water obstacle.
When we waded into the pond, feet sticking in the thick mud, we were told to hold my head under the water for five seconds, before being lead onto an immediate hill sprint with my in piercing pain from the ice cold water, and clothes dripping wet.
The PTI shouted “It pays to be a winner” as he told myself and my partner in fitness to race to the top, the loser would go back to the bottom and go again.
You then run to what seems like an endless mud-crawl with trenches forged by thousands of previous recruits.
It goes on forever, shoulders burning, you want to come up on all fours, but we were ‘gently’ reminded to keep our bellies on the ground.
As you near the end, your informed you need to wash all the mud off before you continue.
Introducing the “Sheep Dip,” two tunnels submerged in classic ice cold British water where you’re fed through by someone on either end. Tough luck if you’re on your own.
The next stage is up hill and as you progress the terrain of the course becomes tougher as it leads through shallow streams that test the strength of your ankles and fills your boots with freezing water.
Immerging from the stream you come to knee thick mud which we were instructed to crawl through again.
Once we reached the end we’d to perform burpees and press ups in the sludge before bouncing out and carrying on.
You’re faced with a number of progressively steeper hills before reaching some of the final obstacles.
A long large “puddle of mud” that you can practically float over rather than crawl is the precursor to the final obstacle that looked more like a Smartie tube.
You’ll quickly find it’s impossible to crawl on all fours, or even bring your legs up to get any assistance from your knees.
Reaching forward with your arms and dragging yourself forward you’ll slowly make your way towards the light.
Just a few hills later you reach the very point where you began, after two miles (3.44km) of cold, wet muddy hell.
As its open to the public, it’s the perfect place to see if you’re ready for whatever Tough Mudder has to throw at you.