Why we go to the hills… and how to join us

Some years ago I was running in the Eastern Fells of the Lake District. As I descended a mountain called High Street, I passed a walker. He shook his head. ‘I don’t know how you do it,’ he shouted incredulously into the breeze. I smiled. Encumbered by boots and bag, I wondered the same: How…

Re-visiting Great Rhos (and an explanation to Summits on the Air)

Day 28 of Heights of Madness was spent on Great Rhos, the 660-metre high point of the mid-Welsh county of Radnorshire. On the summit, I spoke to an aficionado – Tupperware man, I called him – of a group called Summits on the Air. I mention this now as I can see from this discussion that…

Running in London: where are the hills?

The run from Keswick town centre to the summit of Skiddaw sees the runner gain around 900 metres in altitude. The only time I have set my watch to this run was during my Bob Graham Round in 2012; Skiddaw was hill number one and not the place – or the time (1am) – for…

Ward’s Stone: the problem of finding the top

I’ve been running in the hills of the Forest of Bowland for about 45 minutes. I’m nearing the highest point of these hills, Ward’s Stone. Mist has swept in. Drizzle has turned to hail. The ground is sodden, sticky, sludgy. I touch the pillar on the western summit of Ward’s Stone, then huddle behind a…

Heights of Madness: mapped, for the first time

I never got round to creating a map illustrating the route I travelled for Heights of Madness. The publisher didn’t require one; nor did I fancy the daunting task. Besides, I am no artist. Six years on, someone has done it for me. It is a work of art, I think. The yellow clouds are the…

Box Hill fell race 2012

Today was my third Box Hill fell race. I clocked 62.52 in 2008, 57.23 in 2011. I was quicker still today, breaking the line in 55,45. With this rate of progress, I’ll break the course record in about 2017. Every runner wants to develop, to be faster, but it doesn’t get any easier. I strode…

How do you follow a man like Cameron McNeish?

Many ‘adventurers’ include the words ‘motivational speaker’ in their ‘job’ description. I am not a ‘motivational speaker’. Perhaps I lack essential ‘motivational’ qualities? Nevertheless, I’m making a rare foray into the world of public speaking next week. I will be at The Outdoors Show at Excel London on Saturday, January 14, when my subject will…

North Berwick Law

Twice in the last few years I’ve cycled past North Berwick Law and resisted the temptation of what must be one Scotland’s most stupendous little hills, topped with a whale jawbone. It was a splendid day for it. A furious wind on the summit. Bass Rock as clear as a button across the sea. The…

The underrated hills of Bowland

My Christmas mini-tour of Britain took me to Lancashire for the height of the festive season. I was on the Fylde coast, more famous for its illuminations and fairground attractions than its ranges of hills and mountains. Immediately east of the M6 is the Forest of Bowland, however, a wild jumble of hills rising, in…

The world’s most beautiful silouette?

With a Bob Graham recce – utterly weather dependent, of course – scheduled for Friday, a yomp (with 500 metres of overall height gain) over Worcestershire Beacon was a sensible preparatory exercise. I ran from Malvern itself, climbing North Hill via a zigzagging path to a wind-blasted summit. It was beautiful. A retreating sun was…

Preparing to meet Bob

I am taking Askwithian advice when it comes to training for my Bob Graham round (pencilled in for spring 2012): ‘The only regimes that work are those that you can accommodate in your life.’ The question is, how much can I physically (and emotionally) accommodate? It is a gruelling undertaking training for a 70-mile run that involves thousands of…