Knoydart 3

‘Land of the giants,’ a running friend remarked when I announced I was Knoydart-bound. Knoydart is a wild, west coast peninsula suffused in the mythology of the outdoors: a place of extremes, a place of dreams. The Rough Bounds – as Knoydart is also known – have also been over-described as Scotland’s ‘last wilderness; that…

Bob Graham – 52 hours and counting

My Bob Graham Round attempt is almost upon me. In around 52 hours, at 1am on Sunday, I will set off from Moot Hall in Keswick, before proceeding up the moonlit (hopefully) slopes of Skiddaw. And thereafter? Some 60-plus miles, 42 summits, 27,000ft of ascent and descent, returning to Keswick by dusk that evening. The prospect is tremendously exciting….

Surviving the Fellsman

The Fellsman has redefined what I understand about running. I have run ‘properly’ since I was a teenager, from the middle distance races I ran as a schoolboy and the road half-marathons and marathons of my 20s, to the gradual transition to fell, hill, mountain and trail, and now, ultras. Over the years, I’ve often…

Another Bob Graham recce: 11 hours, 13 summits, 35 miles

My body aches. It aches in a way that only two days of Bob Graham recce can induce. My quads ache. My thighs ache. Even my arms ache. But, to corrupt that hackneyed saying: 11 hours and 35 miles on the Lakeland fells will make me stronger. Apart from the inevitable ache, the consequences of…

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…

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…

The best place to run in Britain

The best city for running? The answer is subjective, of course. Who am I (or anyone else, for that matter) to suggest Nottingham is better than Norwich, or Dundee is better than Derby. We all have favourite places, whether we’ve lived there for 50 years or once passed through on a sunny afternoon and thought:…

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…

A mini-Welsh adventure

The first thing – and it really is the very, very first thing – you notice when you return to London from cycling pretty much anywhere in the UK that is not a city or large town, are traffic lights. Hideous, everywhere-you-turn, always-on-red traffic lights. I once counted 60 sets of traffic lights on an eight-mile journey between…

Guest columnist in Scottish Islands Explorer

Re-produced below is the text of a column I wrote for the now-available November/December 2011 edition of Scottish Islands Explorer. Written while travelling on the London Underground – the very antithesis of the Hebrides – the column discusses some of the island’s literal high points, from Conachair on Hirta and Skye’s Sgurr Alasdair to Clisham on Harris and Mull’s Ben More….

Reviews for The UK’s County Tops

Reviews continue to come in for The UK’s County Tops. Good ones, I hasten to add. The most noteable is from Grough‘s Bob Smith, who calls the guide a ‘fascinating little book’. Meanwhile, there is a write-up on a walking blog, My Pennines. And there’s also an extract of one of the featured walks (Cornwall’s Brown Willy)…