Round of the Pentland Hills: conceiving, planning, doing

It was not a question of whether there should be a hill running round in the Pentland Hills – such an idea has been mulled over by a number of runners over the years. But what hills? Without obvious height classifications like ‘Munro’, Corbett’ or even ‘Donald’ in the Pentlands, you have to work harder…

They are still there

I went to the hills today. It was my ‘usual’: from my front door, two miles of pavement, park and alleyway, before reaching the barricaded car park at Swanston at the foot of the Pentlands. I looked up: the ‘T’ wood that climbs with the contours of the hillside, the crags and scree of Caerketton,…

Going for a run

Researching a book some years ago I spent several months asking people why they run – or, more specifically, why they choose to take running to hills and mountains, why they find joy in high places rather than the pavements, roads and parks favoured by the mainstream running community. The responses rarely deviated from cliché,…

The champions’ interviews: Jill Stephen

Having finished near the end of the field in her first hill race at Ben Rinnes in 2014, Jill Stephen‘s progression in the sport has been stratospheric. She can’t stop winning. In 2018, she won the Scottish Hill Runners championship, and repeated that feat this year. Like many of her contemporaries, Jill’s motivation is simple…

The Art of Suffering

The back straight on the third lap of a mile track race. The fourth lap at Parliament Hill. The ninth kilometre of ten. The final miles of your first marathon. The seventh hour of a Bob Graham Round. The fifteenth hour of a Ramsay’s Round. These are the tipping point moments of running when relative…

‘I have a son out in the big wide world’

Last month I interviewed Finlay Wild for the Autumn edition of Fellrunner, the magazine of the Fell Runners Association. Although it has not been published, this is not meant to be a spoiler. The interview preceded the Ben Nevis Race. Finlay, on the day before his 35th birthday, was victorious. In fact, he has won…

On the hills there is only one legal currency: FREEDOM

The year is 1992. John Major is the Prime Minister, Wayne’s World is released, Microsoft is at 3.1 stage. Boff Whalley is a guitarist in the alternative band Chumbawumba – the group’s best known song, Tubthumping won’t be released for another five years – and a fell runner in the north of England. He is…

Of mountains and mattering

The Mountains are Calling came into the world a year ago today. Thank you to everyone who has bought the book, said kind things about it, and for not identifying any gross errors. Has it been successful? The book has sold well and been well received. It was long-listed for the William Hill Sports Book…

The Mountains are Calling – paperback published today

First there was the hardback and an ebook, then an audiobook, and today marks the paperback arrival of The Mountains are Calling. Little, in truth, has changed from the words of the original hardback. Graham Nash, somehow, managed to run Ramsay’s Round twice in the relatively short period after my copy deadline, taking his tally…

Lessons from Kendal

There are things I know and things, from time to time, I need to remember I know. Speaking about my book, The Mountains are Calling, at the Kendal Mountain Literature Festival, I was reminded of the latter: those precious things I must remember I know. There are far more important things than running up and…

The preciousness of time in high places

‘A trip, a slide, a tumble – how slender is our attachment to life, but how precious its gift when we are in the mountains.’ I often think of the words of Martin Moran. They refer, starkly, to death, but they also provide an eloquent summary of what it means to go to the mountains….

The Mountains are Calling: the launch and the blog tour

The Mountains are Calling was published last week, with a launch at Edinburgh Waterstones. The book is now available in bookshops and via online sellers. Please let me know what you think of The Mountains are Calling here or via the usual social media channels. A blog tour straddled the launch. The highlights are below….