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,…

Fine lines

The weather did not seem so bad. I suppose that is how this sort of story tends to begin – from a place of complacency. I had been cold for much of the morning, but as I scouted the lower slopes of Carnethy Hill, a little over an hour before the first racers would be…

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,…

Run more, run local, race local – a mantra for a greener 2020

I have a piece of writing published in this month’s Runner’s World. It is part of their ‘My Favourite Run’ series, where contributors write about a run that has some personal significance. I had a pretty easy choice: the run – or a variation of that run – taking me from my front door in…

The champions’ interviews: Finlay Wild

It has been an annus mirabilis for Finlay Wild. The Lochaber runner has raced across Europe, won numerous events and broken course records, but in this interview he says it is his love of wild places that remains his inspiration. You spent much of the early part of 2019 ski mountaineering. How does this sport…

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…

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…

Carnethy 5 post-mortem: I was there

In the climactic scene of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Kate soliloquises on the nature of submission to a greater will – in this case, her husband. But now I see our lances are but straws, Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare. The words came to me as I strained up that…

This is not madness; we are the lucky ones

‘Mr Muir!’ It was a colleague at school, hence the formal ‘Mr’ as pupils loitered nearby. ‘I’ve been reading your book,’ she said ominously, and then, her tone rising: ‘You’re mad.’ Another colleague chipped in: ‘You know he’s mad.’ ‘Running down hills at night?’ the first went on, shaking her head. I stumbled into a…

What Deirdrie (and her friends) teach us about hill running

Three years ago today, on another winter solstice, I was running on Dun Rig, the highest point of a moorland horseshoe above Peebles. The summit was buried in swirling mist, cuffed by an enraged wind. Meagrely dressed, I rapidly became very cold. Disorientated and shaking on unfamiliar hills, I looked around anxiously, peering into the…

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…