Whether you want to keep fit while on holiday, or just explore new corners of the UK on foot, Jen and Sim Benson – authors of the new Wild Running: 150 Adventures on the Trails & Fells of Britain – have compiled their five favourite running routes in Britain.
The south east of Cornwall boasts a wonderful mixture of pretty fishing villages, beautiful beaches – take the three-mile sweep of Whitsand Bay – and the rugged South West Coast Path with its mile upon mile of fantastic running terrain. Following the gently winding River Fowey northwards brings you to the wide-open spaces of Bodmin Moor, punctuated with tors whose granite has been used for millennia to build the towns and villages nearby. A favourite run here takes in the stone circles of the Hurlers and the towering rock stack of the Cheesewring passes close to Golitha Falls, where the Fowey cascades down a spectacular wooded gorge.
Full run details at wildrunning.net/hurlers-cheesewring
The South Downs
The chalk hills of the South Downs extend from the
Itchen Valley in the west to Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, in the east. Running across these vast, open chalklands on the fine, springy, close-cropped turf created by centuries of grazing is pure joy. We have run many great routes along the South Downs Way, a 100-mile waymarked trail from Winchester to Eastbourne. This National Trail is home to some fantastic races, including the South Downs Trail Marathon. A circular run passing Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters takes in the area’s dramatic chalk cliffs along with peaceful Friston Forest, also a haven for mountain biking.
Full run details at wildrunning.net/beachy-head-seven-sisters
The quieter, wilder neighbours of the Lake District, Cumbria’s Howgill Fells lie just within the borders of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Characterised by sweeping, grassy hillsides, craggy outcrops and rambling, stony trails there is a feeling of utter peace and tranquility here. One of our happiest discoveries when researching for the book, this little-visited area is a true wild runner’s dream. A fantastic 6 mile loop from Haygarth takes in Cautley Spout – nearly 200 metres of bubbling, tumbling waterfall – and The Calf, the highest point in this range of fells at 676 metres, finishing with an exhilarating descent into Bowderdale.
Full run details at wildrunning.net/the-howgills
The rugged mountains of North Wales are a perfect arena for walking, climbing and running, from the peaceful Rhinogydd to the high passes of the Snowdon Range. The classic, spectacular Glyder Ridge is an awe-inspiring run, with nearly 700 metres of ascent packed into the first 2 miles. Cadair Idris is a picture-perfect mountain, and home to the legend of Idris, the giant who dwelt here in Welsh folklore and whose great chair crowns its summit. The run up the Pony Path and back is exciting, adventurous and exhilarating, taking you through some magical scenery with vast views out across the surrounding mountains, whilst being relatively straightforward to follow. Navigation may be challenging in poor weather.
Full run details at wildrunning.net/cadair-idris
Fort William & Lochaber
Fort William is something of a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. Runners, climbers, walkers and mountain bikers flock here
to explore the wonders of the surrounding landscapes. The West Highland Way, home of the infamous ultramarathon, finishes here. The Nevis Range is startlingly beautiful, from the brooding form of Ben Nevis, its summit often obscured by swirling cloud, to the peaceful, golden valley of Glen Nevis with its cascading waterfalls, woodland trails and bracken-covered hillsides. A run around the shores of remote and serene Loch Ossian, inaccessible by road but a great run from Corrour Railway Station, is a gentler alternative.
Full run details at wildrunning.net/loch-ossian-loop
Runners and writers Jen and Sim Benson are passionate about exploring the wild places of Britain and finding the best places to run. Their new book Wild Running: 150 Adventures on the Trails & Fells of Britain (Wild Things Publishing) is available at £16.99 inc P&P from wildrunning.net.
Explore more of Britain with the Rough Guide to Britain. Book hostels for your trip and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.