This week my latest mountain running guidebook, “Trail and Fell Running in the Lake District” was published by Cicerone Press. This project has taken years to come together, and countless days out on the fells making notes and taking photos. The book is a real mixture of some of my favourite mountain runs, fell race recce’s, and some more technical sky-running challenges. One of the routes literally runs past my front door, so it’s a very personal eclectic choice of locations, mountains and landscapes.
The writing was the easy bit, but even when you live in the Lakes, getting the photos can be that bit more tricky. Cumbrian dialect describes rain in all its forms from mizzle to hossing (drizzle to heavy rain), syling to hoyin it doown (pouring to teeming with rain). Clouds roll in, then a bit more, completely in, zero visibility, and then it’s night time! Views are a rare treat. Streams vary from small becks that can be stepped over, to wide torrents threading down the hillside. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the weather in the Lakes. That’s what makes it such a special place, and the misanthropist in me cherishes the days when the weather gives me the fells to myself!
Below is a classic example of one route, where it necessitated several visits, to get the photos which really showed off the scenery to its best for a particular route. For this shot, quite unbelievably the best weather was the day after Boxing Day, so the fells were empty, yet it was warm enough to run in shorts. Not a bad day to enjoy the solitude, and run off a couple of mince pies! It was on this photo shoot, that we finally got the front cover image. As you’ll guess from some of the other photos, Maximus my dog was there, but is just out of shot on the right on the front cover. Needless to say, he makes a few guest appearances in the photos within the book.
Take 1 – on a cloudy day, with the views obscured again.
Take 2 – with the magnificent landscape finally revealed.
Publication day is a weird one for an author. Nothing happens! Deep in a warehouse somewhere, a trolley of boxed books is wheeled from a store cupboard, to be sent out in a van to the wholesaler the next day, and a computer server is pre-programmed to start to indicate that the book is released. It then takes a few days for people to get their copies posted, or to appear in an outdoor store or bookshop.
On publication day I was out in the Alps, guiding some clients up to a mountain hut, on one of my last days work of the winter season. That evening I quietly drank a Birra Moretti in the corner, and raised a silent toast to all those who feature in the book, helped and advised, the amazing team at Cicerone Press (Jonathan, Lesley, Joe, Andrea, Hannah and Sarah), and most of all to those of you who buy a copy. It wasn’t a wild night, but this book really means a lot to me, and is a great source of quiet pride. I slept well that night, that this project had finally reached its conclusion.
Just a few days later, and I have finally arrived back home in the Lake District, and I can’t wait to pull on my fell shoes, and to slip out into the mizzle, to feel the give of the ground beneath my feet, to smell the rotting bracken and the wild garlic, to hear the Herdwick sheep bleating, and the wind whistling over the rocks. I don’t care if its pouring rain, or basking in sunshine, but after all the research for this book, the fells are so familiar to all my senses, that I can’t wait to get out on them again come rain or shine.
One addition to my running pack will be this small guidebook, packed with route ideas, variations, maps and timings, so I can adapt to how I feel, and what the weather brings. I hope this book provides you as many adventures and unforgettable days out, as it has given me.
Run with the author (me!)
I’m guiding several fell running weekends for Icicle Windermere in the coming months, so you can join me (for just £99pp for two days guiding) on the Intro Trail & Fell Running weekend (link) trips on 29-30 April, 13-14 May, or 10-11 June 2017. We will run some of the routes described in my book. I look forward to running with you, and showing you a few of my favourite trails and mountains!
Reviews and press