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Wild Running - 150 of the most amazing wild runs on the trails and fells of Britain

by Editor
Monday 5th May 2014
 
 

Book preview: Wild Things Publishing have just launched Jen & Sim Benson's first book: Wild Running - 150 of the most amazing wild runs on the trails and fells of Britain

Wild Running is available at 20% off (inc P&P), from wildrunning.net using promo code ‘R247

Jen Benson is a runner, sports clinician and researcher in distance running. Sim Benson is a runner, photographer and environmentalist. Their first book: Wild Running: 150 adventures on the trails and fells of Britain (Wild Things Publishing) explores the country’s history and landscape from a runner’s perspective, complete with route guides and stunning photography.

To get a little flavour of what they are all about, we asked Jen and Sim to tell us about one of their favourite routes:

After a long ridge run along the springy, wildflower-lined trails of the Cotswold Way we arrived at Broadway Tower. From here the route drops off the escarpment, soaring down a great, grassy hillside, perfect for fast, free running, with far-reaching views the whole way. We ran together, descending through field after field, the path winding ahead and drawing us down faster and faster, racing, laughing, barely in control but loving every exhilarating step...

The Cotswold Way runs along the Cotswold escarpment for 102 miles, from the picturesque town of Chipping Campden at its north, to its southernmost conclusion at the circular marker created by local artist Iain Cotton outside Bath Abbey. The running is varied, from quiet lanes through honey-coloured villages to steep climbs and inviting trails. Being practically all within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty there are few parts of this National Trail that aren’t perfect for wild running.

The Way is well signposted and can be run in sections or used as part of circular routes, many of which are also waymarked, or even run in its entirety. The current official Cotswold Way record is held by Darryl Carter of Teddington, Middlesex who, on 22 July 2012, ran from Bath to Chipping Camden in 20 hours and 36 minutes. There are several races on the trail, with a Cotswold Way Century in September and a Broadway Tower marathon and half marathon in November, both organised by Cotswold Running (www.cotswoldrunning.co.uk).

The sheer variety and consistently high quality of running makes the Cotswold Way a favourite place for us to explore. We’ve had many adventures along its scenic miles, from enjoyable summer mornings skipping along grassy paths, to long, arduous days out with heavy packs, using its undulating, well-worn trails as training for other races.

On one occasion we decided to undertake the full 102 miles over four days, a little under a marathon a day, carrying everything we’d need other than food and water. On day three we limped into appropriately named Painswick with blistered feet and wishing we’d packed lighter. On day four, in torrential rain, we retired some ten miles from the finish in Bath, retreating shivering into a pub before catching the bus home. For us, the Way in its entirety remains thus far an uncompleted challenge!

Writing the book we had to include a couple of our favourite sections of the Cotswold Way as fantastic Wild Runs.

One is the short but exhilarating dash from the chocolate-box Cotswold village of Broadway up to the 18th-century folly of Broadway Tower on the escarpment and back, and the other an adventurous trip along wooded trails to the highest point on the Way, Cleeve Hill.

Brief route descriptions are included below.

 

Wild Running - 150 of the most amazing wild runs on the trails and fells of Britain

BROADWAY TOWER

Distance: 3.5 miles (6km)
Start/finish: Broadway High Street, WR12 7AP
Terrain: Field, path, short paved section
Toughness: Moderate to challenging
Ascent: 175 metres
Navigation: Easy
Good for: National Trails, ascents, views, history
Route info: wildrunning.net/49

A short but fantastic run, starting in the pretty Cotswold village of Broadway and making its way unrelentingly up the Cotswold Way across a series of fields to the 18th-century Capability Brown folly of Broadway Tower at the very top. The Cotswold Way is signposted on the R as you make your way up High Street from the village centre. Follow waymarkers as far as the tower. On reaching the top, either turn around and re-trace your steps – the run back through the fields is fantastic, good underfoot, fast and with stunning views – or turn R past The Rookery, and follow paths and track to Coneygree Lane before making your way through fields to Broadway. Broadway itself is abuzz with shops and cafés.

Miles Km Directions
0.0 0.0 From village centre run east up High Street
0.7 1.1 Turn right following Cotswold Way signs, passing fire station
0.8 1.3 Continue south east through gate and across fields, ascending to Broadway Tower at the top of the escarpment
1.9 3.0 On reaching Broadway Tower return via outward route, descending with far-reaching views back into Broadway

 

Wild Running - 150 of the most amazing wild runs on the trails and fells of Britain

CLEEVE HILL

Distance: 6 miles (10km)
Start/finish: Quarry car park, GL52 3PW
Terrain: Track, field, path
Toughness: Moderate
Ascent: 249 metres
Navigation: Easy to moderate
Good for: Wildlife, ascents, National Trails
Route info: wildrunning.net/50

A great run, with breathtaking views, taking in the highest point of the Cotswold Escarpment. Wonderfully varied terrain and scenery, from open limestone grasslands of Cleeve Common, rich in wildlife, to winding trails through tranquil woodland and beside babbling streams. The route follows the Cotswold Way for much of its length: fine running on well-maintained paths with plenty of interest and some good, challenging ascents. From the start, follow the Cotswold Way E downhill, across a stream and up a steep climb through woodland. After the woods, leave Way R on track which climbs uphill towards masts. Rejoin the Way and head N, following waymarkers over the summit of Cleve Hill and back to the start.

Miles Km Directions
0.0 0.0 From start follow Cotswold Way waymarkers east down hill, then south passing Postlip Hall and crossing lane and stream before following track south east past Postlip Hall Farm. Cross one further stream and ascend through woodland to lane
1.8 2.9 At lane turn sharp right and follow Cotswold Way south through Breakheart Plantation and across field
2.7 4.4 At track junction turn right and leave Cotswold Way, following Winchcombe Way south west bearing right at Wontley Farm
3.6 5.8 Take left hand track, leaving Winchcombe Way and passing car park and masts, heading north west down hill to rejoin Cotswold Way at Nutterswood
4.5 7.3 Turn right onto Cotswold Way, ascending Cleeve Hill before descending to the start

 

For fully detailed directions and mapping, along with details about the book and other fantastic routes visit wildrunning.net

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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