There are two things of import above all else when looking at trail run guides: maps and beer.
The first is, perhaps, because I have a fetish for maps. No, I don’t dress up in them in the wee hours in the attic, but I do have a storeroom full of maps of all scales that I, for pure indulgent pleasure, pour over, dreaming of placing myself on their sweet contours. I have maps from all over the world with dotted lines whispering my name in morse code.
Anyway, a good map is requisite for any trail run guide, even in this day and age of maps-in-watch technology. Maps-on-paper technology is still useful for getting a pre-run sense of what you will find on the ground. And for the dreaming.
The second – beer – is all about the celebration, and when in a foreign land, or region, or even neighbouring town, a nudge in the right direction for preferred pub and best beer is of critical importance to round out the running experience. A bad ale at a bad bar can really ruin your day.
So, this, Helen Mort’s ‘Lake District Trail Running‘, published by Vertebrate Publishing (www.v-publishing.co.uk) is a beaut little mini-bible to one of the world’s best fell and lakeside running districts.
Courtesy of the UK’s brilliant Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps covering the entirety of England, Scotland and Wales (oh for that map quality in Australia, oh the tyranny of distance, oh the Kiwis have it much better than us, too, damn them!), the guide features detailed topographical mapping, great for getting a handle on the intricacies of the terrain. You can access OS mapping via apps of course or just take a photo with your phone of the page for the actual run. But for fire-side plotting, it’s perfect fodder.
There’s 20 routes to be explored from 5.km to 17km (decimal accuracy and in kilometres – is author Helen an Antipodean transplanted, I wonder?). They range through explorations around the Lakes (of course), across fells, over commons and along scars; all the nomencalture that makes me, an Aussie stuck in Aussie but with a good period of living in England under his belt, homesick for the Aunty Country.
In fact one of my favouite memories of my time in England was running around the green blankets of Grasmere, which hosts the start/finish of a few runs herewith, and Buttermere, another inclusion.
Each run has its map, some brief detail of what to expect on the run and a basic description of how to..run it. The stats are at the bottom – distance, ascent, altitude max, approximate running time (subjective to fitness of course), terrain overview and a navigation rating (‘straightforward’ etc). Then there’s the techy techy stuff – grid ref (OS Mapping), SatNav reference, and best OS map. All of which is secondary in importance to…’refreshments’. The Fish Inn in Buttermere apparently.
Just like my mountain-load of maps I wade in to when feeling wistful, guides like ‘Lake District Trail Running‘ give great grist to the daydream mill when conjuring plans for your next run. And so just as worth collecting in the flesh, tactile, to become dog-eared, dirt-hued with days taken in the field, and much loved – even annotated (you may find a better pub?).
And a nice little touch – Helen’s Dad was integral to the creation of these guides. She says he was out there plotting and recording the routes with her and given she reckons he’s owed at least eight pints at Tweedies (pub in Grasmere), we guess he stamped his name on at least eight routes?
It’s enough to make you want to hop on a plane to the UK to get a taste for the Lakes District trails and ales…
(Reviewers’ note / plug: which is exactly what we intend to do in August 2017 when we host a Coast to Coast, Pub to Pub running tour across England following the famous Wainwright Route, including across the Lakes District. This guide will come in super handy… www.tourdetrails.com for more information or to book in !)