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Photo credit: Fiona Outdoors

Wild Running: Britain’s 200 Greatest Trail Runs Review

14-Apr-19

By Fiona Outdoors

A new and updated version of Wild Running has been published this year. The book features 200 trail runs across the UK. They have been chosen by authors Jen and Sim Benson for the great running terrain and scenic beauty.

There are routes for all levels of runners, from gentle, easier-going runs to tough ascents and trail routes in remote locations. The book covers six areas of the UK, England south west, south and east, central and north, as well as Wales and Scotland.

Jen and Sim Benson are runners, photographers and authors. You can buy the book on Amazon and at wildrunning.net for £16.99.

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Photo credit: Fiona Outdoors

Pros: What’s good about the Wild Running guidebook

The book looks and feels high quality. There are numerous beautiful photographs that will easily entice runners to take to the trails in new areas, or to further explore their own region or country. 

It’s clear that the authors have put a huge amount of work into researching and choosing some of the best trail runs in the UK. They have also run all the routes and offer point-by-point details, as well as small maps, so readers can follow the routes too.

There is a great spread of running routes across the UK. If you are visiting a new area of the country or you want to explore your own region or country on foot, the book is ideal.

The authors have written a few pages of informative introduction to trail running. There is a brief history of running, the story about how the authors met and became keen runners together and how they have explored and written the book.

There are useful tips on getting started with trail running and how to build fitness. Another page aims to show runners “10 ways to be wild and safe”. One tip worth noting is that the routes in the book are described for fine, summer conditions.  It continues: “In poor weather [the routes] can be vastly different, particularly those in high and mountainous areas, presenting a considerably tougher challenge”.

As well as being split into regions and countries, the book has lists of “best for” routes. This is a really nice touch because it means you can choose a route according to what you like to see and do, as well as the type of trail running you enjoy.

There are routes that are identified as: “Best for beginners”, “best for fastpacking and ultra distance”, “best for urban escapes”, “best for summits and views”, “best for coast and beach”, “best for rocks and scrambling”, “best for wildlife”, “best for wheels”, “best for islands”, “best for woods and forest”, “best for wild swimming”, “best for history and culture” and “best for weekends”.

The photographs are beautiful and plentiful.  As much as this is a useful guide to running trails, it’s also a coffee-table style book. I have enjoyed flicking through the different regions and countries, admiring the variety of scenery revealed in the photos and making a list of places I would like to run.

The book makes me feel that trail running in new areas is accessible. I have spotted routes that I would like to do in my home country of Scotland and also further afield. Before discovering the Wild Running guidebook, I have relied on friends to tell me about – or show me – their favourite trail routes, as well as using a variety of walking guidebooks and websites. Now there is a book I can use to plan my own trail runs.

I also like that the book explores wilder areas. The authors have obviously taken a lot of time to travel to all regions and to some remote and wilder places. This means that the book doesn’t just list the most obvious or popular routes in an area. While I have spotted routes in Scotland that I am already familiar with, there are plenty more that I have not run.

The authors have also done as much as they can to give details of how to follow the routes. There is a brief overview of the route, as well as a small map with each run. Further information can be found by going to the Wild Running website, where there is a download of more detailed route information, a GPX file and also an interactive OS map of the route.

As well as being a great product to buy for yourself, I think that the Wild Running guidebook would be a lovely gift for a running friend.

The authors picked five great wild trail runs in Scotland.

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Photo credit: Fiona Outdoors

Cons: What’s not so good about the Wild Running guidebook

There is very little not to like. The only criticism I can think of is that the book will definitely cost me money because I now want to travel to see many new places on foot. 

Conclusion

The Wild Running guidebook is inspiring, informative and very useful. It has been sat on my bedside table for many enjoyable hours of bedtime reading and planning. I have been compiling a list of routes I would like to run and new places to visit. This is a great buy for trail runners of all types and fitness levels.

About the writer: Fiona is a keen runner, preferring off-road and hilly to flat and road. She lives in Scotland where the weather is fickle so needs to be prepared for all conditions.

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“The authors have also done as much as they can to give details of how to follow the routes. There is a brief overview of the route, as well as a small map with each run.”

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