Trail Running : Where & Why ?


I often hear people say they’d love to go trail running but they don’t know where. Here are a few ideas from the people that protect our Great British countryside.

The National Trust have both organised day and night runs of differing distances within their grounds, as well as ideas on locations where you can create your own run,

The Forestry Commission have a great “wild running” section on their website which lists locations and events up and down the country,

The Woodland Trust has an interesting search option called “visiting woods” which does exactly what it says,

Now that you have a host of locations to consider the second question from most road runners would be, why should I run trails. After all if you’ve run pavements for years what are the benefits of a new approach.

I particularly like this write up from Cotswold Outdoor because I covers just about all the scenic benefits of the trails. I could ramble on about why I love running off road but all you need to do is read my previous blogs,

The final resource I’d recommend reading is the Ordnance Survey “get outdoors” link as they will not only guide you with their maps (paper & digital) but they also have lots of great ideas,

I hope these links will persuade more people to run off road. You don’t have to go far, start with a National Trust parkrun and work your way up. The beautiful countryside is waiting for you 🙂

Finally, why not run with others and share the experience.

My work is done !!

Frost, ice, sunshine & 17 solo miles


With the Race to the King double marathon in June the plan for today was 17 miles and 1,800 feet of elevation i.e. a third of what’s coming up in Summer. After only a mile I reached Fareham creek which looked just like a Christmas card with a liberal amount of frost and ice on the shoreline as well as the still water having a thin covering of ice too.

I’d loosely mapped out the route beforehand so that I could maximise Portsdown Hills trails as well as running it from different sides.


Today would be the furthest and steepest I’ve run for a while but it would also be a good test of will power. Clearly it’s more fun to run with others but completing challenging runs on your own really adds “buckets” of self belief. I wasn’t worried about pace or even walking occasionally, today was all about getting the job done.

Once I’d left the wintery creek behind I joined Paradise Lane as it climbs out of Fareham. It’s funny how leaving the tarmac and houses behind immediately relaxes me. I find there’s no need to think about anything, just concentrate on the best line and avoid any pot holes. It’s a cliché but time almost stands still, all you can hear is your breathing and the birds.

dsc00081Once I’d reached Fort Nelson and the top of the hill I followed a narrow trail back down the hill, over the motorway towards Portchester. Naturally every downhill is followed by an up so I ran up Dore Avenue, followed by Hill Road and again found myself heading for the top of the hill. At this point I saw Brian from the club but with him wearing a beanie I mistook him for someone else !! Hello Chris was soon corrected to hello Brian once he’d said “hello Rog” and I realised who it was 🙂

I couldn’t resist the chance to run down the other side of Portsdown Hill so I threw in Portchester Lane which was quite slippy what with the sun not having risen high enough yet. The telegraph poles show the ascent !!


Back on the trails I ran parallel with the main road and pondered to myself how long this track had been there, 10 years, 50, a few hundred, who knows !! Dropping down towards QE hospital I shouted encouragement to 3 cyclists and then this lead me to the steepest climb. Instead of following the road I ran on the grass almost vertically up towards Micks burger van. The killer section was a series of steps half way up the hill that had to be taken slowly. I was reminded of the cycling phrase “Legs shut up” at this point and had to walk for a short while.


Once at the top I spotted a sign I’ve never noticed before in front of a thicket of trees. Stopping for a quick read as well as a couple of the fig rolls, which were part of my on going “try eating on runs”, I was impressed to see that the trees had been planted in commemoration of the Falkland War servicemen.


As the 12 mile point approached I decided to leave a second Portchester Lane and settled for 1,600 feet elevation overall. As I retraced my steps I glanced at my watch for probably only the second time. Two hours had flown by !! Some days that sense of well being and contentment that you are coping with what you have set yourself really does make time fly. It hadn’t been at a great pace but that wasn’t the point, it had been manageable and enjoyable.

All that remained was the trail back up to Fort Nelson which was “steady” and a few comments with some ramblers as I dropped into Fareham.

It’s hard to explain how a testing run can still be relaxing and as I sat in the back garden once I’d finished there was a big smile on my face as I said out aloud “Good job Rog 17 hilly miles” , yes I have to confess to talking to myself !! Thanks for reading.

16 miles & loosing yourself in your surroundings


Running is just like anything else in life, if you want to achieve something you need a plan. I didn’t run too much in December and it’s taken a while to get going again properly in January but a tv documentary and a random piece of graffiti (on Saturdays run) have now combined to focus my thoughts.

I have entered Race to The King in June and that means a double marathon with 5,400 feet elevation. This adventure won’t be achieved with reading maps, watching videos and pondering (although these will help) the only way this race will be overcome is with training.

What was the tv documentary I hear you say ? Netflix may not be the obvious source of running inspiration but I spotted Stuart from twitter talking about the Barkley marathons in America. I had an idea about the race, I knew it had been going for 20 odd years and only a handful of people had finished. I won’t spoil the entertainment anymore for those of you who want to watch it but when your entry confirmation is an apology i.e. we are sorry to say that you have been accepted, you just know it will be tuff !!

I set off on a chilly early morning start with the intention of adding to the 11.5 miles I’d done last week and try to follow the advice of one of the tv off road runners, “I loose myself in my surroundings” was his philosophy.


Challenge no. 1, staying on my feet !! After about 3 & 1/2 miles north of Fareham there’s a country lane heading for Wickham. The water had run off the fields and was still icy. The 3S scenario followed, I was slipping, sliding and swearing, luckily I stayed on my feet.

An additional part of my 2017 plan is to use fewer gels and more food so armed with soreen cake, grapes and mini pork pies I had quite a selection to test. Last weeks soft flasks test was carried onto this week too. Once onto the railway line I saw the “plan” graffiti not long after I’d passed the Forestry Commission signs. I thought, “yes” I do have a plan, I plan to try out what will work for me on longer runs.


If my ramblings can help others along with me then that’s great I thought I’d give an insight into what I’m trying. I passed 7 miles and decided to carry on to 8, I’ve always believed in “run how you feel”. With the forested countryside you really can loose yourself in both your running and your thoughts. I wasn’t thinking about work I was wondering if a robin that flew past me would stay still for a photo and whether I could video the sound of the wood pecker I could hear.

My return leg saw the sun starting to break through and more people on the track as well as Adrian a fellow runner I haven’t seen for quite a while. The grapes were a taste sensation and even though the malt loaf was a bit stodgy to chew I knew its rich sugars were helping.


As I reached Wickham on my return with 11 miles done, the wintery sunshine was out and the birds were chirping. The remaining 5 miles were steadier than the first 11 but it’s a great feeling knowing that you have endurance in your legs and a smile on your face. My egloves had kept me warm, my food options appeared to be working and the countryside was as enjoyable as ever.

If you don’t usually run in the country, try it, it’s a real treat.

Go ahead, loose yourself in your surroundings !!


Something different this week, here’s my edited 2 minute Vlog of Paul’s videos and some of our photos. I chose the route so that it included about 1,600 feet of elevation. Thanks to Paul (Brad) Coates for filming and running today, only a week and a half after his 45 mile ultra. Go for a run in the countryside …….  #getoutdoors #forestfit



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