I recently stopped at the excellent Tyn y Coed Hotel at Capel Curig and managed to sneak in a cheeky bit of fell running while I was there. Heading straight for the obvious choice, I decided on Moel Siabod. It is hard to miss it from Capel as it pokes its pointy summit head out from the surrounding woodland and manages to look like a friendly route while at the same time maintaining a real mountain atmosphere. Perfect for an extended lunchtime fell run…
I always carry my fell running kit when I go away as it takes up hardly any room and allows me rapid access to the best bits of the British fell-scape. In my opinion it is the best way to maintain outdoor fitness – it is accessible, unbelievably exhilarating and free – you just can’t beat mountain running!
In my OMM waist pouch is always a lightweight shell jacket (a Keela Stashaway Jacket), map, compass, whistle and an energy bar or Kendal mint cake (which manages to taste ok after months of languishing in the bottom of my waist pouch!). I know that this will see me right in most mountain running situations if I’m only heading out for a few hours and it is essential to carry it during the longer fell races I enter as part of the fell race rules.
So I head up along the Llugwy River and up the NE flank following a rough road leading to the old flooded mine workings. The route is fairly defined so there are no navigational challenges at this stage and I hit a good uphill pace while gasping for air yet somehow still managing to enjoy the view.
It’s perfect fell running weather, bright and breezy, with moody clouds scudding along behind me, adding to the mountain vibe and I’m quickly on a goat track leading up the scree to the summit. Looking down on the mirror surface of Llyn y Foel I can see the hill fog swirling in at my heels and I’m glad of the kit in my bum bag and relish the feeling of fell running in these conditions and with such a dramatic mountain aspect beneath me.
I push it directly to the summit, take a quick bearing to get me off on the right track and jog out of the clag and into a beautiful Welsh day, my mood soars, and I might as well have taken flight…
Fell running out of the gloom Snowdona reveals itself. Path to Plas y Brenin
If I’m going for a longer day out or if I’m heading out in winter I might take a larger OMM rucksack with more clothes and water, a waterproof mountain cap, and my Hillsound trail crampons if there is heavy ice or snow around. This is the most effective and inspiring way of maintaining outdoor fitness, and I never want to miss out on a session; with a bit of extra essential mountain running gear I can go trail running or fell running in all conditions, and not put myself at risk.
• Contact the Fell Runners Association (FRA) through the links below if you can see yourself as a fell runner. They publish a booklet of all the fell racing events in the UK giving you a good opportunity to race against and meet, other fell runners.
• Visit the Head to the Hills trail running guides webpage featuring fell running books published by Trail Guides. These informative guides give excellent advice on all aspects of fell running training no matter what level you are at. They cover everything from mountain marathon preparation and navigation for trail runners, to mountain running technique.