Walking and mountain biking guidebooks are ten a penny these days, but guides aimed at the growing population of trail runners are less so, cue Lake District Trail Running and Peak District Trail Running from Sheffield-based outdoor publisher Vertebrate.
They're aimed at giving a broad selection of routes - about 20 in each area - with a spread of distances and difficulty. As with the proven range of Vertebrate mountain biking and walking guides, each route includes excerpts from Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps covering the route, altitude profiles so you can gauge your likely level of suffering and, of course, detailed route instructions broke down into numbered legs to make navigation as straightforward as possible.
Finally, both books come with a range of full colour images showing (mostly) happy, smiling, runners in action and giving a good idea of the character of the terrain.
What's The Difference?
What's the difference between a trail-running and a walking route? It's a subtle one, but according to Nik Cook, co-author of the Peak District guide, running routes are maybe a little more about the quality of the running itself - how technical it is mainly - than just the quality of the surroundings.
Plus he reckons runners can be expected to cover more ground more quickly and, in some cases, to tolerate slightly longer stretches of road or back lane running between the off-road stuff. And of course the introductory sections are running orientated.
Peak District Trail Running - £12.95
Put together by OM contributor Nik Cook and co-author Jon Barton, the Peak District guide provides 20 routes ranging from bite-sized, low-level 5km chunks through to a 28km circumnavigation of the Kinder plateau.
The routes are spread reasonably evenly across both the White and Dark Peak, though the more epic outings on Bleaklow and Kinder very definitely have a northern/Dark bias. Nik also made a point of including some less popular spots too venturing into the bleak hinterlands south of Macclesfield and down towards the Roaches.
And if a particular route is a little on the short side, you can sometimes combine one or more of the outings to form a slightly more ambitious project. There are a pair of Goyt Valley ones for example and even, fi you're feeling particularly adventurous, the potential to combine the Kinder and Bleaklow outings into a single mega-loop.
What's noticeable looking at routes we do know well, is that the authors have used their local knowledge to good effect with climbs mostly taking place on amendable, well-graded tracks and descents maximising the technical fun stuff.
And if you want something a little different, take advantage of the regular Manchester-Sheffield trains via Edale and Hope Valley to create a linear run too or from the centre of the Peak. Last but not least, the authors have tried to include relevant pub and cafe information for maximum post-run recovery...
Lake District Trail Running - £12.95
Written by hardcore trail runner Helen Mort, the Lake District guide follows the same basic format as the Peak version complete with 1:25,000 OS mapping, full colour images and clear, step-by-step route information.
There are 20 runs included ranging from 5.1km up to 17km in length and contrary to what you might think, they're not all high mountain epics, though of course the book has its fair share of those. The Langdale Loop, for example, is a scenic 7.2km run around the valley floor rather than an expedition up into the Pikes.
If you want more mountainous stuff, check out the classic Fairfield Horseshoe or the Troutbeck Round, which follows part of the classic Kentmere horseshoe. Overall though, what's nice is that Mort has avoided simply regurgitating classic walking rounds in favour of more compact running-friendly outings including routes that visitors simply wouldn't know about. Good stuff.