Summer running is a wonderful thing: blue skies and sunny days, heady with the scent of jasmine, gorse and pine; the extra warmth that keeps the body working more efficiently and makes everything feel somehow easier; no soggy trainers or lengthy multi-layered outfit deliberations. The downside of all this, however, is that the combination of warm weather and an activity that generates a lot of heat can result in runs ending sweaty and overheated. The solution? Finish off your run with a cooling, refreshing wild swim. Imagine a long run through the mountains to reach a gleaming loch; a barefoot beach run followed by a splash in the sea or a winding woodland trail ending with an exciting river plunge. Many of our wild runs pair perfectly with a wild swim – Jen and Sim Benson choose their top five from their new book Wild Running.
1. Bodmin Moor, Cornwall.
Bodmin Moor lies in eastern Cornwall, a bleak but beautiful wilderness peppered with granite features. The Hurlers – three ancient stone circles – and the Cheesewring – a tower of stone blocks above a quarry – are amongst the best known. Our gentle, 3.5 mile run starts in the nearby village of Minions and visits both places, with great running on well-marked trails across grassy moorland. Finish with a swim at Goldiggins Quarry, a secret spring-fed lake hidden in a grassy amphitheatre on the open moor, or the Pony Pool, complete with its own waterfall. For full run details see wildrunning.net/05
2. Dunwich Heath, Suffolk.
Summertime finds Dunwich Heath ablaze with purple heather flowers. Inviting trails, soft and peaty underfoot, wind their way across the heath, disappearing into woodland in the distance. A 9 mile loop takes in this splendid heathland and Minsmere Bird Reserve, heading out onto the coast path where a short detour takes you down to a wonderfully tranquil beach for a swim in the sea. Full run details at wildrunning.net/34
3. Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland.
A fantastic, challenging 10 mile run follows a stretch of the historic Wall path, winding over open commons and splashing through babbling Caw Burn before looping Greenlee Lough and finishing along the classic long-distance route of the Pennine Way. Cool off in nearby Broomlee Lough, just below Hadrian’s Wall milecastle 36, a stunning open moorland tarn below the vast Northumberland sky. Full run details at wildrunning.net/77.
4. Rhinogydd Mountains, Snowdonia
A remote and peaceful corner of Snowdonia, populated by wild goats, the rugged and wild landscape of the Rhinogydd mountain range lends itself perfectly to mountain running adventure, with rocky summit outcrops interspersed with wooded valleys and gushing rivers. An enjoyable 5 mile run here starts with a climb of the Roman Steps, through woodland and onto open mountainside and the summit of Rhinog Fawr. A short detour brings you to the western shores of breathtaking Gloyw Llyn, the ‘gleaming lake’, perfect for soothing weary muscles. Full run details at wildrunning.net/119.
5. Coire Lagan, Isle of Skye
Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides, a place of truly wild and remote beauty. Here lie the great mountain ranges of the Red and Black Cuillin, classic challenges for serious runners, walkers and climbers. Our 5.5 mile run here follows the valley from Glenbrittle, either side of which tower dark, gabbro crags, including the infamous Inaccessible Pinnacle. Reaching spectacular Coire Lagan, with its waterfall and tiny loch, the route returns to Glenbrittle and the nearby crystal clear pools of Allt Coir’ a’ Mhadaidh. Full run details at wildrunning.net/142
You can find out more about the best Wild Runs in Britain in Jen and Sim’s new book Wild Running