Rhapsody in Blue – a sonnet for springtime trails
We Brits have an obsession with the weather in our blood. Take the piss if you will, but we’re hardwired to hone one eye on the sky and genetically imbued with an innate ability to shoehorn a comment about prevailing conditions into every conversation.
Some clichés ring true – we’re addicted to tea, partial to a pint, semi-psychotic about ball sports we’re not very good at, say sorry far too often, and waffle about weather endlessly. It’s in our DNA. And we’re not going to apologise for that. Sorry.
But it’s sensible – when you inhabit a rugged island nation on the wild western flank of Europe, with one cheek exposed to the North Sea and the other pressed up against the cold window of the North Atlantic – to keep your ear to the ground and stay alert to what the elements are up to. Especially if you intend going out to play on the trails that wend through the vales and forests, across the moors and tors, along cliffs edges and over hilltops and highlands that cover much of this wonderfully wind-sculpted country.
Because trail running through the UK countryside in spring is sensational, in the truest sense of the word.
And no one is more focussed on the forecast than a committed trail runner during the shoulder seasons in Britain – particularly as the country segues from a long, cold and wet winter into the arms of spring. With a whiff of warmth finally seeping through from our nearest star, the tracks are turning from Quagmire Road to Quality Street, and we can’t wait to pull on some running clobber and get out into the wilderness.
Because trail running through the UK countryside in spring is sensational, in the truest sense of the word. A kaleidoscope of colour, a cacophony of birdsong and an explosion of aromas assault my senses as I hotfoot it through my local woods today, where snow covered the ground just over a month ago, muffling everything.
Now the air I’m greedily sucking in is marinated in wild garlic and the singletrack ahead of me cuts a sinuous line through a rising flood of flowers: blooming bluebells, flowering forget-me-nots and ivory coloured cowslips.
The heather and furze too are erupting with flaming bursts of bright yellow, which the bees buzz around in an orgy of nectar guzzling. And the farmers’ fields, when they’re not given over to prancing lambs, are an inferno of ripening rapeseed plants.
It truly injects a spring into your step – one that can be harnessed and put to good use when you’re a trail runner. My Strava time over the same route noticeably improves a few notches during these months, and it’s so much easier to motivate yourself out of bed and into pair of running shoes when the sun has also made the effort to get up.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must crack on. The trails are calling and the shipping forecast is about to start.