Book review - The Big Rounds
Running and walking the Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Charlie Ramsey Rounds.
The ‘big 3’ are classic hill running challenges of the highest order, each around 60 miles with huge amounts of up and down. Hill runners who have completed one if these challenges in under 24 hours are part of an exclusive club. Those who have completed all three number somewhere around 50. The idea of publishing a guidebook for the three then seems like commercial folly. However as the author is keen to point out the rounds don’t belong the hill runner “they belong to all of us and none of us, and they don’t care if we walk, run or crawl.” The guide stresses the appeal of the rounds as the ‘grand tour’ of each of their respective high mountains areas, as attractive to the hillwalker as the runner.
As a guidebook it is practical and thorough with each of the sections described in detail, including important information such as water sources, route choice options on the crux sections and navigational challenges. It then breaks the rounds into a suggested itinerary for walkers, with route variations, wild camping options, resupply points, transport and even B&B’s for the English and Welsh rounds.
As the author emphasises in the introduction, these rounds are not to be attempted by the amateur walker, but are the preserve of experienced mountain people. The information then is designed to set you up well to plan and work out the detail yourselves.
The beauty of this book though is not in the practical detail, it is in the history and personal stories of the rounds. These bring the rounds to life and are a fascinating insight into what it must be to experience a round for yourself, whether as an elite athlete breaking records, a keen runner ‘having a go’ and having a journey of self-discovery, or as a walker enjoying the journey more than the goal. For these alone this is a recommended read, but beware; the potential for inspiration is high!
(Bob Graham club member 1780)