Friday, 27 November 2009


Richard Askwith's book Feet in the Clouds - a tale of fell-running and obsession - Aurum Press ISBN 1-84513-082-0 at 8.99p is the Poet in Residence - Bard on the Run book tip for the winter fireside. It's what it says on the box but it's also more. It's an insight into the human psyche. A study of what makes mountain top fanatics, in this case those craggy athletes the fell-runners, really tick. And what keeps them ticking. What's the motivation? Why the obsession? It's certainly nothing to do with money, as in most other sports. Richard Askwith shakes the nuts in the box. Takes off the lid.

Until 20-odd years ago several great fell-running champions were ostracized for winning twenty pounds here and there and were deemed professionals. At the same time doped-up gladiators known as track sprinters were running all over the globe as AAA amateurs and earning millions.

What others say:
A minor masterpiece - Sunday Times; One of the best books about the extremes of sporting endeavour that you will ever read - Independent on Sunday; A truly superb book - Westmorland Gazette; A wonderful, funny and surprisingly moving tale - Daily Telegraph; A book to stir the spirit - Independent; A book you don't want to put down - Conserving Lakeland.

If Feet in the Clouds is much too energetic for your post-lunch fireside armchair there's always this: Genteel Messages by Gwilym Williams ISBN 978-1-906357-17-7 (5.25p plus 2.00p&p via Poetry Monthly Link with PayPal). The 2008 Purple Patch Awards Best Individual Collection and now 12 months in the Poetry Monthly Best Seller List.

Can't decide? Then why not try both? I found my copy of Feet in the Clouds at Borders. And why did I buy it? Because it was there.

°the top picture (courtesy of Clayton-le-Moors Harriers) shows runners descending Ingleborough in the annual 3-Peaks of Yorkshire Fell Race.


  1. Books for Christmas Poet - am just beginning to make my list. Have a good weekend.

  2. Thanks Weaver. I'm looking forward to reading your list. And also learning what your many blog-visitors will also be looking for.

  3. I'll have to work out how to use PayPal - I've put it off too long!

    Thought you might be interested in this/

  4. Thanks for the link, Dominic. I've e-mailed it to myself so I can consider the challenge.
    For your info etc. I've put a favourite picture of some fell-runners in action on Ingleborough on the post.

  5. Hope you don't sell as many as mine, when it comes out, one day.

    I will be getting a few copies of this one Gwil, and be taking every opportunity to mention your name, to wind up the competition in my gen. They won't like this, the sad git fortiers, know-alls just pushing into the big 50, world weary elan, fraying, wearing out, getting ready for that lean middle patch MacNeice knew so well, which fells many of the in-their-twenties-and-thirties Greats, bubbling into rictus grins and jolly andry management bods falling from the perch youth brings and which only a very talented older git, or unknown div the same age, knocks 'em off.

    ha ha ha..

    Buty seriously though. What's the story with Wales being the land God made, please PiR of the top spot chart?

  6. BA is refering to a theory based on the latest geological evidence. There's a book: Wales - the First Place God Made. The basic facts are that some of the oldest Cambrian rocks are found in Wales. Cambria (L) means Wales. There are similar rocks in North America. And some in Russia. It's supposed that when we push back all the world's jigsaw pieces together back to the original starting point - what is now Wales was one of the first bits of rock to emerge from the slime. At that time Wales and what is now part of Canada and USA were of one piece. Southern hemisphere land must be newer since it has virtually no Cambrian.

  7. Feet in the clouds seems very interesting. Anything that delves into the human psyche and allows us a glimpse of the workings of the ever-complex human mind is of interest to me. I'm quite sure it would make a good read.

  8. Damsel, hope you're not too distressed! Yes, it's a marvellous book. Askwith recounts his fell-running experiences over a whole year and takes the opportunity to meet and talk with the elite of fell-running - people like Kenny Stuart, the world's fastest miler - almost suicidal on steep downhill courses at Skiddaw and Ben Nevis, and Martin Stone who finished, and won, the Dragon's Back in tears -Helene Diamantides carrying his rucksack. Why do they push themselves to and sometimes beyond their limits? Wonderful stuff.


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