Downhill from Here

Downhill from Here

Boyter is a confirmed distance-running nut and film-maker and the book is his account of his Jogle journey, which was anything but smooth. In fact, bearing in mind the almost constant catalogue of near disasters, it’s a near miracle that he completed the 1,174 miles from Britain’s far North-East to the tip of the south-western peninsula.

Setting off on the mammoth run with an already badly swollen ankle isn’t the best of ideas, but the runner’s film plans and route accommodation were pre-booked, so set off he did. Yet by only the second day Boyter already had to resort to the use of a bicycle to regain lost time.

There are terrifying accounts of near-death experiences, including fording a freezing Scottish river up to his neck and wandering completely lost in the dark on Highland hills. In fact navigational difficulties are a bit of a theme for the runner as he traverses the countryside of Scotland and England.

Accidentally leaving a thousand pounds’ worth of camera equipment in a toilet at Rowardennan, never to be seen again, didn’t help the film project either.

If it isn’t the runner getting into difficulties, it’s his support team, with cars ending up in ditches, and a succession of missed rendezvous, even along the Cornish beaches as he enters the final stretch. The route is a mixture of hazard-prone wild country and hazard-prone country lanes with traffic speeding past within an inch of Boyter.

Along the way, anyone with a knowledge of the British outdoors will recognise some of his descriptions and nod in agreement or perhaps curse in disagreement at the runner’s view of the route.

But this is no mundane turn-by-turn description of what is, let’s not forget, a very commendable challenge successfully completed under far from ideal conditions. Boyter’s writing style is informative, often thoughtful and descriptive. It’s never ponderous, yet it has insight – delivered in an easy-to-read format.

There is also a selection of photographs and each chapter has annotations – Boyter has obviously researched his route well, if not the navigational necessities. There is a series of maps of his Jogle route with little speech-bubble annotations. There are a few lapses in proof reading which jar a little, but overall Downhill from Here is an entertaining and informative read.

Downhill from Here, published by Sandstone Press, £9.99