Welcome to the Girls on Hills blog!

Updated: Jun 1

Welcome to the Girls on Hills blog! We're really excited to have this space as a place to share news, ideas and inspiration. We're hoping that posts here in the coming months will give you some insight into who we are and what we do. We'll also be posting informative pieces, our opinions, adventure ideas, and reviews.


First things first though - let's meet the team! There's a whole army of inspirational women behind Girls on Hills. These are the women answering your emails, guiding you up hills, and building your knowledge. We're here to ensure that anyone who wants to get out running in the hills can.



Keri Wallace


What is your dream running adventure?


In the UK this would have to be something like the Dragon’s Back race in Wales - just because it’s so historic. However, I do have one eye on the Petite Trotte à Léon (PTL). Both would require me to win the lottery though!


What is your favourite bit of kit?


I have a pair of really light primaloft mitts that I take for all seasons. They are really light and super warm, even when wet. Their only drawback is that they are so light that you don’t realise when you’ve dropped one!


What shoes do you run in? Why?


I run in either X-Talon Ultra 260s or Terraultra G 270s. I have always run in inov-8 because they just really suit my feet. Since having kids (now bigger feet!) I've tended towards their wider-fit shoes which give me more room. Alongside the extra cushioning, I find these models ideal for ultra running without compromising on grip in the fells.

What has been your best mountain day to date?


My biggest adventure (in terms of not knowing what to expect) was my Glencoe Classic Rock Round last year, completed with my husband Ben. It was the ideal post-lockdown project for us and the culmination of many years of mountain running and climbing together. The challenge was to link the 7 Ken Wilson ‘Classic Rock’ climbing routes in Glencoe in under 24h (approx. 53 guidebook pitches with 22km of running in-between). We were thrilled to finish in 22h29mins (road to road) but the time was kind of irrelevant really, since it hadn’t been done before. It was just a really cool experience to have in our home hills! One that we’ll never forget.


Keri on her Glencoe Classic Rock Round

How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


I feel like I had to play every card I had on that challenge! It really was the combination of all I’d learned and the progress I’ve made since I first took up climbing and hill running. It was such a joy to fuse my two passions! Making safe decisions and keeping on top off self-management was key. That meant climbing efficiently and well within our limits while fuelling and hydrating properly throughout. Route-planning played a huge role in linking routes via rough/unusual lines through the hills. We worked well as a team and made conservative decisions as we felt tiredness come on through the night.


 

Nancy Kennedy


What is your dream running adventure?


Current bucket list adventure would be to run the John Muir Tail (stateside not the Scottish one!).


What is your favourite bit of kit?


A tatty 16 year old Lowe Alpine hooded mid layer. Like an old comfort blanket.


What shoes do you run in? Why?


Current favourites are my inov8 X-talon ultra 260. Perfectly suited to our Scottish hills and the mixed terrain they have, and comfy over longer distances.


What has been your best mountain day to date?


Yosemite 2015. Fulfilled a big tick on the bucket list with an ascent of the classic rock route on Half Dome - Snake Dike . Long approach from Camp 4 passing all the iconic spots on the trail before roping up & climbing 8 pitches of the most perfect, exposed rock to summit on Half Dome. Equally long descent down the fixed cables & a weary but satisfied run/stumble back to camp. Top day.



Nancy on Half Dome!


How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


I guess years of climbing, scrambling, and running in the hills made this possible. Being comfortable with exposure, belays, moving over rock & the trust of experienced climbing friends were all a factor.


 

Nicky Spinks


What is your dream running adventure?


Top dream adventure is a month of hiking in Colombia, Argentina or Kirgizstan! Running wise I'd love to do Tor des Giants, Italy again. A fantastic race that I feel will keep me occupied for years!


What is your favourite bit of kit?


The inov8 Technical Mid Hoodie 2.0.


What shoes do you run in? Why?


inov8 Mudclaws for everything. I need the grip as all my running is in British fells and mountains.


What has been your best mountain day to date?


My biggest running adventure to date has to be the Tor des Giants: 330km, and 24,000m. I have done the race twice now, placing third in 2021 in 101 hours. This year I'm going back to do Tor des Glaciers (450km). I'm excited to be out in the Italian Alps for longer! I love the atmosphere, the race organisation, the low key checkpoints and the fantastic scenery.





How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


I started running in the fells in 2002 and over the years I've made many low level mistakes. I've got lost, wet, cold and ran out of food and water. I've learnt never to forget that the mountains are waiting to teach you a lesson. It is important to respect them and the weather.

I now always pack a spare layer, an emergency bag, head torch, mitts and a warm hat. I tell someone my route and when to expect me back. I also always speak to people on the hill; this makes me memorable than just running past them. I am a qualified Wilderness First Aider and feel this course is really beneficial to anyone going out into the hills.

All these little things add up. I'm now confident in looking after myself, my dogs, and anyone else I may come across on the hill.


 

Suzy Devey


What is your dream running adventure?


Iceland. I love the idea of running through the contrasting landscapes that Iceland has to offer: moving through awe inspiring scenery, with a backdrop of old volcanoes, crossing black sands and many beautiful geological features. There are many places on my list!


What is your favourite bit of kit?


Favourite bit of running kit is pretty simple for me, especially for Scottish running. It’s a good pair of gloves and a back up. Life savers in many instances!


What has been your best mountain day to date?


I am so fortunate to have experienced some pretty lovely running adventures both in the Highlands and in many beautiful places all over Europe. My favourites alway bring me back home to the Scottish peaks. One which will always stick in my mind is running the Mullardoch Round and camping midway in terrible Scottish weather! What with the weather and being tortured by midges it all felt a bit like a survival course. With that said, there were some beautiful moments in amongst this too. These become heightened by the contrast and will really always stay with me.


How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


Mountain craft is something I have picked up along the way and through working in the local mountains in a skiing and ski patrol position. Mountain safety is something I learnt from the people I went out on the mountains with or those I worked with in skiing, climbing, running or mountaineering situations. These people passed on skills to me, and without them I wouldn't be in the position to pass on knowledge as a guide now.

It’s these hours learning out there that help the above adventures to become achievable or realised. This is especially true when faced with a bit of hardship: you are more likely to sail through it because you’ve dealt with similar situations in a training environment. I love that more women wish to access these places, develop skills, and become independent in the mountains.



 

Sarah MacDonald


What is your dream running adventure?


I'd really like to expand my running into some ultra events when I return after pregnancy. I always thought I was better at medium distance hill races, but after having baby no 1 I dabbled a bit with longer distance and really enjoyed it. So maybe as I get older I'll give it a go. Bucket list events would have to be something in the US. I'd love to do the Hardrock 100 or Western States one day!


What is your favourite bit of kit?


I always have my wee soft cup with me on the hill. Such a handy piece of kit whether I'm on a big hill day, a mountain rescue call out, or a run round some local forestry road.


What shoes do you run in? Why?


My current favourite shoes are Scott Supertrack. I think they are a great all rounder. I had foot surgery a few years ago and struggle in shoes that are too stripped back, so I find these have just enough cushioning whilst still being really responsive. They also hug my heel nicely while giving lots of wiggle room for my toes. I also rate the grip highly. I wore them for the Ring of Steall race last year and they were great.


What has been your best mountain day to date?


My best big running adventure to date is when I completed a Tranter's Round 15 months after having my little girl. I had really struggled with pelvis pain after my pregnancy and at one point was unsure whether I'd be able to run in the hills again. Doing a Tranter's round felt like I'd finally nailed postpartum recovery and honestly felt like such an immense achievement. I went out with fairly low expectations of myself and just wanted to enjoy a beautiful day in the hills, so I was pretty surprised and chuffed with myself to achieve 14.25.50 as my time. There were definitely a few low moments throughout the day but I had some great support from a friend who ran with me for the first few hills and my husband who met me for the final 4 hills. My parents met us in Glen Nevis with our daughter at the finish which topped off a fantastic day!


Sarah summiting Stob Bàn at 05:00

How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


Over the years I have gradually built up my confidence in navigating the hills. Without this skill I would have struggled to feel as confident on my Tranter's round. I prepared well for my day in the hills by recceing the route in various conditions (often in thick fog and sleet) and using vital map and compass skills to help me find my way safely. On the day I was lucky and the weather was amazing, but I ended up running a large part of the route solo and knew I had the skills to find my way should the weather have closed in.


 

Nicola Mason


What is your dream running adventure?


Hard to choose, I always seem to have a list. Living in the Cairngorms I think my current front runner would be the "longest line" route. It's the longest line without crossing a road in the UK, about 70km.


What is your favourite bit of kit?


Never go out without a spare buff! Emergency scarf/hat/hair tie...all in one.


What shoes do you run in? Why?


I currently run in inov8s, Roclites for local trails and then X-talons or Mudclaws for big hill days.


What has been your best mountain day to date?


I'm not sure I have one yet. In terms of races/events winning at the OMM is the highlight. Having moved to Scotland only relatively recently and with Covid interruptions every new route and big day out is such an adventure. Current front runner is a winter link of the Sgor Goaith and Braeriach ridges, a Loch Einich horseshoe of sorts. A bike in, crunchy snow and blue skies made for a pretty perfect day.


How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


Route planning was key for this! The map skills to look at climbs/descents on paper and decide whether they are safe/runnable/better as a climb or as a decent. When to put on and take off spikes (definitely a skill I'm still working on) and the confidence that I can use an ice axe if I slide. Although the conditions were beautiful this was not the forecast and confidence in navigating in low visibility was key to even starting the route.


 

Isla Mackay


What is your dream running adventure?


Uninspiringly I don't have a "bucket list" run or dream running adventure. My main dream is to be able to stay healthy enough to run for most of my life.


What is your favourite bit of kit?


Hand warmers. You never know when a little extra warmth may come in handy (pardon the pun!).


What shoes do you run in? Why?


Weathered inov8 Mudclaws, inov-8 Unisex's Mudclaw (Red) to be specific. They are comfy on my feet and provide good purchase on all surfaces. I don't know if they still make them...


What has been your best mountain day to date?


LAMM 2018, Harris, my first mountain marathon! My running buddy came down with Lyme Disease the week before it so it became a test of both skill and humour in the dehydrating sun. Somehow he made it round half-lucid. Day one we didn't make the best tracks, but on day two we thought more tactically and practically - we only picked up points that we knew we could definitely reach in the time. It was a good social weekend and learning curve.



Isla chasing lines on Harris


How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


Having a decent level of navigation and all the necessary safety gear, alongside creature comforts, meant that I was able to complete the course. But above all else, I have learned over time that the most important thing to achieve big hill adventures is a good attitude. Self-awareness, achieveable goals and good humour are the best mix for aiding my attempts at anything big(ish)!


 

Raeanne Miller


What is your dream running adventure?


I grew up in Calgary near the Canadian Rockies, and spend a lot of time in the mountains there. For me a dream running adventure would be to fastpack through some of the wild places I used to visit as a teenager, possibly hopping from alpine hut to alpine hut. A more achievable dream (and one that might happen sooner!) is to run (fastpack) across Scotland from coast to coast, east to west, ending up back at my house in Ballachulish. Maybe this autumn!


What is your favourite bit of kit?


Ohhh that's a hard one. Probably a running hat (right now I have an inov8 one). They keep the sun off on a good day, but are especially useful in foul weather (rain, hail) as the peak keeps the rain/hail out of your eyes (so psychologically it doesn't feel so horrible to be outside!).


What shoes do you run in? Why?


I run in Scott Supertrac RC. They're the best shoe I've found so far for my feet. I have quite a wide forefoot, but narrow heels, and extremely high arches - the drop is still only 5mm, but they are much more cushioned than many of the other options out there, despite feeling quite low profile. They have pretty good grip on grassy/muddy terrain, are solid on rocky paths, and really durable - the uppers last way longer than any other shoe I've had before. I do have a new pair of them, but I still wear my old ones that are now a year old. Though the treads are worn the uppers have zero holes in them!


What has been your best mountain day to date?


I'll admit that I've not done many specifically running adventures! I've been to Yosemite (and did some amazing running - the rim of the valley is a great trail and incredibly scenic) and to Patagonia but those trips weren't running specific. Probably the highlight would be running up to the Mirador Bas de Las Torres in Torres del Paine (where the photogenic towers are) in the snow, before sunrise, by headtorch, and being the first people up there that day. We had the place to ourselves and it was truly magical! We were able to run down past the masses of people, feeling smug because we were lucky enough to see a beautiful place without crowds. I think in all of these places running just extends your range and enables you to get to places in ways that you wouldn't otherwise.





How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?

Having the experience to be quite happy running in the dark by headtorch, in the mountains, in the snow, was something we built up over a period of time. We slowly expanded our comfort zone to get there.

I am a huge believer in learning some solid mountain skills, particularly around navigation (I work on a lot of the GoH navigation skills courses). For me, becoming confident in my navigation skills and learning to navigate well was the most empowering thing I've done. Discovering that you have the tools and skills to get yourself off a hill, along a path, or to a place of safety in the dark or poor weather is incredibly empowering. It gave me a huge confidence boost to explore further and off the beaten track. It's a really fundamental skill that can enable so many adventures - it opens possibilities!


 

Georgia Tindley


What is your dream running adventure?


I spend a lot of time travelling to race and so my dream running adventure would be something the opposite of this: a remote fast packing trip, just for fun. I'd love to go on a hut-to-hut adventure in big mountains with a group of close friends. Norway, the Rockies, Himalayas.. location doesn't matter so much as time out in the mountains in good company.


What is your favourite bit of kit?


My most useful and most used bit of kit is an ultra lightweight waterproof (currently loving the Rab Phantom). Something you don't think twice about always taking with you, but which is crucial in surviving nasty weather. In winter I'd be wearing it throughout the run, and in summer I'll stuff it in my pocket as a 'just in case'. My other top kit recommendation is shorts with in built pockets!



Georgia racing in the Lakes

What shoes do you run in? Why?


I'm currently running in Merrell shoes. My favourite models are the Skyfire and the Long Sky 2. They're both light enough to make you feel nimble, whilst having decent cushioning and grip.


What has been your best mountain day to date?


I ran the Glen Coe Skyline in 2019 and 2021, both of which were very special days. After mostly racing abroad I love the feeling of competing closer to home. It's a special feeling showing off your home mountains on the international stage, and so nice to have friends and family cheering you on. The route is also outstanding; I love the scrambling, the technical descents, the relentless pace, and the atmosphere at the aid station.


How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


One of the other reasons this is a special race to me is that I'd wanted to do it for years but initially didn't pass the vetting process. It was up to me to go away and build my skills in order to be able to race. Scrambling and easy climbing are the obvious skills you need, but to pass the vetting you also need experience of long runs. This is because pacing, fuelling, navigation and generally being able to look after yourself when very tired are essential to long runs.


 

Jade Phillips


What is your dream running adventure?


I don't have one particular route I'd like to run. I would love to do more multi-day journeys, especially getting the bus/train somewhere and running back home. I really love going off the beaten track to the quieter areas of the mountains and hills.


What is your favourite bit of kit?


A buff. Great snot/sweat rag, head/neck warmer, and bandage if things go wrong.


What shoes do you run in? Why?


Altra. Shoes shaped like feet, so they let them do their own magic things instead of being forced into unnatural shapes.


Jade on Cadair Idris

What has been your best mountain day to date?


I can't choose one fave running adventure. My best ones are when I'm somewhere new and must rely on my map and terrain reading to get the best lines. Though some of the most fun adventures have just been running from my house (I live on the west coast of Wales) and freestyling it through the sand dunes...running, walking, cartwheeling, jumping, generally playing. Can't get a better more exhilarating workout for the body and mind :)


How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


Map skills and the ability to read the terrain to choose nice routes through the hills (or sand dunes, haha) is key. These skills come by just gaining experience out on the hills. Get out there, explore, and have fun!


 

Hannah Godden


What is your dream running adventure?


This is the first time I have openly told anyone, but one day I would like to try and do the Ramsay Round!


What is your favourite bit of kit?


I'd have to say my Montane running vest. I have been hillwalking for years but I only started running in the mountains last year. Having a running vest has been a game changer for me!


What shoes do you run in? Why?


My new favourite shoes are the inov8 X-talon Ultras. They feel super comfy and supportive and have performed well on both rock and in squelchy ground!


What has been your best mountain day to date?


The Lochaber Traverse, which I did recently to celebrate my birthday. It was the biggest day in the mountains I have ever done by a long way! It was a huge physical and mental challenge for me and it felt very daunting stepping out of my comfort zone in such a way. Fuelled by bagels, bars and cookies the goal was to enjoy it and get round. Something tells me one day I'll be back to repeat it for a faster time, but right now I am so incredibly happy and proud of myself for completing it.



Emma on her birthday traverse!

How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


The traverse was a huge day for me. Sensible and suitable pacing was incredibly important to ensure I didn't blow up in a remote and committed position! The ground you cover along the journey is technical from first to last. Fortunately this is a style of running I absolutely love, and having a climbing/mountaineering background meant I felt happy in this terrain.


 

Lou Beetlestone

What is your dream running adventure?


I'm looking forward to doing the Dragon's Back race in September. It's been a long term dream of mine to travel across the mountains of Wales in a continuous journey.


What is your favourite bit of kit?


Harvey's ultra map, I love them! So compact, cover large areas, and clear enough to not need my reading glasses! They're also waterproof and robust.



Lou on the Welsh 3000s

What shoes do you run in? Why?


I love Altra shoes for their wide toe box. Mtn Kings have great grip on any mountain terrain, from scrambling Skyrunning ridges to bogs. When I want a bit more support for longer trail runs I use the Olympus.


What has been your best mountain day to date?


The Paddy Buckley is my biggest and best running adventure to date. It was a great day out with wonderful friends. I particularly enjoyed trotting over the Moelwynion whilst feeling fresh, and later a full moon over the Snowdon section.


How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


Being able to spend a long time on my feet and cover rough ground efficiently is what makes things like the Paddy Buckley and mountain marathons both possible and enjoyable.


 

Emma Pearce


What is your dream running adventure?


To finish off the Corbett's (which is taking longer than my Munro's)!


What is your favourite bit of kit?


My pertex top.


What shoes do you run in? Why?


I run in Hokas for the road and trail, and inov8s when I'm out on the hill.





What has been your best mountain day to date?


Fisherfield 5. It's fantastic scenery and I had brilliant company. It was an exhausting, but rewarding, day. The pint of lager shandy at Dundonnel Hotel afterwards was also a highlight!


Or the Everest Marathon - a two week remote trek in Nepal (only the cook had been there before!). A beautiful country with beautiful people. Highlights included the camaraderie of our group, dealing with altitude sickness, and the equivalent of a half Ben in height at mile 14!


How did ‘mountain craft’ (mountain safety skills and experience) enable you to achieve this?


Navigation skills enable me to travel to mountain areas in the world with some confidence.

However getting to and from those mountains can be challenging.

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