DOWNHILL FROM HERE: Running From John O’Groats to Land's End by Gavin Boyter

DOWNHILL FROM HERE: Running From John O’Groats to Land's End by Gavin Boyter
02 Jul
John O’Groats to Land’s End may not be the most original long distance journey, but running it remains a fairly intense method of completion

Boyter’s attempt to finish Britain’s ultimate ultra-marathon – covering 1,174 miles – is captured here in all its painful, unpredictable detail. Including multiple injuries both prior to and during the run that will cause experienced runners and laymen alike to wince, it’s a revealing and brutally honest account of driving yourself to complete a challenge, no matter how much pain and suffering is required in order to do so.

From a geographical perspective there is plenty to enjoy, including picturesque descriptions of the Scottish Highlands, the Pennine Way, the coastal paths of Cornwall, and everything in between. Nevertheless, the first-person narrative does become somewhat repetitive, and plenty of the routine action, with the day-to-day aches and pains of the author, could probably have been skimmed out. This would have allowed for more in-depth stories about the landscape or the people, bringing some welcome variety. Furthermore, given the abundance of quality running books in stores these days, it wouldn’t have gone amiss to include some detail on running technique and specialist equipment, for the geeks who would have appreciated it.

Regardless, no perceived lack of originality or storytelling should detract from a remarkable achievement, especially since Boyter seems to have been injured almost the entire time (although, amazingly, completely lacking in punishing blisters). Running often well over a marathon every day over six weeks would be beyond the abilities of almost all of us even at the very peak of our physical fitness, and the added complications of there being no set route created conditions ripe for getting lost many times. It’s undeniably worth indulging in such a success.

Click here to purchase Downhill From Here by Dieter Helm

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today


Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester




Travel the Unknown


Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...


NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...


Twenty one years, sixteen countries, seven continents... RGS-IBG director, Rita…


An emotional and divisive documentary that explores the trophy hunting…


by Paul Murton • Birlinn • £14.99 (softback)


by Harry Hook • HIP Editions • £54 (hardback)


by James Suzman • Bloomsbury • £18.99 (hardback)


by Thorkild Hansen • New York Review Books • £11.99…


by David Bellamy • Search Press • £25 (hardback)


by Michael Bristow • Sandstone Press • £8.99 (paperback)


Oslo makes complex geopolitics a living, breathing spectacle


New blockbuster takes climate chaos to the extreme, where what…


Prestigious Natural History Museum photography competition recognises Brent Stirton's capturing…


An inveterate armchair traveller ever since my Soviet childhood, I…


Bonnett’s previous book, Off the Map, was a thoroughly readable…


When Wilkinson set off to become the Telegraph’s Islamabad correspondent…


Dartmoor National Park might appear wild, but it’s the lines…


Barry Smith is a self-confessed islomaniac and a fixation with…


Neoliberalism. The word seems to have lost all meaning. According…


Combining a treasure trove of unseen footage set to music…


The dreadful pandemic of 1918, writes Laura Spinney, ‘engulfed the…