4500 Miles of British Coastline
What do our guides do when they’re not leading tours? Well, Active England’s very own Operations Manager and Tour Leader, Frances Mills, has taken on the challenge of running 4500 miles around the coast of Britain, self-supported and over the next three winters.
We caught up with her this week to ask about her incredible adventure exploring our beautiful coastline:
- First of all, why this particular challenge? And why in the winter?
My job with Active England gives me three winter months off a year, and I wanted to do something substantial with that time. I have lived in the Britain all my life and yet I have only seen a snapshot of the wonders of our little Island (not so little as I am finding out!), so I decided to do a loop of the entire coastline to truly experience the vast variety of landscape we have here!
I love both cycling and running, but with both they are a means to explore. I rarely run fast and racing is not my style – being outdoors and enjoying the landscapes around me at my own pace is the best way to discover new places, and there are infinite treasures in Britain hiding round every corner!
- 4500 miles, that sounds like an awful lot?!
It is! When I plotted my rough route on a map it looked reasonable, but now I’ve begun running I have to break it down into much smaller chunks of around 15 miles a day. So far, since late October when I began, I have run just over 700 miles. I took a break for Christmas and am looking forward to running another 600 miles before March when I get back to work and begin cycling again.
- What has been your favourite place to visit so far?
I began in Bristol and have run around the entirety of Cornwall, as well as through Devon and Dorset. My favourite part so far has probably been Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. That stretch of coast is just stunning, its so rugged and gnarly, and I love all the legends surrounding King Arthur and Merlin. You get a real insight into the Castle’s history through the ruins in Tintagel and a sense of mystery that is very compelling – having grown up with stories of the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur’s sword I couldn’t help but feel the magic of the place.
Its not really a place, but one of my favourite moments of my trip so far has been seeing a couple of Peregrine Falcons swooping low and past me while I was in Devon. It was incredible, I had read about their resurgence since the 1980s but hadn’t seen them myself. I have seen one or two since and every time their grace and efficiency of flight takes my breath away.
- Are there parts of the coast you are looking forward to seeing?
There is so much of Britain I want to see, but in the near future I am heading towards Kent and parts of the coast that have seen and fought off invasion time and time again over the years. I’m a real history enthusiast and there are some incredible and pivotal battles fought along this coastline, from the Romans, the Battle of Hastings in 1066, to the evacuations from Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain in 1940. Our coast is dotted with magnificent castles and fortifications that reflect the dangers and benefits of being and islanders.
On our Cornwall and Devon ‘Coastal Treasures’ Tour in particular, as well as our Dorset and Kent tours, I get to keep returning to these places, by foot and on a bike, and enjoy of showing our guests the best the Britain has to offer. It’s great that I get to explore Britain in my free time as well as in my job!