“Every-man’s right” has a nice ring to it. In UK law it is the right to roam freely across most moorlands, hills and heaths for the purpose of exercise, even if they are privately owned. The rich and famous don’t get exceptions. Even without this the UK is blessed with a superb network of footpaths and excellent Ordinance Survey maps.
I like to try and get out for a run in each place I visit. It’s a great way to connect to where you are whether you are running in nature, or in a city such as Rome (tip: don’t take a wrong turn in Borghese park into a dead-end at dusk, particularly if you’re wearing very short shorts and you’re not looking to make new friends…). It goes someway to offset wine and food intake creating some form of calorific equilibrium.
However, when travelling I often find “no entry” signs. This frustrates my desires to get off the road and onto footpaths and tracks so I tend to implement an “Englishman abroad” mentality and ignore no-entry signs, ready to cite an absence of linguistic skills should the need arise.
This time I found myself in Zapallar in Chile, a small village on the Pacific coast an hour north of wonderful Valparaiso (a “must visit”, it’s a living organic canvass). Zapallar has an eclectic mix of different properties from traditional mansions through to ultra-modern concrete and glass. Hotels are very limited with many of the properties being second homes for Santiago residents and it really feels like a community. It’s casual chic. In summer I am sure it is full but at the end of April it was quiet.
There are lots of runners here but most seem to stick to the relatively busy main road which I was keen to avoid. Finding good off-road routes is not always easy and can be a source of frustration hence my desire to share them as I discover them.
In that spirit I set off from Cachagua on a dirt road into the hills. As it transpires, my track bisected an established trail network called Agua Clara which I then joined. This is the best place to run here with easy access and marked routes, giving excellent views over the bay. From what I can see, RKF/Outlife have opened several of these in different locations.
I had a cloudy day, so apologies for the quality of the photos but in the end a grey day was a benefit given the amount of climbing.
I joined the trails near the top end (see map) so climbed along the ridge to the highest view point before descending steeply towards what transpired to be the “official start” … at which point I turned back uphill on a narrow and windy walking trail to reach the lake.
You can choose any number of iterations depending on the distance you want to cover and the pain you want to endure. There are plenty of very steep sections. My 17km route was an absolute beast leaving me fairly broken. Only at the top did I find a nice flat trail where I could finally really run! Unless you’re a mountain goat then some of these tracks take a long time to cover by foot.
If you’re in Zapallar then give the roads a miss, get onto the trails, and enjoy!