functional

Earlier today I crouched, covered in snow in an 80mph wind at the top of Arthur’s Seat, and felt a near-spiritual sense of thankfulness for my Walshes.

walsh.jpg

These shoes are deservedly a design classic (well, among the hill running community at any rate) because of their incredible combination of form and function. They are really one of the most favourite things that I own. They have a glove like fit, a feather-like lightness and are really, really grippy. You can scamper up a hill and zoom down it without worrying about where you are treading, for in the Walshes your feet will stay sticky as an insect whether on grass or mud or rock. They are shoes designed by hill runners for hill runners. The design is basic, unfussy, and entirely functional, and thus has stayed the same for more than thirty years. Many runners sneer at the Walshes ubiquitous blue and yellow, but I find the lo-fi look of the shoe rather pleasing. The pyramid-like studs produce a footprint that is as immediately recognisable as a rabbit’s paw when one is out in the hills, and I like this unobtrusive and temporary way that runners’ feet can add to the language of a landscape. And Walshes are also made in Bolton, not far from where I grew up, so I feel an absurd and meaningless sense of Lancashire pride as I pootle about in them.

They did some pootling today. Here is a view of the hills from my back window after I returned:

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Arthur’s Seat is there, just behind the chimney. There were no walkers up on the peak at all. Visibility was nil, and charging off the top into a white-out felt strangely like insanity. But the Walshes did their job skimming over icy stones, through sticky bog and squelchy grass. In them, I hardly notice the grim conditions, for I am nimble as a weasel.

muddy.jpg

odd socks, who cares?