Your TrailFit guide to Hampstead Heath

Running up Parliament Hill, stumbling upon a secret garden and taking a dip in the famous ponds: British adventure athlete and TrailFit ambassador Laura Kennington steps out in her KEEN Terradora to craft her own fitness routine in this iconic London park

  Images by Conor Beary

Images by Conor Beary

The red buses, distinctive skyline and constant humming of movement, London can feel exhilarating and exhausting all at once. However, amid the chaos is an unmistakable charm. If you know where to look, London has some real hidden gems, pockets of wilderness that can be a sanctuary for those too busy to escape the city. Hampstead Heath is one such sanctuary. Surrounded by quirky coffee shops, characterful houses and historic buildings, it’s also home to 791 acres of ancient woodland and swimming ponds.

I’m between adventures at the moment, living nomadically, so I adapt my fitness routines to wherever I am so I don't need to go to the gym. This is the essence of TrailFit for me – making the most of wherever you are and being outside, even if you find yourself in a huge city like London. It's all about carving your own path to fitness. For me, the key to being active regularly is to make it easy, so it fits into your routine (such as your commute) and to make it fun.

My go-to shoe for when I know I'm going to be on my feet all day, even it's walking to and from meetings in London, is the Terradora. Its versatility means it works well in different environments, whether wild or urban.

Running up that hill

Even on a busy day, allowing a bit of extra time to walk, run or cycle not only keeps me fit, but it means I soak up, rather than insulate against, my surroundings. I’m constantly on the lookout for obstacles I can incorporate into my fitness routine: hills in the countryside and steps in the city. In Hampstead Heath I like to warm up against one of the ancient trees (below) before a run up Parliament Hill. At the top you’re rewarded to that quintessential London skyline – Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, the Shard and St Paul’s Cathedral – and feel a sense of almost smug contentment viewing frenetic city life from a peaceful park bench.

  Laura makes use of natural features  , such as trees, for stretching and warming up against

Laura makes use of natural features, such as trees, for stretching and warming up against

A walk in the park

Roaming the ancient woodland trails of Hampstead Heath is akin to stepping foot into Narnia. You can walk for hours through undulating terrain and quickly forget that this small oasis lies within Zone 2 of the Tube network. I'm always on the lookout for natural obstacles that I can incorporate into my ever-changing fitness routine. Trees such as these (below) are ideal for a body weight workout and I can clamber along fallen trunks to improve my balance. This is what TrailFit is all about – making the most of your surroundings and seeing the city as your playground. It really helps you to explore more and unlock your creativity – so much better than a stifling gym.

  Who needs a gym when you've got the park as your playground?

Who needs a gym when you've got the park as your playground?

Secrets to be shared

Stroll through Hampstead Heath’s 791 acres of ancient woodland and you might happen upon the hidden Hill Garden and Pergola (below) – an Edwardian paradise built by landscape architect Thomas Mawson for Lord Leverhulme, who hosted many a summer party here. It was built around the same time as the Northern Line – in fact the spoil from digging the tunnels was used to landscape the gardens. The Pergola, with its classical stone columns creeping with vines and flowers, is a fine place to meander and pretend you're in a period drama. The Terradora boot is the ideal companion for spontaneous rambles such as this. They're so lightweight and comfortable, I barely feel them on my feet.

  Spontaneous rambles in your city can reveal hidden gems, such as London's Hill Garden & Pergola

Spontaneous rambles in your city can reveal hidden gems, such as London's Hill Garden & Pergola

Space to stretch and be you

Seek out the sculptures in Golders Hill Park (below) and the nearby stumpery – a quirky Victorian garden craze in which ferns and woodland plants are arranged around tree stumps. There's even a free zoo to explore and get up close to rare and exotic birds and mammals, such as laughing kookaburras, ring-tailed lemurs and ring-tailed coatis.

There are plenty of wide open spaces in the park to lay out a yoga mat, or go barefoot! I’m doing more yoga at the moment; I love that you can just rock up and do it anywhere. This is TrailFit at its core – redefining fitness in a way that gives you confidence and a sense of freedom. It gives you permission to be you – you don't have to mirror what the media dictates about how you should look or dress or keep fit.

  Yoga is the essence of TrailFit: you can do it anywhere, even barefoot in the park

Yoga is the essence of TrailFit: you can do it anywhere, even barefoot in the park

The ponds and a well-earned coffee

We’re not designed to live our lives in a temperature-controlled environment, cushioned against the natural world. Take a detour and change the pace. Sometimes, that change of scene you’re craving is much closer than you think.

Instead of competing for lane space and counting laps, dive into any number of outdoor pools London has to offer and revel in bird song as you glide through the water. At Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds (below) it’s just £2 for a day pass. After a bracing dip, you’ll feel your senses enlivened, and a flat white and a spot of brunch in one of the independent cafés in Hampstead Village, such as local haunt Ginger & White, is guaranteed to taste better. 

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The Terradora: embracing the TrailFit movement

The Terradora is a robust, lightweight andwaterproof boot designed especially for women that combines the support of hiking footwear with the flexibility and vigour of a trail runner. 

  • Specifically designed for women’s feet 
  • Cushioned panels reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon
  • Low-density EVA midsole provides lightweight support for high intensity workouts and steep descents
  • KEEN all-terrain rubber outsole for high traction grip
  • Dual-density PU foam footbed
  • Lightweight mesh upper
  • KEEN.DRY Waterproof breathable membrane. 
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KEEN’s Terradora comes in a mid (£109.99) and low (£99.99) style. Head to keenfootwear.com/trailfit-eu for more information, watch the Terradora video at bit.ly/ErnestTerradora and check our online directory for more stories from KEEN.

Follow on Instagram and Facebook @KEENEUROPE. Tag your pics #Terradora and #TrailFit to join the TrailFit movement. 

Winter adventures

Make the most of starry skies and frosty mornings this winter and get out into the wild. Wynnchester is your guide to three essential elements of adventure kit: your bed, your shelter and your pack 

 Patrol Pack, £150

Patrol Pack, £150

Wynnchester was born out of a passion for beautiful design, a respect for simplicity and a love of nature. Today, they design heritage-inspired outdoors equipment for modern-day adventurers. Their customers include former and serving military, professional cowboys, scout masters and bushcraft instructors. Let's take a look at their expedition inventory:

Adventurer Bedroll

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The bedroll is a simple solo shelter that sets up in seconds. Fully enclosable, it requires no ground sheet, no guy ropes and no pegs. Built to last, the bedroll is manufactured in the UK using only the finest, military-spec materials. The all-canvas construction is robust and durable, pre-treated for water, rot and fire resistance. Wynnchester’s bedrolls are used by hundreds of professionals and recreational campers the world over. £525

Adventure Tarp

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Made from the same material as the bedroll, this tough canvas tarp won’t catch fire or be ruined by flying embers from your campfire or cooking stove. Measuring 3m x 1.85m, it is the perfect size for a one-man shelter. With a total of 10 reinforced attachment points, the setups are limited only by your imagination. £225

Patrol Pack

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After many years restoring vintage Norwegian Army patrol packs in their workshops, the design was a natural choice for Wynnchester’s line of new-made bags. Their modern version, the 18L PATROL, remains true to the original and is constructed from military-spec canvas and 100% cowhide top grade leather.  Each bag in the limited edition run is individually numbered and available in a choice of a fully waterproof, modern dry finish or a traditional hand-waxed finish using Wynnchester’s own all-natural wax formula. £150

Get 10% off these items using code ERNEST10 online at wynnchester.com

A glossary of seafaring terms

From "knucker" to "knockarse", historian Chris Hare is your guide to fisherman's words past and present

 Illustration: Joe McLaren

Illustration: Joe McLaren

bexhill bunny (noun)

A term used on-board instead of saying ‘rabbits’, which was considered unlucky. Prolonged periods of bad weather meant that fishermen were forced to stay on shore and hunt for rabbits. 

gipper (noun)

Slime that oozes out of newly caught fish. 

hoggie (noun)

A Sussex fishing boat, particularly associated with Brighton. 

knockarse (noun)

A boat with a flat stern, like a hoggie. 

knucker (noun)

A legendary dragon that lived in the spring-fed pools found on the coastal plain of Sussex, known as knucker holes. 

mace (noun)

A dialect word for credit, e.g. “How did you afford your new nets?”, “Oh, I bought them on the mace.” 

shay (noun)

A bright misty haze or halo seen at night, often associated with supernatural apparitions. 

shraves (noun)

The dips in the chalk cliffs as seen from the sea, the truncated valleys of the the South Downs, e.g.The Seven Sisters. 

silver darlings (noun)

Fishermen’s slang for herring. A good catch of herring was worth a great deal to fishermen, equal in value to nets of silver. 

whale (noun)

A name for a fisherman’s apron. 

Chris Hare's book The Secret Shore and CD South Coast Songs and Shanties is available to buy at secretshore.org.uk.

This glossary originally featured in issue six of Ernest Journal, on sale now.

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Uneek perspectives

Meticulously crafted to compliment the shape of your feet – while providing balance and flexible movement – UNEEK has been a firm favourite with Ernest since its launch in 2016, accompanying the team on many an adventure. We check in with KEEN to find out how their one-of-a-kind hybrid shoe has evolved.

  Editor Jo explores the Galapagos Islands with her trusty UNEEK originals. Photo: Graeme Owsianski

Editor Jo explores the Galapagos Islands with her trusty UNEEK originals. Photo: Graeme Owsianski

UNEEK is the ultimate hybrid shoe: a versatile sandal, made from interlocking cords that adjust to provide custom fit for your foot, which is smart enough for urban rambles yet robust and ready for wilder adventures. Over the past year, this quirky piece of footwear has protected our feet from sea urchins in the Adriatic and accompanied us on rugged volcanic paths in the Galapagos and while springing for trains in the city. While the original design has found a firm footing with the team, and with its followers, there are now new styles, new colours and new materials to consider. Before we have a look, here’s a quick introduction…

Dynamic design: an introduction

It’s easy to recognise UNEEK for its disruptive aesthetics, but the form has always followed the function. Designed to create a custom fit on any foot, UNEEK provides unparalleled comfort and versatility for outdoor adventures. The interlocking cords adjust to provide custom fit for your foot, while the bungee entry system lets you adjust the tightness. Support, motion and flexibility are key design features in the shoe, with its lightly cushioned heel, flexible mid-sole and free-moving cord system – all and which work with the natural movement of your foot. On top of that, they’re lightweight and breathable – ready to ramble whether you’re roaming through the city or setting out into wilder terrain.

Your UNEEK. Your way.

This footwear is all about self-expression and this year there are even more styles so you can find the right sandal to suit your individual lifestyle and performance needs.

UNEEK Original

Back by popular demand – the classic design returns for another season in a fantastic new range of colours and a choice of flat or round cord. Featuring a free-moving cord construction, heel strap for stability and a durable but lightweight midsole for arch support, it’s a versatile shoe, which now boasts some special editions!

UNEEK Original: Leather (special edition)

This is the original style but upgraded with soft leather cords. A cushioned strap supports the ankle, while the midsole offers the support of a sneaker. Fancy.

UNEEK Original: Urban Trail Pack (special edition)

Premiering this summer, the special edition UNEEK Originals: Urban Trails Pack offers an eye-catching aesthetic with a distinctly athletic profile. A lightweight PU midsole in a bright sporty finish contrasts with tan gum rubber pods on the outsole for versatile traction and cushioning.

  U NEEK Originals: 79.99

UNEEK Originals: 79.99

UNEEK O2

Twenty five per cent lighter than its predecessor, this robust style – part sandal and part sneaker – has a lightly-cushioned enclosed heel as well as grippy rubber outsoles. It’s a pioneering, athletic design and the cords adapt to your foot so you’re assured a cosy and customised fit.

UNEEK curation

It’s not just new styles either, each month KEEN curates a special collection to show off key threads and themes within the UNEEK range. This month sees a collaboration with Zebu – a dynamic illustration and artist duo from Berlin, who take inspiration from abandoned spaces in the city and produce bold, abstract artworks through screen printing, drawing and mural painting. The collection draws on bold blues and greens as well as urban shades of aluminium, slate grey and bright white. Or perhaps you prefer the Camp Life Pack? Natural tones, perfectly suited to slipping on by the campfire after a day of climbing, hiking, paddling, or just chilling. Watch this space for the latest pack.


This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with KEEN. Read more stories from the Ernest x KEEN partnership in our directory

Choose your style on the KEEN website.

Follow and share your UNEEK adventures on Instagram using hashtag #UNEEKPERSPECTIVES

TrailFit adventures on the High Peak Trail

Terradora is a robust yet nimble boot that embodies KEEN's TrailFit philosophy – versatile footwear that promises to be just as comfortable for working out in the city as for a light run on wild, open terrain. Ruth Allen embarks on the 17-mile High Peak Trail in Derbyshire to put a pair through their paces. 

  Words and photos: Ruth Allen

Words and photos: Ruth Allen

Seventeen miles. Yes, I’ll take that. Those were the words in my head as I settled on the idea of running the High Peak Trail end-to-end last month. The Peak District has its fair share of county-crossing trails, but the High Peak’s biggest draw is that it offers plenty of history, big views across Derbyshire and ends a stone-throw from my house.

The plan was to test out KEEN’s new Terradora – a lightweight, waterproof boot designed especially for women that combines the support of hiking footwear with the flexibility and vigour of a trail runner. The boot embraces KEEN's TrailFit movement, which is all about finding your own path to fitness, however and wherever you choose to do so. The Terradora is aimed at women who live adventurous, hybrid lifestyles – whose exercise routines migrate between urban and wilder spaces. As I was planning to run, hike and seek headspace in the Peaks, I’d say this was definitely hybrid adventure territory! 

The length of the High Peaks Trail make it possible to fit into my work schedule, because whilst I love those long ranging, free-floating adventures that holidays bring, I’m always on the lookout for something interesting to do on the weekend that has the flavour of adventure (a story behind why you’re doing it, a feel for the unknown and the sense that it might not work out!) but in manageable proportions. 

The trail follows the former trackbed of the High Peak Railway, beginning – without fanfare – just outside Buxton and winding up in the historic mill village of Cromford. My decision to run its length was confirmed when I noted that the final stretch of the line was closed in 1967. Not only would my run be a new way of exploring my local area but it would also be a personal nod to the 50-year anniversary. 

Saturday morning. Having packed a bag of snacks and warm clothes for the day, I parked at the start of the trail and got on my way. I like to run like this: no start lines, no fellow runners, no deadlines and no noise. It’s just me and the trail, in a quiet agreement that I will show up and make an effort and it will provide me with something to notice along the way that will take my mind off my feet, my legs and my overworked heart. 

On this occasion, I had no reason to think of my feet at all. If I had departed with any concern about what it would be like running in boots with ankle support, I needn’t have worried. These were the comfiest shoes I have run in for a very long time. It’s fair to say I have a fleet of trainers for different surfaces – most with a fairly aggressive sole – so this was the first time I had ventured into hybrid territory.  

The Terradora bridges the gap between hiking boot and trail runner, offering the support and grip of the former with the vigour of the latter; it was flexible enough for my pounding feet, while providing the ankle support needed for such rugged terrain. It’s also designed specifically for women’s feet: narrower through the heel, cushioned panels to reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon and a low-density midsole to give lightweight support for steep descents.

Given that I’d not so much as broken them in around the house, I was amazed to realise that I had barely been thinking of my feet at all. I kept expecting the rub to come but the Terradora handled the trail perfectly. I suspected they would be good on either the undulating gravel paths or on the steep, damp descents through woodland. To my surprise, I didn’t need to adjust my approach to either terrains. The soles were grippy, the insides cushioned and the foot-bed wide enough to accommodate warm feet all day. 

Having no shoe concerns made the whole thing a joy and as the miles flowed quickly beneath me, I found myself with plenty of time to take in my surroundings, have a think about the coming week and enjoy the day with a sense of playfulness. After all, who doesn’t love the nostalgia of messing around on railways sidings, whistling in damp, deserted tunnels and hopscotching over limestone boulders?

The Terradora is robust and durable footwear that ties into the TrailFit movement, inspiring women in their quest to challenge themselves mentally and physically. It’s all about finding your own adventurous ways to keep fit and not complying with standard ideas of a what it takes to be a cyclist, a runner, a hiker…

This definitely ties in with how I connect with outdoor fitness. I am not a runner, I am a person who runs. For me, this is an important distinction. I suspect many of us hold back from things we fancy trying in life because we don’t feel that we fit the brief or meet the definition. Perhaps we imagine a runner should be fast, full of energy and endlessly charting their interval times. Perhaps we have an idea of how we think they should look, what gear they wear and the things they eat when they’re not running. We might also think they’re highly disciplined people who wouldn’t dream of stopping to talk. I’m none of those things. 

For me, moving our bodies how we can and when we can, should be a joy. Sometimes it might feel like a punishment, but it’s actually kind to ourselves to celebrate our bodies and what they can do. We might do well to spend more time moving intuitively – running when we want to, walking when we choose to and not being afraid to sidle up to the kiosk for an ice cream at the end. This is the freedom of the trail. This is the freedom of having a body that can run if you ask it to.  

Terradora: the tech part

  • Specifically designed for women’s feet 
  • Cushioned panels reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon
  • Low-density EVA midsole provides lightweight support for high intensity workouts and steep descents
  • KEEN all-terrain rubber outsole for high traction grip
  • Dual-density PU foam footbed
  • Lightweight mesh upper
  • KEEN.DRY Waterproof breathable membrane. 

KEEN’s Terradora comes in a mid (£109.99) and low (£99.99) style. Head to keenfootwear.com/trailfit for more information, watch the Terradora video at bit.ly/ErnestTerradora and check our online directory for more stories from KEEN.