Love Trails | We Spent A Weekend At ‘The World’s First Music And Running Festival’

Done with Glastonbury? Check out the festival where getting 'bevvied' isn't the be-all and end-all

Picture the end of a usual festival. You’d normally expect to be crawling out of the festival grounds with a ten-day hangover, beer-soaked tent and two or three extra kilograms in weight added to your gut after four days of partying, drinking and falling into the dark hole that is now commonly known as ‘the sesh’.

However, this isn’t your usual kind of festival. As we departed Love Trails 2019, we left feeling refreshed and surprisingly fitter with 60km of running pounding our legs as we clambered up the steps of the coach on our way back to London and the working week.

“So that Gower Peninsula. Yeah, it’s stunning”

Similar to the recent surge in ski festivals, where a mixture of skiing, booze and music is somehow blended together, Love Trails calls itself “a music, running, adventure and wellbeing festival, located in the stunning Gower Peninsula” – that description is pretty much spot on.

Take 2,000 runners, stick them in a field together and tell them they they can do all the running their heart desires. Along with events for when they’re not running, including; talks from some pretty badass runners, yoga sessions and partying till the early hours (incase their legs hadn’t been worked enough).

So that Gower Peninsula. Yeah, it’s stunning. Outdoors Magic editor and proud Welshman Will Renwick sits next to me in the office here and is always chirping on about Wales and how it’s one of the most beautiful areas in the world – the man will give literally anything for a free weekend away hillwalking in his home country.

Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Peninsular.

Until Love Trails, I was happily ignoring his excitement about Wales but now I totally get it. The Gower Peninsula sits next to Swansea and juts out into the Bristol Channel and, like we’ve touched upon already, is a beautiful place. Such a beautiful place in fact that it was the first area in the UK to be designated  as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (sorry Will, I should have listened to you sooner).

We weren’t quite sure what was to be expected when we turned up to Love Trails. A Friday evening bus from London led to the inevitable gridlock as we joined the hordes looking to escape the city for the weekend. Six hours later, we found ourselves in the Gower Peninsula, in the dark, and still not too much idea of what to expect from the fest. We had a quick pint, set up camp and hit the hay at 02:00.

We stumbled out of bed at 08:30 and got ready for whatever run we fancied, leaving at 09:00. We (stupidly) skipped breakfast, stuffed a few energy bars into our pockets and signed ourselves up for a 30k ‘Run To Conservation’ with the good people of GoodGym.

Credit: Anna Rachel
Photo: Tanya Raab

GoodGym’s mantra is simple: to get fit by doing good for local communities across the UK. So many people in the UK are spending so much time walking, running and rowing to nowhere at indoor gyms. Why not, they argue, spend that time getting fit, whilst also doing some good at the same time? For example, running to help out at a local food bank before running back again – winner.

So our 30k was comprised of two 15km runs over and around the dunes and jagged coastline of the peninsula. Halfway through, we donned scythes to begin our task of hacking away at some bracken to help the National Trust in the fight against the plant. Bracken is an invasive species, and when left to its own devises it’ll shade out and kill other plants. Bracken control is also important to the National Trust to provide more grazing areas for sheep on the hills.

“The Beer Mile involves a relay team of four, where each participant has to chug a can of beer before completing a 400m sprint”

With a good 30 minutes of scything Bracken in aid of the local sheep population behind us, we had the 15km return leg back to the fest and a well earned beer, burger and shower – I wasn’t fussed what order they came in.

Once back at the festival grounds, we were about to see what was a pretty impressive feat in itself, the Beer Mile World Championships. Yep, that’s a thing. It’s all in the name really – the Beer Mile involves a relay team of four, where each participant has to chug a can of beer before completing a 400m sprint.

Of course, a festival is nothing without a decent music lineup to warm down on during the evenings ? Fortunately, Love Trails had lined up a diverse mix of artists including favourites of ours Afriquoi followed by the likes of The Correspondents and the Hackney Colliery Band.

Photo: Simon Roberts
Photo: Simon Roberts

Rested and recouped after a fairly chilled evening (some were still partying till 04:00), we signed ourselves up for more punishment on the legs with a 23km run out towards the coast, whilst taking in the hill of Cefn Bryn. Whilst it was a tough one following the events of yesterday’s run, it was awesome to be out with a crew of people who live and breath running.

It was great to get to know each individual on the twenty-something person strong crowd as we wound our way up the hills of the Gower Peninsula. It was a real mix of people, who had either come to the fest as an individual, as a group or as part of a running crew. As you’re probably already well aware, running crews are blowing up across cities around the world righht now – see Run Dem Crew, Midnight Runners and Tribe as cases in point.

Photo: Anna Rachel

With dodgy headline booking after dodgy headline booking from the likes of Glastonbury, it’s refreshing to get over to a festival that has taken it back to the grassroots. No matter what your running experience, there’ll be some kind of event to jump in on and be part of this growing scene – kudos to the team over at Love Trails for putting this cracker on!

Do It Yourself


Love Trails 2020 is booked in from July 2nd – 5th 2020. Head over to the Love Trails website to grab some early bird discounts.

Swansea to Love Trails – 27 minutes
Bristol to Love Trails – 1 hour 40mins
West London to Love Trails – 3.5 hours

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