/ what's gone wrong with Trail...?
but for a while Trail looked like it was turning into a reliably interesting magazine, with articles on a range of activities from hillwalking through to winter climbing and introductory alpinism. there was consistently a rock climb in the routes section, and there have been some interesting special features about everest or the history of mountaineering
but recently all that seems to have dried up and it is pretty much purely hillwalking orientated- fine for many of its readers i guess, but i cant be the only person frustrated by this narrowing of its coverage
i know that members of the trail team sometimes post here- is this just an accident? or has there been an editorial shift not to cover so much in the way of climbing/mountaineering?
I used to read it but found the articles becoming very same old same old. The reviews favour whoever will give freebies and often concluded the same thing years on end. They don't seem to think outside the box.
I do think though that it must be a difficult task to produce a magazine of that size in a limited market and with limited space (the uk) whilst there is obviously fantastic hillwalking/climbing it is a limited area.
I think some articles covering international routes, walking and ideas would be great and refreshing, they don't have to pay people to go, just contact people in country to write the articles.
Trail- if your listening my ideas will cost!
Think of it more as an invitation to discuss, rather than a direct question, that should calm your irritation! :)
Nice post. Ignore the (narrow minded) negative comments.
Yes, that's the intention. Trail has produced some excellent articles over the years, and I used to look forward to its arrival. They did do features abroad, and the routes used to have occasional unusual things such as canoe descent of the spey, along with regular winter and trad climbing routes.
I suppose I'm hoping that if there is a show if interest on here it might make the editorial team think it was worthwhile including that sort of stuff again,
Initially I found it a great read although it was very oriented to my perception of hill walkers than climbers. But as the years went by, it was as Peas65 stated becoming very repetitive and same old same old!!!!
As for what's gone wrong, well a huge part of their sales pitch was in my eyes based on the routes section - not sure if it still is as it is now 6+ years since I bought/read an issue of Trail. I also thought then that they were pandering to the more towards the English type of hill walker, the Lakes/Dales areas - a safe part of the market to be. Which is great if that's your niche but can get a little mundane if its not.
Maybe its a magazine that the reader naturally outgrows as the become more proficient and more adventurous and moves forward to other more focussed periodicals.....
Give me a shout when you want to get out.
> i know that members of the trail team sometimes post here- is this just an accident? or has there been an editorial shift not to cover so much in the way of climbing/mountaineering?
I have it on fairly good authority that Trail has made a conscious decision not to cover anything harder than basic scrambling (grade I) for the forseeable future.
There seems to be a gap in the market at the moment with Trail on one side and Climb/Climber on the other so maybe it's time someone came along with a mag that appeals to folk who indulge in a range of mountain activities from hillwalking to multipitch and winter climbing to the annual alpine trip etc.
They could call it 'Bumbly' or something...I'd buy it!
Me too. i think that many climbers are also hillwalkers, mountaineers, scramblers etc. Climb and Climber are not good magazines either. We just need someone to fund it!
Any willing business men or women out there?
I think its a decent enough mag, but 'Havering' McNeish seems to be an problem for some!!!
Same old, same old, review boots, review sleeping bags, its winter so lets review gloves, blah blah blah. Bought one once when I was bored on a train journey, 10 minutes and i was done with it.
....readership declined, ad revenue declined, press releases and advertorial take the place of independent editorial...
that's it in a nutshell
Trek and Mountain is even worse.
'It is widely known that people give a lot more credibility to good editorial content than to paid advertisements. After all, anyone can claim that their own product is the best. But editorial content suggests that someone else has endorsed your product or service. Don't waste valuable time or precious resources in trying to design your own advertorials when you can easily outsource them to Advertorial.org and get them rapidly and efficiently published on the Web.'
The explanation is mine.
The advertorial explanation in italics is from http://advertorial.org/
As readership and ad revenue has declined, the rise of the PR company has increased (that is where companies are increasingly putting there money), the PR companies product place and feed media with press releases which is used in place of real editorial....which they gladly use as ad revenue has declined, which means there is little money for editorial staff/content.
It's a tough one.
But there is a solution!
I remember when I got back into 'the outdoors' - after being dragged around,through and over it and back again with my parents - Trail was avidly read, cover to cover; it was informative on gear, routes, techniques, and general hill related 'lore.
I think my experience, knowledge, ability and and requirements simply outgrew the format and their are many other sources of knowledge out there. I bought a copy recently as I thought it had a good article close to something I had done...only to find out they hadn't.
It would be good if it were still so 'expansive' in its target audience but I guess it must be targeting what it sees as its core audience/advertisers market more than it needed to in the past? I certainly think that the perceptions of people on this forum are likely to be highly aware of the subject material (hard to please) and a magazine to please (all) the requirements would be an extremely good piece of journalism indeed.
>If you want some fancy alpine/andies/himalayas then perhaps you are going to choose something different.
any recommendations? i could use some nice pictures and interesting articles to keep me going till i can get out more...
> I have it on fairly good authority that Trail has made a conscious decision not to cover anything harder than basic scrambling (grade I) for the forseeable future.
> There seems to be a gap in the market at the moment with Trail on one side and Climb/Climber on the other so maybe it's time someone came along with a mag that appeals to folk who indulge in a range of mountain activities from hillwalking to multipitch and winter climbing to the annual alpine trip etc.
> They could call it 'Bumbly' or something...I'd buy it!
yes, that would square with the contents of late, irritatingly since i decided to subscribe.
you'd have thought there were enough of us in the group you describe to make it worth the odd article or route to keep us interested, but i guess not
ah well, i can feel a cancelled subscription coming on i think...
Read the current issue at a mates this morning while nursing a hangover - got 45 minutes out of it which is an improvement on previous reads over the years - it's got a link up map from Dan Bailey of UCH - the Lochaber 4000ers with scrambling routes. The format is/always was Gear Porn.
Give Trek and Mountain a chance. Pretty varied content I would have thought from purely a readers point of view. I have no idea whether the readership has declined or ad revenue declined as you imply Trail has and by saying Trek and Mountain is even worse, perhaps you are implying that their readership and ad revenue has too! Sorry but I have no figures to counter your statement, but it's a good read and only time will tell if it improves or goes down hill or not! Best mag out at present is probably Summit and/or Vertical. Tom
Sorry to hear that Trail has wandered off down the Bimbly avenue. I used to like Trail and enjoy the easy climbs and scrambles it featured. In fact I used to subscibe but haven't bought it for years now. I liked the fact that is was parochial because after all, most us do our activities in the UK. My main gripe was that its agenda appeared to be based on satisfying the advertisers and I didn't like the way it pimped horrendously expensive gear!
Given that it seemed to be aimed at beginners and the less experienced-hence all the 'how to put on a pair of crampons' articles,it must put a lot of young beginners off. Especially when they read that they need to spend £200 on a pair of boots, £300 on a Kag and £200 on a rucksack etc etc, before they can hit the hills.
It was/Is? quite an attractive package but it seems to be going nowhere these days. Pity as it had some good writers.
A new outdoor magazine-as suggested-seems a good idea. Especially if it's aimed at the hillwalking/punter climber market.
> >If you want some fancy alpine/andies/himalayas then perhaps you are going to choose something different.
> hi Andy,
> any recommendations? i could use some nice pictures and interesting articles to keep me going till i can get out more...
> and YHM...
I have a subscription to Trail as my other half bought it for me but I also have a subscription to Vertical which is an excellent magazine.
Not really a walking type mag more of a worldwide climbing mag with interesting features on ranges and individuals with outstanding photography.
Well worth it:
I stopped reading Trail Mag a couple of years ago,I think around the time the foxy red head left their team. The main reason I stopped reading the Mag was because it started to repeat it self .
I stopped buying Trail the month they did a double-page spread on how to make a tuna sandwich.
I still peruse it occasionally in W H Smith however. I find issues fairly 'samey' from one month to another.
They have also been including articles on other activities such as sea kayaking, orienteering, climbing etc. The gear reviews are a lot more beleivable and reliable too. The route section is less highlands biased than it used to be and is much more imaginative than Trail
Definitely a home for the jaded ex-Trail reader.
> I think my experience, knowledge, ability and and requirements simply outgrew the format and their are many other sources of knowledge out there. I bought a copy recently as I thought it had a good article close to something I had done...only to find out they hadn't.
I feel pretty similar to Rob. Trail really got me into Mountaineering through tentative steps (winter walking, Scottish Winter, Alpinism) and because of that into climbing so I could learn the skills to take things further and become better (I'm still crap FWIW). It gave me a bit of savvy when it came to buying kit, which though my purchases tend to be a bit more specialist (compared to what they write about) these days, I still rely on opinoins formed over a period of time which trail reviews were a part of (thanks GT!) as well as my own experiences and that of my friends.
Now I do quite a bit of travelling as I work away and always travel with a book (or eReader), but quite often get a generic mag to read (i.e. flick-through) when I'm tired and can't be arsed. Climb, Trek and Mountain, Mountain Bike, MBR, Road Bike, Snowboarding etc based on what articles I fancy.
I subscribe to Climber (suckered by the Dragon Cam offer), but note that Trail has dropped off the list. Mainly because I feel that I out-grew the magazine. I'm pretty sure I've ticked about 50% of the inspirational stuff they write about and know about a further 20% already as it's on my to do list. I'd say the rest is either fascinating reading or stuff that doesn't float my boat, the those quantities are not equal. I have two or three versions of the kit the do a write up of (benefits of being a single guy). Nothing they write inspires me really.
I don't have a problem with that, all magazines follow a pretty similar format and repeat the same stuff over a period of time. I'm still fond of the magazine though, in a retrospective sort of way.
> I stopped reading Trail Mag a couple of years ago,I think around the time the foxy red head left their team.
Last time I checked she was the Editor of the quarterly Trail Running Magazine and still a contributor for Trail. How's that for some Trail stalking?
I've stopped buying TGO due to the terribly self indulgent nature of the photos in some of the articles. Why in God's name anybody (but the authors) would want to see half a dozen close-ups of walking-pole action shots at the expense of the wider scenery is beyond me.
The Lakes pub walks feature a couple of months ago stands out as a case in point.
The front cover of the last issue prevented me from even taking it off the shelf for a thumb-through.
That's a real shame. Some of the scrambling/easy climbing/Alpine articles they've had in the past few years have been really good.
I had noticed that I was spending less time flicking through Trail these days and finding fewer articles that I actually wanted to bother reading, but I hadn't really twigged that it was because there was more rambling and less scrambling.
Might be one for the subscription chop....
But I think it has been on the slide for a while. Last time I bought it with any thing like regularity there was always a few blatant mistakes in it which were fun to spot. Giving out the Wrong bearings to get off the summit of the Ben being the biggest howler. More amusingly I have one issue they labelled a photo of Striding Edge as Sharp Edge and then the next put all the labels about an Edale Feature on a picture of the Hope Valley labelling a cloud as Kinder Scout was particularly good. But very poor for a specialist mag.
the gear reviewing has gone down hill to. Quite clear who favoured brands are, though Scarpa wasn’t the best in test on the last boot review they did which shocked me. One classic line on a best in test conclusion lately was words to the Effect of. This is the best one. Unless, you like one of the others more. Great thanks for that.
My 2p worth.
I gave up buying the magazines a few years ago as unless you are buying new kit every few weeks the actual content remains much the same year in and year out.
I never bought Trail as it was more geared to advertising expensive kit or selling their courses rather than anything else. It seems to have the biggest circulation but as they are giving away expensive free gifts I'm not sure the readership buys it for it's outstanding journalism.
The Great Outdoors or now TGO used to be OK but became way too political and then went down the same line as Trail recently with lightweight this and and that and GPS and this and that!!!
Climber and Rambler now Climber now seems to more boulderer and how to train or articles on beta the top climbers rather than what normal people actually climb!!!
Trek and Mountain is a new old kid on the block and have had some decent articles recently. I have yet to see it in any of my local shops so the circulation must be very low!
I remember being inspired by the adventures people had in the hills and mountains. This eventually led onto mountaineering with hillwalking, backpacking, bivving, climbing, skiing and alpinism all being part of it.
The articles I remember all involved journeys into wild places to explore and climb no matter the season or weather.
In pre mobile phone and internet weather forecasts it was an adventure and you really had to be self reliant!!
Now all we get beta this and gpx routes for our missions and greedy bankers and lawyers suing for the slightest mishap!!!!
Not seen Trek & Mountain but as for Trail: I don't need it. Better gear reviews online or here or other websites. Same goes for route planning, which I am capable of doing myself anyway. I think basically you out grow it.
The magazine is an outdated medium for information delivery. Its main purpose nowadays is to advertise one's hobbies to others, you can sit on the tube holding a magazine, quietly shouting "look at me I'm a hillwalker / climber / runner / mountainbiker / yachtsman".
Anyone with any in-depth understanding of an activity will have outgrown the corresponding magazines years ago, so the actual message transmitted is "look at me I want you to think that I'm a hillwalker / climber / runner / mountainbiker / yachtsman".
No, the magazine is for those who don't want to be seen taking the laptop/netbook/iPad into the lavatory...
> Initially I found it a great read although it was very oriented to my perception of hill walkers than climbers. But as the years went by, it was as Peas65 stated becoming very repetitive and same old same old!!!!
> As for what's gone wrong, well a huge part of their sales pitch was in my eyes based on the routes section - not sure if it still is as it is now 6+ years since I bought/read an issue of Trail. I also thought then that they were pandering to the more towards the English type of hill walker, the Lakes/Dales areas - a safe part of the market to be. Which is great if that's your niche but can get a little mundane if its not.
> Maybe its a magazine that the reader naturally outgrows as the become more proficient and more adventurous and moves forward to other more focussed periodicals.....
I could have written exactly this to describe my thoughts.
interesting to see this thread still going after a month...!
in the meantime, another disappointing edition of the magazine has arrived.
i guess its time to cancel that subscription.
which is the bit i don't quite understand- the apparant policy of restricting the content to hillwalking is leading to the loss of readers who want to see a broader spectrum of coverage of other activities. are there hillwalkers who will be put off buying it if they have a vdiff climb in the routes section, or a feature about climbing an easy alpine peak? i find it difficult to believe there would be, but why else would they be prepared to lose a section of their readership by not covering such things?
Some folk think that magazines are dead but I don't agree with that. If there was a British based mag that covered hillwalking, scrambling, climbing up to say VS and winter/easy alpine climbing I'd buy it and if it was good I'd buy it again.
Like many others I outgrew Trail and it looks as though new readers will outgrow it even quicker than I did now its focus has narrowed. Weird!
Totally agree Nicholas. In its current format they look like they are relying on finding a new readership every year to replace the ones that have seen all the articles they run on a rotational basis.
I'd buy the magazine you described and guess many others would too, in the age of declining readership its hard to believe a magazine can happily lose a significant chunk of its potential readers,
i had 2 hours to kill on the train tlast month so thought i would give trail a bash. i have never bought an outdoor magazine before,apart from the angry corrie, so was interested to see if it would be any good and here is my tuppence worth( 3.99 worth!!!)
firsty well done them for their business model. getting people to pay for what is essentially a series of adverts is genius. even the pages that arent adverts are adverts. for example the article on lightweight gear essentialy boiled down to - dont pack what you dont need and buy lighter stuff.
the other articles were interesting, especially the weather and mrt stuff but i was done with it cover to cover in an hour.
in the age of online forums the letters and photos page seem like something from a bygone age and people sending in photos of themslves acting like gimps is not for me but then again im a miserable old sod even if i am in my 20s so thats fair enough. the same goes for the faux matey ' hey guys lets go for it' writing style.
all in all some interesting pieces but nothing like enough content that i would be shelling out for it again.
Also, is it a Trail 'in joke' to paraphrase Hardy and describe solitude as getting away from 'the madding crowd' as I spotted three references to this in the magazine.
Last time I bought Trail I hid it inside a copy of Razzle to avoid embarrassment.
Sounds like u need to cross over to Country Walking magazine to spice things up abit?
Ps I gave up reading trail years ago due to repitition and unreliable reviews. Do not regularly by a mag now but enjoy reading Summit every 1/4.
I used to be a regular with Trail , in fact i have every issue from its launch up to about 5 years ago, the reason i stopped getting it was the increase of advertisements and unrelated topics , like cycling, rock climbing which interesting in there own rite they have their own magazines it seemed like the ideas had run dry also routes were being duplicated. ive been a keen walker for around 40 years and beenpart of mountain rescue for over 25 of those years . i realise it is difficult to breath new life into a mag but filling it more adds than articles is a waste of paper.
The latest issue is more of the same, I'm cancelling my subscription.
There's definitely a niche to fill for a mag aimed at the average mountain route punter. Trail being walking only now and Climber/Climb seem to focus largely on harder and/or shorter stuff.
> The latest issue is more of the same, I'm cancelling my subscription.
> There's definitely a niche to fill for a mag aimed at the average mountain route punter. Trail being walking only now and Climber/Climb seem to focus largely on harder and/or shorter stuff.
Trail does listen to its readers and its clear from this thread that there are a lot of people interested in scrambling and the easier end of the climbing grades. The only problem is that at the moment readers interested just in walking are shouting the loudest. So if you would like to see a return to more mountaineering content why not pass on your thoughts to the editorial team? I have worked on Trail from issue one and my passion has always been mountaineering content, having a bit of reader support always helps when we are planning! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been reading back through the last 20 years of Trail on evenings / weekends, and you're totally right, there's been a big shift away from scrambling, foreign expeditions and mountaineering in general. It's a shame because these subjects get everyone excited, regardless of experience levels etc.
What I would say is that publishing tends to reflect that market, rather than shape it. Especially today when forums and websites provide such a ready, free alternative to any mag which mis-judges its audience. I'm not an editor or a publisher so I can't give you an official response, but I would say that if Trail is concentrating its focus at the moment, that's because it's the best way to guarantee its success in today's market. And by success I don't mean maximising profit, I mean remaining a healthy and viable publication.
As Jeremy says, if going back to more scrambles / mountaineering pieces would win back more readers and - more importantly - make a better mag, please email email@example.com and make your voice heard!
They are different beasts for a different market and I am not sure the circulations are really that much different. Maybe your choice of mags reflect the type of mountaineering you enjoy? Ironically on a resent press trip to the Dolomites I was pin holed by three separate foreign journalists/editors, one German, one Italian and one American and all said they would loved to be able to do things the way we do it on Trail! My own personal favourites are Alpinist and Vertical but I really doubt if the British market could support titles like them? But, as I said higher up, if enough readers push for more mountaineering content then it makes arguing for it at planning meetings so much easier!!
As for photography, we shoot all the feature stuff live and are therefore are at the mercy of good old British conditions, under these circumstances our staff photographer, Tom Bailey produces some of the best in the UK outdoor market. Given the Alps to photograph he produces images of the same caliber as any you'll find in Alpinist, Patagonia catalogue etc.
interesting that this thread is still going, and glad its not just me that thinks this way...
i was looking back through some old copies as hoping to get to the cairngorms in june- found a feature on domed ridge on braeriach, also articles on the Dufourspitze and Mont Blanc.
there is a good piece this month about the history of everest that'll persuade me to give it another month or two, but it was in amongst articles about walking up the pyg track on snowdon, and basic navigation *again*
trail has been a really interesting magazine in the past, and could easily be so again- so thanks for the comments Jeremy, i'll email as you suggest
and can i suggest anyone else that feels the same does likewise...? maybe there is still a bit of hope that it can return to the vintage days mentioned above...!
Just a thought Gregor, but have you looked at 'Scotland Outdoors'? It's not a Trail-type mag with extensive gear reviews and route advice, but it does a great job of looking at the whole of Scotland and the opportunities for a whole host of outdoor activities. It's quite hard to find in shops, so I've got a subscription to it. It's only quarterly, unfortunately, but it is worth the wait.
I'd second that as another subscriber to Scotland Outdoors - really enjoy the content, and the articles seem to have a little more depth to them. It's not quite at the level of Outside yet, but definitely heading in the right direction.
I gave up on Trail after a particularly risible article featuring one of their female staff drinking champagne in a bath!
thanks for the link tony, looks interesting- at £12 i think it is worth me having a look- though i dont get back up to scotland as often as i'd like, so limited scope for using the articles for inspiration...
emailed Trail today, as suggested- see below:
I'm currently a subscriber to the magazine, and have been buying it fairly regularly since 2004. Over the years i'd say it has been the best magazine of its type. I felt that its strength lay in the variety of content- while its core was always walking, and the lake district and snowdonia would understandably feature very frequently, there was always a range of other activities covered too. These routinely included mountaineering, walking and climbing abroad, and rock climbing and winter climbing in the lower grades. Looking back over a range of old issues I've kept, there have been features on climbs like north buttress on the buachaille, domed ridge on braeriach, and cneifion arete, alpine routes on monte rosa and mont blanc, scrambles on mount olympus, and even other activities like a 3 day canoe descent of the spey.
I think this range struck the right balance of routes that could inspire people new to walking and climbing to try more adventurous things, without being too hard that they would seem forever beyond their reach. In fact, i think Trail can take some of the credit for helping me make the step into climbing, as the "make me a mountaineer" series that ran some years ago did exactly this, convincing me that these routes were something that could be within my ability.
However, there has been a clear shift in policy over the last year at the magazine. These articles have stopped altogether, with nothing harder than the same limited range of classic grade one scrambles as the upper limit of difficulty. There are only so many articles on crib goch and sharp edge you can read before the novelty starts to wear thin. Even the walking coverage has become more lakes and snowdonia-centric. This leaves a magazine that may be good for people new to the activity, but with little to offer long-established readers.
This is a shame, as i think there are very many people who carry out a range of outdoor activities in a range of locations, both in the UK and abroad, and there is no other magazine that caters to this market. I guess there may be commercial factors at play, but I can't see that limiting the scope of the magazine to the point that a section of the long term readers lose interest makes commercial sense.
And I think this is a fairly widely shared sentiment- I started a thread on the ukclimbing.com forum about it, which has had over 5000 views, with many people commenting that they would be interested in the magazine if it covered a broader range of features than it now does. It may be worth having a look at this to see what potential customers have been saying.
There is still the basis of a good magazine there- the feature this month on the history of climbing Everest was interesting; but that alone doesn't justify the cover price to me, and without something more, I can't see that I will be continuing my subscription. I hope that there is the potential to resume coverage of a broader range of activities, as the magazine did previously, as I still like the concept of getting a monthly magazine, and would be happy to pay a reasonable amount for it, if its contents were of sufficient interest,
If anyone else shares these views, it might be worth doing something similar- who knows, if enough people do so, there may be a shift in the direction of the mag back to a more interesting range of articles,
thanks Jeremy, since i started this thread i've realised i really do care about the future of the magazine,
a reminder for the day shift- if anyone else is interested, here's the email address again,
well, a month later, no reply to my email
not even an acknowledgement and polite brush off
one less subscriber, will check out some of the alternatives suggested by people in the thread,
> well, a month later, no reply to my email
> not even an acknowledgement and polite brush off
> one less subscriber, will check out some of the alternatives suggested by people in the thread,
Cant argue with that. You might want to check that they actually received it in the first place - did you ask for a delivery/read acknowledgement? If you have been blanked, however, perhaps time for a new mag.
i didn't, but that would have seemed a bit over-formal
quality username by the way, Drunken Bakers is a work of genius...!
> i didn't, but that would have seemed a bit over-formal
> quality username by the way, Drunken Bakers is a work of genius...!
Thanks but plagiarism at its worst - Viz fans will know of these fine upstanding purveyors of local produce.
Yes- the best thing Viz has ever done, imho...
> Yes- the best thing Viz has ever done, imho...
Strangely enough, mine too.
Followed closely by Roger Irrelevant and then Terry F*ckwit.
Profanisaurus is the best toilet read ever.
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