Posted in Fitness challenges, Walks

Time for an adventure (or how to get motivated into getting fit)

Buckden Pike, Yorkshire

Over the years I have tried various fitness projects, some with more success than others, but if I could give myself two pieces of advice (and maybe they might work for you too?), they are these:

Firstly, a regular programme otherwise known as commitment. There’s no point doing yoga one week and missing out the following two. Or being committed during January and losing interest in February. I’ve learnt this the hard way.

Commitment, commitment, commitment. The more you put in ON A REGULAR BASIS, the more you get out.

Too often I have whims – I start a blog, lose interest for a month or so, go back to it; lose interest in reading, but get back into my novel that has been waiting patiently for me over the previous two months; my scarf I am knitting is still waiting patiently for me to finish it a year after starting. The blog, the novel, the knitting project – these are patient and loyal.

They say to me: “Something else has piqued your interest, that’s very well. We will wait until you come back to us.” They don’t throw a tantrum because I neglect them.

Not a picture of me! (Although I’d love to be able to do what she’s doing!) Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery on Pexels.com

But fitness is not a loyal servant. Fitness demands commitment. When I lose momentum, fitness deserts me and when I return I find I have to work harder to regain what I have now lost. And my body seems to put on weight! (Strangely while I have a wandering eye when it comes to keeping fit, noticing other more enticing hobbies and pastimes, I have always remained 100% faithful to chocolate and cake.)

But adventures are calling me again and when I am unfit, these are not so enjoyable.

Here’s what I said about the 46-mile Cuckoo Way. This was the second and last day of the trek:

Could I get up this morning after a gruelling 26-mile canal walk? Well, with the help of plasters (three) over blisters on my left foot and a bandage over another foot (the blister was too big for a plaster), it was possible to gingerly climb down the stairs to the breakfast room of our b&b.

Me on the summit of Skiddow. Note the wind-swept hair! Not the most flattering of photos but a reminder of just how blustery it was up there

And I was blunt in my blog post about my hike up Skiddaw.

Skiddaw – and Little Man, a cruel juxtaposition if ever I saw one – was a trudge.

At Skiddaw, true to its name, I skidded and ended up with a sprained ankle for two weeks.

Both Skiddaw and The Cuckoo Way I didn’t train for, complacently assuming a canal walk was easy and that I was fit enough for Skiddaw.

Yet when I embarked on a three-month swim and walk plan, Scafell Pike was nowhere near as difficult as I thought it would be (although it is still challenging, my fitness levels made it feel less so). There is so much more pleasure of a challenge when one is half-way fit rather than zero fit.

My second rule is have a goal in place. Some people love exercise for the endorphins, for the fun of it. Good for them. But I tend to lose interest (and as I’ve just said, commitment is vital) so I need a goal to aim for. I like to make it an adventure, so I’ve done Hadrian’s Wall and the Cuckoo Way (long distance walks) and Scafell Pike and Snowdon (mountain hikes). With the uncertainty of the last few years I lost interest in escapades as it felt like they could get cancelled but now I feel that yes, maybe this is a year for another venture.

Scafell Pike, Lake District

So now all I need is a regular commitment to get fit and a goal to aspire towards…

Posted in Blogging, Fitness challenges, Thoughts on life and spirituality, Walks, Writing

New Year Resolutions for 2023

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Happy New Year to all Cosy Cottage readers! One of my resolutions for 2023 is to write more, both for the blog and in terms of a novel/short stories. I can be lazy and also have an inner critic who keeps a close eye on what I write and whispers maliciously in my ear, ‘that’s not very original, is it?’ or ‘why would anyone be interested in what you’ve just written there?’ Sometimes this nit-picker can give good advice among the put-me-downs such as ‘oh, repetition there, watch out!’ And to which, I have learnt to gracefully respond, ‘thank you, I’ll use a different word instead’.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

But I need to defy this way of thinking which makes me lazy about writing and self-conscious thinking about who may come across my words. My Inner Motivator comes into play here. Unlike the critic, Ms Motivator insists that without practice, there will be no perfect. In fact, there will never be perfect regardless unless one is Shakespeare. (And maybe he spent many an hour rewriting his plays?) So what tips does my Inner Motivator give for writing (and yes, inner critic, these aren’t original but taken from various books, articles, features, websites etc):

Stop Procrastinating and Start Writing.

Don’t worry about it being perfect. Or what people think. Just write. If you don’t start in the first place, you won’t improve.

My second resolution is to decide on a fitness goal and aim towards it. Over the years I have trekked Hadrian’s Wall, climbed Snowdon and walked along Chesterfield Canal among other endeavours. They tend to be difficult but there’s a tremendous sense of achievement at the end.

Decluttering my house is the third goal for the year. My wardrobes are full with clothes that date back years, some of which don’t fit anymore. If I could give away some (a third?) to charity that would clear space – and also my head. It makes my head hurt looking in my wardrobe and drawers!

I have various other goals – do more crafts, cook more, bake more – but I’ll stick with these three main ones for the official resolutions. I tend to have a mixed response with New Year Goals, sometimes they are kept but more often they are forgotten. We’ll see how this year goes. Good luck with yours!

Posted in Fitness challenges, Nature, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Walks in the Yorkshire Dales – Walk 2: Buckden Pike

At the top of Buckden Pike – looking tired and windswept!

Buckden Pike – 702 metres (2,303 ft)

It had been a while since I had walked up a hill (the 500ft Pendle Hill was the last on a particularly sodden wet and windy day, I didn’t make it to the top on that occasion) and I felt a sense of trepidation at the idea of walking up one of the Dales hills. I love hills and mountains, the views from them en route or on the top, the sense of achievement, having reached the top, the sense of achievement having reached the bottom, the feeling of a well-earned pot of tea afterwards (and maybe a slice of cake?) But the actual journey itself of going up a hill… My lungs protesting at every step: “This is too much, Clare. Take a breath, look at the scenery. Have some water.”

And never does water taste so wonderful as it does while going up a hill!

The start of the journey

We parked in a car park in Buckden, close to the start of our trek. Next to the car park was a wooden gate leading to a path in a field. There was a signpost stating Buckden Pike – two and a quarter miles.

A nice short walk then! Ha! It didn’t feel like that to me – never trust a sign pointing up a hill.

The signpost directing us to Buckden Pike

Apart from the sounds of the skylark and curlew, sightings of wheatears and pippits, it felt like we were the only ones on the Dales. It was so quiet and peaceful. Maybe it was because it was Monday and the week after the Easter holidays. But it did feel like we were the only two inhabitants on the dales. Not a soul or hint of civilisation could be seen.

Yorkshire Dales

A steep hill – where we noticed wild pansies – took us to the top where we walked along the ridge to the trig point at 702 metres. Buckden Pike actually narrowly misses out on being the highest peak in this area, it is Great Whernside which earns this title. Instead, Buckden Pike is the seventh highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales and is eight metres higher than Pen-y-ghent itself – one of the ‘Yorkshire Three Peaks’. I had gone up Great Whernside (704 metres) before – or at least most of it as it was a terrible day weather-wise. (You can read that story here: https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2020/05/23/trek-diary-part-1-oct-nov-2017-2/).

From the top of Buckden Pike, on a clear day, one can see the three peaks Pen Y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

Buckden Pike

There is a stone slab pavement at the top. According to the National Trust: ‘The moorland here is important blanket bog and we are creating a path with old mill flagstones. This will protect the delicate peat from erosion.’

On the way back, along the ridge and then over a ladder stile into another field, we came across the Polish War Memorial commemorating a crash from a Second World War plane. Five Polish soldiers died when their plane crashed in 1942. If you look closely at the base of the memorial, you’ll see a fox’s head. That’s because the only survivor reached the village of Cray in the snow by following a fox’s footprints.

The memorial on top of Buckden Pike

We continued along a stone wall, gradually going downhill. There were some boggy areas, considering how the recent weather had been fairly dry I could imagine how soggy it could get if there had been recent rainfall. Some walks turn off at Starbotton, the next village but we carried on until Kettlewell.

Not too far from Kettlewell, we came across an older couple, who looked as tired as I felt and yet they had only really embarked on their journey. Luckily for them, they were heading back to Starbotton, not quite as far as the trek we were on.

The &Then cafe we went to yesterday in Kettlewell was closed so we ventured into the cosy Bluebell Inn for a well deserved pot of tea and glass of lemonade. We noted ‘local wild foraged garlic’ among other tasty items on the menu. The menu was tempting for an evening meal. (And indeed we did return on our last evening). Once refreshed, we continued along the River Wharfe back to Buckden. This time the sign said four miles…

We saw a lamb on the other side of the fence which provoked a dilemma, should we help or would intervention make things worse?

On the first night, Simon had proved to be a successful sheep wrangler, helping to herd a few straggler sheep and lambs away from the road, and then away from the nearby housing estate back into their own field. They had ended up in a neighbour’s garden, munching away at the lawn, at one point! But this was a different scenario and we didn’t want to startle the lamb into running off and getting lost. As it turned out, while we were pondering this, the lamb ducked under the fence and went back into its own field itself. Problem solved!

Lambs in the Yorkshire Dales

On our gentle river stroll back to Buckden, we saw river debris evidence of what looked like recent flooding and a male goosander. We also saw what looked like mandarin or wood ducks. From a steep hill climb to a relaxing river stroll, this walk had plenty of variety.

Posted in Fitness challenges, Nature, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Walks in the Yorkshire Dales – Walk One: Grassington to Kettlewell

Yorkshire Dales

The Dales Way – Grassington to Kettlewell (12 miles)

It was the first full day of our Yorkshire Dales break, we had enjoyed a hearty breakfast and were now all set to explore the surrounding countryside. This ramble, the first of our holiday, would be a village to village walk via The Dales Way in Wharfdale. We took our sticks from the car and started walking away from our dwelling in Grassington to a nearby path leading into a field. Although we didn’t go up any steep hills, the various inclines meant I was glad we had our walking sticks. It was approximately six miles to Kettlewell and another six miles back.

In case you were wondering, the word ‘dale’ means ‘lowland valley’ which gives an idea of the type of terrain we were walking in today. This part of Yorkshire is also noted for its limestone scenery (although nowhere beats Malham for that, more about Malham in another blog post).

On our journey, we also went past Conistone Dib, a dry limestone gorge. We saw an oystercatcher and pipits and heard the call of the curlew. Our walk through the fields gradually took us to our mid-way point, a little hamlet called Conistone.

Conistone

There appeared to be a maypole in the middle of the village. I wonder if it was used for maypole dancing back in the day, or maybe even nowadays?

Back on the dales, we spotted a curious rocky ‘hill’ which we nicknamed the ‘castle’. I later learned that it’s a limestone outcrop and its real name is Conistone Pie not Conistone Castle! I suppose it does look a little like a pie to a hungry rambler from a distance …

Off the dales and onto a quiet road nearing Kettlewell, we went past Scargill House, a Christian holiday and conference centre founded in 1959.

We also came across two unusual ‘locals’. We were used to seeing white fluffy animals grazing grass – but these two ‘sheep’ looked rather different!

Alpacas grazing in the Yorkshire Dales

After our six-mile walk, a refreshing pot of tea was enjoyed at the little &then cafe in Kettlewell.

&then cafe in Kettlewell

We then explored St Mary’s church and churchyard. According to the church’s website, it’s situated beneath the slopes of Great Whernside.

Kettlewell Church

The beautiful churchyard is home to various wildflowers and limestone gravestones. There is also a meadow labyrinth, made of limestone and created in 2020. It’s no surprise that, in 2021, it won North Yorkshire’s Best Churchyard Competition.

Rather than going back via the dales, we headed back along the quiet country single road. Normally we would avoid roads but apart from a long convoy of MG sports cars (I felt sorry for the motorist who was heading in their direction and had to reverse some way to let them pass), this was very quiet and more like a country lane.

We took a quick detour into Grass Wood on the way back, but it was much bigger than expected so we decided to explore it another day. If we looked over to the right, we could see the River Wharf flowing beside us.

River Wharfe

It was a very pleasant walk, with ups and downs (on the Dales Way towards Kettlewell rather than the flat road going back) but nothing too strenuous. Even so, I was certainly ready for my pizza meal that evening at The Foresters Arms in Grassington!

  • Facts of the Day
  • 1. The word ‘Dale’ ‘probably shares a common root with the Welsh ‘dol‘, meaning meadow, pasture, valley’ (Country Walking Magazine).
  • 2.  The Dales Way is a long distance footpath of about 80 miles. It runs from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere.

Posted in Charity, Fitness challenges, Walks

Update – Fitness Challenge March 2021: Step into Spring for Marie Curie

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In February I decided to sign up for a 10,000 Step daily challenge in aid of Marie Curie, which cares for terminally ill people. I bought two pedometers (one was a spare and has now been given to my mum) and shared my JustGiving page across social media. It was a way to get fit, get out of the winter lockdown doldrums and raise money for charity. A win-win situation you might say.

March 1 started well with a 30-minute YouTube video – Joanna Soh’s indoor step challenge. Unfortunately the 10,000 steps she labelled it was a little off the mark and it was nearer 3,000. Still, a good start. But a day home working once again took its toll and I didn’t gain many more steps. But I put on my dancing shoes that evening and danced to Soft Cell, the Proclaimers and some more tunes. Finally, eventually, I reached the magic 10,000 steps. Now for bed!

From then on, I formulated a strategy. Walking to the supermarket, meeting a friend for a walk (and discovering beautiful secret areas of my home town), walking my parents’ dogs….

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

There were days when I felt too lazy to go walking so I became a fan of YouTube step instructors. Joanna Soh, Leslie Sansome (Walk at Home) and Rick Buellis became my go-too instructors. Leslie was always cheerful and Rick had a handy stepometer on his videos to help me along.

Whereas normally I would have ventured on longer treks further afield, restrictions meant I was supposed to stay local. So I turned this to my advantage and explored the hidden spots of my home town.

I discovered Preston’s Conway Park – literally 15 minutes walking distance away yet I’d never encountered it before – and rediscovered an ancient shrine, was delighted to hear a new nature reserve/park was being created and enjoyed the delights of various woodlands near me, courtesy of The Woodland Trust.

A Woodland Trust wood

I found that if I went outside for a walk, the steps added up, but leaving steps to the last minute was not a good idea. A lesson I learnt quite early on.

And by the end of it, I walked a total of 330,000 steps and raised £120. Now for my next challenge ….

Posted in Charity, Fitness challenges

Fitness Challenge March 2021: Step into Spring for Marie Curie

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I usually try to have at least one fitness challenge a year, as an incentive to get fit, as an adventure (see Chesterfield Canal), as something to look forward to… Of course, last year’s ideas of walking Lancaster Canal and climbing Ben Nevis ended up being pipe dreams. Even when my gym was reopened (for a brief period of a few months), I felt too cautious to return and so my fitness has deteriorated over the last year. But enough is enough. My fitness, my weight, my physical health, my mental wellbeing needs a helping hand and so it was that I came across a newspaper story about the charity Marie Curie looking for people willing to take on the Step into Spring Challenge.

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Marie Curie cares for terminally ill people and their loved ones. The charity has nurses, hospices, a support line and a bereavement service. Marie Curie says:

We’re here to support everyone in the UK through all aspects of dying, death and bereavement – and to fight for a society where everyone gets to lead the best life they can, right to the end.

Marie Curie

The challenge asks fundraisers to walk 10,000 steps every day during March. This can be in any way, whether walking up and down the stairs or doing a fitness class via Zoom or going for a local walk. It’s a tad trickier during lockdown as we’re not supposed to venture far for a walk. Oh, and then there’s the fact that I work from home at the moment so I can’t even walk to and from work.

So, interesting… I will let you know how it goes! Saying that, there have been various stories about fundraisers using initiative and resourcefulness to raise cash during lockdown, such as the 100-year-old Captain Tom who walked around his garden.

Here are some ideas:

  • Walk the dog
  • Walk to the shops
  • Stepping while on the phone
  • Stepping while watching TV
  • Enjoying a local nature walk
  • Walk with a friend
  • Dance to some music

If anyone would like to sponsor or feels inspired to take part themselves, the web links are below. Maybe you don’t live in the UK or you have a different charity close to your heart, why not make your own Step Challenge for your favourite charity?

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/

https://step-into-spring.blackbaud-sites.com/fundraising/clares-step-into-spring-fundraiser-for-marie

https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/get-involved/fundraise/stepintospring

Posted in Fitness challenges, Reblog, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Trek Diary: Part 1 Oct/Nov 2017

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Rainbow en route to High Peak, Fairfield Horseshoe, Ambleside, Cumbria

I wrote this post a few months after starting my blog, back in 2017. I haven’t been able to go on any big walking challenges this year because of lockdown, so I’ve been looking back at some of my previous adventures.

May 2020

Like many of us, over the years, I have put on weight. Too many treats, over-reliance on my car and not enough exercise has meant a few pounds have been added here and there. But to be honest, this isn’t about weight. It’s about being happy and healthy. It’s a quest to be fit. Me and fitness have never got on. The minute the pace gets faster, I want off the treadmill. But I’m sick of feeling sluggish, of being out of breath too easily. I want to challenge myself next year. Perhaps a fundraising challenge. Maybe a mountain. Possibly a long-distance trek. Something that will motivate me to finally become fit and healthy. And stay that way. For good. Thus begins my bi-monthly trek diary.

Great Whernside – 650m (out of 704m). Three hours

Sunday, October 22 2017

I met Simon at Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales, a pretty little village of stone cottages and picturesque surroundings. Weather was okay to begin with, which was lucky as Storm Brian had been out and about that week. But as we walked along the track towards the hill of Great Whernside, passing a large farmhouse (now a Scout’s centre), the rain began. The drizzle got worse and the stone path gave way to grass – and bog. The higher we got, the boggier the ground became, the wetter my walking boots became (thank goodness they were waterproof), the unsteadier the ground and more blustery the wind. 🌧️

I’m sorry to say we did not make it to the top. Our (roughly) three-hour walk took us to about 650m of Great Whernside’s 710m. But all I kept thinking about was tea and cake! (We had brought water and sandwiches with us but somehow we lost the desire for a cold cheese sandwich on the cold, windy moorland).

We reached the village about 1.30pm and ventured into Bluebell Inn for a delightful pot of tea by the fire, just what we needed after being soaked through to the skin. A trip to Zarina’s cafe for more tea, a sausage buttie (not very healthy, but warming) and a Yorkshire curd tart. When in Yorkshire, eat what the Yorkshire folk eat… My first time eating the delicacy, and very tasty too.

And so my training began. Oh, if only it could be tea and cake all the time! ☕🍰

Walk Facts

1. Great Whernside is 704m (2,310ft) high. We walked roughly three hours from 10.30am to 1.30pm to reach 650m.

2. It is located on the boundary between the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

3. Until 1997, there was no public right of way to the summit of Great Whernside.

Fairfield Horseshoe – Full day (eight hours) 11 miles (roughly) 873m

Saturday, November 4

Today’s challenge was a toughie. A hill walk from Ambleside, where we were staying for the weekend, up Low Pike (1,657ft/508m), High Pike (2,152ft/656m), Dove Crag (2,603ft/792m), Hart Crag (2,698ft/822m) to get to our destination – Fairfield (2,863ft/873m).

And then back down again via Great Rigg (2,513ft/766m), Heron Pike (2,003ft/612m) and Nab Scar (1,493ft/ 455m). I feel exhausted just thinking about it!

We were staying in Ambleside for a weekend and had decided Saturday would be our day for a hill walk. Laden with rucksacks and (for me) hiking poles, we headed away from the town centre. A resident told us we were going the wrong direction and needed to walk towards Sweden Bridge. A quick detour and we were on our way. Up, up, up (so it felt to me)…

Crossing Sweden Bridge took us into fields with Highland Cows, actually my favourite breed of cow with their shaggy red hair, but I always feel a little apprehensive around cows, especially if they have calves. However, these lasses were quite happy to share their fields with hikers.

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Our first hill was Low Pike (1657ft), I would keep stopping and turning to see the panoramic view (a ‘look at the view’ and ‘catch my breath’ stop) of Windermere down below. The higher up, the more expansive the scenery below – Rydal, Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere…

Once we reached Low Pike, S said we were a quarter of the way up. I was surprised, but I should have queried him more on this statistic. A quarter of the way up to Fairfield or a quarter of the way up to High Pike, the next fell? Needless to say the true answer would have disappointed me.

I believe it was around here where there was a short rocky scramble… and my boots got wet in the marsh.

The route to High Pike was along a stone wall, fairly gentle. It was here where it started to drizzle on and off for the rest of the day. And the place where full rainbows were seen. Will we reach the pot of gold that is Fairfield?

I regarded the rainbow as a sign of hope – completing the Fairfield Horseshoe is possible, even for me! 🌈

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We continued to ascend Dove Crag and Hart Crag. Relatively gradual, happily, apart from a scramble section at the top.

At one point, Simon heard a mouse-like sound and I spotted a brisk brown blur from the corner of my eye. Silently, we ventured nearer and observed a tiny shrew scurrying amidst the rocks, before escaping into a hole.

It was hard to know when we actually arrived at Fairfield. The top is very flat, a ‘grassy plateau’ says Wainwright. There are many stone cairns which might be there to help hikers find their way in the mist although Wainwright thought the abundance could actually be a hindrance. Some ramblers were huddled in a stone windbreak shelter when we arrived.

The route down has a clear path. When there is no mist, it is easy to see where one is going.

We were descending Nab Scar when a young couple passed us. The woman was athletic looking, wearing sports clothes rather than rambling gear, and was striding along confidently, clutching a water bottle. The man, lagging behind – so much so I wasn’t sure if they were actually together or not – wore a jumper, jeans and wellies.

When it comes to hill walking, it is a case of walking boots…  yes. Wellies… no. A big no.

Anyway, the pair passed us. Not long afterwards, the woman came back up and approached us, asking if we had any spare water she could give to her partner. Luckily we did. He was lying on the grass next to the path, looking absolutely exhausted. S poured water into the woman’s 1 litre container. Later, we saw them, the worn-out man sitting next to the path. S gave them the rest of the water (the man had already drank the litre Simon had previously given) and three biscuits from the B&B. They thanked us and assured us they would be fine, and sure enough, we later on saw them descending the last section.

It turned out that, while we set off at 9.30am, their hike began after 12noon – in a bid to finish before it got dark, they had no choice but to rush the Horseshoe.

Passing Rydal Hall and Rydal Mount, we opted for a wander beside the river, pleasant until it became dark, started raining heavily, and we took the wrong turning out of Ambleside. An extra mile I could have done without! Still, an exhilarating if tiring walk and I look forward to my next adventure 🏃

Walk Facts

1. On the way to or back from The Fairfield Horseshoe, the hiker goes past Rydal Mount – the home of William Wordsworth.

2. Water is essential for hill walks! And it has a wonderful taste when you’re going uphill!

3. The Fairfield Horseshoe goes up one ridge and down another within a valley. Be careful in the mist.

Sunday, November 5

Stock Ghyll Force, Ambleside – One mile (roughly)

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Legs felt a little fatigued today so we enjoyed a gentle stroll to Stock Ghyll Force waterfall. This is a roughly mile-long woodland walk, 5 minutes from Ambleside. Leaf-strewn (in autumn) paths and steps along a river and woodland takes you upwards towards the waterfall. A very pleasant town walk (although it doesn’t feel urban in the slightest) for tourists and tired-out ramblers!

Walk Facts

1. Stock Ghyll is a tributary of River Rothley.

2. Once there were 12 watermills driven by the power of Stock Ghyll and other streams.

3. Stock Ghyll Force is a 70ft waterfall.

To read about a 2014 Hadrian’s Wall adventure, visit: https://mysabbatical2014.wordpress.com/

Posted in Fitness challenges

Fitness Challenge: 2019

pair of white running shoes
Photo by Mnz on Pexels.com

Oh dear, the last time I wrote my Fitness Challenge diary it was last July. Now it’s February, the following year!

Here’s a quick review of the last six months, what went well, what went wrong and what I’ve learnt.

July to December 

I started having personal training sessions in June and this continued until the second week of November. A total of five months of consecutive weight-based exercise twice a week.

Now commitment to exercise has always been a problem for me. I get bored, I start wishing I was sitting with a good novel and a lovely cup of tea, I start dreaming of cake…

But this actually worked… For a while.

color colour fitness health
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The sessions were held at 8am, Tuesday and Thursday, at my local gym. They weren’t extortionate but not cheap either, so I wanted to make it worthwhile going. Paying for the 45-minute sessions and having to meet the personal trainer twice a week did made me feel accountable.  Although I did cancel a couple of times, it wasn’t as easy as just deciding “I can’t be bothered going to the gym”. I felt as if I had to have a good reason. Which is good for motivation!

So twice a week, apart from the odd time I cancelled, I headed to the training sessions. I did lunges, sit-ups, press-ups, squats, arm and leg weight exercises among others. The variety stopped me from getting bored.

During the week, I took myself down to the gym for cardio exercises.

K, the personal trainer, suggested a weight loss app and a calorie intake of 1,300 calories a day. Now, my aim was to be fitter and fit into my clothes again. But counting calories wasn’t really something I was too interested in. I still wanted to eat cake! But I did want to become a healthy and fit woman.

So I tried. For a while.

low section of woman standing on floor
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And it worked. My weight dropped nearly a stone, my too-tight clothes started to fit again and people started to notice I was losing weight.

In all my months of fitness challenges, this was the first time this happened!

But the summer months turned into the autumn months of October and November. 6am was once a bright and light time to wake up and an apt time to let the hens out before getting fit. How constructive a morning for me and the chickens!

But by October, the hens were still fast asleep at 7.45am, never mind 6am (quite sensible too). But I felt more and more sluggish waking up at such an unearthly hour. And although it felt worthwhile after the session, beforehand I felt like I’d lost my motivation.

And of course, Christmas was coming soon, together with all its edible treats. Did I really want to continue paying for a trainer and counting calories when I would want to be eating Christmas pudding and the like?

person on elliptical trainer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So I stopped, for now. I did find a personal trainer a fantastic motivation but, personally, I would prefer to tie that in with a challenge to aim for. Working with K was good in the beginning but by the fifth month, I needed a new goal as I started to feel aimless.

That’s no reflection on the trainer. As I said, it worked and I saw and felt the physical and mental effects. But motivation becomes an issue for me, especially during the winter months.

So this year I thought if I tie in personal challenges during the year with, possibly, a personal trainer for a month or so for the bigger challenges, this might work. Maybe.

Ironically, while I focused on personal training, my walk challenge didn’t do so well. I aimed for 1,000 miles by the end of the year. Instead, I walked 817. That means an extra 200 on top of my 1,000 target this year!

So my first challenge is Fitness February, with an attempt to try to do some type of exercise every day.

Posted in Fitness challenges, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Preston Guild Wheel: Part 3

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Walking along the River Ribble, towards Avenham Park

Day one of the Guild Wheel, seven or eight miles of it, was relatively easy, certainly compared to the 14-mile stretch which faced me today.

From the Tickled Trout Hotel, I walked on along the River Ribble towards Preston city centre. Some ways into Preston are less than beautiful, but the three miles along the Guild Wheel takes one along the scenic river route and into Avenham Park, what must be Preston’s hidden treasure. If you ever visit Preston, seek it out. It’s down the side streets but well worth the detour.

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One time I walked this way – via the River Ribble – with Mum (just to the city centre, not the whole Guild Wheel route). There was a nervous moment when we came across a herd of cows but there were no calves and they ignored the strange two-leggeds. This time the bovine beauties were safely in a field, enjoying their grass.

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I had a little tea break at the cafe in Avenham Park and then set off again.

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Past the New Continental Pub, a popular entertainments venue, into Broadgate and here I continued along the river.

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Eventually this took me to Preston Docks. Now it has pubs, cinema, shops and residential waterfront living but it was once a major industrial point, which opened in 1892. Cotton, timber, oil, coal and fruit were among the products imported and there was even a ferry service to Northern Ireland. By the 1970s though, the Docks started to decline until it eventually became today’s leisure and residential centre.

This was where I thought I would get lost but the trail is so well signposted, with clear markings on the road itself and on signs, that it was remarkably easy to find my way.

The Guild Wheel also passes a railway track – the train sets off from the Ribble Steam Railway Museum.

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Circling the Docks, I found myself next to a main road. For the first time, I doubted my map-reading skills. And for the first time, the signs seemed a little lacking compared to before. The road section is a tad boring but then I found a sign and realised, thankfully, I was on the right track!

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After crossing a bridge over a dual carriageway, my river and dock stroll turned into a canal ramble, along Lancaster Canal.

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And then it was past the university sports hall, and into the world of suburbia and new housing developments.

And at 3pm on Sunday, I reached home. A full circle that was 21 miles long and took about 28 hours (with a night’s sleep in between).

And if I wasn’t tired on the Saturday after 8 miles, I was definitely ready for a sit down and a cup of tea after my 14-mile stretch on the Sunday!

Posted in Fitness challenges, Walks

Preston Guild Wheel: Part 2

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It was raining, my friend was too ill to join me on my Preston Guild Wheel walk, I was alone and wondering if I would get bored and then…

I saw a deer (pictured below). Of course, with my rather average camera phone, it doesn’t look like one unless you enlarge it and then you might see a little blob. But it really was a deer and I saw it with my own eyes. This part of the walk is suburbia but a path leads onto a large open space of green that has been left for people and dogs to enjoy, and wildlife to live. The Woodland Trust looks after part of it.

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This curiosity (below), and others like it, can be found in the parkland. I think it’s an ‘insect hotel’ for bees etc to live.

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The Guild Wheel took me through both a natural and industrial landscape.

Sometimes it was a path with railings on either side, hiding behind were factories and offices.

Other times it took me on a detour of beautiful greenery – despite a motorway just minutes away.

Along the way, I entered the exterior of Preston Crematorium, a peaceful place, and continued along a tree-lined path which took me to Brockholes Nature Reserve.

But first I encountered the now disused site of Courtaulds, a manufacturer of rayon. Built in 1939 and closed in 1979, it was the largest site in Britain to produce rayon (according to Wikipedia). At its peak, 4,000 people were employed there and when it closed in 1979, 2,800 jobs were lost (Keith Johnson, Cherished Memories of Old Mansion and Rise of Industry, https://www.lep.co.uk ).

There also used to be an old mansion in this area but alas, it is no more.

It always surprises me how brown belt land often seems to be reclaimed by nature.

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The trail continues towards Boilton Wood, neighboured by Nab, Redcar and Tunbrook Woodlands. Boilton Wood is a site of special scientific interest and forms part of the biggest stretch of ancient woodland in Lancashire (information from Visit Preston website).

When I reached Brockholes Nature Reserve, I spotted this delightful fellow.

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And another colourful resident can be seen here…

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Brockholes is a fabulous and unusual 250-acre nature reserve, owned by the Wildlife Trust. It’s such a peaceful natural haven that you wouldn’t think it is so near to the M6 but it is. The former gravel quarry actually supplied materials to build the motorway and only opened in 2011, after being bought by the trust in 2007.

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‘Village in the Reeds’ Photograph by Jim Beattie. Courtesy of The Lancashire Wildlife Trust. http://www.brockholes.org

It’s located on a flood plain of the River Ribble so has a unique floating visitor village!

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After a delightful and filling leek and potato soup at the cafe, I continued the last mile along the River Ribble to the Tickled Trout Hotel in Samlesbury. I was lucky enough to have a lovely pastoral river view from the room window, and was able to watch the cows munching the grass alongside the River Ribble.

I was glad I embarked on this journey after all!

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Part 3 coming soon..

(For more information about Brockholes, visit https://www.brockholes.org)