Fitness Challenge 2019: January round-up

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So for my new year’s resolution to get fit (the same resolution I’ve had for the last 10 years!), I decided to break it down into monthly chunks, each month would have at least one challenge.

January was Red January and is an initiative organised by mental health charity Mind. Red originally stood for Run Every Day but I prefer Random Exercise Every Day, a phrase I spotted on the internet!

My second challenge for this month was to reach 100 miles by walking. This is to contribute to my overall 1,000 mile target by the end of the year.

Challenge 1: Walking 100 Miles

By the end of January, I had walked 74 miles, not what I aimed for but still more than what I would usually do in the month of January. This was what I would call coat-on walking. Coat-on for me means every mile is counted outside, via a pedometer. However, as it’s January, it’s cold and dark and I was aware of how easy it was for me to find an excuse not to go on a proper country ramble.

But I still:

Frequently walked to work and back (1 mile. I sometimes drive as it’s on my way to other places I go to after work).

Frequently went for a walk at lunchtime (2 miles)

Walked the family dogs (Various, 1 mile to 5 miles)

On two days out with friends/Simon, we ambled around the cities of Lancaster/Chester (about 3/4miles)

One canal walk with Dad (2 miles)

One walk into city centre and back (7 miles)

Nothing spectacular but it all adds up.

Challenge 2: Red January

This challenge was primarily for me to get into the habit of becoming more active. I included any additional walking in this but there were days because of snow, a headache, a stomachache or perceived time restraints when it wasn’t as easy to venture out. So I lifted two dumbells and did 100 arm curls on those ‘lazier’ days. It won’t get me fit or strong but it still keeps me thinking along the lines of ‘doing something every day’ and only takes a couple of minutes.

Red January aims to help people’s mental health as well as physical health and raise awareness of the charity Mind (https://www.mind.org.uk/)

(Exercise is believed to be good for mental wellbeing).

So overall, a mixed month. I don’t feel particularly pleased but I don’t think I’ve let myself down too badly. It is only the first month after all!

woman in black leggings while walking on brown road
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

February

So my next set of challenges for February is:

1. Aim to walk 100 miles again. I failed this month but maybe I might do better in February?

2. Continue to do something active everyday – even squats or arm curls if nothing else.

3. Aim to set aside 15 minutes five days a week for yoga.

4. Start planning at least one long-distance hike this year.

5. Buy trainers for exercise classes.

I will see if February is a more successful month! 🙂

 

 

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Trek Diary – September 2018 Catbells – 451m/1,481ft

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On paper, Catbells should be a fairly straightforward and easy-ish walk. At 451m it is no Scafell Pike. And true, whereas on Skiddaw we barely saw a walker (surely a bad sign?!), on Catbells, there were many older ramblers, families, day-trippers and holidaymakers. But I didn’t get the impression of there being many hardened mountain walkers. And Wainwright himself says:”Catbells is one of the great favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together”.

But I had a sprained ankle (yes, yes, I know I should have laid in bed and drank copious amounts of tea but it wasn’t too bad a sprain) and although it wasn’t broken, merely bruised, it did mean that this hill climb would be a little harder than it ought to be.

We thought there might be a long and tedious road walk before the climb itself, but a helpful lady at the tourist information centre told us there was a short walk along the road which led into a pleasant wander through woodland – or we could take a boat trip. That sounded rather appealing to me, feeling rather lazy, but we took the scenic wooded route anyway.

So walking through Keswick town centre, we passed a bridge over the River Greta (on the way back, we witnessed a heron and a guillemot at the river) and saw the pencil museum across the road. Then turned left, onto the Cumbria Way, past the village of Portinscale towards the Lingholm Estate. We greeted alpacas chewing sweet grass in a field and carried on via the woodland, where we came across this unusual fungi on  tree.

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And here are a few views of our walk up Catbells… And the scenes from the hill itself, looking down to Derwentwater.

 

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If you are looking for a hill climb to do with your family – whether children, teens, middle-aged or retired and fit parents, this is a brilliant walk. Lovely scenery and wonderful views, not much scrambling and not too steep or strenuous. It is still a hill, still a challenge, but if you’re moderately fit, you can do this. It makes a great ‘first’ hill climb or, if you’re a lover of peak bagging, your first of 214 Wainwright’s! Not one for lovers of solitude though as it’s a popular climb, probably for the reasons I’ve given.

I got confused at the top as it looked as if we hadn’t reach the summit. Where was the cairn for me to take a photo saying ‘I did it?!’

But there is no cairn and there wasn’t one in Wainwright’s day either. The ridge continues to Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Handsworth and Robinson which can provide a horseshoe walk if you’re in the mood and have the time.

But we didn’t so we climbed back down the same way, tracing back our steps through the woodland – where waterproofs were quickly donned during a fierce downpour –  and headed into Keswick, ready for a warming cup of tea and a bite to eat at an American-style diner.

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Facts of the Day

1. Catbells could be a corruption of Cat Bields (the shelter of the wild cat) – but this isn’t certain.

2. Catbells overlooks Derwentwater, and its nearest town is Keswick (you can walk from Keswick to it).

3. There is a memorial stone to Thomas Arthur Leonard (1864-1948). He founded the Co-operative Holidays Association and the Holiday Fellowship and was a pioneer for outdoor holidays for working people.

Trek Diary: April – Scafell Pike (height: 3,210ft/978m)

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When I was a teenager, the Big One was a rollercoaster in Blackpool. Incredibly high (was it the highest in England at the time?) and rather scary, the views over the Blackpool coast – if you hadn’t closed your eyes in sheer terror – were wonderful.

I loved it.

Go forward a few (and then some!) years later and wanting to go up the Big One has a very different connotation to way back then. This time the Big One is in the Lake District and is Scafell Pike.

High, tick. Scary, tick. Views (weather permitting), tick.

Simon and I were going on a walking weekend to the Lake District. And as it was a ‘big’ birthday, (21st since you’re asking 😉), I decided I wanted to do what any normal person would want to do to mark a significant date.

Climb the highest mountain in England, of course! ☺️⛰️

So with trepidation, I awoke sluggishly at 5.45am one Saturday morning and by 7am, we were off. We headed past Wast Water, a tranquil lake overlooked by steep mountains, and parked in the National Trust car park, complete with wooden refreshments stall, information board on Scafell Pike conditions (cold in a word) and festival-style portaloos.

There were many walkers on our distinct stony path leading uphill and seeing them resting en route made me feel happier, as if I was given permission to rest too. But we kept going mostly. It was hard, as there appeared to be very few flat sections – so when there was one I felt as if it were the equivalent of a good afternoon nap compared to the uphill trudge! Compared to Pendle Hill, it was more gradual, not as steep, but much longer. And still onwards and upwards… And upwards…

I was grateful then that we had trekked up that bewitched Pendle Hill twice as this felt, definitely not easy, but more tolerable than I was expecting. And I was glad I had tried to become fitter by swimming and walking. I wasn’t fit at this point, but more so than a few months ago and it made a difference.

 

Looking back was the stunning sight of Wast Water.

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Wainwright says the usual route from Wasdale Head (near where we started from) was via Brown Tongue – the shortest way but ‘also the dullest unless the opportunity is taken to visit Mickledore by a deviation from the path’.

Do we take the nice easier option to the top (my choice!) or go the, what Wainwright calls, ‘magnificent’ journey into Hollow Stones and along the Mickledore Ridge? 🤔

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Mickledore it was. Its name reminded me of Mordor in Lord of the Rings. What would Frodo do?

I thought it was tough walking up the path. It was nothing compared to what was ahead. A steep scree gully called Lord’s Rake.

At first, it was not so steep and the scree not so loose, it was manageable. But it got narrower, steeper, and the rocks I placed my feet on seemed to collapse on contact.

Falling, sliding and slipping all seemed viable options… And the bottom seemed to get further and further away with each foothold.

I was not enjoying this. Concentration was key and so was bravery. A young woman in front of me was crying, her courage having left her. I knew the feeling. Along with her boyfriend, they let us go in front. As Simon told me the safest places to climb up, I felt sure that, behind us, his advice would help her too. And once we got up, they weren’t too far behind.

Like me, she too had conquered her fears.

At the top, on Mickledore, we followed the ridge – once again full of rocks and stones – past a mountain kit store, mentioned in my 1979 map, up a more gradual path to the top.

The final hurdle was a rocky barren landscape, there was even a patch of snow. We had to be careful we didn’t fall through the cracks of this makeshift pavement. Onwards and upwards, passing various cairns but not the real deal until…

 

There it was – the summit. A huge cairn and a trig point. Many fellow achievers were there, celebrating having made it, including two Yorkshire terriers – in mini-rucksacks adorned by their humans. It was misty so no wondrous views although there was a lake – Buttermere we were told – in the distance as we climbed down.

 

As Wainwright says, the paths are distinct but uneasy to walk on, because of the boulders. We headed back to Wasdale Head via Brown Tongue and Lingmell Col. Wainwright says this tourist route is ‘a tiring and uninteresting grind, designed to preserve users from falls’.

But at that moment, that suited me fine. We passed various hikers and they passed us. A couple of weary travellers asked us hopefully, ‘How long to the top?’  ‘About half an hour’, Simon said honestly. Faces fell. A man in a group on the way down clutched a can of lager, perhaps to celebrate reaching the top?

Instead of venturing left to the car park, we went right, heading to the little village itself. The mile stretched itself as far as it could. Once there, a quick visit to the gift/hiking shop – you can buy a certificate marking your achievement for a pound  – and an evening meal in the pub before wearily traipsing back to the car and to our B&B.