Posted in Fitness challenges

Fitness Challenge 2019: June/July

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JUNE – Goal: 100 miles by the end of the month

I started June on a high with the 21-mile Preston Guild Wheel walk on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2.

And then, on the third day of the month, I had a consultation with a personal trainer.

The fourth day? I started personal training sessions.

I was on a roll.

Funnily enough, after the Guild Wheel walk, I didn’t think I would be working out for at least a week afterwards!

Meeting up with a personal trainer, and the resulting weigh-in, made me feel more accountable to go to the gym at 8am twice a week. I was getting up early for the hens and didn’t go to work until 10am, and the gym was five minutes away from my home and work so the logistics worked.

It was a pay-by-month with no contract which also suited.

In the meantime, I tried to go to the gym every day the rest of the week, allowing myself a day off. This is unlike Lazy Clare who usually bores of a regular gym routine very quickly but the convenience of the location made it much easier to drop in for 30 minutes.

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When I went to the gym, I used the treadmill, rower, cross-trainer and the bike. So far, I haven’t got bored (touch wood!)

I also went to Zumba on two occasions, one on Thursday and one on Sunday. Both were fun, the Sunday Zumba was very fast and energetic! And even better, she had excellent taste in music!

Notable Walks

Guild Wheel

A 21-mile walk around the outskirts of Preston. The ‘wheel’ is popular with cyclists, but also used by walkers, families and dog walkers. I stayed at the Tickled Trout Hotel on the Saturday after walking seven miles, and the remaining 14 miles was completed on Sunday. It was a pleasant day on Saturday, with lunch at Brockholes Nature Reserve, and a more difficult day on Sunday, with resulting tired legs.

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Wales – Bethesda to Cym Pen to Ilafar

Simon and I stayed in North Wales for our holiday this year. Our holiday cottage was located in Bethesda and, from there, we went on a valley walk along the River Afon Llafar. The setting was beautiful but not a soul to be found. Were they all climbing Snowdon instead? Curious sights included an old dam and weir, meadow pippit and wheatear. Unfortunately I wore my trainers rather than walking shoes so ended up with a blister! Ouch. Will I ever learn?!

Aberglaslyn Pass – From Beddgelert, Wales

Beddgelert is a pretty village with a tragic canine legend. We passed the grave and bronze sculpture of the faithful hound, Gelert. He was killed because of a fatal mistake by his owner, Prince Llywelyn, who assumed the dog had killed his son. The truth was that he had killed a wolf and saved the prince’s child. Following on from this poignant, if potentially legendary site, we carried on to the Fisherman’s Path, along the Afon Glaslyn River. The path is narrow here. In fact, it’s so tight that there are handholds. We then walked up Cym Bychan where we encountered the remains of old copper mines and an aerial ropework, built in 1927 to transport ore.

Rhosneigr, Anglesey, Wales

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This was a delightful, easygoing beach walk starting from the ancient Barclodiad-y-Gawres, a neolithic stone cairn dating from 2,500 BC, to the little seaside town of Rhosneigr. Along the beach we came across sea glass, seashells, wild flowers including pyramid orchid, meadow cranesbill and sea thyme. Skippers, holly blue and small heaths fluttered by.

Newborough Commons and Beach, Anglesey, Wales

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A magical place with wild horses. Our ramble along Newborough Beach led us to the tiny tidal Llanddwyn Island. An incredibly beautiful place with an ancient stone cross and the ruins of St Dwynwen’s Church. The Welsh patron saint of lovers (the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine), St Dwynwen is associated with this island.

81.1 Miles

July – Goal 100 miles by the end of the month

Ironically I hadn’t gone to many gym classes even though that was one of my incentives for joining a gym. However, I took part in Zumba twice in July, enjoying both times.

I became ambitious and tried a virtual spin class (an indoor cycling class with stationary bikes). ūüöī

The super-fit instructors were on a large screen. Alas, I was late and felt self-conscious. The class had more people than I expected, the bike had more buttons and controls than I expected and it was faster and seemingly more advanced than I expected.

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I left after about 15 minutes. I will try again at a future time, when I am fitter and more confident. I aim to arrive earlier too!

I continued with the personal training and gym sessions. The personal training is more weight-based, my independent gym sessions are cardio. By the end of July, formerly tight clothing was becoming a little looser and I had lost a few pounds.

I could now do with a new walking challenge to test my fitness!

Otherwise, apart from the two notable walks mentioned below, it was a case of walking the family dogs and walking the three miles into town.

Notable Walks

Saltby National Nature Reserve, Lincolnshire 

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It’s amazing how beautiful spots such as this nature reserve can be so quiet and feel so remote away from people. We only encountered a few dog walkers. One rescue dog we encountered had two different coloured eyes, very unusual. At certain times of the year, seals can be found but not in July. We did encounter a seal skull however. Remnants of the Second World War can be seen here too with a derelict bunker and decaying tank located on the beach.

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Stair Arms Hotel to Crichton Castle, Scotland

My mum and I visited The Stair Arms Hotel, Pathhead, while on a visit to relatives in Scotland. This historic coaching inn was a mere three miles or so from Crichton Castle. Or so the signs said. Walking along the country road, it felt rather longer than the miles stated on the sign. Oddly, the way back felt much shorter! ūüö∂

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90.5 Miles

 

 

Posted in Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

Trek Diary – May 2018: Lincolnshire Wolds

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Lincolnshire WoldsWoods and Mills walk (9 miles) 

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Simon picked up a leaflet in a pub for this Lincolnshire Wolds walk a while ago and one weekend in May we decided to try it. Much flatter and easier than our last endeavour, Scafell Pike, it is an interesting walk with two choices of routes, three and nine miles. It also takes in some of the Viking Way. We embarked on the nine-mile ramble.

It starts off from Market Rasen, a small quiet market town, and from there we walked to Tealby. Tealby is a pretty little village with, among its sites of interest, All Saints Church, The Vintage Cafe (gorgeous cakes as I can testify!) and the oldest pub in Lincolnshire, The King’s Head, circa 1367 and boasting a thatched roof.

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This walk took us through the Forestry Commission owned Willingham Woods and onto farmland.

We saw Hamilton Hill (yes, the Wolds is the hilly point of Lincolnshire!) Hundreds of years ago, it was the meeting point for protesters gathering for the Lincolnshire rebellion against Henry VIII who was busy dissolving monasteries at that time.

Later on, walking along a path through fields, we looked towards a hill on the left and saw a crowd of domesticated deer grazing – and gazing toward us. Had I a proper camera, it would have made a great picture. Believe it or not, the photo below us – showing some brown spots on a hill – is supposed to capture the scene of the curious deer.

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One moment of confusion occured when, later on, a path was diverted (hopefully this will no longer be the case or will be better signposted if you go). Amid the seemingly deserted farm buildings, we pondered what to do, go through the field with cows and calves – and, oh dear, was that a bull? Yet it looked like the correct and most direct route. We opted for the longer way through the field with placid sheep. Thankfully, this turned out to be the right one!

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Notes of interest:

Market Rasen, situated on the edge of the Wolds, is known for its racecourse. Also, did you know a 5.2 Richer Scale earthquake occurred in 2008? The town has 19th century redbrick Georgian and Victorian buildings and a medieval church. 

Tealby All Saints Church dates from the 12th century and was built with local stone. Tennyson has a link to Tealby Рhis grandparents came from there and Tennyson himself used to walk from Somersby (his birthplace) to Tealby. 

The walk takes the hiker into the Lincolnshire Wolds Рthe highest ground in Eastern England (between York and Kent) and an Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB). Why the mention of Mills in the title of the walk? Well, there were 15 Mills along the River Rase, used for grinding corn and, later on, paper making. On our way back, we came across this (not strictly on the walk). It was believed to be the site of a 1300s hermitage.  

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 The walk can be found at: http://www.lincswolds.org.uk.

Click on Publications, Gateway Walks and then Following Woods and Mills. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Gardens, lifestyle, self-sufficiency, environmental issues, adventure, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

Trek Diary – Part 3: February/March – Pendle Hill

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Pendle Hill is famous among these parts of Lancashire, or should I say infamous? Have you watched Arthur Miller’s The Crucible? Where a frenzy of hysterics erupted in an American society in the 1600s and it was claimed some of the villagers were witches?

Well, something similar happened in Lancashire.

In England, the 1600s was a time of superstition, intolerance and persecution. King James I, who increasingly became more paranoid after the Gunpowder Plot, broadened the Witchcraft Act in 1604.

And so there was, quite literally, a witch hunt.

In 1612, in the Pendle area, Alizon Device cursed a pedlar, and believed she lamed him. An investigation followed and the situation spiralled into a massive witchcraft trial, with other residents being arrested and a nine-year-old girl giving evidence against her family and neighbours. Nine of the ‘witches’ were hanged at Lancaster Castle.

This is a horror story fit for Halloween. Not because there is any ‘devil worship’ or witches on broomsticks or wild cackling, but because a lethal blend of hysteria, superstition, paranoia and persecution got whipped up into a frenzy.

On a happier note, Pendle Hill is also noted as the location where Quaker founder George Fox experienced a spiritual vision.

Back to modern day and, thankfully, more tolerant times.

At Barrowford’s information centre, the woman at the tourism desk was very helpful, giving us not only a map and directions on how to reach Pendle, but details about a sculpture and witch trail.

I always picture Pendle Hill as nearby but it always seemed an awkward place to reach from where I live. We have tried twice before to reach its dizzy heights of 557m. Once, it was snowing. The other time it was pouring with rain. On neither occasion did we reach the spellbinding hill, but only the thereabouts. Perhaps there was a ‘curse’ and we will never reach it?

Barley wasn’t too far from Barrowford and thanks to the helpful information assistant, we recognised the landmarks as we drove past, including a statue of Alice Nutter, one of the witches (or supposed witches, as more likely) in Roughlee.

 

Fellow ramblers know the feeling of reaching a destination and then thinking, have I the right change for the car park? Luckily, Barley car park is very amenable, boasting many spaces, a charming café/souvenir shop, adequate toilets Рand parking is a mere £1!

Past the children’s play area, pub, houses and a stall selling free range eggs… Onto a footpath along a river and lo, there is the route to Pendle Hill.

Simon warned me that, on the map, there were tight contour lines further on, meaning a steepness. But I forgot about that as, not long after we started, I sloshed and trampled about in mud and, humiliatingly, even slipped and fell. Embarrassingly, a couple shouted over, are you okay? Yes thank you, I muttered, embarrassed. S, having strided 10 miles ahead (or so it seemed), headed back. I didn’t know you had fallen, he apologised. I grudgingly accepted his apology.

Thankfully the boots were waterproof.

Anyway, no matter, I conquered the soaking wet mud which had no right to trip me up. Now to conquer the steep incline itself. I have dreams (Illusions? Fantasies?) of walking up Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. Not like those crazily fit people who can do the two plus Snowdon in one day. How is that even possible? No, just one at a time for me. I’m not in a rush.

A friend later told me that there were other, more gradual, ways to climb up Pendle Hill. But by then it was too late. Every step was hard. It’s not even a massive hill, 1827ft/557m, but this section was gruelling. I thought longingly of Fairfield Horseshoe’s gradual ascent (certainly in comparison to this incline) until finally I made it. I was at the top!

We walked down a more gradual route. At one point, wondering if we were going the right way. But we finally reached a stream which we followed, ambling along to Barley.

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A cup of tea in the cafe later and we then set off on a Pendle Sculpture Trail. The path takes you past Lower Black Moss Reservoir and stunning scenes of Pendle Hill, then it’s uphill (ah, more steepness!!) until we reach Aitken Wood, located on a slope. By itself, Aitken Wood is a beautiful setting, but here nature meets art, culture and history in one swoop with the Sculpture Trail. We meet a life-size witchfinder, spot metal bats, owl and giant spider’s web and admire The Quaker Tree among many other artworks. Plaques have also been created, illustrating each of the witches. If you pick up a Sculpture Trail leaflet, you could even take part in a competition to win a hotel stay.

So two walks in one this, surprisingly pleasant, winter’s day. So enjoyable that we ventured back a month later. Ironically the weather was worse in March.

I fell again in the mud. Great. Why has it not dried yet?

Snow fell, we turned back half way – and then it stopped and we headed towards the hill again. The hill was as steep as last time. I was as unfit as last time.

I, wimp that I am, asked if we could turn back because of the potential snow.

We were about 10 steps from the top at this point.

We carried on.

At the summit, something was preventing us from walking straight in one line, something threw Simon’s hat away and he, rather comically, had to run after it, and something was trying to push us over the edge of the hill.

Be warned. The hill is possessed – by a terrible gale-force wind. Thankfully, the wind and snow gradually left us alone as we trekked down the path to the cafe where a mug of refreshing tea and a slice of delicious cake awaited us.

Picture courtesy of Simon Hunter20180317_125724

Posted in Gardens, lifestyle, self-sufficiency, environmental issues, adventure, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

Trek Diary Part 2: January 2018

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Harris Museum, Preston

A city walk: Six miles

December was a lazy month so it was back to square one in January (actually make that square minus ten as I must have put on weight and become even more unfit and unhealthy during the Christmas season). To start the year off, a friend and I embarked upon a Suburb to City stroll, setting off three miles (approximately) from Preston city centre.

To those who don’t know Preston, it is a former industrial town in the North West of England. It’s not far from Blackpool, Manchester and Liverpool, and the beautiful Lake District is just over an hour’s drive away.

Originally called Priest Town (Priest’s Tun) in Anglo Saxon times, Preston has had a long and fascinating history. I haven’t time to mention it all here except the two key episodes on Preston’s timeline are the English Civil War and the Industrial Revolution/cotton industry. Check out the Harris Museum for a proper glimpse into Preston’s past!

We walked along a busy road on the way into the city centre. The worst thing about this urban ramble is the traffic. On several occasions, one of us would say something and the other person would say, what? And that’s because Garstang Road is one of the main routes and the sound of cars is tremendous. And yet, even on this hectic thoroughfare, there are a few gems…

Amid the large detached houses which line this stretch of tarmac, is a patch of woodland called Highgate Wood. And further along Garstang Road, there is a massive allotment. It takes you into another world, where you feel you have entered into a secret rural haven and although I haven’t ventured into Highgate Wood, I imagine it must be a similar feeling.

 

Moor Park is a large park. The Preston Moor Common formed part of Henry III’s Royal Forest of Fulwood, which received a royal charter in 1235. Horse races were held between 1736 and 1833, and that was the year Moor Park was officially recognised as a municipal park. According to Preston Guild City’s website, a hundred acres of the common was enclosed and renamed Moor Park. In the 1860s, unemployed cotton workers landscaped the park. And it’s where Preston marathon walker Tom Benson – who held at least six world endurance titles – walked laps (about 314 miles) of Moor Park over five days and nights in 1976. Without stopping.

Talking of famous people, did you know Star Wars’ R2D2 was a Lancastrian? Or rather, Kenny Baker who played him was a resident of Preston?

 

In the city centre, we had an enjoyable lunch at Wings and Beers, a trendy looking American-style sports bar, down Cannon Street, also home of the quirky Mystery Tea House  (incredibly difficult to find but trust me, it really does exist on that street!)

I don’t love my home city. Money is wasted on silly traffic schemes and ugly carbuncles are lumped onto beautiful Victorian buildings (check out the train station’s new extension). Progress is the buzzword of the powers-that-be but sometimes at the expense of beauty. But it is also a city of hidden gems and fascinating history. If you go, I recommend the Harris Museum (stunning architecture) and Avenham Park, Halewood & Sons Book Shop, Mystery Tea Rooms and the art deco Bruccianis, Winckley Street and Winckley Square. Look for the beauty and quirkiness and, in any town or city, it is there…

Even the Grade II Brutalist 1969 bus station Рbelieved to have once been the second largest bus station in Europe Р has its devoted fans in this city!

On our way home, we walked along Deepdale – home of the famous Preston North End stadium. Sir Tom Finney used to play here and his statue can be seen. When he died, thousands of residents lined the streets to pay their respects as his cortege passed the streets of Preston – and the stadium – before the service at Preston Minster.

 

Facts of the Day

1. Preston North End (also known as PNE, Lilywhites and The Invincibles) was founded in 1880. A founding member of the Football League.

2. They were unbeaten in the inaugural season and were crowned first league champions. They also won the FA Cup that season.

3. Dick, Kerr’s Ladies FC, founded in Preston, was one of the earliest women’s football teams in England, playing from 1917 to 1965.

For the latest news and features in Preston and surrounding area, read the Lancashire Post (a daily read) and for those of you who live further afield – http://www.lep.co.uk