Walking Back To Happiness

Blue skies and far-reaching views over the wonderful Gade valley

Well, over this last week or so my training has started again in earnest for my walking challenges of 2022! I have some plans for a couple of 2- to 3-day winter walks, depending on pandemic restrictions and the availability of accommodation, in preparation for my LETJOG C2C (Coast to Coast) trek with my old schoolfriend Rob, in April. But first some glorious local winter walks.

Carrying a few extra pounds following the Christmas break, it has been wonderful to get out and exert myself a little in the Herts and Bucks countryside over the last week or so. Clement or otherwise, weather should not be an issue if one has the right clothing and equipment, but it does inevitably have some bearing on mood, and after a couple of soakings since Christmas it has been great these last two days to enjoy some early morning sunshine with crystal-clear visibility. I find it easier to dress comfortably for the cold than the wet, and after a little exercise one soon warms up, making dry days during this time of year especially great for walking.

So yesterday a group of seven of us set out at 9.00 am from the Bridgewater Arms in Little Gaddesden. Along a frosted track we descended through the woodlands and fields to Dagnall, then up the opposite side of the Gade valley towards Studham. With the sun now warming the frozen ground we pondered awhile overlooking the valley, a pair of red kites circling below us, before descending again ahead of the long climb back to Little Gaddesden, and coffee!

With the poles, of course!

A word on nordic walking. Just for stability alone, the poles are quite an asset when tackling the ubiquitous mud and occasional ice on rural pathways at this time of year. But the fun really starts on the flat and especially on the uphill sections where propulsion takes over from control and the poles come into their own. I find that nordic walking provides the best low-impact cardio-vascular exercise: done correctly the discipline enables a whole-body work-out with relatively low risk of repetitive strain, of joint impact injuries, and of falls. Add in the mental health and emotional benefits of being in the outdoors with great company and conversation and the all-round benefits, to me at least, are second to none!

I succeeded last year in passing my 2,021-mile annual target for ‘boots-on’ walking. It was of course an exceptional year, and around three-quarters of my total mileage comprised my LETJOG walk and the training for it. This year, with certain other commitments, I am reverting to my 1,000-miles target that I passed in 2020, an average of somewhat under three miles per day, although I am likely to walk rather more than that in preparation for LETJOG C2C.

For those interested I will be writing here weekly or so as Rob and I prepare for our C2C trek, and daily in April when we commence our walk across the heart of the Lake District, through the Yorkshire Dales and over the North York Moors. I hope to see you again soon!

A common buzzard gliding overhead on my morning walk by the canal, near Berkhamsted

And if anyone is interested in matching this thousand-mile annual walking challenge, then Country Walking magazine has a convenient platform on which you can share your experiences with others undertaking the challenge. I’m not on commission (honest!), and I actually prefer to do my own thing, but I know others who subscribe to Country Walking or frequent their website http://www.greatmagazines.co.uk/country-walking-magazine in order to enjoy the support that they offer to those doing the challenge.

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