As a fellow Silver Traveller, if I were to say to you that I could advise you of a free activity that could:
- Improve your heart and lungs
- Improve your muscles
- Help to prevent osteoporosis and risk of broken bones in falls
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
- Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
- Reduce body fat and improve flexibility
- Enhance your mental wellbeing
You would think that I had invented a new wonder drug or that I had become delusional.
Quite simply, walkers live longer!
My introduction to the great outdoors came at thirteen years of age, when I was persuaded by a school teacher to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. Tackling Beamsley Beacon (1289ft, 393m) just outside Ilkley was a gentle enough introduction, but I was soon hooked on the fresh air, panoramic views and wildlife I encountered and walking became a lifelong hobby. Being fortunate enough to live in God’s Own County of Yorkshire, I was on the doorstep of the Yorkshire Dales and took advantage of this whenever I could. As my interest grew, so did my walking challenges and I began to explore more hard-core walks and climbs in the Lake District and Scotland. City dwellers need not despair however as every town and city has open spaces, parks, canal towpaths and networks of public footpaths on which to get started. One of the most refreshing aspects of walking has been the friendliness and camaraderie of fellow walkers. Everyone is just SO friendly.
The Rambler’s Association can help you to find local walking groups and even walking holidays led by experienced walking guides. They can be contacted at www.ramblers.org.uk.
My own passion grew to include challenge walks such as the Lyke Wake Walk, a forty three mile hike across the North York Moors in 24 hours or the more famous Three Peaks of Yorkshire, a 24 mile trek over the mountains of Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside, in 12 hours. For my sins, I have now completed this walk a total of thirty one times, in all weathers and conditions. As Roald Amundsen said, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”.
The Fell and Rock Climbers Club bought a large area of Borrowdale and donated the land, including the peak of Great Gable (2494ft, 899m) to the National Trust. In 1924 a memorial plaque was placed at the summit cairn in tribute to walkers and climbers killed in the Great War. On the second Sunday in November at 11am, a Remembrance service is held at the summit. This is a very moving occasion, often held in atrocious weather conditions. Up to 1000 walkers appear from all directions through the mist, rain and snow and then melt away afterwards. This is a truly eerie, but rewarding experience. Long distance footpaths and National Trails next grabbed my attention and I have spent many great times with friends completing walks such as The Cleveland Way, The Dales Way, The Yorkshire Wolds Way, The Cumbria Way and many others. All of them have their own unique attractions and variations.I have seen many special sights thanks to my hobby. From kingfishers to stoats, sunrises and sunsets from the peaks of mountains, rare flowers and birds, blizzard white-outs, snow drifts over my head, diamond-dust airborne frosts, myriads of stars and satellites in inky black skies and much more.
So, what are you waiting for? Is television really that good? Get your boots on and get healthier!
Having followed other people’s walks for many years, an idea began to form about creating and writing my own walking guide book. This is now almost complete and is a 104 mile trail from Leeds to Scarborough, passing through beautiful countryside areas, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a National Park, it is a truly varied and interesting walk. I have included local and natural history notes relevant to the areas through which the walk passes. This book will be available from April 2012 in time for the walking season.
Watch this space.
Paul is a retired Police Inspector and has held a lifelong passion for the outdoors. He is an experienced fell and mountain walker and has completed many challenge walks and National Trails.