What a feel­ing! one woman’s re-en­er­gis­ing walk­ing week

an­dréa Childs dis­cov­ers that a women-only walk­ing week makes for a won­der­fully en­er­gis­ing get­away

Woman & Home - - In This Issue… -

Wait­ing at Pen­rith rail sta­tion for the bus to Keswick, then on­wards to but­ter­mere, I had plenty of time to play “spot the woman walker”. I was head­ing for a week-long Women’s ac­tiv­ity Week in the lake Dis­trict with Ram­blers Walk­ing Hol­i­days. be­tween the fam­i­lies steer­ing suit­cases and chil­dren, bear grylls looka­likes and young cou­ples part­ner­ing ruck­sacks and ro­mance, I thought I spot­ted a few – women in water­proof jack­ets and sturdy boots, with out­door com­plex­ions and ready smiles. turns out I guessed cor­rectly. two of us shared a taxi from the sta­tion – a sign of the ca­ma­raderie to come.

I’d been anx­ious about the hol­i­day. Not the ac­tiv­i­ties – I was look­ing for­ward to yoga and Pi­lates ses­sions and an in­tro­duc­tion to Nordic Walk­ing – but about who else would be there. I’m hope­less at map-read­ing and had to bor­row a sen­si­ble coat from a friend for the trip, so I was dreading rambler ro­bots who could nav­i­gate a hill­side on au­topi­lot. an­other guest said she had pan­icked about be­ing the old crone (at 48!) among a sea of twen­tysome­things with toned tri­ceps and ash­tanga abs.

We soon re­alised there’d been no need to worry. the 14 women on the hol­i­day ranged from 40 to 80, from full-time work­ers to re­tirees. Jill was a mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist who’d re­trained as a Pi­lates teacher in her fifties. lucy taught at a col­lege. sharon was a nurse. Jane worked in a li­brary. ev­ery­one’s level of fit­ness was dif­fer­ent, with some want­ing

the hol­i­day to kick-start a more ac­tive life­style and oth­ers adding an­other ad­ven­ture to an adren­a­line-packed list (in­clud­ing moun­tain bik­ing in Costa Rica and snow­shoe­ing in the Dolomites). We’d trav­elled from all over the coun­try, some alone and a few with a friend. What united us was a love of be­ing out­doors, im­mersed in na­ture. When you’re head­ing up a trail, your eyes are en­tranced by the hills even as your calves are aching. With the scent of gorse and pine leaves, the air re­ally is fresh and seems to blow away stress. No won­der a re­cent study from stan­ford univer­sity showed walk­ing in na­ture has a pos­i­tive ef­fect on mood and men­tal health.

We were stay­ing at Hass­ness House on the edge of but­ter­mere lake in Cum­bria. the set­ting was idyl­lic and the re­cently re­fur­bished house was more bou­tique bolt­hole than tra­di­tional walk­ers’ bunkhouse. We were fu­elled by huge break­fasts and three­course din­ners, with packed lunches and flap­jacks to eat on our walks, and cakes wait­ing for us on our re­turn. luck­ily walk­ing burns around 400 calo­ries an hour – more if you’re tramp­ing up hills at a brisk pace!

over the week, we tack­led craggy trails, steep hill­sides and gen­tle paths, led by 58-year-old Clare bon­nick. Her in­ti­mate knowl­edge of the land­scape meant she could name each peak and

Walk­ing in na­ture has a pos­i­tive ef­fect on mood and men­tal health

val­ley, and bring their his­tory alive with facts and sto­ries, such as how the white cross on Fleetwith Pike marks where a Vic­to­rian ser­vant girl fell to her death.

the Women’s ac­tiv­ity break is the only Ram­blers Walk­ing Hol­i­day pow­ered purely by oe­stro­gen. We won­dered if men would be more com­pet­i­tive, rather than walk­ing in step, as we do. In a fe­male-only group, there’s lit­tle self­con­scious­ness as we prac­tise the “bar­bara Wind­sor” (a chest-out Nordic Walk­ing warm-up) or splash around in cir­cles on Der­went­wa­ter as we learn to kayak.

as the days go by, we re­lax in each other’s com­pany. Con­ver­sa­tions over din­ner range from books to brexit, but it’s dur­ing the walks that peo­ple be­gin to share. there are three re­cent wid­ows in the group, each fol­low­ing a dif­fer­ent path to life after loss. one woman is strug­gling with a tough time at home. there are those con­nect­ing with friends now liv­ing in other parts of the coun­try. and oth­ers, like my­self, look­ing for a fun and ac­tive break from re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. old bonds deep­ened and new friend­ships started to form.

I loved the wit and hu­mour of spend­ing time with women, and the pleas­ant ache of mus­cles that have worked hard. Now I’m de­ter­mined to find some of that feel­ing back at home. For more in­for­ma­tion or to book, visit ram­bler­shol­i­days.co.uk w &h

It’s all about you!

Spend­ing time in na­ture with new friends, try­ing dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties and chat­ting along the way

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.