Has anyone, apart from the genuinely genetically Nordic among you who probably do it without even trying, tried this Nordic walking thing??
Invented in the 1930s to help the skiers keep fit when there was no snow, and after a couple of weeks walking respite nursing a bit of a flimsy back and rubbish knees I am back out and about but with some walking aids in the shape of two long walking poles, which I'm calling Nordic though they are not the proper job. I had seen a Nordic walking course advertised locally so I looked it up and decided that perhaps I could avoid the Nordic bit but make sensible use of the poles which apparently take the strain off the knees, tone the bingo wings and generally seem like an all round good idea.
I dug out the old extendable Brasher walking poles circa Swiss Alpine excursion 2002, and legendary for being borrowed for a photoshoot by a group of Japanese tourists at the top of the Jungfrau. Bookhound and I looking the part for a bit of snowy high-altitude mountain-top walking in July, whilst the scantily-clad tourists had dashed outside for a photo and asked to borrow the poles so it would look as if they were really meant to be doing something serious, when in fact they'd been sitting in the cafe writing postcards. Of course we obliged and took the photos for them too.
Anyway, I thought these would do, except they wouldn't because the tightening washers have split and the poles kept collapsing at unexpected moments. So spotting a pair of Craghopper poles reduced from £60 to £12 seemed like a good enough bargain and I'm up and away with the whole thing now. It is a bit like that sensation you have when you swim with flippers on and think you'd probably be able to cross the channel in about half an hour, and I fair flew around one of my uphill-down-valley routes recently and couldn't quite believe the difference. Instead of putting my back into the uphill slog this is all about the arms assisting, and though I don't think I've got the Nordic technique right at all, with the poles adjusted to the right height, I'm happy enough with my version.
Trekking through a 'new-to-me-this-winter' wood that looked a bit sparse a few weeks ago, it's obvious that if I go back now it's going to be a sea of bluebells, and moments after I took this picture a fox ran in front of me, stopped and stared and darted off again. Justification for the pang of guilt I always feel at not taking a dog with me, setting off from home with those big eyes watching me as I walk past the kennel, but knowing I would see nothing with a dog snuffling up ahead of me.
Could it be two cold winters are making some flowers more prolific this spring? We've certainly never seen quite such a profusion of Devon violets in the hedgerows and I'll be back to capture those bluebells soon.
I'm always a little nervous about traversing fields of cows, because you do hear of people being trampled (even though the Gamekeeper tells me I must just stand my ground and not run) so I was a little daunted to find a route now considered my own personal walking territory, and one that's been uninhabited all winter, now has residents.
This is all public footpath so I have to cross that little footbridge over the stream, skirt the lower left boundary of this field, try not to fall into that vast and very deep badger sett on the way up and hop over a stile into the woodland just around that bend which then takes me onto the Gamekeeper's estate and I just hope he's not out shooting pigeons and hits this dove by mistake...no he wouldn't, he's very careful and I do check first.
Spotting signs that this was a dairy herd, I was encouraged and worked on the principle that they go nowhere fast and even I could go faster if needs be. Plus I'll be going nowhere this summer if I don't pluck up the courage to go through the stock occasionally. If I'm honest, far worse-a prospect was turning round and walking home up the incredibly steep wooded hill I'd just come down, the way ahead is still about four miles from home but gentler.
As you can see, 'not bothered' was the order of the day and I hopped over the stile feeling quite relieved.