February: Lessons From Walking 85 miles

Today I have completed the last few miles of my walking target for the past month – 85 miles. I feel happy at being able to say I’ve 185 miles under my belt so far this year, a great head start!

Currently, I’m curled up in my bath robe with numb fingers after completing a 6 mile circular ramble in the freezing rain. I’ve oven chips cooking and I’m looking forward to a ‘chip butty’ (ha who am I kidding? There’s no singular when it comes to chips) to warm my hands up. I woke up this morning to crunchy snow and hoped to get a ramble in it but by the time I’d finished for lunch, the white frosting had melted and turned to mostly sludge.

What can I say about walking 85 miles this month? Well, it’s been quite a mix of terrain. There’s been less days this month to walk and work and so I’ve had to combine them. I’ve been doing quite a bit of city walking which is not my favourite but it all counts! Particularly when a 2 mile stint turns into a lost 6 mile stretch….

February has been harsh – it’s been mostly wet. The winds whistle in the afternoons, as the rain drives sideways.  I’ve yet to find a socially acceptable waterproof balaclava!    At night, walking up hill in the face of the elements takes all of my strength.  The naked trees look like they can’t take much more of the East and West winds. In fact some of the mighty Spruce in the nearby forests have been entirely uprooted. I feel sad for them and want to hug them back to life… On the few days we’ve had a visit from the much anticipated sun, it’s felt like Spring. It’s a tease. The baby lambs are here, the tall field grass looks as though it’s recovered from being wind swept and there’s been a few rainbows! I’m still clinging on to the ‘walking in all weathers.’ Why? Because I choose to live in the UK with unpredictable weather and if you only like the sunny days, you’re going to miss a hell of a lot going on in the natural world! And mostly because I’m blessed to have a functioning body which doesn’t require any assistance and if you don’t use it then….

Here’s some of the things I’ve learnt during my 85 mile stint:

A circular walk is a welcomed one

I’ve found circular walks to be useful. With a circular you know how many miles they take and they are able to give you some structure should you feel not too motivated to just go off and get lost. They are also excellent if you’re not used to walking on your own – there’s no worry of getting lost and you’ll end up where you started .

Walk on your own at least once a week

I recently wrote a post about solo adventures. This month, I’ve been walking mostly on my own and have loved every minute of it.   Since I work in the digital world, I’m switched on constantly and it can get exhausting!  Therefore going off on my own allows me to check in with my own mental and physical dialogue and even more so satisfying – nature’s dialogue.

Do something else

I don’t know about you but I love variety and that’s why I class myself as an all round type of outdoors-woman as opposed to a hiker / walker.   For Valentine’s I got Rik a bouldering session which we both loved and have said we’d like to do it a few times a month as it’s only down the road from us.  I even got my mountain bike out, inspected the damage and have put plans to get it fixed up for some spring mountain biking.  I think if you do something a little too much, it can become boring. Personally adventure and routine don’t live in the same field.

Wear a hat or atleast pack one

It’s taken me some time to get used to wearing a hat but I’ve seen the error in my ways of not wearing one.  Your head is the first place to loose heat and harsh winds can cause ear-ache.  So, I’m always with a hat now. Kitshack, the distributors of Buff sent me one of their Merino wool hats from their A/W collection and it’s certainly been keeping me warm! I hear Merino wool is one of the best warming materials to wear.  As I’ve super long hair, if I leave it down, I find the hat starts to slip off my head and since I’ve a fringe, I can’t pull it entirely over so I just put my hair in to a side plait and there’s no problem! I’m very keen on their dog wear collection.

Don’t get too concerned with mileage – it’s all about the experience!

I wanted to set myself a 100 mile goal and then realised I was getting too competitive with myself. It’s a habit I’ve gladly got out of in recent years but it still rears its ugly head now and then. Last month, I felt as though I didn’t take in the experiences and sensations as much as I could have. I was too concerned with how many miles I was clocking up. Of course it’s about the miles (that’s why it’s called a challenge) but it’s more about the things you discover about yourself and the natural world, which matters most.

I’d love to hear about your accomplishments this past month?

Now, it’s time for that ‘chip butty!’

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