It was this time last year when I was walking like a woman on a mission, and I was, to walk 1000 miles!
January was actually my favourite month out of the 12, to kick start my mileage and I ended up completing 100 miles.
I decided to only count purposeful walks rather than walking about the house, but in the summer when the garden needed some help, I included that too. I think one day I’d clocked up about 12 miles just from fetching compost, planting and sorting out ever growing grass!
I’ve spent most of my walking time this year in Wales in the hills, but I have had the opportunity to walk in Cornwall, Scotland, Shropshire, Cheshire, Birmingham and even Italy. I figured out it’s easy to cover more distance in built-up areas just because the concrete pavements and roads are easier on the feet than hills which have inclines, potholes, snow, and are usually subjected to more colourful weather! I have to say, this will always be my favourite terrain.
In all honesty, though, it doesn’t matter how you walk, where you do it or who you do it with, this challenge has one aim: to get you off your bottom!
Yes, winter, in all of its snowy, wet, and slippery glory was our favourite to walk in. With just enough layers on to not feel too hot or cold, we enjoyed misty mornings, frosty noses, the wind in our hair, plenty of stars and clear skies to gaze at.
Ah, spring, time of everlasting birdsong, skipping lambs, baby rabbits darting out of the bushes, daffs growing everywhere! A great time to walk more than a few miles especially when the sunlight glistened over the hills and mountains. We felt new, ready for the year ahead. Time to shed some layers, although I’ve still got much to learn about the art of layering.
Both Bel and I struggled in the hot Welsh summer (yes hot really)! We were mobbed by flesh-eating flies most days on the country lanes. I couldn’t carry enough water for Bel on long distances and, the ground was too hot for her little feet. So we did more evening and night walks to make sure we got our miles in. I had a few solo adventures, taking some skill courses to help me get better with navigation and tackling hill terrain. Summer was the perfect time to get more acquainted with a map and compass!
With the challenge at the forefront of my mind, it had certainly been an interesting year. Although I had not met anyone taking on 1000 miles, I really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts in the FB group. Their personal motivation was extremely inspiring! And I hope all of the people I met and told about the challenge along the way, will go on and try it out for themselves.
Walking 1000 miles hasn’t all been rosy though! I’ve had blistered feet from the wrong walking boots, glass in my foot which I picked up doing the West Highland Way, mild asthma attacks whilst embarking on some steep terrain, down moments when I’d set myself too big of a challenge and not completed it, and those mind monkeys, having to constantly listen to them when I was feeling unsure! I remember reaching 875 and feeling satisfied to call it a day. It wasn’t about the numbers but the experience of doing it.
Would I do it all over again? Of course! Because a year on, I’ve learned even more incredible and not so incredible things about myself, and without pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I don’t think I’d be here mentally and physically where I am now…
So this year, I’m not actively taking part in the challenge but I know I’ll be walking much more, as I embark on the journey of becoming a hill and moorland leader. I’d also like to aim to do 500 miles of one of my other hobbies – stand up paddle boarding or perhaps biking! Who knows? It’s certainly given me the appetite to get outside more.
Talking of which, I suppose it’s apt that I’ll be starting the year (this weekend) in the Peak District taking the Creative Countryside team and readers on a ‘mindfulness walk’ – something I learned a lot about last year!
Whatever your personal challenges are this year, know that it’ll be worth it whether you complete it or not. It’s all character building.