Slower Journeys

Slower Journeys

Logan Trail start Gotham

On our AIM Awards Access to HE Diploma in Health Professions course one of the key themes in the Health Promotion unit was to engage in physical activity. To this end several teams elected to plan, organise and deliver a health walk as a health promotion event. Here the method of delivery was a demonstration and an actual walk which took in The Forest Recreation Ground, venue for Nottingham’s famous Goose Fair, and the Arboretum was planned as the activity. The course measured 1.93 miles and not only did students state that it was a great physical activity they said that going though green spaces also gave them a sense of wellbeing.

The Tree in late Spring

The Ash tree in the centre of a field on Bunny Moor

Moving on from this walk I decided to organise a 10 mile countryside walk which provided a stretch and challenge activity to take place towards the end of the course. This walk would be over varied terrain using footpaths, bridleways, tracks and trails. To maximise student participation I decided to organise two opportunities for the walk. Also the walks would be used to help raise funds for the Nottingham Universities Hospitals ‘The Big Appeal.’

The walk starts and finishes in East Leake and the first section gradually ascends to Bunny New Wood then descends to Gotham Lane. The next leg follows Fairham Brook over Bunny Moor then heads west going through a former Great Central Railway bridge. After crossing a few fields the route goes along The Logan Trail which was originally a railway line built by the Great Central Railway serving the gypsum industry in the Nottinghamshire village of Gotham.  This leg ends on Leake Road and the next section crosses this road and continues along the western section of The Logan Trail.

Cuckoo Bush

Circling the Neolithic burial mound and site of the Cuckoo Bush near Gotham

A short distance the trail ends and crossing the road the path follows a bridleway which gradually steepens to gain the top of the hill and our lunch stop. After lunch we take the opportunity to visit the tumulus which is a Neolithic burial mound over three thousand years old. This is also rumoured to be the site of the famous Cuckoo Bush where the Wise Men of Gotham built a fence around a tree to prevent the Cuckoo from flying off so that spring will last forever. Unfortunately, this didn’t work as the fence wasn’t built high enough and the Cuckoo simply flew away. After crossing a field the route goes through the West Leake Hills wood and then follows tracks and rights of way to the village of West Leake where this leg ends at the church. A quick break for a drink and for the next section the route follows the Midshires Way ascending Fox Hill. Just before the top of the hill the final leg descends following the footpath to the footbridge and turning to follow Kingston Brook to eventually go through a railway tunnel. Exiting the tunnel  the route goes through Meadow Park to the car park and the end of the walk.

Selfie end of walk 200617

The Tuesday team selfie at the end of the walk – I am second from the right

The main aim for the walk was for a slower journey to enable connections within the group and enable them to connect with nature and history during the activity. I planned the walk to take around five hours and the first walk was completed in 4 hours 19 minutes and the second one in 4 hours 57 minutes. The ambient weather for the duration of both walks was just perfect. Feedback from students was extremely positive and they all would like to continue with walking in countryside environments to promote physical activity and wellbeing. Both areas being beneficial to a life work balance especially in the careers they are pursuing in nursing and other health professions.

The day after the final walk I received the Summer 2017 issue of the Institute for Outdoor Learning’s ‘Horizons’ magazine. I was pleasantly surprised to read an article by Geoff Cooper under the title: #walking as a humble & subversive #activity which ended with the need to encourage ‘slower journeys’ that allowed for spontaneity, contact with people, enjoyment of nature and give them the chance to express their feelings and discuss issues of the day. I certainly feel that the two walks provided opportunities for all of these themes and this is further supported by the students positive accounts of these ventures.

Find out more about the Nottingham Universities Hospitals Trust’s: The Big Appeal

http://nottinghamhospitalscharity.org.uk/appeals/the-big-appeal/

Here is a link to my Just Giving page if you would like to make a donation:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Chris-Sweetman3

For information about the Institute of Outdoor Learning:

https://www.outdoor-learning.org/

My Scoop It site for health walks and the health benefits of walking:

http://www.scoop.it/t/health-walks

#walk1000miles the first 600 miles

#walk1000miles the first 600 miles

After seeing the Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles in 2017 challenge on Twitter I decided it would be worth giving it a go. However, it took  until the 3rd of January to make the start. Knowing that one needed to do 2.74 miles every day for 365 days to hit the target why didn’t I start on the 1st January? I devised a plan to keep me on target for each month based on the number of days in each month times 2.74 miles (see below).

So to commence the challenge on the 2nd January I planned what was to become my #WorkWalk. This was a 1.93 mile route that started and finished where I worked and went through two green spaces in Nottingham, namely the Forest Recreation Ground, famous for the site of the Goose Fair in October, and the Arboretum. I completed fourteen #WorkWalk ‘s in January to which I added a walk I have done many times in the past few years (7.25 miles) and one I devised especially for #walk1000miles in 2017 (10 miles). The latter were countryside walks over footpaths, bridleways, tracks and trails close to where I live.

Meindl Cambridge GTX muddy

Typical conditions with the countryside walks early in the year so my Meindl Cambridge GTX shoes came into their own and they kept my feet perfectly dry

In February I only missed three days where I didn’t walk and was pleasantly surprised just how many miles one can achieve with a #WorkWalk every weekday. Weekend walks were in the local countryside but as a respite from the mud I did three laps of the National Water Sports Centre’s (NWSC) Regatta Lake. March saw four days missed walks but more countryside walks enabled more miles walked this month compared to February. April was a great month and a turning point despite missing four days of walking. This was due to gaining blisters after a Long Distance Walkers Association 29 miles Erewash Valley Trail walk with the Anytime Anywhere group. Also I devised a new walk which took in three historical sites around East Leake and measured 16 miles, and I completed this every weekend in April.

Blue and Yellow

Fields of Oil-seed rape near Rempstone Nottinghamshire May 2017

May saw me go through the 500 miles target with a total of 501 miles recorded on the 7th of that month. Then there was a lull with four days in a row missed and a total of ten days when a walk wasn’t recorded. However, with determination I set a target of completing 600 miles before the end of the month and this was achieved on 30th when five laps of the NWSC Regatta Lake were completed which meant 0.7 miles were needed to get to that target. Getting back home I didn’t want to leave it until the next day so literately it took a 2.5 mile walk in the park to go through the 600 mile target. Finally, on the last day of May I added another 11.34 miles with a countryside walk in beautiful weather.

Now onward with seven months left to do 386.84 miles. I am enjoying this personal challenge and thanks to Country Walking for devising it and providing the motivation.

#walk1000miles plan for 2017

January 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles

January total 36.6 miles (58.91 km)

February 28 days X 2.74 miles / day = 76.72 miles 161.66 miles

February total 91.22 miles (146.8 km) cumulative total = 127.82 miles

March 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 246.6 miles 

March total 120.98 miles (194.7 km) cumulative total = 248.8 miles

April 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 328.80 miles

April total 210.7 miles (339.1 km) cumulative total = 459.5 miles

May 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 413.74 miles

May total 153.6 miles (247.2 km) cumulative total = 613.16 miles

June 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 495.94 miles achieved 501 7th May

July 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 580.88 miles

August 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 665.82 miles

September 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 748.02miles

October 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 832.96 miles

November 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 915.16 miles

December 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 1000.1 miles

Used Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping for route planning and Suunto Movescount to record walks.

#teacher5aday #pledge #2017

#teacher5aday #pledge #2017

In 2017 there are for me two important landmarks. The first is that I am a third of the way into my 27th year in teaching and the second sees me celebrating 40 years as a member of the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA). Both of these events will feature strongly in the #teaher5aday 2017 pledge.

#connect

Keep being involved with Twitter #PLN (personal learning network) and do more walks with groups – I value face to face connections too. It would also be nice to meet some #teacher5aday tweeters during 2017.

#notice

crich-mount-1

The trig pillar, at left, on Crich Stand, Derbyshire

east-leake-remains-of-trig-pillar

What remains of the trig pillar at East Leake

Whilst on a walk take an image of something of interest. During 2016 I enjoyed taking part in the Ordnance Survey’s (OS) celebration of the 80th anniversary of the trig pillar. This assisted me organising local walks to gain access to trig pillars that were close by that I wouldn’t necessarily visit. During one excursion I noticed that a trig pillar was no longer there even though its location was clearly marked on the map. I notified the OS and they sent one of their representatives to check this out and they replied that the map in question will be updated to reflect the missing trig pillar. OS also utilised Twitter to share peoples images of trig pillars and connected these with #trigpillar80. During 2017 the focus  will be me noticing elements in the natural world and recording these in blogs.

red-admiral-butterfly

Red Admiral butterfly – a surprise sight on 9th October and I saw six other individuals on the same day

#learn

I have always wanted to write an article for publication in a journal. I could base this article on flipped learning relating to coaching concepts in land navigation which led to the 4 D’s of Land Navigation Model. This has been the theme for my presentations at various conferences in 2016 and with an article I had written that was published by the Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) in their Horizons magazine in the Spring 2016 issue. The first conference I delivered to was for the Nottingham Trent University’s Trent Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) at Nottingham in July, then at the IOL Conference, Staffordshire in October and finally at the inaugural researchED FE conference, London in December. May be I could add New York and Paris as venues in 2017! In preparing this article I will be engaged in learning and if published will be part of scholarly activity in that the results will be shared.

4ds-of-navigation-jpeg

#volunteer

This should be relatively easy as I have a wealth of experience leading walks for various organisations in the past and could do this again in 2017. For example, lead a ramble for a local Ramblers’ Group or organise a walk for the LDWA. Perhaps I could plan and lead a walk for #teacher5aday as I did for #UKFEchat community in 2015.

#exercise

Try to do basic flexibility exercises everyday and complete a long walk every weekend. In 2016 I celebrated my 60th birthday with a walk to work. This was almost 13 miles in distance and I planned the route to ensure the minimum of walking by a road. It was a neat challenge and one I had in mind since I moved there twenty years ago. My previous home was 23 miles from work! I managed to complete this walk in 4 hours and 36 minutes just two minutes outside the OS Maps guideline time. Other walking events of note completing the 26.2 miles Dovedale Dipper challenge walk in the Peak District during August – such fabulous weather and my sixth completion of the 16 miles Seagrave Wolds Challenge walk in November – not so good weather!

stunning-day-in-the-white-peak

Stunning scenery on the 26.2 miles Dovedale Dipper Challenge Walk 7th August 2016

The highlight though was that I took part in the LDWA Three Forests Way 54 miles challenge event but I only completed 49 miles! However, that 49 miles was the furtherest I have walked in almost 30 years! I would love to have another go and finish the walk this time. To enable this to happen requires building up not just physical endurance but mental fitness as well. This preparation will certainly provide enough for #teacher5aday throughout 2017.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year, don’t be to obsessed with work, and ensure you build time for you every day.

In completing this blog I would like to acknowledge Dawn Jones @stowdawn

#BoxingDayWalk South Notts. Wolds

#BoxingDayWalk South Notts. Wolds

Sunday 26th December 2016

 

the-hill

The way to the hill

At night I looked at the weather forecast for Boxing Day and at last we were going to have sun. Well at least for the morning and early afternoon so I decided this was the day over the Christmas holiday period I needed to do my usual countryside route which starts and finishes at my front door. The forecast also mentioned that the temperature was going to be 6 degrees so I wrapped up before venturing out with a silk scarf wrapped around my neck and the Patagonia Stretch Syncilla hat pulled down over my ears. A Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic waterproof jacket provided an effective outer barrier throughout the walk and the upper zip outer pocket was useful in making the iPhone SE accessible. The lower pockets housed the Black Ice fleece gloves, kit I didn’t use, and the Patagonia hat and silk scarf when I was overheating. Keeping the cold at bay was an Iguana fleece jacket used for the intermediate layer. Craghoppers Basecamp trousers once again proved their flexibility as they more than coped with today’s windy conditions.

unusual-architecture

Unusual architecture approaching the village of Bunny

light-streaks

The footpath to the wood

Throughout the walk I noticed lots of people out much more than normal and these included extended family groups so perhaps they were on their traditional Boxing Day ramble. Even saw a few joggers on the early part of the walk which is on the streets and one jogger past me on a Bridleway in white trainers trying to avoid the mud. Thankfully, even on the footpaths mud wasn’t the problem I thought it was going to be and the Merrell approach shoes, which don’t have a waterproof liner, coped really well over today’s terrain. The sun with the blue sky provided superb images on the iPhone SE and at times the contrast was too great so the HDR function kicked in with amazing results. A couple of images had sun streaks but these added to the scene captured.

Coming to the end of the countryside part of this walk I thought that I hadn’t seen any bird life of note then I hard a crow and almost immediately the call of a buzzard. On hearing this I raised my head to see two buzzards, perhaps the same pair as I saw a couple of months ago, circling around then perching on two different trees. Seeing these two just added to what was a fine day’s walk.

the-field

Field pattern close to East Leake

This was my last proper walk in 2016 over my mainstay 7.2 miles countryside route and the ninth time I had completed this walk this year. Today it took me just over 2 hours 32 minutes which means I walked at 2.84 miles per hour. Kit wise my gear of the year goes to the iPhone SE which has provided most of my pictorial record of my walks since the end of May. This was a great 60th birthday present from my wife and daughter. One of my purchases for 2017 will be an Otterbox Defender case to protect the iPhone and save me worrying about dropping it.

Weather information courtesy of BBC Weather:

6 degrees C at 11am staying here until 3pm. Sunny; Humidity 65%; Visibility Very Good; Pressure 1031 (Millibars); Wind direction W & Wind Speed 14 (mph)

It will be a cold but dry Boxing Day, with plenty of sunshine. There will also be some blustery winds at first, however these should gradually ease.

Sunrise 08:17 Sunset 15:55 GMT

Poppy’s Birthday

Poppy’s Birthday

poppy-in-autumn

Poppy waiting for her ball to be thrown (ball is at the bottom left hand corner) We were heading west and the tree in the foreground can be used as a direction indicator as most of the growth is on the left (southern) side.

Yesterday Poppy celebrated her eighth birthday. The sun was out and out we went for a walk. Poppy is a chocolate brown labrador cross and has a wonderful personality. Poppy is a neighbour’s dog and my wife takes her out almost every day but today I came along too. No, me being there wasn’t a birthday treat for Poppy but on this day she would go out on two different walks. When my wife takes Poppy out each walk they go on the route can vary subject to the weather conditions and state of the terrain. Which direction and route selection is very much in my wife’s hands and can change at a moments notice taking into account my wife‘s observations based mainly on the condition of the ground ahead. I wanted to see if Poppy has these routes imprinted. So out we went and every time Poppy reached a point where the route could go a different way she stopped. Poppy only moving on when instructed which way we were going and keeping on track until the next cross point. So does this mean that Poppy uses observation with points of recognition? With the evidence provided today it is highly likely that she does.

grey-poplar-tree

This Grey Poplar is located in an arboreum area and is a specimen tree grown in a nursery and was installed here a few years ago. This specific tree provides evidence that knowledge is as important as observation in direction finding.

Earlier in the week I received a copy of Harold Gatty’s book: “Nature is Your Guide – How to Find Your Way on Land and Sea by Observing Nature” which was published in 1958. This book has been on my really would like list for a few years and after unwrapping the packet I eagerly scanned though each section. Now having read a few chapters the underpinning elements to successful natural navigation are observation along with knowledge. Gatty was fascinated in how the early Polynesians navigated across the Pacific Ocean. He put his research based on their observations and knowledge into practice with two major events. One, in 1931, when he was the navigator on a record breaking eight-day flight around the world in an aircraft piloted by Wiley Post. The second was in 1943 when his first published work on navigation  “The Raft Book” became standard equipment on life rafts with the United States Army Air Force Pacific operation in WWII. “Nature is Your Guide” covers elements from both events together with general navigation observations on gaining direction which includes the effects of wind and sun on tree growth.

In summary then observation is a much needed element for navigation whether you are going on a local walk with the dog or crossing the Pacific Ocean. Also it is an important element in how a dog navigates and one cannot get more natural than that.

the-first-frost

Poppy’s birthday was the first time I saw ground frost this autumn

Harold Gatty; 1958; “Nature is Your Guide – How to Find Your Way on Land and Sea by Observing Nature”; New York; E.P. Dutton & Company, Inc.

#resilience & #grit, The Challenge completed

#resilience & #grit, The Challenge completed

Phew! The timekeeper confirms that my finish time was just under my target of five hours by 47 seconds. Earlier in the day, at 9am precisely, the start horn sounded and this year’s Seagrave Wolds Challenge (SWC) was underway.

seagrave-wolds-challenge-start

The start of the 2016 Seagrave Wolds Challenge

Held on the second Saturday in November this event is always a challenge due to the presence of mud and the distinct likelihood of rain. The SWC may only be 16 miles long but I needed resilience and grit to complete this year’s event. This year was the twelfth consecutive running of the SWC and my sixth completion. In the six times I have completed the event there have been four different routes. This shows a creative mindset to the route planners as the start and finish location is always in the Leicestershire Wolds village of Seagrave. The 2016 event was held on Saturday 12th November and was over a completely new route on mixed surfaces, taking in the Soar Valley, Mountsorrel and the scenically attractive Swithland Reservoir area. I was hoping for decent weather and an almost mud free walk just like my first SWC in 2011 but in the preceding week there was copious amounts of rain. So 2016’s SWC wasn’t going to be mud free just more muddier than usual plus the weather forecast for the Saturday was heavy rain for most of the day. With all this foresight should I bother to go? This is where one needs grit as it would be easy to stay at home be warm and dry and watch TV. However, I was in the zone to go as I prepared my gear the previous evening and my rucksack was packed and ready for action. During the walk I certainly needed resilience to contend with the mud and the weather difficulties that the day provided. The first four miles I completed in an average time of 15 minutes per mile so I hit the 4 mile check point 12 seconds over the hour mark. I was delighted with this given the conditions. Unfortunately, my target to reach the half way stage at mile 8 in under two hours didn’t materialise as when I went through this marker I was eleven minutes over. However, even with this disappointment I was still on schedule to complete the SWC in under 4.5 hours. It was not to be as the conditions took their toll and my lack of endurance fitness was beginning to take effect from mile 10. The last mile was particularly gruelling as it took me almost thirty minutes to complete!

this-way

The route is way marked throughout 

My Seagrave Wolds Challenge (SWC) 2016 performance

Mile   Time     Cumulative time swc-typical-terrain

  1.   15.12              15.12
  2.   16.45              32.00
  3.   13.29              45.25
  4.   14.46           1.00.12
  5.   19.22           1.19.33
  6.   17.08           1.36.41
  7.   20.13           1.56.54
  8.   14.41           2.11.35
  9.   17.46           2.29.21
  10.   22.52           2.52.12
  11.   17.38           3.09.50
  12.   23.36           3.33.26
  13.   17.45           3.51.11
  14.   16.35           4.07.46
  15.   21.53           4.29.39
  16.   29.34           4.59.13

Total time: 4 hours 59 minutes 13 seconds

On a personal level I am delighted I finished my sixth Seagrave Wolds Challenge. However, the SWC wouldn’t take place without the organisers, volunteers, land owners and support from Seagrave residents. So thanks to everyone involved in making the SWC a highly enjoyable event. Will I be back next year? Of course, and for 2017 the sun will shine and the terrain will be less muddier! Whatever the weather there will always be smiles from SWC supporters and crumble and custard at the finish!

swc-crumble-and-custard

What awaits every finisher – the Seagrave Wolds Challenge famous crumble and custard

For further information about this year’s and future Seagrave Wolds Challenges:

http://www.seagravewoldschallenge.co.uk/index.html

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: How to Carry Gear?

As the container for your ‘life support system’ you need to pack your rucksack so that gear  is easily accessible. Jackets are folded, rolled up and stored vertically like the other items in the main compartment to aid removal. Hopefully, you won’t need the waterproof overtrousers so these can be placed horizontally at the bottom of the pack. The image below shows my packing method for endurance walks using a 26 litre rucksack.

how-to-carry-gear-clothing

The link here to PDF:

How to carry gear & clothing

Chris