Walking 1,250 miles in 2017

Walking 1,250 miles in 2017

Scanning Twitter at the start of 2017 I came across Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles challenge. With nothing to loose and all to gain, judging from 2016 completer’s feedback, I decided to accept the challenge. All I had to do to complete 1,000 miles in one calendar year was to walk 2.74 miles per day every day for 365 days. This certainly made it easier to assimilate the task ahead and with this in the back of my mind it was a case of chipping away at the target distance at regular intervals hopefully on a daily basis.

Meindl Cambridge GTX muddy

At the start of the year Meindl Cambridge GTX Shoes proved to be essential footwear

There were a few hiccups on the way but I stuck with it and was delighted when I reached the 1,000 mile target two-thirds of the way through the year on 22nd August. On the last day in December my total distance achieved for 2017 was 1,253.3 miles. Amazingly converting this into kilometres equates to 2,017 km!

Lego MiniFig Navigator with snowdrops

In 2017 I finally saw the wonderful spectacle of the Snowdrops in Dimminsdale Woods with a Lego Mini Figure I called Chris Navigator assisting with scale

Early in the year due to dark nights and muddy field paths I concentrated on short walks and with one of these I devised I was able to do during my lunch hour. When both the weather and terrain conditions improved from Spring I completed longer walks during weekends and continued whenever possible with the lunchtime walks. Having achieved the target distance before the end of August there was a loss of focus in September. However, with two challenge walks organised in November, on the 11th the Seagrave Wolds 16 miles Challenge and on the 26th an 18 miles walk I was leading for the Long Distance Walkers’ Association’s Anytime Anywhere Group, there was a renewed energy from the start of October. This refocusing enabled more miles to be added and ensured I completed both events.

Blue and Yellow

A typical late Spring landscape in the South Nottinghamshire Wolds countryside

Fitness wise the first few months was a steady progress as the majority of walks were short distances to accommodate either the limited timeframe of my lunch hour or available day light. However, this gradual fitness progression was beneficial as it laid the foundations for the successful completion of longer walks undertaken from the Spring. In particular April was an amazing month as I achieved 210 miles and successfully completed the 29 miles Erewash Valley Trail in ten hours.

Tree in a field

This lone Ash tree was a distinctive feature and I was able to photograph it through the seasons and here it is in the height of Summer

Whilst I enjoyed writing about each walk after completion I found manually adding distances and time after each activity a bit of a bind. In late January I suddenly realised I had a Suunto Movescount account and decided to use this to record distances and times as it updated these automatically after I provided the details. Movescount even works out the overall km/h for each walk and gives information on the distance completed for each month as well as providing a neat way of displaying information. The latter was beneficial for providing updates of my progress on social media. 

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Late Autumn and a second generation Red Admiral taking advantage of the sunshine

Just under 190 miles, 188.77 to be precise, were from urban walks on wholly surfaced paths which mainly came from my lunchtime work walk. I did this walk over 50 times but I never got bored with this route and it was only a change of work venue from September that prevented me doing more. Incidentally this walk went through two green ‘lungs’ of a city which included a wonderful Arboretum.

Winter treescape

That lone Ash tree again this time photographed in December when the landscape was transformed by snowfall – unusual in South Nottinghamshire

The remaining 1,000 plus miles were from walks located in the countryside and mainly ones that I was able to start and finish from my front door. For these I had planned a variety of routes that I repeated on regular intervals but this enabled me to become intimately engaged with each walk. Having a series of routes fixed in one’s mind frees one to think, discover and explore. This empowered me to notice subtle changes occurring within nature throughout the year and with farming through the seasons. From mid April I decided to undertake night hikes and I was surprised how walking through twilight and darkness enhanced my awareness and brought me closer to the landscape.

2017km 1253.3m 462.35hrs 111217 Movescount

A screenshot from Suunto’s Movescount displaying an overview of 2017

In summary taking up Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles challenge in 2017 has been an extremely positive experience in many ways. Improvements in fitness is the first area that comes to mind but I also feel healthier. In addition it has enabled me to be more resilient to changes at work and the challenge has resulted in vast improvements in my mental well-being. In 2018 I am taking up the #walk1000miles challenge again to continue trying to walk every day but hoping to include mountain walks and perhaps thru-hike the Pennine Way.

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#teacher5aday #pledge #2017 #reflection

#teacher5aday #pledge #2017 #reflection

For the #teacher5aday pledge for 2017 which I posted on 2nd January 2017 in summary I decided that I would:

#connect

Keep Tweeting and hopefully meet #teacher5aday tweeters during 2017. Walking wise I wanted to do more walks with rambling and walking groups to engage with like-minded people.

#notice

Focus on noticing elements in the natural world whilst out on walks and record these in blogs.

#learn

In 2016 I presented at three conferences all in England including one located in London and suggested, tongue in cheek, I could add New York and Paris as venues in 2017.

#volunteer

Lead a ramble for a local Ramblers’ Group or organise a walk for the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA). For the latter this could be part of my celebration of 40 years continuous membership of the LDWA. Also 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.

Link to original #teacher5aday pledge Blog posted on 2nd January 2017:

https://chrisnavigator.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/teacher5aday-pledge-2017/

So on reflection how did I do in 2017?

Canal reflection

Reflection – Nottingham Canal

#connect

Still Tweeting but during 2017 have not meet anyone face to face in the #teacher5aday community but regularly made connections through Twitter. It’s great to connect with positive, like-minded people. I did some walks with groups. These included a 29 miles walk on the Erewash Valley Trail with the LDWA’s Anytime Anywhere Local Group back in April, two walks with the Ramblers’ Nottingham Group Wednesday Walkers which I was able to access whilst on holiday and the pre AGM walk organised by the Ramblers’ Rushcliffe Group.

#notice

I did many more walks in 2017 compared with 2016 and this provided me with further opportunities to observe and notice nature. One of my Blogs: ‘Puddles and Biodiversity’ posted on 22nd October was published on-line by the Canadian based imaginED education site led by Gillian Judson on 24th October 2017 – link:

http://www.educationthatinspires.ca/2017/10/24/puddles-and-biodiversity/

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One of the images for the ‘Puddles and Biodiversity’ Blog

From Spring I noticed lots of butterflies whilst walking and was able to identify most of them. However, those I could not I used Richard Lewington’s ‘Pocket Guide to Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland’ and was able to confirm my first positive identification of Green-veined White and Brown Argus butterflies. This gave me confidence to take part in the Butterfly Conservation’s ‘Big Butterfly Count 2017’ held from 14th July to 6th August.

 

Ringlet 140717

Ringlet – one of nineteen butterfly species I observed and identified during 2017

After receiving ‘Hidden Histories – a Spotter’s Guide to the British Landscape’ written by Mary-Ann Ochota as a Christmas present in 2016 this also opened another area for me noticing features of the British landscape that I may have overlooked whilst walking.

#learn

I presented at one education conference in Nottingham and had an invite to present at one in Canada at Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. This was organised by the Health and Physical Education Council during mid May. Unfortunately, I couldn’t accept due to work commitments. One of the problems of being a teacher is taking holiday in term time.

#volunteer

At the Ramblers’ Rushcliffe Group’s AGM held in November I volunteered to be a committee member and take on this duty from January 2018. To celebrate 40 years as a member of the LDWA on 26th November I led a 17.8 miles walk for the Anytime Anywhere Group on my local patch in the Wolds countryside bordering Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.

#exercise

Although I didn’t do basic flexibility exercises everyday I did manage to complete the Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles in 2017. I achieved the 1000 miles target on 22nd August and finished 2017 with a total of 1253.3 miles which just happens to convert coincidently to 2017 km.

Tree in a field

Exercise – I was delighted to walk over 1,200 miles in 2017

During 2017 I completed my 27th year in teaching and I attained Fellowship of the Royal Institute of Navigation and was presented with my certificate by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at an event held at the Royal Geographical Society’s headquarters in Kensington. 

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

#walk1000miles challenge completed

#walk1000miles challenge completed

Harvested field

Through Twitter I became aware of Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles in 2017 challenge. This seemed to be the ideal New Year’s resolution with an activity that not only improved personal physical fitness but also mental wellbeing. Country Walking stated that all you needed to achieve this target was to walk 2.74 miles every day for 365 days.  However, with many commitments, especially from work, would I be able to keep to this schedule every single day? Self doubts began to creep in. But after reading some inspiring stories from people on Country Walking’s website who completed the #walk1000miles in 2016 I decided it would be worth giving it a go. 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. Then I simply just needed to start and my first walk for this journey commenced on the 3rd January. I realised it was steady progress as I hadn’t achieved my January target at the end of that month. The main reason being that the first two weeks of this month involved a heavy workload finishing off UCAS student references and approving their applications. During February I exceeded my monthly target but was over 30 miles under the cumulative total for that month. However, by the end of March I had exceeded the cumulative target by just over 2 miles. Now I needed to keep ahead each month even if it was just by a few miles. April was a brilliant month as I walked almost 211 miles during this period. On 7th May was the break through as this was the date where I hit over 500 miles and therefore reached the half way point with almost two months to spare. I was delighted to be so far ahead of the target I had set myself. Late Spring and early Summer was a drive to keep well ahead of the set targets and then the realisation that I could hit 1000 miles before the end of August if I maintained this pace. In mid August there was a lapse in my recording and as I feed the latest data into Movescount I suddenly found that I had achieved the 1000 miles target a few days after actually completing it. So my journey to a 1000 miles ended on 22nd August which just happened to be pay day! This could be seen as the reward as there was no red carpet or fanfare as I crossed the 1000 miles finish line. This personal challenge was really enjoyable and I was pleasantly surprised to be able to finish it with over four months to spare. Special thanks to Country Walking for devising this challenge and providing the ongoing motivation through Twitter and regular e-mails. I certainly feel physically fitter and the activity provided a vehicle to promote my personal well being.

Wheat field with heavy cloud

This year was a good yield for cereal crops

What next? Well if I completed 1000 miles in two-thirds of the year then it should be possible to complete another 500 miles for the remainder of this year. Perhaps I will start the #walk500more and aim to complete 1500 miles before the end of 2017. On the last day of August and as Summer comes to an end I have walked a fraction over 1030 miles and tomorrow sees the start of a new journey in another season.

Canal reflection

Walks along canal towpaths also contributed to the distance completed

January to August monthly totals for #walk1000miles in 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 

June total 114.6 miles (184.5 km) cumulative total = 727.62 miles

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

July total 130.98 miles (210.8 km) cumulative total = 858.7 miles

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

#walk1000miles target achieved on 22nd August = 1003.5 miles

August total 172.07 miles (276.9 km) cumulative total = 1030.85 miles

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

Tree in a field

Footnote: I have taken photographs of this tree throughout my #walk1000miles venture and here it is after the harvest with a fabulous blue sky as a backdrop

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