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

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#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: What to Carry?

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry?

Here are some of my personal views when deciding on what to carry on an endurance walk like the 75 mile National Forest Way. This is a trip which I am currently organising and planning to do the walk in three days. On each day I will be walking an average of 25 miles. In this type of activity it is necessary to keep weight down to a minimum to aid enjoyment. Selecting equipment needs thought as when conditions dictate it maybe that you are carrying and not wearing items of clothing. Here you need to be aware that the clothing you use is not only light in weight but is compact and can be easily compressed to reduce volume when packed. Please note that the following observations are based on an endurance walk undertaken in late spring in a low level environment close to human habitation over terrain that consists of public rights of way, paths and tracks.

Equipment for endurance walks

Rucksack

The rucksack is the container for your ‘life support system’ during the trek and this is the starting point to keep weight down. There is no need to have a pack that has all the extras like ice-ax fittings, attachment points for crampons and automatic cup holders! All these add unnecessary weight. For endurance walking in low level terrain I use a pack that has an uncomplicated design, is comfortable to carry, light weight and is around 26 litres capacity. The latter feature is to limit the volume and weight I carry. My current pick of the bunch for endurance walks, and indeed short rambles, is the Black Diamond RPM.  Access to the main body is via a zipped lid and inside is a bladder pouch holder and a front compartment. The lid has a zipped outside pocket and a zipped inside one which includes a clip to hold your keys etc… On the exterior are two mesh pockets each capable of holding a 600ml drinks bottle plus a lunch bar. The volume of the pack can be adjusted by an external draw cord on it’s front face which ensures everything loaded is held tight and close to your back.

Inside the Pack

Waterproof Jacket & Trousers

My most recent addition in outdoor clothing is a Marmot Artemis NanoPro lightweight water proof jacket. I bought this to replace my aging (and leaking) Marmot Preclip jacket. I wanted a lightweight waterproof jacket that had a chest pocket to hold my glasses when it rained hard! And this jacket has said pocket. I have now used it on several occasions including a full day of rain when on the 2014 Seagrave Wolds 16 mile Challenge Walk. It performed perfectly and I remained dry throughout the event. In contrast the oldest item of clothing I am still using is a pair of Rohan overtrousers. I bought these maybe 20 years ago and Rohan’s Waterlight H2P fabric still does the business. Although they are lined they are lightweight and fold up compactly.

Spare Warm Jacket

Again I am going back in time because my Marmot Driclime Jacket from over a decade ago is still the most effective and efficient garment to carry (and wear when needed) providing warmth and an element of wind resistance in a lightweight and compact package. I selected the jacket version with the full length zip to aid getting the garment on and off easily as the need and conditions required. The outer is wind resistant nylon and the inner is a lightweight polyester fleece.

Hat & Gloves

In weather that is forecast to be changeable, which is most of the time in England, I take a warm hat and gloves. These don’t need to be full on mountaineering styles but lightweight and effective ones. My warm hat dates from the last century and is made by Patagonia from their stretch Syncilla fabric whilst my fleece gloves are a similar vintage displaying the Icefall label. A baseball cap is useful just it case the sun decides to come out.

First Aid Kit

The usual stuff: assorted plasters, antiseptic wipes, pain killers and Compeed blister plasters are contained in a fold out pouch. Included in this pouch is a SwissCard due to having a pair of tweezers and a neat pair of scissors along with a tooth pick and nail file! As it is late spring and the sun may be out then it is essential to take sun cream. On recommendation from my daughter, who is a snowboarder, I am taking Piz Buin Mountain Suncream with a 50+ SPF! This provides protection not only from the sun but also cold, wind and high altitudes!

Torch

A trusted Maglite 2 AA cell torch is included in my pack. I will make sure it has a spare bulb in it’s tail and it contains fresh batteries. These essentials, the first aid kit and torch, are kept together in a Lowe Alpine U-shaped mesh bag and then placed in a waterproof bag.

Sit mat

A small piece of closed-cell foam is carried to ensure that when I need to sit down to eat or enjoy the view I can in relative comfort.

Nutrition 

I will carry two 600ml plastic bottles of diluted orange drink for liquid whilst food will consist of a variety of snack bars and dried fruit. This will be supplemented along the way as the route passes through many villages that have shops and some have a pub!

Spares

On a low level walk like this carry spares is not really necessary. Also it is light until late and the essence is to keep moving at a reasonable pace hence not taking the kitchen sink! However, space will be found for a length of paracord which has a multitude of uses including make-do laces.

Keeping it all Dry

Plastic bags will ensure everything is kept dry.

Navigation Aids

Route Plans

I have downloaded the route guides from: http://www.nationalforestway.co.uk/downloads/and have laminated them to protect them from the elements.

Maps

The relevant Ordnance Survey maps will be carried and used: 233, 245 & 246.

Compass

A Silva Type 4 will be taken along as a ‘just in case’.

GPS Receiver

I have one but still debating whether it is worth carrying in this kind of environment. OK it doesn’t weigh much but every kg counts in this game.

I hope you have found this helpful and I welcome comments.

Compare and Contrast using a Venn Diagram

Compare and Contrast using a Venn Diagram

Whilst trawling through Twitter today, 19th October 2014, I came across a post by Debbie Millar (@DebMillar24) in which she provided a link to one of her Scoop It curated pages titled “ePick & Mix”. One of these links was:

http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/a-simple-technique-you-can-and-should-apply-to-your-elearning-courses

One of the sections was about: Comparing: Identifying any similarities or differences.

“Learners identify and describe similarities and differences among items when comparing and contrasting them. This requires identifying the most important characteristics that increase understanding of the differences and similarities of the compared concepts.”

The article goes on to say:

Human brains naturally notice differences. The comparison process helps learners identify language cues, define ideas and clarify thought processes. It’s also useful for forming or attaining concepts. Its most common use is as a way to graphically organize content.”

Then it offers a Venn diagram as an effective way to show how different things or ideas can overlap to show a compare/contrast relationship. I then clicked on the image provided and came to:

http://ldaamerica.org/graphic-organizers/

Information gained here stated that a Venn diagram is just one of many Graphic Organisers to assist in visualising an idea and mapping it as an image.

After realising the potential of a Venn diagram I thought I could apply it in relation to BTEC’s statement which uses ‘Compare and Contrast’ very often as a merit criterion. I needed to produce a Venn digram using word processing software. I use Mac Pages and came across this neat but rather unpolished video describing the way to overlap two circles and by decreasing the opacity of each circle the overlap comes clearly into view.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fp3sG3LEf8

No doubt other such videos exist for your favourite software.

Now back to application. I will use Unit 10: Skills for Land-based Outdoor and Adventurous Activities which is a unit within the Edexcel Level 3 Public Services qualification. U10‘s criterion M1 is: “Compare and contrast four different land-based outdoor and adventurous activities”. The Venn diagram attached here compares and contrasts two activities namely: orienteering and adventure walking.

Link to Venn diagram: Compare and contrast orienteering & adventure walking

It is to be hoped that you will find this example useful and it will provide ideas in other areas.

Chris Sweetman