Glamoraks come from all over the world. We're all at different ages and stages but we share one thing in common: a love of the outdoors.
Meet Pang Kim Buay
Kim lives in Singapore, has two grown up children and she teaches chemistry at A-level. Her walks are mostly in parks or coastal, anywhere between 3 and 7km in length. She describes herself as a beginner/intermediate but she began walking back in 2003.
Who or what inspired you to get into walking?
I had health problems and high blood pressure so my doctor recommended exercise to control it.
Is there a particular walk you’ve done that really sticks out in your mind?
1) I did the Milford Track guided walk in New Zealand for three days when I was about 24 years old.
2)The hike up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan last year at 58 years old-felt a sense of achievement as I had not walked uphill (900 m) much as the only hill in Singapore is 164 m high. I managed to do the 4 hours trek (round trip) with my not-too-good knees for three reasons: I practiced climbing my local hill for three weekends, I wore knee guards and I used hiking poles
Why do you enjoy walking?
It makes me feel good as our body releases good endorphins during exercise. I love nature very much. Its good for my health. It lets me socialise with friends when I lead the walk.
What walks or challenges are on your bucket list?
1) Trails in Canada's National Parks
2) Sapa rice fields
3) Walk the Great Wall of China again but in different region
What’s the biggest walking challenge you’ve undertaken?
Upon return from Bhutan, I became hooked on climbing not too difficult hills/mountains. So I went across to Malaysia and climb Gunong Lambak in Kluang/Malaysia. It was unexpectedly more difficult than the trek in Bhutan as I really needed to hold on to the ropes to get up at some parts. Fortunately I went with the same two younger colleagues as our Bhutan trip and we encouraged each other to reach the top.
Tell us one unusual thing about you unrelated to walking?
I am crazy about travelling!
What advice would you give to other women about walking?
Use walking for bonding and exercising purposes. Our University friends of about 10 ladies sort of reunite for walks about three times a year. I've lead about eight walks already since 2015.
Why did you decide to join Glamoraks?
I have always loved the English countryside as I studied in University of London Institute of Education in 1983/1983 on our Government scholarship. It is one country that I love visiting again and again. I loved the walk to see Seven Sisters near Brighton and some short walks in Lake district last year.
What do you want most from the Glamoraks community?
To see and enjoy the experiences of many like minded people from all parts of the world and hopefully join some walks by Glamoraks when I visit England again after retiring. Next year I will be 60 years old.
If you would like to get inspiration from other women from around the world who also enjoy walking, meet up with them, take on new walking challenges or explore, join Glamoraks - an online community making women around the world happier one step at a time.
When I set up Glamoraks, I wasn't sure whether women really needed other women to go walking with. After all, I was perfectly happy to walk on my own. But I realised that while the solitude of solo walking is great, walking with others just makes the experience more fun.
In the Glamoraks community, I asked people why they had joined. Many of them said simply that they love the outdoors and walking, but here are just a few of the comments that prove the need for a platform like Glamoraks:
'I would like to experience new walks with like minded people.'
'I enjoy walking but do not have anyone to go out with.'
'I would like to find other women to walk with.'
'Looking for a group to walk with.'
'I am working towards my Hill and Moorland Leader qualification so always looking for walking buddies!'
'It would be great to have a wider network of walking friends who enjoy similar walks.'
'The kids have now flown the nest, & I only work a few hours a week. My friends are free occasionally, & my husband works through the week, and as he is a golfer, so I am often with out a walking buddy.'
'I'm joining because it seems like a great idea for fierce women and even if there's nothing near me at the moment, I might be able to use it in the future.'
'I love the outdoors, but I'm not a hardcore wild camper, I'd like to meet new friends & go walking a lot more often.'
'Would be lovely to have company when walking and learn new routes.'
'I want to get out more and if there are other people motivating me I am more likely to get out and go for a walk. '
'I'd like to meet new people and be persuaded to explore new areas and walk more!'
'I love being outdoors but fail to get out there as often as I would like. The ability to tag onto a random walk with friendly people would motivate me to walk more spontaneously!'
'Walking with others allows me to go to different places that i wouldn't go on my own.'
'I almost always walk alone but am starting to take on more challenging hikes and would love company from time to time. Adventures are always more fun when shared!'
'I’ve joined Glamoraks to try and meet some new friends, get fitter, enjoy the countryside more and hopefully all of this will increase my confidence.'
But here's the even more amazing thing. I knew I'd get a following in York and Yorkshire as that's where I live, but I did a quick scan of where people said they lived. Here are the top locations:
2. The rest of Yorkshire - included north, west and south Yorkshire
4. East Sussex & Brighton
5. Thames Valley - Berks, Bucks, Oxon
6. Paris & surrounding areas
7. Peak District / Derbyshire
8. The West Midlands - particularly around Birmingham
9. The East Midlands - including Nottingham, Leicestershire, Hertforshire and Northamptonshire
9. Cheshire & Manchester
11. Hampshire & the Isle of Wight
15. Scottish Borders
18. North East (including Durham)
20. South Wales - Swansea, Cardiff, Rhonnda
21. Scotland - Fife, Renfrewshire, Stirling, Aberdeen, Dundee
22. Ireland - County Cork, County Kildare, County Wicklow
25. Auckland, New Zealand
26. British Columbia, Canada
30. USA: Arizona, California, Texas, Alabama, Michigan, Colorado, Ohio, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, New York, Oregon, Florida
There are lots of other places in the UK with just one person currently listed from an area or I've missed them, but here are some of the other places around the world we have members:
- Australia (Sydney and Gold Coast)
- Isle of Man
- Somerset, South Africa
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Berlin, Germany
- Saudia Arabia
- Turin, Italy
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Barcelona, Spain
Why not join us and add your location to our growing group of outdoor-loving women? It is free (for life) to join Glamoraks if you do it by 13 April 2018. So get cracking! Here's the link to join: https://glamoraks.mn.co
Once you're in, it's simple to find someone near you to walk with, just click Members, then Near You - and you'll see everyone who is close to you. If you don't have anyone near you yet, help us spread the word. And if you joined but haven't been back, head back in. You might just find someone right on your doorstep or the place you're going to for your next holiday. How fab would it be to explore another part of the world with a fellow Glamorak?
Help me spread the word and help yourself in the process. Feel free to post in the comments where you live.
Many people have looked at me askance when I say that I'm heading off for a weekend of walking with a bunch of women I've never met, saying things like: 'Isn't it weird?' or 'What if you don't like them?'
I probably thought the same until I did it. And then I realised what a joy walking with women who are complete strangers can be. Here's why:
You hear their stories
In a world where we all talk to much and listen too little, when you go out walking you have plenty of time for both. Some people will immediately open up and tell you their life story. Others will gradually reveal tiny snippets of who they are. But eventually you get to the heart of what makes them unique. And EVERYONE has a fascinating story. Hearing those stories broadens your horizons, makes you recognise and appreciate people's differences, puts your own story in context and boosts your empathy.
You get to tell your story
When last did you tell someone the story of how you came to be where you are today? Often our current friends either know that story or the conversation centres around the day to day, rather than the big things that have shaped your life. By retelling your story to strangers, it reminds you are how far you've come and possibly prompts you to want to try something new to create an exciting next chapter.
You come as you are
In our daily lives, we slip into a persona people have come to expect - whether that's at work, at the school gate, out on the town, or at sports club. Sometimes that persona isn't exactly who we really are, but it feels like you have to keep it in place so as not to upset the group dynamic. But when you walk with strangers, you can simply be you, no persona required. It is exceptionally liberating.
You realise how different but the same we all are
When you don't get to choose your company, you are presented with a random mix of people from completely different backgrounds. But here's the thing: although we are all so different, fundamentally we are also all so very alike. We all go through similar challenges and emotions. Our experiences may be unique but our basic humanity is the same. Not everyone will instantly be your cup of tea, but if you remove judgement and simply see them for who they are, you see how necessary and beautiful those differences are.
You see the immense strength women have
You probably know the challenges your closest friends or family members have been through. But when you hear about the challenges other women have faced, you realise how universally strong women are. Whether it's relationship breakdowns, loss of children or partners, a career challenge, having to rebuild a new sense of purpose, fighting against injustice putting their own mental health at risk, building businesses and being the mainstay of the family unit - women are pretty exceptional and spending time with women you don't know opens your eyes to the private struggles they go through daily.
You discover a new side to yourself
Sometimes it takes a stranger to hold a mirror up to you to recognise the person you have become. They might say things like: You are so strong. What an exceptional thing you've done. That is so fascinating. Those things may seem entirely ordinary to you, but when you hear it from a stranger, you think perhaps I am strong, exceptional and fascinating. Your confidence will be boosted and your self esteem reframed.
Because not everything is serious. And they won't have heard your jokes or funny stories before and you won't have heard theirs!
If you would like to find other women to go walking with, join Glamoraks. It is an online community that lets you find other women near you to easily arrange walks and adventures together. They may start out as strangers but they won't stay that way.
This post was prompted by the most recent Glamoraks Walking Weekend that took place 24-25 March 2018 on the South Downs as well as other recent walks I've done with people who were previously strangers to me. Below is a video of the South Downs scenery and a sense of how a group of strangers left as friends.
In January 2017, I set up a Facebook group for women who like to walk. I had no real idea what I wanted it to be. I just loved walking and knew how happy it made me. I figured I couldn't be the only women who felt like that and I wanted to encourage others to experience the same joy.
Over the course of the year, the group grew to over 1000 members - mostly from the UK but with many from as far afield as Canada, USA, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Austria, Sweden and India. It was featured in a number of national publications including Good Housekeeping, Top Sante, Healthy and the Saturday Telegraph. I also set up and ran the first Glamoraks walking weekends in Malham and the Yorkshire Coast, where a group of ladies who didn't know each other, stepped out of their comfort zones and headed off to a hostel for a night. Several more are scheduled for 2018 including one on the South Coast, one in the Peak District and a Snowdon climb in September.
At the same time, I personally walked further, blogging about each walk, and took on some challenges, like climbing Kilimanjaro, wild camping solo on a hill and sleeping in a bivvy bag on a coastal cliff with a hurricane approaching. I also attended a women's adventure expo, Basecamp Festival where I knew no-one and did my Straight to Silver Navigation course.
But while I was doing all of that, I was still running my main business, looking after my two kids, doing all that household stuff we all have to do and all the back end work for Glamoraks, like trademarking the name, investigating technology platforms and managing the community.
It's been a massive learning experience - often exhausting - but now we are ready for the next chapter.
First of all, we have a brand new, more professional look with a shiny new logo and brand colours. I wanted colours that reflected the North Yorkshire Moors that I walk in most often. The green and heather colours perfectly capture the colours of the moors in summer. And the boots represent freedom, adventure and exploring the world.
Secondly, I'm pleased to say that the Glamoraks group will be moving from Facebook into its very own home on a new platform. Woohoo! Does the platform do everything I would like it to do? Nope. But is it better than Facebook? Absolutely. (Particularly in light of recent news about Facebook and data sharing).
What is the aim of the new platform?
The main aim is to enable women to find other women to go walking with - no matter where in the world they are. Think of it like an airbnb - but instead of finding places to stay, you find people to go exploring with. On top of that, it will act as a reminder to get out walking, a source of inspiration or ideas for new walks to try and a place questions can be answered.
This isn't a normal walking group where walks are organised and you go and follow the leader. This puts you in control. You decide when you want to walk, where you want to walk and who you want to walk with. The community simply makes it easy to organise.
Here's what it lets members do:
It is brand new and everyone is still finding their way around. But as it grows, it will become increasingly valuable. And for now until 13 April 2018, it is free. Join by the 13th and you have free access to the community for life. Thereafter new members will be charged a small monthly fee to help cover the costs of running the site. But there will be plenty of incentives. As the group grows, I will be getting discounts from outdoor brands, walking holiday companies and other relevant parties to share with members. (Incidentally, if you are an outdoor brand or walking holiday company, please get in touch or look here for more info on how to get involved). Plus members will get exclusive access to Glamoraks walking weekends, events and branded merchandise.
Glamoraks is a completely unique group. It's not trying to prove anything to anyone. It's not competitive. It's simply a way for women at all levels to find like minded women to connect with. I hope you will help me spread the word and help get women from around the world connecting - and feeling happier - through walking.
JOIN THE GROUP
Take a look at the home page of the site to find out more. Or watch the video below to find out what you can do in the new platform.
Distance: 4 miles or 6 miles
Type of terrain: grassland, paths, road
Starting point: Knutsford town centre
Resources: 100 walks in Cheshire
Knutsford, a picturesque Cheshire town, known for its staggering choice of restaurants and cafes, is the perfect setting to top and tail a gentle Glamoraks walk. Just a few minutes drive from junction 19 on the M6 or by train direct from Manchester Piccadilly, it’s very easy to find this attractive historic town. It’s also great for celeb spotting. One of Take That recently helped someone back into a parking space and it’s not uncommon to see a Coronation Street star walking down the street.
Park up in the town centre car park, opposite the art deco Belle Époque restaurant, once the setting for ITV's Brideshead Revisited, and then head up King Street. This street is one way so walk in the same direction as the traffic to reach Tatton Park.
It would be a shame to start your walk with an empty stomach so pop into Piccolinos, an Italian eatery for their popular brunch. They have a great choice from traditional English breakfast to healthy options like porridge & fruit. After brunch continue up King Street until you see the impressive stone arch that straddles the entrance to the park.
As you pass through the pedestrian gates either side of the cattle grid, you have three choices, left through the wooded area, straight on along the road and or to the right, down beside the lake, known locally as the Mere.
All routes eventually lead you to Tatton hall, and even on the road you can get very close to the deer that nonchalantly roam the grassland. The park is popular with joggers, dog walkers & cyclists and one frosty morning, I saw a brave cyclist working up a sweat on a penny-farthing. This is not unusual given that we have the Penny Farthing museum in the town, home to over thirty Penny Farthings as well as what is believed to be the oldest bike in the UK. Worth a visit at the start or end of your walk as they also serve tea & cakes.
At the end of the lake, known as the Mere, you automatically come back to the main road, which leads up to the Hall. You can stay on the road for ease or it’s not difficult to spot grassy pathways leading in a similar direction, which is softer underfoot.
Once you reach Tatton Hall, which is about 1.5 miles from the main entrance, you can visit the mansion, the housekeepers shop as well as the gardens. In the summer months you can get lost in the copper beech maze, relax in the Japanese shrubbery or explore the walled kitchen garden. You can also buy fresh produce at the garden shop in the courtyard.
You can head back on a slightly indirect route by heading left, towards the Rostherne Exit, then bearing right across the parkland, where on a clear day you can see the peak district. We are also in Manchester airport’s flight path and heads always strain upwards, when the impressively huge Emirates Airbus flies majestically overhead. You will hear it before you see it, so deceptively close you think you can touch it.
As you head back towards Knutsford centre you can follow the edge of the lake the way you came in or head to the opposite side and get back to the town via Dogwood. Nothing to do with dogs, although it’s popular with dog walkers, it’s just the name of the wooded area with a well-surfaced path.
Back in Knutsford there are plenty of food options before you head back to your car, a little taste of French cuisine at Brasserie Blanc or Spanish tapas in Evuna. Suffice to say there’s plenty to lure you back for another visit.
About the Author - Vanessa Williams
I am a 52 year old TV Producer & Director, still working in television on programmes like A Place in the Sun. I live in Knutsford, Cheshire, where I am lucky enough to have Tatton Park right on my doorstep which makes me feel like the lady of the manor with my own private estate.
Many women are lonely. They may only have young children for company all week. They could work from home on their own and barely see another human being. They could be surrounded by a huge social or work network and yet still feel lonely. Their long term relationship might have ended or their partner just isn't as interested in doing stuff together anymore. Their kids may have left home, leaving that hole in their world.
On top of that, modern life with posts on social media, texts instead of calls and superficial rushed conversations means that even those people with a big group of friends can feel lonely and unheard.
But there is a cure. Walking with other women.
Walking is known to boost your mood, so feelings of loneliness will feel lessened after a good stomp in the fresh air. But, if you add other women to the walk, you get the chance to have deeper, longer conversations that you typically just don't have time for in normal rushed life. When you walk with women you don't really know, you can simply be yourself. You can leave your 'mum', 'co-worker', 'wife', 'school gate friend' persona behind. Your true self comes to the fore and you can talk about stuff far more freely without risk of judgement. And that gives us the sense of being heard and being less alone.
Glamoraks was set up to get more women walking and connecting and in so doing, making them happier one step at a time.
This February, we are inviting women to take part in Friendship February (#FebFriendship). Join the Facebook group, choose a date and place that you want to go walking and invite others to join you.
Here are just a few of the benefits:
The picture at the top of this post was taken this week when a group of Glamoraks got together simply by using the Facebook group. At the start of the day, I was completely lacking in mojo and had a bad case of the blues. By the end of the walk, I felt completely rejuvenated and full of energy. And that feeling lasted all of the next day too. I got through more work in that day than I had in the preceding three days - all because I'd gone for a walk and met some lovely ladies.
Don't feel lonely. Don't wait for someone to invite you to something. Join the group, set up a walk and hopefully you will find some fabulous new walking friends. Use the hashtag #FebFriendship on your post.
While you're here, please help us reach our goal of doubling our number of members in a single month. Invite your friends to join you in the group. The bigger the group, the more likely women are to find someone to walk with.
It was a chilly morning when 14 ladies gathered in the carpark at Sandsend in mid-January. Some had come alone, others with a friend. All were ready to have a good, long stomp to blow away the January blues and to walk off any lingering Christmas calories. After adding layers, checking backpacks and having final cups of tea from the nearby cafe, we set off.
We walked the two miles along the beach towards Whitby, leaping over streams - some broader than others - as the tide rushed out. Walking along beach sand is remarkably tiring and soon layers were being stripped off and cheeks were pink from the cold and exertion.
Too early for fish and chips, we ignored the waft of vinegar and made our way through the old fishing town to the famous 199 steps that lead up to the ruins of Whitby Abbey. If we weren't warm before, we certainly were by the top of the stairs. We bid farewell to two of our group who were off to do their own shorter walk, while we headed for the clifftop path.
Layers of ice made the path through a campsite slippery but soon we were on the muddy path, taking in the stunning coastal views. This route is part of the Cleveland Way, a long distance walking path that starts in Helmsley and ends in Filey, with exceptional North Yorkshire scenery for all of it. It's easy to break the walk up into stages and do them anytime you have a free day or weekend.
We chatted and learnt more about each other as we slipped about in the mud. On several occasions we narrowly missed having a muddy landing and in one, case, did!
We stopped for a picnic lunch in a field with an impressive view. The day had brightened up and the sun eventually popped out as we continued on our way. I have personally done this stretch several times, the first time kickstarted my love of walking. It also forms part of the Coast to Coast route, either being the first or last day of the multi-day hike depending on which way you are going. My cousin Lynda - who did the Coast to Coast with me - had flown from Sweden to join me for this Glamoraks weekend, so we had a moment of nostalgia as we found the C2C sign.
With the sun starting to dip in the sky, we made our way down the steep hill into Robin Hoods Bay, a fishing village made up of tiny houses stacked higgledy piggledy on top of one another. Half our party headed to the pub in search of a restorative ale or port, the other half found the last open tea shop and tucked into slices of cake, scones and pots of tea.
Suitably revived, we headed off towards Boggle Hole, just 20 minutes away. The sun was setting, creating a beautiful scene with the snow on the moors ahead of us. We got to the hostel just as it got dark. If you've not been to Boggle Hole hostel before, you are missing a trick. It is festooned in bunting and nautical paraphernalia, with plenty of hidden objects for children to find. And it's situated right on the beach. You can hear the waves crashing as you lie in bed.
After finding our shared rooms, we reconvened in the cosy dining room with a roaring log fire. Glasses of wine, a hearty chicken curry followed by apple pudding and we all felt ready for bed. We had, after all, done 11.5 miles of fairly tiring walking across sand and slipping on mud!
Another reason for the early bed time was Sunday's weather forecast of strong winds and snow arriving mid afternoon, which meant we needed an early start. While we all had the right kit to keep warm, none of us fancied trying to drive back home over the North Yorkshire Moors in a blizzard.
We got the chef up bright and early to cook us a hearty breakfast, while taking in the magnificent sunrise. We bid farewell to four of the ladies who wanted a shorter day and a nosey around the quaint shops of Robin Hood's Bay, before getting the bus back to Sandsend. The rest of us retraced our steps along the path the way we'd come as the tide was still too high to do the beach walk. We were treated to even more spectacular views of the sunrise and we all agreed that it was moments like this that made us face the sub-zero temperatures and get outdoors.
After making our way back up the steep hill in Robin Hood's Bay, we opted for the Cinder Track, a route that runs roughly parallel to the coastal path only it's slightly more solid with less slippy mud. However, what it lacked in mud, it made up for in slippy ice. We still managed to make better time and soon rejoined the coastal path again. Thanks to the very low overnight temperatures, all the mud had frozen solid, making it much easier to walk back.
We managed to get to Whitby in time for lunch. General agreement was to ditch the packed lunch we'd been given in favour of fish and chips from the famous Magpie. What a treat to tuck into warm chips and gravy on an icy cold day (with the added bonus of trying to fend off dive bombing seagulls).
We could see the weather setting in so we headed back up the beach to Sandsend for our final two miles. As we reached the carpark, the snow arrived, flying in sideways on the wind. A quick cup of tea at the Wits End Cafe, and we dashed to our cars. We drove in convoy up and over the moors in a blizzard, with deep snow on the road sides. Had the driving conditions not been quite so scary, it would have been beautiful, like a scene out of a Christmas card.
We all made it home with rosy cheeks and tired legs. A total of 23 miles walks, washed down with cake, fish and chips, wine, curry, good chat and the chance to forget about day to day life. The perfect Glamoraks weekend really!
Join us for our planned weekend walks. You will be so glad you did. And if you can't make a weekend, but just fancy a walk, join the Facebook group for free and let people know where you are and when you'd like to walk. You may just end up like these lovely ladies:
If you'd like to do this walk, park at the Sandsend carpark (free of charge over winter), postcode YO21 3TD. Walk along the beach to Whitby (or the signposted path if the tide is in). Head over the bridge in Whitby and follow signs for the Abbey ruins. Climb the 199 steps, walk through the car park and turn left onto the coastal path. Follow this through a caravan site and then simply follow it all the way to Robin Hood's Bay. When you enter Robin Hood's Bay, turn left onto the main road heading down towards the sea. Just after Smugglers pub, turn right and follow the coastal path signs again until you reach Boggle Hole. You simply retrace your steps the next day. Or, take the sign post for the Cinder Track just outside Robin Hood's Bay (where the Coastal Path starts again). Turn right off the track when you reach a road that leads to Northcliffe holiday park. Walk through the park and you'll reconnect with the coastal path. Turn left and follow it back to Whitby and then on to Sandsend. roughly 11.5 miles each way.
See the smiles on those faces? They didn't get there by accident. They got there because a bunch of women who didn't know each other, got together for a good long walk in the countryside.
And this Monday - 15 January - is officially called Blue Monday. It's the day when most people feel pretty glum. The weather is rubbish. The endless darkness is depressing. You feel fat, poor, a bit lost in your relationship or job and you can't even cheer yourself up with a glass of wine or box of chocolates because that would mean you are giving up on your healthy eating resolutions after just two weeks.
Well Glamoraks has the perfect solution to banish the blues. It's called Merry Monday. But frankly, you can take any day next week.
Here's what you do. Head over to the Facebook group and post the following (or a variation thereof):
On 15 January (or a date of your choice if you're busy), I am going to be walking <insert location> at <insert time>. Would anyone like to come? #MerryMonday.
If you see someone post that and you think: heck, that's near me. Yes please. Then respond. Arrange a meet up. Get walking. Get talking. Get fresh air. Forget about everything else that may not be perfect. Just enjoy the miles and the company. And you could be anywhere in the world. Just name your location and you never know, there may be a Glamorak near you. If there's not, invite a friend near you, get them to join Glamoraks and go together. Be sure to share your pictures from your walk in the group afterwards.
Why is this a good thing?
If you aren't on Facebook, feel free to share it on Twitter and see if you can find someone that way. Use the hashtags #MerryMonday and #Glamoraks
If you know anyone who loves walking, please invite them to join the group. It is open to women around the world. Together we can make the world a happier place one step at a time.
This time a year ago, Glamoraks didn't exist. The name was simply a nickname I gave to my glamorous friends who I dragged out walking with me. But an opportunity to appear in a national magazine prompted me into creating something I'd been mulling over for a while - a group to inspire more women to get out walking.
I created the Glamoraks.com website and set up a free Facebook group, with no real idea of what I wanted it to be other than what I had written on the website:
"I want to get more women walking. We're all so busy - careers, being mothers, looking after elderly parents, relationships, life. Walking is the escape that lets you put down the mascara wand and step away from the busy-ness of life. It simplifies everything. It gives you time to think, reflect, talk and connect. It's just you, what you can fit in your pack, the track in front of you and whoever is walking with you. It is low cost, really good exercise, a brilliant way to destress and the best endorphin hit you can get. It makes you happy.
Well since then, the Facebook group has grown to more than 775 members from places as far afield as the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, Morocco and South Africa - not to mention a huge contingent from across the UK. It's been featured in Top Sante, Healthy, Good Housekeeping magazines with regular mentions on BBC Radio York. The name as been trademarked. I've written 50 blog posts, shared the voices of others through guests posts and set up a Youtube channel (feel free to subscribe!)
The first Glamoraks walking weekend was held in Malham in November, with 14 women coming together to share a common love of getting outdoors. The second weekend will be held in January 2018 along the Yorkshire Coast - it sold out in less than 24 hours (one spot has become available due to a cancellation so grab it if you want it!)
Personally, this year I've:
I did this alongside running my main business and being a wife and mother with all the never-ending jobs that involves! I have at times been immensely frustrated with not having the time to dedicate myself to Glamoraks more fully and therefore not being able to grow it as quickly as I would like to. But when I look back on the year, I am so proud of how far it has come. What makes me happier still is when I receive messages like this:
'Went for a lovely walk in Hyde Park on Saturday....feel so inspired to just get out there and walk now with Glamoraks on my FB wall. Suddenly not even thinking about the weather.'
'My daughter sent me your article. What a fantastic idea! I adore walking and the outdoors. I have been on my own for almost 15 years and would love the company of others like myself. I'm a young, independent, glamorous woman. Unfortunately my friends don't share my enjoyment of walking or have the time away from their husbands. Would love to hear more about Glamoraks.'
'What a fantastic job you are doing inspiring women to walk - thank you!'
So where is Glamoraks headed in 2018?
Firstly, I hope to have more Glamoraks walking weekends away, run by me as well as qualified mountain leaders. The dates for those will hopefully come out in January. Make sure you subscribe to the newsletter to receive details first.
I would love to grow the community all over the world. So please do share the group with any friends you have you enjoy a good walk, hike or adventure.
But most importantly, I want the Glamoraks community to be able to find others to walk with. I don't want you to have to wait for a walk in your area or on a date that suits. I really want you to to feel confident to go walking whenever you like, either on your own or simply by reaching out to other Glamoraks near you. Perhaps you want to take on a big multi-day walk or charity challenge, but don't have anyone to do it with. Or you want to connect to a regular group of women in your area to go for an impromptu walk or fitness walk or dog walk. Which is why I am looking to create either an app that connects women with others who have similar walking levels and interests, or a membership website that has similar functionality. There is nothing stopping you from doing this right now in the free Facebook group, but it can be hard to track threads as they disappear down in the group. I want to make it easy for everyone to find someone to go walking with.
All of this takes a lot of funding and time, neither of which I have much of. But I am working my hardest to make it happen. So watch this space.
On top of that, I want to take on a big challenge of my own in 2018. I had planned to walk the Cape Wrath Trail Solo, but after speaking to various experts and having spent several nights doing navigation in bogs, I realised it was probably a step too far beyond my capabilities. But I will be doing something, starting with good number of walks in Northumberland over the New Year period.
What about you?
What walking challenge would you like to take on in 2018? It doesn't have to be a BIG challenge. You can simply set yourself a target of how many miles you want to walk. All I would say is that you are more capable than you realise. So stretch yourself slightly more than you believe you are currently capable of, and go for it. A year from now, you will be so pleased that you did.
To help you stay focused, I've created a downloadable poster that you can print off, stick on your wall or fridge and let it serve as a reminder to get your boots on and get outdoors!
GET YOUR POSTER HERE.
Here's to an amazing 2018. Let's make the world happier one step at a time.
The first ever Glamoraks Walking Weekend was held on 24 - 26 November. And it was fab! Fourteen ladies made their way to Malham Youth Hostel. Most people didn't know each other so there was a certain amount of trepidation, but an evening in the cosy Lister Arms pubs with several glasses of warming red wine, and any anxieties were laid to rest. The hooting of the resident owl sent us off to sleep ready to tackle a day of walking.
Once the rest of the group arrived on Saturday morning, we set off. Using the footpath that runs directly alongside the hostel we made our way up to the base of Malham Cove. It's a stunning setting and gave us a taste of the scenery to come. Crossing a stone bridge over a stream we made our way up the steep steps the carve around the edge of the cove. From the top, the views over the Yorkshire Dales were incredible.
After a warming cup of tea, we gingerly made our way across the limestone pavement - famed for having a Harry Potter scene set on it. The slippery stones made it slow going. On the far side we decided to split into two groups - those who wanted a more gentle walk of 4.5 miles to Gordale Scar, Janet's Foss and back to the hostel; and those who wanted a longer walk up to Malham Tarn and Malham Raikes before picking up the path to the Scar and Foss.
While the sun was glorious during our walk up the Ing Scar, at the Tarn it was bitterly cold, so we found a wall to shelter behind to enjoy our picnic lunch. Suitably revived, we headed for Malham Raikes and got stuck in icy bogs en route. After squelching through those for a while, we were pleased to hit a drier path and finally reached Gordale Scar. Just as we were heading for home, the heavens opened and our faces were whipped with sleep and rain. A final stretch in woodland passed Janet's Foss and we made it back to the hostel before the sunset.
Thanks to Janet for the ingenious idea to create hot port, we feasted on cake and hot toddies and soon thawed out. A team dinner of chilli, rice, salad and garlic bread, washed down with wine, and soon we were solving all the problems of the world. It wasn't a late night for anyone!
We had an early wake up call as the fire alarm went off at 4.30am for absolutely no reason whatsoever. After catching a few more hours sleep and a hearty breakfast, the group once again split into two. The smaller group had to get back in time to catch trains to London and elsewhere, so they headed off to Kirkby Malham where they timed their arrival just as the Sunday service ended. They received a warm welcome from the Parishioners.
The larger group decided to tackle Pikedaw Hill. This is a reasonably feisty climb that started in stunning winter sunshine but ended in murky fog at the top, where a layer of snow still lay on the ground. But before the fog set in, we were rewarded with more spectacular views. We crossed the top and headed by to Ing Scar where we picnicked for lunch, before making our way home, a total of about 7.5 miles.
All too soon it was over. But we left with pink cheeks and smiles on our faces. The best thing about walking with other women - even if you don't know them - is that you very quickly get past the superficial layer of conversation and dive straight into the good stuff.
Thank you so much to all the lovely ladies who joined me and for giving me a snapshot into your lives. Let's do it again!