June - what a fabulous month. If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, that means it is summer which is already a great reason to get out walking. But here are seven other slightly quirky reasons to get your boots on this month:
1. It's National Fish & Chips Day on 1 June
There is truly nothing better than going for a long coastal walk and ending it with some delicious fish and chips. If ever you needed an incentive to get outdoors and feel fully justified in having this less than healthy treat, this is it. Walking burns calories. Tuck in with impunity. One of my favourites are the chips from Magpie Cafe in Whitby (as pictured above) after walking a stretch of the North Yorkshire coast. Where is your favourite walk with fish and chip stop?
2. Go on a butterfly safari
The 2nd of June is Butterfly Education and Awareness Day. Which in my book is just a good excuse to head out for a walk and see how many different butterflies you can spot. This Guardian article gives some good ideas of which butterflies you can see where. But frankly, just head out and see what you can see. It's also a great way to get younger kids outdoors - tell them they're going on a butterfly safari and they won't realise they're walking.
3. Help protect the environment
5 June is World Environment Day. As walkers, we thrive on the beauty of the countryside, but all too often people leave their litter lying around. Why not head out on a walk and pick some litter up as you go? Plogging (jogging and picking up litter) is all the rage, so why not extend it to your next walk and do your bit for the environment. You'll get the fresh air and exercise with a side order of feel good for doing something great for the countryside.
Another way you can help ensure we can all enjoy the great outdoors is by cutting back on plastic. Instead of taking a single use plastic water bottle with you on your walk, replace it with a reusable bottle. #BanPlasticPollution.
4. Enjoy a pint at a pub after a good long hike
Ah - an ice cold pint of beer in a sunny beer garden after a long, hot walk is sheer bliss. And 15 June is the perfect day to do it because it's Beer Day Britain. Whoop! And it's a Friday. Here's the idea. Plan a day off walk. Grab a group of friends (or find some Glamoraks in our online community of women who walk) and head out for a walk and a pint. You will feel like you've had a mini holiday just by doing this one simple thing.
5. Have a picnic
If you prefer your lunch with a view, June is the perfect time to do that as it's National Picnic Week from 15 - 24 June. You can make your picnic as fancy as you like, or just grab a couple of sarnies, a cold drink and a favourite chocolate bar - then head off with some friends. Choose your perfect viewing spot just as your feet are starting to ache. Get those boots off and wriggle your toes around while you tuck into your feast. Lie back and enjoy the sun on your face. Life doesn't have to be complicated to be pretty darn perfect. (This picture was taken during a Glamoraks walking weekend - our picnic spot had a view of the Seven Sisters. Stunning.)
6. Remember your dad
It's Father's Day on 17 June, the perfect time for a family walk. But if your dad is no longer around and you don't have family to go walking with, why not head out on a walk on your own - or with a friend if you're not confident (try the Glamoraks community) and enjoy a peaceful walk in a place he would have loved. Take time out to remember him and return home feeling calm, peaceful and ok with things just as they are.
7. Celebrate the Solstice with a wild camp
On 21 June we celebrate the longest day of the year. It's the perfect day to go on an adventure so why not plan a wild camp? After work, head out to a hill or a stretch of coast. Grab a bit of dinner at a pub on the way or take a meal with you. As the sun only sets around 10pm, you have plenty of time to walk and find a spot. As with all wild camping, you should ideally get the land owner's permission but if you can't, be sure to set up camp late and leave early. Not brave enough to go on your own? Head over to Glamoraks and ask in the community. With enough notice, you will hopefully find a fellow adventurer. If the forecast is to be rain free, don't even bother with a tent. Just take a bivvy bag and a sleeping bag and sleep under the stars. You will feel as though you've conquered Everest afterwards and you may just become addicted to the wild camping life.
If you are a woman who loves to walk or go on adventures, join Glamoraks, an online community that helps you find other women near you. For your life to get a whole lot happier, all it takes is one small step into new adventures. Join us!
Glamoraks is a global online community that connects women so that they have someone to go walking with either in their local area, or to a place they're travelling to. Glamoraks members are all different - with different ability levels, interests and goals. It's useful to learn about other members to get inspired by their stories and to realise that these aren't just names in an online community, but real people.
Meet Louise Shorten, a Glamoraks member who lives in a small village south of Ripon in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire. She shares her experience of being part of Glamoraks and what it's given her.
I'm married (20th anniversary this year!) to Chris and we have two children - Jack, 16 and Millie, 12. We also have a little dog called Harry, and somehow (!) two ponies, Fleur and Bobby. I work at home for my father's business located in the USA and I manage the company's marketing. We lived in the USA for a year and returned back to the UK in 2014, then moved home to North Yorkshire (where I am from originally) last summer.
I am up for any type of walking and adventure but I most enjoy multi-day hike and long trails. Chris (somewhat reluctantly) and I completed the coast to coast walk last year after walking it over the three holidays - I'd love to do it in one go! Other walks/ambitions on my to-do list are: High Cup Nick, the Camino Way, complete the Wainwrights and to camp out/sleep in a bothy! I also have a love of maps and relish the challenge of navigating. I have completed my NNAS Silver award but I would like to complete the gold in the future and now I am in the perfect environment to do this!
I'd joined Glamoraks in the hope of meeting new friends to walk with who live near me as when I moved I didn't know anyone other than my extensive family who mostly live in Yorkshire. It's also difficult as an adult to make new friends quickly and to develop a deeper relationship than the occasional "hello" and chit chat - so Glamoraks hits both objectives in one.
I've been on two weekends away with Glamoraks (Malham and the Coastal Caper) and I've joined and organised a few walks. I have met lots of fellow Glamoraks and have made some new lovely friends! We're all different but it's great to chat about our loves and to share a love of walking and the outdoors.
When you go somewhere new with new people you've never met, you never know what it's going to be like so I did have a sense of nervous anticipation but I just thought that most of us will be in the same boat - what had I got to lose and worse case if I didn't like it, I could choose not to go again! I did enjoy it very much though and felt very happy with the sense of possibilities for getting out and about that could come from it in the future. The opportunity to meet new friends isn't going to come to me so I have to make it happen in whatever way I can. Being out of your comfort zone can be stressful but you will never regret it and will always grow stronger from it.
I think Glamoraks offers a safe as possible environment in which to connect and meet other women who love walking. It offers a platform for inspiration and motivation to get out and be adventurous. Like many women as they get older, I feel a greater sense of vulnerability and have an eroding level of confidence but Glamoraks provides an opportunity to regain some of our former selves and some of the joie-de-vivre of our youths!
My advice to other women is: life can be short so just do it - NOW!!! Life might pass you by and before you know it your situation may change and the opportunity could be lost.
I've definitely been inspired by other Glamoraks. We've all have our fair share of baggage but it's great to know that you're not alone. It's a chance to discover new places, to be uplifted, motivated to get out and feel great! I'm looking forward to my next Glamoraks walk wherever that may be...
If you want to get out walking more often, make new friends and explore new places, join Glamoraks. You get a two week free trial to test it out first so what is there to lose? CLICK HERE TO JOIN
Anyone new to hiking may not realise the importance of a good pair of socks. In fact they may blame their blisters or sore feet on their footwear, when in fact the culprit is inadequate socks.
So what makes hiking socks different to regular socks besides the big price tag?
I spoke to Jim Evans, a product manager at Bridgedale, a company that specialises in hiking socks. Watch the video or read the quick summary below:
Why do you need hiking socks? Why not just use regular socks?
Hiking socks have far more padding on them using something called Terry Loop, the same kind of stuff your bath towels are made of. This padding goes up the back of the ankle, on the heel cup and around the toes. It will vary depending on the type of footwear you are wearing - ankle height boots or more of a trainer style.
So what does that do?
The padding on hiking socks helps prevent foot fatigue. It acts as a cushion so your feet get less tired or sore, particularly on long hikes or wearing heavier boots.
Does the sock you use vary on the type of walk you want to do?
The sock you choose depends more on the type of footwear you will be wearing. For example, if you are wearing a thick leather boot for winter walking, you might want more protection around the toe of the sock for warmth and padding. Similarly, if you have ankle boots, you'll choose a sock with more padding higher up the ankle. Trainer style walking shoes don't need padding in the same places. Jim's top tip: whichever socks you try on when you purchase your boots should be the same type of socks you wear all the time.
Let's talk blisters. What causes them and how do hiking socks help?
Blisters are caused by two things:
1. Friction - any place that your foot rubs against your sock or sock and boot, a friction point will occur. You will feel it start to get hot and if you take your boots off, it will look slightly red. That is how a blister starts to form. It's best to put a plaster on the area immediately before the blister forms. Also re-adjust your sock or laces and check your boots for debris or loose threads in your socks or boots that may be causing the hot spot.
2. Moisture - when skin gets wet, it gets soft. Add friction to the mix, and a blister is likely to occur. Moisture doesn't just come from standing in puddles in boots that aren't waterproof. Your feet sweat as you walk, which creates moisture. Hiking socks are designed to wick the moisture away. Bridgedale, for example, use a mixture of natural and synthetic fibres. They're designed to draw the moisture from the foot, hold it within the sock so that it can then be evaporated away.
Do you need different socks for summer?
Ideally you should always wear the same type of socks that you used when you purchased your boots, but there are lighter-weight socks that have less fabric using a mesh design for greater breathability, yet still have good protective padding. See our give-away below. If your feet get hot in summer, you might want to try a cooler pair of walking shoes - and then choose lighter weight socks to go with them.
Do you need a liner sock / two pairs of socks?
The two socks only work if the inner sock is particularly slippery. The inner and out sock need to be able to slide over each other. You can't team two thick pairs of walking socks together for instance as they wouldn't slide. You could use a specific liner sock underneath your hiking sock. They don't have any terry loop, so they're much thinner. They are typically used more for extra padding or warmth, rather than as a blister avoidance technique, but some people use two pairs and swear it prevents blisters. Liners can be changed easily midway through a walk, to reduce moisture, while keeping the same pair of hiking socks on throughout the day. Jim suggests beginner walkers don't start with two pairs of socks. Just get a good single pair until you know what works for you.
How to choose the right size sock
Socks come in a size range e.g. 4 - 7, and there is normally enough give in them to accommodate your feet if you are on the cusp of a size e.g. on the line between medium or large. If you have to choose, go for a slightly bigger sock than a smaller one. You obviously don't want to go too big as that will cause excess fabric in the boot that could rub. But having a sock that is too small means that the heel cup will try to pull downwards as you walk, leaving your sock halfway down your foot. Which is super annoying!
How should you care for your socks?
Strictly speaking, you should wash hiking socks - like Bridgedales - on a wool cycle, washed inside out and shouldn't go into the tumble dryer. But in reality, most people (including Jim) wash their hiking socks as part of a normal wash and do tumble dry them - just be sure to use a low setting. BUT MEGA BONUS TIP: Do not use fabric softener when washing your socks. Here's why:
Fabric softener's active ingredient is silicone, which causes the fibres to feel soft. But silicone is also hydrophobic, it hates water, effectively making your socks water resistant. It's what is used on the outside of waterproof jackets. So if you wash your hiking socks with fabric conditioner, you are in effect applying a layer of silicone to your socks, which removes all the natural moisture wicking properties they have. Who knew?!
Do you need to buy a woman's fit sock?
Often hiking socks are advertised as 'women's fit' but they are simply a smaller size version of a unisex sock. Bridgedale has created some specifically women-friendly features like adjusting the toe box size and heel cup, so that they fit better. That said, just because it's a women's fit sock, doesn't mean it will fit your feet if you have broad feet (similarly, men with narrow feet should look at women's socks). Don't limit yourself just because it has a designated sex on it. Try them on and see what works for you.
What should you pay for a pair of hiking socks?
As a rough guide, you should spend between 10 and 15% of whatever you spent on your footwear. So if you spent £100 on your hiking boots, you should spend between £10 and £15 per pair of hiking socks. If you're on a tight budget, you might want to consider buying slightly cheaper boots and spend more on socks. But it depends on your hiking aspirations. If you are going for shorter walks, having expensive boots might not be a priority. If you want to walk all day or do multi-day hikes, it's better to spend more on good footwear and socks.
How long should a good pair of socks last?
They can last years - in fact they often last longer than the boots, yet cost just 10 to 15% of the price. So they are a worthwhile investment, particularly if you've spent money on a big walking holiday or charity challenge, only to have it scuppered on day one by a blister thanks to poor socks.
Top sock tips:
Distance: 9-10 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (it's all flat but if you aren't used to walking 10 miles, may find it tiring!)
Type of terrain: dirt paths, grassy paths, pavement, some mud
Starting point: Stamford Bridge public car park, Viking Road, YO41 1AG
Before I get onto the walk, I want to give you a short history lesson. Stick with me. It really is interesting.
If I said the words: Stamford Bridge to the average English person, they would automatically assume I was referring to the Chelsea Football Club Stadium. But another Stamford Bridge played a far greater role in the future of Britain (and it involves slightly fewer overpaid prima donnas - but only just).
Stamford Bridge is a village five miles to the East of York, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. But this small village was the site of a battle that genuinely changed the entire future of England. Yes really. I'm not a historian but here's my understanding of what happened back in September 1066.
King Harold Godwinson had taken over the throne after Edward the Confessor died but there was a bit of a family argument about whether that was the right choice. His brother Tostig felt he should have got the job. Harold was having none of it, took away Tostig's title of Earl of Northumbria and had him exiled. That annoyed Tostig so he teemed up with the King of Norway, Harald Hardrada, who felt he too had a right to wear the English crown. When Harold (the English, not Harald the Norwegian) heard about this, he marched his army up from the South. 185 miles in just 4 days. Now anyone who has done a multi-day hike knows that is pretty impressive. I did the Coast to Coast which is 192 miles, in two weeks! And my feet hurt doing that!
Anyway, Harold and his foot-sore troops arrived at the place that is now Stamford Bridge. King Harold himself went over to Tostig and Harald and said that he was willing to give Tostig his title back. When he was asked what he'd give to the Norwegian king, Harold suggested "Seven feet of English ground, as he is taller than other men." That didn't go down too well. And so the fighting kicked off. By all accounts a single Norse giant impeded the path of the oncoming English soldiers, waving a scary looking Dane axe around. But then some plucky English chap got in a barrel and drifted under a bridge and poked a spear up into the Norseman (one can only guess where) which ended his axe wielding career and indeed life. The Englishmen went on to win the battle.
Just when Harold thought he could haul out the compeed plasters, and have a nice pork pie and a pint, he heard that some upstart French chap called William was heading over from Normandy. So poor Harold and his jolly tired soldiers had to walk all the way back down to Hastings in East Sussex and face another battle, averaging about 27 miles a day. They probably didn't have fancy walking shoes either. Frankly, despite picking up some reinforcements en route, they had had quite enough walking and fighting - understandably. And they lost that battle. William got the middle name The and last name Conqueror, and he went on to change the future of British history, with the year 1066 forever etched in school children's collective psyches.
So that is how a little village in Yorkshire came to play such a big part in English history. You're welcome.
Today you can enjoy a lovely 10-mile circular walk from Stamford Bridge without fear of being attacked by a viking. The walk starts in the free village car park just over the stone road bridge. There are many different routes you can take but I will describe the walk we did.
Leave the car park and turn right into a housing estate. Turn right again and follow the road through the estate to a T-junction. Turn right again and in about 100m you come to the old railway station on your right hand side. Turn right onto a resurfaced track-bed, passing between the platforms and the old station. This is the old railway line that goes over a viaduct. It is now route 66 of the National Cycle Network.
You walk along the top of the viaduct and then simply follow the cycle path. Besides a few short, noisy stretches that run alongside the busy A166, you soon find yourself walking through woodland and farmland, past a number of idyllic farm houses. This is a smooth and easy path, suitable for buggies (but not all of the walk is.)
When you reach a junction that says turn right to follow the cycle path or go straight, you can do either. If you go straight, you will cut about a mile off your walk. If you want that extra mile, follow the cycle path behind a farm house, through fields off rape until you get to another junction. Where the cycle path veers off to the right, you take the left hand path running alongside Hagg Wood.
When you reach a farm house with a clear farm track that looks like the obvious path to take, don't take it. Instead follow the public footpath sign towards a small copse of trees, skirting the edge of the farm house, before getting back onto a farm road.
You will come to another junction with a track that joins the road you're on from the left. Keep walking straight along your track (that other path is the short cut you could have taken earlier). At the corner of Millfield Wood, turn left and walk through a beautiful sun-dappled forest for a short time, before taking a right hand footpath towards Kexby.
Once you reach the busy A1079 in Kexby, turn left, follow the road until just before the bridge goes over the river. Look for a slightly hidden footpath sign to your left and drop down to the riverbank. Now simply follow the river across many fields all the way back to Stamford Bridge. When you get to the village, there are a couple of pubs, delis and coffee shops to revive yourself.
An alternate route is to cross over the bridge in Kexby until you reach a footpath on the left but on the opposite side of the river. Follow that, then the road to Low Catton, which has a very good pub for lunch (by all accounts). From there you follow a footpath along the river back to Stamford Bridge again.
This is a great circular walk that has free parking, a good array of refreshment stops at the beginning or end (or in Low Catton if you do that walk) and a fabulous hit of history.
If you want to find other women to go walking with, join the Glamoraks community.
Glamoraks was set up to help women find other women to go walking, hiking or adventuring with.
Picture this: you have a free weekend or day and want to head outdoors for a good long walk. You could go on your own, but you'd rather have some company. However, no-one you know is free. Do you scrap the idea or go alone? That's where the Glamoraks community kicks in to help you find a new walking buddy. So how does it work?
Here's a real life example from Jo Shaw, a Glamoraks member from Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK. Jo describes herself as a beginner walker on her community profile, saying:
"I’m very new to walking and would love to meet up with others for walks in and around Yorkshire. I would love to make some new friends, get fitter and have fun!"
Here's how she used Glamoraks to meet someone new to go walking with:
After signing up to the new Glamoraks network I put a post up asking if anyone would mind if I tagged along on a walk in the Leeds area and Claire Woodland replied to say she would be up for going walking with me. Together, we decided on a date, location and time and then posted our walk as event on the app to see if anyone else wanted to join us.
Where did you walk?
We went walking in Yorkshire Sculpture Park and managed a leisurely walk of just under 6 miles.
What was the experience like?
It was a really great experience! I was nervous about meeting up with someone new and I can get quite anxious in new situations but as soon I met Claire I felt at ease. We had lots in common, never ran out of anything to say. Our pace of walking was the same too so it was really lovely to not feel rushed or worried that we were holding anyone up. After the walk we had a well deserved ice cream in the sunshine and chatted about walks we would like to do in the future. As my first ever walk with someone I didn’t know, I thought the experience was great and has given me the confidence to go on more walks with new people.
Have you got plans for future hikes?
Yes, I'm now arranging another hike for June and am happy to have others in the area join me.
Would you like to meet other like-minded women to get out walking with? Join Glamoraks. We have 1,200 members across the UK and now in a number of countries around the world.
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.
If you would like to meet other women to go walking, hiking or adventuring with, join the Glamoraks online community.
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.
If you would like to meet other women who love to walk and get walk idea inspiration, join Glamoraks.
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.