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: