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.
Start: Bridlington (parking at long stay car park near the train station)
End: Bempton (catch the train back to Bridlington)
Terrain: Cliff top coastal path - muddy in places depending on time of year. Lots of ups and downs
Good for: Bird watching
Refreshments: Plenty of places on the way.
Distance: Roughly 11 miles
You start this walk in Bridlington. From the long stay car park near the station, head to the seaside, past the amusement arcades and funfair rides. This is a quintessential English seaside town, with an air of faded glory and the feeling that just a bit more love, attention and sunshine could restore it into something lovely.
But on the day I did this walk, it was a blustery, overcast April day with a hint of summer on offer. I wanted headspace, so was keen to get away from the people strolling along the beachside promenade. I followed the track that runs alongside the little landtrain, ferrying passengers from Sewerby Hall to the beach. A row of memory benches lines the other side of the path. I couldn't help but imagine that the people in whose memories those benches were left must have been the sociable type as they were packed in one after the other with plenty of seats to be had should you need one at this early stage. Just past Sewerby Hall you pass a cricket club that has got to have the most spectacular setting of all cricket clubs in England. Hit a six and you could well send your ball over the cliff top and onto the beach below.
Leaving the cricket club and crowds behind, I at last had the path to myself. The sea to my right lay grey and brooding under a heavy sky while the chalk cliffs marched onwards to the north. I love the feeling of being alone on a cliff with just the circling seabirds and the occasional sheep for company. The path dipped down to Danes Dyke, a pretty little nature reserve that at one point drops down to the sea. You can access the beach here and be free from the busier Bridlington beaches. Danes Dyke actually runs for 4km across the whole of Flamborough Head and is thought to be some kind of defensive structure from the Dark Ages or Roman period.
Climb up the steps on the other side and make your way towards South Landing of Flamborough Head. As you follow the path, you will start to see the rock formations formed by coastal erosion at Flamborough Head, which is made of sheer chalk cliffs that have gradually had bites taken out of them by the sea. Take your time here and enjoy the waves crashing in and around the rock formations.
Head up past the Flamborough head lighthouse. If you need refreshments, there is a cafe near the carpark too. Keep following the path until you reach the north landing, where once again you can get refreshments and a public toilet and not far beyond that, is Thornwick Bay, where you can access the beach depending on the tide. There are old smugglers caves and the famed Thornick Nab (a rock arch) to be explored if the tide is out. And yet another cafe is on offer if you want a nice cup of tea.
Ignoring the busy holiday park to your left, keep following the path, looking out and back over the rock formations. Depending on the time of year, keep your eyes peeled for seabirds. All along this stretch of coast, the RSPB has built little bird watching landings from which to view Puffins, Gannets, Kittwakes, Guillemots, Herring Gulls, Razorbills and Shags. I passed a young chap who was packing up a long range lens camera. I asked him what he'd been doing. He explained that he was counting puffins for the RSPB. Apparently they have just two days in which the puffins sit on the sea, feeding, before they head off to lay their eggs. So time is of the essence. I noticed many more people all doing the same as I walked along the path. I did wonder how on earth they count a bunch of tiny black dots bobbing about on the sea!
I took plenty of time looking at the birds from the various platforms before heading inland. There is a RSPB centre at Bempton with another cafe (seriously, no need to take a lunch with you for this walk). I then walked the mile from there into the middle of Bempton to catch the train back to Bridlington.
A lovely walk with plenty of wildlife, geology and beaches.
If you are a woman who loves to walk, join Glamoraks for free. It's a way to find other women to walk with, get inspiration and rediscover your sense of adventure.
Start and end point: Hole of Horcum carpark off A169 postcode YO18 7NR
Terrain: Muddy paths, moorland
Hills: A steep climb in and out but otherwise reasonably flat
Refreshments: The Horseshoe Pub in Levisham
Distance: Approx 7 miles
The Hole of Horcum is a section of the valley of Levisham Beck and is part of the Tabular Hills walk in the North York Moors National Park, in Northern England. The 'hole' is 400 feet deep and is approximately 3⁄4 mile (1.2 km) across. Local legend has it that the punchbowl feature was created when Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of earth to throw as his wife during an argument. (Perhaps his wife had suggested that she was heading out for another weekend of walking....)
According to Wikipedia: The Hole was actually created by a process called spring-sapping, where water welling up from the hillside gradually undermined the slopes above, eating the rocks away grain by grain. Over thousands of years, a once narrow valley widened and deepened into an enormous cauldron – and the process still continues today.
The walk is lovely - roughly 7 miles. It's a circular walk and I've walked it both ways. You can start either at the car park off the A169 (Saltergate - postcode YO18 7NR) or in the village of Levisham. But I personally prefer to park in the carpark because it means you can stop half-way round for a pint of something cold at The Horseshoe Inn. You can walk it clockwise or anticlockwise.
The view are probably best if you walk counter clockwise from the carpark. But as I most recently walked it clockwise and my images are of those views, I am going to write it as the clockwise route.
Cross the A169 with care, then follow the waymarked path. Where the path splits to go left and down into the punchbowl or right and along the moors, go left and downhill. Follow the path down and just keep walking.
Once at the bottom, keep walking along the base of the punchbowl following the clear path. You will go over a stile and will eventually get to a bit where an old farm building sits. At this point, turn back and look at the majestic view.
Keep following the path, sticking to the low path. If you find that your path starts to lead up a hill, you are going wrong and will end up in Lockton - not where you want to be. Stick to the low path that is closer to the stream.
Follow the increasingly muddy track, along some wooden boards, getting closer and closer to the stream until eventually you cross it by a little bridge. Shortly thereafter as you start to climb, you will find a sign post pointing you in various directions. Take the one going straight ahead to Levisham. If you want a shorter walk, you can take the sign to the right to Dundale Pond and return back along the moors, skipping out Levisham.
You follow a increasingly narrow path as you make your way up the hill and through woods until you reach the road at Levisham village. You'll see this waymarker sign and a bench.
Turn right up the road and you'll see the Horseshoe pub. I can recommend the chips! Once you're revived, keep walking in the same direction past the right hand side of the pub. Follow the farm track until you go through a gate. This takes you onto the moorland path.
Just keep following it back in the direction of carpark. You will at one point arrive at a 4-way junction signpost - keep going straight on without turning left or right. This is where the early path sign-posted to Dundale Pond would bring you to.
The walk is straight-forward now across the moors, with the carpark coming into view. After a final stile, you climb the hill back to the carpark and you're done! Be sure to look back across the punchbowl for a final view.
This is a relatively easy walk with some hills. It's a good one to do with older kids. If you do it with a dog, be aware that there are sheep grazing so they will need to be kept on a lead.
If you'd like to find other women to go walking with, join Glamoraks. It's free.
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.
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!
If you would like to meet other women for fabulous weekends like this, join the Glamoraks community.
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.