Thursday, 24 June 2010

Walking is great for you and your health

Walking is great for your heart - and your health

If you're already a walking fan then you will not need to be persuaded of the benefits of walking. But if you are new to the pursuit - or still thinking about buying your first pair of walking boots and waterproofs then perhaps you should read on.

There are numerous, proven health benefits of walking. These include:

* Living longer

* Stronger heart

* Improved circulation

* Lower blood pressure

* More efficient lungs

* Reduced risk of breast cancer

* Increased energy levels

* Stronger bones

* Improved stamina

* Better sex

* Stronger muscles

* More flexible joints

* Reduced stress

* Lower weight

* More lean muscle, less fat

* Enhanced mood

* Better sleep

* Less chance of depression

* Reduced chance of arthritis

* Reduced likelihood of osteoporosis.

Shall we continue? Or do you get the general idea that walking is fab for your health and fitness?

Walking is a great calorie burner

* Brisk walking burns up to 100 calories per mile – more if you are very overweight or if you are pushing yourself uphill.

Even more walking advantages

And on top of all these amazing health benefits there are a number of other advantages:

* Walking is a sociable activity and great for keeping up with friends or meeting new people. (One friend met the love of her life while walking a Munro!).

* Walking can provide valuable "me time" away from the hustle and bustle of your normal life.

* Walking is ideal for a range of ages and fitness levels.

* Walking takes you to new and scenic places.

* Walking takes you off the beaten track and on an exciting adventure.

* Walking offers a great hobby, especially if you embark on a goal such as bagging Munros.

* Walking is an activity that you can do all year round.

* It's a cheap activity once you're bought the basic kit.

Once you've read all this you'll be wondering why every single person isn't out walking at every opportunity!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Five "easier" Munros in Angus, Scotland

Celebration on the top of Mt Keen

People are always asking us about Munros in Angus - and also about "easier" Munros. Of course, there is no such thing as an easy climb to the top of Scotland's stable of 283 Munros but certainly some are more straightforward and less painful on the legs muscles than others. It is also good to remember, too, that even the "easiest" of hills can become treacherous if the weather turns bad. So always make sure you know what the forecast is before setting out and ensure you have the right kit with you. See our previous guide to essential summer walking kit.

Anyway, if you are looking to walk a few of the country's easier Munros then Angus is definitely a great place to come to. While the region boasts some of the most amazing scenery, it also has a few Munros that might suit the less experienced or the less fit. If in doubt about navigation, why not hire a guide to take you to the summit? Glentrek can help you with this.

Our top five Munro suggestions in Angus and close by are:
(Click on the name of the Munro to find a route via Walk Highlands.)

Mt Keen 939m. Mt Keen is the most eastern of the Munros and can be climbed either from Glen Esk (quicker) or Glen Tanar (more scenic).

Ben Chonzie makes a great family walk

Ben Chonzie 931m North of Crieff with a summit located above heather-covered moorlands, Ben Chonzie offers a fine day's outing. The quicker climb is from the west, while the more scenic walk is from the east.

Mayar 928m A lovely gently ascent on a clearly seen path takes you to the top of this rounded summit. But just because it's a relatively easy walk doesn't mean the views are any less gorgeous. You'll love this one. (It is often climbed with Dreish, too)

Driesh 947m A steeper climb but it doesn't feel too long. Driesh is situated above Glen Doll.

Cairnwell 933m This Munro is considered one of the easiest of all. There is far less ascent than many other Munros because a road takes walkers to a car park that is within easy sight of the cone-shaped summit. There is a well-marked trail/road heading to the summit, from where you'll be rewarded with great views. Many people turn the walk into more of an outing by ticking off two other Munros, Carn Aosda and Carn a'Gheoidh.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Fab Coast and castles cycle route

Gourdon, Montrose

Arbroath Harbour

Montrose beach

Sustrans have been a huge bonus in the UK helping to develop a massive network of cycle-friendly routes for all kinds of cyclists. One of my favourites in Scotland is the Coasts and Castles route. This route, also called National Route 1, actually starts in Newcastle and heads to Aberdeen, via Edinburgh. There's a neat guide book to the Coasts and Castles route produced by Pocket Mountain Guides.

The Coasts and Castles route is an epic cycle stretching almost 600km along the North Sea coast from Newcastle to the granite city of Aberdeen via Northumbria's clifftop castles and smugglers' havens, Edinburgh's medieval Old Town and iconic bridges and Aberdeenshire's fishing villages and sandy beaches.

The route could be completed in one go and over a week or so (for fit cyclists) or it can be split into day-long outings. Last month I assisted a group of cyclists heading from Edinburgh to Aberdeen on this route. I had a lot of fun helping to transfer their baggage between accommodations. The group of 12 cyclists were keen to simply cycle and enjoy the trip, but without having to worry about the extra weight of their luggage. Baggage transfer for walkers and cyclists is a growing part of the Glentrek business.

The group of cyclists rode for four days:

Day 1: Edinburgh to Freuchies, Fife

Day 2: Freuchies to Carnoustie

Day 3: Carnoustie to Inverbervie

Day 4: Inverbervie to Aberdeen.

They had a ball and I was able to take some great pictures along the route. If these don't inspire you to head off for this long-distance cycle then I've no idea what will!

Glentrek now plans to offer the Coasts and Castles cycle as a holiday option for our customers. We can help you to arrange accommodation along the route, baggage transfer and bike hire. We can also pick you up from Edinburgh station and set you on your way with your hired bikes, and then collect you at Aberdeen.

This summer is the ideal time to head to Scotland for a cycling holiday.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Glen Doll: The place for great wild walking in Scotland

We've known this for years but now other people are discovering how wonderful the region of Angus in Scotland is for walking. In particular, it's a great place for remote-feeling and wilder walking. In a recent Times article writer Christopher Somerville has compiled 20 top wild walks in the UK and in the list is a fabulous walk in Glen Doll in Angus.

The full walk, which takes in Glen Doll and the Den of Altduthrie, is graded for knowledgeable and fit walkers only. So if you're in doubt about whether to set off to do the 9-mile route why not take a guide with you? Glentrek can assist with organising a guide and accommodation in the area.

The walk is truly fabulous and well worth the effort. Wilderness eye candy comes by way of magnificent mountains, tumbling burns, waterfalls and the chance to spot golden eagles. You'll also hike Jock's Road, which was once a droving and whisky smuggling track, and traverse a stunning high-lvel plateau.

But this is not the only fabulous wild walk in Angus. The award-winning four-day Angus Glens Walking Festival is upon us and will showcase a whole host of great walking in the area. Many walks are fully booked now so why not let Glentrek organise a guided or self-guided walk/walking holiday for you? There's so much to discover in Angus.