Monday, 25 October 2010

It's official: Walking makes you smarter

Fresh air, fitness and bigger brain size. Now there are
even more reasons for getting out in the hills for a walk.

A new study has revealed yet another reason to get out walking in the Scottish hills. The American survey found that people who walked at least six miles every week had less age-related brain shrinkage than people who walked less.

One of the results of brain shrinkage in later years is memory problems. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, also kills off brain cells and reduces the volume of the brain.

But the University of Pittsburgh research found that people who walk regularly had larger brain volumes.

A spokesperson for the study said: “Our results should encourage well-designed trials of physical exercise in older adults as a promising approach for preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.”

The study on 300 people looked at the size of their brains over a period of almost 14 years.
It was found that people who walked roughly six to nine miles a week halved their risk of developing memory problems.

The spokesperson added: "Our results are in line with data that shows that aerobic activity induces a host of cellular cascades that could conceivably increase gray matter volume."

So now there’s even more reason and motivation for getting outdoors this winter.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Get outdoors in the half-term break

Late summer and autumn are
great seasons to visit Angus

While some schoolchildren in Scotland are already enjoying their October break, others in various places in Scotland and most children in England are still looking forward to their traditional mid-term break. We said, the children are looking forward to the holiday! But what about the parents?

It only seems like a couple of weeks ago when the kids were off school for the summer holidays - and now there's another week (and in some cases, two weeks) to keep the little darlings busy and happy. Thankfully October often brings some lovely clear days for outdoors fun. (Outdoors fun = lots of energy burned off!)

You will need to wrap up warm but when the skies are blue, the trees are turning their gorgeous autumnal shades and and the air is crisp and dry it's difficult to think of a better place to be than Scotland.

In fact, here at Glentrek we can't think of a better time to head out for a spirit-lifting walk. (Of course, we might be a little biased but we'll be surprised if you disagree!).

Autumn does bring with it a few more potential dangers on the hills. Walkers should take care to check the weather forecasts and always take the right kit with you. Make sure you have enough emergency clothing, food and water if things turn out to be a bit less than easy-going. It is vital that someone in the group is also good at navigation. (Why not check out our navigation courses?)

And if you're looking for walks to suit the family then we recommend the Angus Glens. The area boasts a wide range of lower level trails and hill walks as well as some of the "easiest" Munros, including Mayar.

The glens also offer a fascinating geography lesson for kids (and even the adults).The Angus Glens comprise five separate glens (or valleys), which are described as resembling the fingers of a giant's hand.

Scoured by huge glaciers during the Ice Age these glens, including Clova, Isla, Prosen, Lethnot and Esk, stretch from the flatter lowlands - known as the Straths - gently upwards like outspread fingers towards the summit tops of rounded hill tops and mountain summits.

While walking in the glens it's easy to spot the work of the glaciers including huge valleys, ribboning rivers, corrie lochs and tumbling waterfalls.

If you're looking for a lower level walk then you could head to the Cateran Trail for a day's hike. The 64-mile long-distance walk is normally completed over five days but much of the walk can be broken down into shorter sections that would be ideal for a family hike.

And while you're in the area you could take the opportunity to try a few other family activities, including cycling, mountain biking and gorge walking. Rainy days are also well catered for in the area with cultural and family friendly attractions such as J M Barrie's birthplace in Kirriemuir, Glamis Castle and RRS Discovery, Dundee.

There's a host of outdoors fun to be had in Angus this October.

If you require any guidance about walks and activities in Angus please do contact Glentrek.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Tales of epic British mountain walks

We love to hear about epic walking challenges in the great outdoors. Just this summer Munro bagger extraordinaire Steve Fallon completed his 14th (yes, 14th!) full round of 283 Scottish Munros. What started as a mild distraction some 15 years ago has turned into a full-on hobby and even a business, as Steve now leads people who want to climb Munros.

And now fellow mountaineer Alan Hinkes has succeeded in his attempt to climb all 39 of England’s highest peaks in his latest adventure: the County Tops Challenge. Alan, who was the first British person to climb the world’s 14 highest peaks, took just eight days to reach the summit of the highest peak in each English county.

This is a challenge that Alan had always wanted to do and originally he planned to spread it out over a few years but then he had the opportunity to do the challenge with Pro Trek while raising funds for mountain rescue.

His epic journey began in his home town of Northallerton, from where he headed north, then to Lincolnshire, up the west side of the country and finished in the Lake District. As well as the need for strength and endurance, Alan said that driving and finding the peaks was hard going.

Despite experiencing the wonders and scenery of much higher mountains, such as Everest and K2, Alan is still very much passionate about his home country. He is reported as saying: "My heart is in the British hills."

We couldn't agree more!