Thursday, 22 December 2011

Festive family fun outdoors

With the festive holidays now here, many families will be looking forward to some quality time together. Heading outdoors for a walk or cycle gives adult and kids a chance to burn off some excess Christmas calories and get some much needed exercise. If you sit at home watching films and playing computer games for a fortnight you'll all go stir crazy.

But so many people are put off going into Scotland's great outdoors by poor weather. We're not saying you should be forced to go outside and into the hills when it's blowing a gale or stormy but during the winter months you'll find that Scotland boasts some truly lovely days.

There is no reason to miss out on outside fun, especially when Scotland does enjoy cold days with bright blue skies, or mild days with a little rain or snow, of full-on snowy days.

Dress to suit the weather

If you're wearing the right outdoor clothing then most days during the festive holidays offer an opportunity to go outdoors for a family adventure. This doesn't just mean buying the right kit for the grown-ups. Children tend to get colder faster and in wet, snowy or chilly weather, it's youngsters that need to be wrapped up warm and dry.

You'll find a host of practical outdoor clothes for children these days. Here's a checklist of outdoor clothing for children:

Walking boots or wellies are required. Shoes or trainers will let water or snow in over the top and that means the kids will have wet - and cold – feet before you know it. You don't need to spend a fortune but do look for waterproof boots. Something like these Regatta Guideway boots for kids.

A waterproof jacket is a must. There is a huge choice in shops and on-line. See Regatta and Go Outdoors. For youngsters how about this all-in-one Regatta Splosh suit? (See left) Waterproof and cosy, this suit keeps little ones warm from neck to ankles.

Waterproof over trousers make wet or snowy days that bit drier and warmer. Kids can wear their choice of comfy trousers and simply pop the roomy and waterproof trousers over the top.

Baselayers are for children, too. Most adults know about the advantages of wearing a number of thinner baselayers to keep heat in. A baselayer followed by a fleece and then a waterproof jacket works as well for children as for grown-ups.

Cold hands, feet or head will lead to moany children so make sure you have a bundle of hats, gloves and thick socks in a range of sizes.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Pick up top tips for winter walking

Safety is important in the mountains – especially in winter. At Glentrek we run a programme of winter skills and navigation courses offering practical and informative advice about how to enjoy the mountains safely and what to do in situations where you are caught out by bad weather.

Winter skills courses with Glentrek

You can never learn enough about winter safety, however, so we're delighted to hear about the The Mountaineering Council of Scotland's Winter Safety Lectures. This season's lectures are taking place in a range of locations across Scotland.

The aim of the lectures is to entertain and educate, and the main theme is skills for the mountains in winter. In order to deliver this, an inspiring array of speakers has been chosen to present the 2012 lecture series and an entertaining evening out is guaranteed.

The MCofS lectures take place in popular venues including the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe and the Mountain Café, Aviemore. Others will take place at Tiso stores in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness.

Heather Morning, the MCofS Mountain Safety Adviser, says: “The MCofS winter safety lectures have something to offer everyone who enjoys the Scottish mountains in winter. Whether you are a seasoned mountaineer or heading to the mountains for the first time, you are guaranteed to pick up some useful 'top tips' from the experts.”

MCofS Chief Officer David Gibson said: “Winter mountains have much to offer in terms of physical challenge, superb views and memorable experiences. However, the margin for error is much less than at other times of the year due to the weather, conditions underfoot and limited daylight hours.

"These lectures could save lives by enabling you to learn from others’ experience and gain an understanding of the skills and equipment you need to be more self-reliant.”

Of course, at Glentrek we believe that the best way to learn about winter mountains and safety is to get out there with an experienced guide but for extra top tips the MCofS safety lectures will be a valuable addition to your winter skills knowledge.

Friday, 11 November 2011

How walkers should "layer" for comfort and joy

It's cold outside - and so you pull on t-shirt, a jumpers and a jacket. Good enough you think. But then you start walking and you become hot and sweaty. You remove the jumper, but you feel damp and chilly. That's because your cotton t-shirt is soaked with sweat, causing your body temperature to drop and really what you need is another slightly thinner layer, and not a jumper. You end up feeling so disgruntled and uncomfortable that you don't really enjoy your walk.

But it doesn't have to be like this!

The sensible walker will "layer". Layering is not just about throwing on a t-shirt and a jumper, it's about careful management of body temperature.

The steps for effective layering:

1) Choose thin layers that are made from sweat-wicking materials. These won't stop the sweating, because sweat is a natural body function when you become hot. These layers simply help to move the sweat from your skin to the outside. A few to choose include Helly Hansen baselayers, baselayers made from Merino wool, Skins.

2) Wear lots of thin layers. Start with a vest or t-shirt and then add long-sleeved layers according to the weather. Wearing thin and thin-ish layers allow you to take off and add on layers one at a time so as to better manage your core temperature.

3) Add a waterproof, windproof and breathable jacket on top. Gore-tex is the leader in waterproof and breathable jackets, although there are many other similar fabrics. A jacket that is breathable is one that allows sweat to pass through form the inside to the outside.

So, if you're layering correctly you'll have much less sweat on your skin, you'll be able to manage your temperature by adding and removing layers and you'll keep the wind and rain out with an outer jacket. This is the recipe for happy walking this winter!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Learn your winter walking skills

Scottish mountains are simply magical in winter. On a crisp, dry day when the sky is blue and the snow has transformed the landscape into a winter wonderland it’s difficult to imagine a more stunning location. But for walkers, the chillier months can bring a number of dangers, which is why many more people are now signing up to winter skills courses.

In winter weather conditions can vary suddenly and without warning. In a white out it is very difficult to navigate if you are not familiar with a map and compass. And if you’re caught in bad conditions would you know how to take care of yourself? Even just walking with the aid of crampons can be difficult without some know-how.

Glentrek is now gearing up for their Winter Skills Weekends. The weekends in the Glenshee area focus on a range of different winter walking skills such as moving safely through the mountains including the use of the boot, ice axe, crampon techniques, avalanche awareness and emergency skills. These skills are incorporated into a winter walking day so that they may be put to use as the day progresses.

Winter Skills Weekends are also a great place ot meet likeminded people. If might be that your summer walking pals have decided to stay indoors in the warm but you still have a desire to be out and about in the hills all winter. At a Skills Weekend you’ll work in groups and we’re sure you’ll meet people who are friendly and ken to keep up their winter walking.

Glentrek also has Winter Skills Days. These reveal to less experienced walkers all the basics required for being out in the hills when there’s ice and snow.

There is still availability for the January and February weekends and days. See here for details.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Fix-it hill walking kit

Being prepared is one of the mantras of outdoors experts. Of course, hill walkers and off-the-beaten track mountain bikers should always have the essential kit packed in their rucksack, and that includes a compass and map and the knowledge of how to use them. But still there are things that you may feel that you can't prepare for, such as a torn tent or rucksack or a zip that suddenly breaks on your waterproof jacket.

So we have come up with a walking, biking and camping fix-it kit. These items shouldn't take up too much extra space and you never know when they will come in handy. They could be the difference between having a usable tent or not, or a pair of walking boots that get you home.

Duct tape: This fantastic DIY item is strong and sticky enough to mends tears and hold things together when all else seems useless. We're used it to mend rucksacks, waterproof trousers, tents and even a sleeping bag zip.

Seam Grip: This is a super-strong seam sealer that acts like an outdoor superglue.

Foil: Buy the heaviest weight you can find and fold it up into a neat square to be stowed in the bottom of your rucksack. It can be used as a windbreak for your stove, as a way of signalling for help (like a mirror) or even fashioned into a makeshift cooking pot.

Zip ties: Small, lightweight and incredibly useful these are fantastic for joining things back together or carry items attached to your rucksack.

Swiss Army Knife or Juice Knife: No outdoors person should go anywhere without a knife that has a useful cutting blade and a saw.

Length of cord: It is lightweight and small to carry but a length of cord can get you out of trouble. Use it as a tent guy line replacement, to replace a snapped boot lace or as a belt for your trousers.

Dental floss: yes, this is a great product for cleaning your teeth but it is also a brilliant substitute fishing line and sewing thread.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Fisherfield Mountain Expedition Summer 2012

The Fisherfield mountains, near Ullapool, are much revered in walking circles, especially among Munro baggers. Anyone who has hiked the epic tour of six of Scotland’s famous Munros will recount stories of a huge adventure and fabulous views.

While the latest news does suggest that one of the six Munros will be changed to Corbett after recent remeasuring, it is still kind of necessary to summit all six mountain tops to tick off the five (or possible six) Munros.

In any case, one Munro bagger, aka the G-Force, reckons that the Munro in question, Beinn a Chlaidheimh, is well worth summitting whatever its title. He said: “It doesn’t matter whether Beinn a Chlaidheimh is officially a Munro or a Corbett, it’s a fabulous peak and it is on the main route of the Fisherfield Munro circuit anyway. I can't imagine missing it out!”

But this Fisherfield trek is no easy undertaking. Walkers need to be fit and up for a challenge. Joing a guided trek takes away a lot of the worries about navigation and will lead to a much greater chance of walking all these summits in three days.

On Fri June 29 to Mon July 2, 2012, inclusive, Glentrek is offering a fantastic three-day walking package giving you the chance to “bag” all of the Fisherfield Munros in a single guided trip.

This is a strenuous walking trip with remote camping and will therefore incorporate a mountain training day three or four weeks prior to the expedition.

Departing from the Dundee area, all you will need to bring is a high level of fitness, full hillwalking gear and a sleeping bag.

The price of £375 for the expedition includes:

* One night B/B in a hotel

* Two nights of high-level camping

* One mountain training day with a Mountain Leader

* Guiding with a Mountain Leader

* Expedition rucksack, camping equipment and camping rations.

Book your place now and for more information please give Glentrek a call on: 01307 469536

Friday, 22 July 2011

Save money this summer - go walking

A new survey has revealed a staggering statistic – that parents are expected to spend a total of £8.6bn on childcare and entertainment this summer. That’s an average of £660 per child over the holidays, including £246 on childcare and £414 on entertainment.

Added to this, the Cost of a Child Report research by insurer LV= found that 55% of parents with children under 18 will not be taking a holiday abroad.

But even though parents are making cut backs this summer, they are finding more creative ways to entertain their children. Cash-clever parents are taking advantage of discount offers for museums and parks, while almost two-thirds of parents will be making doing at-home activities with their kids, such as cooking, drawing, painting and crafts.

If you’re keeping an eye on the pennies this summer why not book a short holiday or weekend in Scotland – and make the most of the great outdoors. Walking is a cheap and fun activity and is highly accessible to all the family.

In Angus, in particular, there’s a host of family-friendly walks through glens and even a couple of the easiest Munros you’ll find. Exploring woodlands, riverbanks and hillsides can lead to some great wildlife sightings and you might even discover a beautiful waterfall or a pool for splashing about in.

Glentrek can offer a wealth of advice on waling in the area and help you to book accommodation to suit your budget. There are many family-style hostels or campsites that won’t break the bank and if you’re enjoying the outdoors and walks every day you will keep the cost of the holiday to a minimum.

If you’re feeling a little more generous one day – and you want to treat the kids to a summer holiday day they won’t forget, why not check out the adventure activities being offered by locally based Highway2Adventure?

Scotland’s outdoors offers so much to do and for just a small outlay so you may not have to spend as much this summer as the research suggests.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Get on your bike to find a gem of a route in the Angus Glens

Scotland is renowned as a mountain biking destination. Across the country there are numerous mountain biking centres, and stretching for many, many miles in the countryside there’s a vast network of off-road trails that beckon the rider to grab a map and a picnic and head off for a few hours or a few days of remote-style cycling.

In the Angus Glens we are lucky enough to have our own piece of mountain biking paradise. Glen Isla boasts numerous miles of peaceful tracks though forestry and around beautiful lochs.

One of our favourite B&B providers, West Freuchies, is next door to some of the most fabulous of these routes. They’ll send you on your way with bike hire from Glentrek, a delicious packed lunch and a route to suit your fitness and aspirations. But make sure you ask them about Loch Shandra. If there's one place we recommend you cycle to it’s this stunning loch.

Word also has it that there are proposals to create a mountain bike centre in Glen Isla, close to the settlement of Kirkton of Glen Isla. The forest here would become home to blue and red trails and would offer a host of cycling opportunities for people of all ages and fitness levels. The registered charity Angus Mountain Bike Trails Association (AMBTA) is currently working on this project.

At Glentrek we're also keen to help more people to get on their bikes and out into the country. We can provide you with bike hire, routes or a guided day if you would like someone to show you a range of new routes or mountain bike trails.

Our mountain bikes for hire include good quality 18-speed, full-suspension mountain bikes, both child and adult sizes. Helmet and gloves are also provided.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Discover a few outdoors secrets in Angus

At VisitScotland the campaign is "Surprise Yourself". With Scottish Natural Heritage, it's "Simple Pleasures". At Glentrek, we're loving the sentiments of both outdoors promotions. The VisitScotland goal is to get more people to discover more about Scotland.

It could be a beach you've never walked to or a hill view you have never experienced. Perhaps you have not ever travelled to Cape Wrath or taken a boat trip to see native dolphins in the Moray Firth.

There is so much to see and do and discover in Scotland that you could be finding new highlights for the rest of your life.

The SNH Simple Pleasures campaign is similar but aims for people to get outdoors more often to find the natural highlights and hotspots just a short walk or cycle from their own doorsteps. The SNH website reveals a wealth of walk and cycle routes close to the Scottish cities where people can find wildlife, skim stones, play Pooh sticks, identify a tree's age or splash in puddles. Lots of simple things that involve being outdoors and having fun.

In Angus, we reckon there is so much to discover in the great outdoors. We obviously recommend that you come for a visit but here we bring you a few highlights of our beautiful region for outdoors fans:

Walk an easier Munro: The Munros in Angus, including Mayar and Dreish, offer fabulous views and a fantastic walking trip but they are also among some of the easiest of the 283 Munros to walk across Scotland.

Famous birth place: The Angus town of Kirriemuir was home to the Peter Pan author J M Barrie and today his home is an interesting historical visitor attraction.

Gorgeous glens: Angus doesn't have just one beautiful glen but FIVE. The region might seem a little "glen greedy" but each glen boasts a beautiful range of walks and views.

Festival fun: We're just days away from the annual Angus Glens Walking Festival. It grows and grows and offers an ever wider range of walks for new comers and old-timers.

Trail of the Caterans: Angus was once a region inhabited by cattle thieves, the Caterans. The many trails and routes created by these lawless men have now become beautiful walking routes. The Cateran Trail is the UK's first long-distance circular waymarked walk.

Wonderful waterfall: The Reekie Linn waterfall (pictured above) is a spectacular waterfall located just a short walk from Craigisla Bridge on the B954. Sometimes the waterfall is two falls of 6m and 18m. But when in full spate it forms a single waterfall of 24m. Whatever time of year it's pretty awesome to view.

Does anyone else have any secret gems in Angus that they would like to share?

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Your chance to tick off six epic Munros in 3 days

Whether you are ticking off Munros or simply fancy a trek into the beautiful wilderness of Scotland, Glentrek’s new Fisherfield Munro break is for you.

The Fisherfield Forest, near Ullapool, is home to some of the remotest Munros in Scotland, and in total there are six mountains over 3,000ft to climb.

These are not easy Munros and you’ll need to be prepared to carry wild camping kit, but the rewards for reaching the summits are almost indescribable.

The scenery is awesome, the route is tough but wildly fabulous and if you tell anyone in the know that you’ve done the Fisherfields they’ll be mightily impressed. "These Munros are the stuff of long-lasting memories," said a Munro bagger, who did the trip last year.

The Glentrek break offers walkers the chance to “bag" all six Munros in one guided trip.

As this is a strenuous three-day walking trip with remote camping, so you’ll need to be fit and healthy to join us.

The 3-day Fisherfields Munro trip:

When: Sunday July 10 to Wednesday July 13, 2011, inclusive.

Price: £280

Depart: From the Dundee area.

What you need: A high level of fitness, full hill-walking gear and a sleeping bag.

The price includes: One night B&B in hotel; two nights of high-level camping; guiding by an expert Mountain Leader; expedition rucksack; camping equipment and camping rations.

To book or for further information call: 01307 469536.

… And for something less strenuous

Glentrek still has places left on their guided Cateran Trail trip starting Aug 28, 2011.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Take care to avoid a summer menace

Summer’s here and we’re all much keener to get out in the great outdoors. While there are so many positives about Scotland’s outdoors playground, including fantastic scenery, the opportunity for adventures and improved physical and mental well-being, there is one less than attractive aspect of summer outdoors – ticks.

In recent years, there have been reports of a rise in the number of ticks, which sadly carry Lyme disease. However if you're aware of the summer menace and take the right steps to avoid them, ticks may never ever cause you a problem.

What are ticks?

The tiny, fly-like creatures feed on the blood of animals, and can also feed on human skin.

Young ticks, which are called nymphs, are about the size of a poppy seed, so they are not easy to see with the naked eye.

Where do ticks hang out?

In Scotland, ticks are found in woodland, on moorland and even in urban parks. There are more in the Highlands areas than in the south of the country.

Why are ticks to be avoided?

Some ticks carry the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease. If an infected tick bites a human, the bacteria can make people ill. The most common sign of Lyme disease is a rash spreading out from the bite, usually after one to two weeks. The rash usually looks like a bull's eye and it can become very large. Symptoms can include feeling like you have the flu.

In severe cases, Lyme disease can cause long-term joint pain and nerve damage.

But before you become too alarmed remember that if treated early, your chances of contracting Lyme disease are low.

How to avoid becoming infected with Lyme disease

If you’re out and about on Scotland’s hills or moorlands ensure you wear a long-sleeved shirt and long trousers tucked into socks.

Wearing light-coloured clothing can make it easier to see ticks and remove them.

Some insect repellents, such as a product containing DEET, can help to ward off ticks in the first place.

Inspect your skin frequently and remove any ticks.

Make sure you give your skin a thorough check after a day of walking. Be alert in particular in skin folds such as the armpits, groin, waistband area, under breasts and behind knees.

Also check that pets do not bring ticks into the home on their fur.

What to do if you spot a tick on your skin

Most ticks do not carry Lyme disease, and a tick usually has to stay on your skin for at least 24 hours before there's much risk of it making you ill.

But if you do spot a tick on your skin, make sure you remove it promptly. It’s important that you do not shock the tick into burrowing further into your skin so the advice is to use a “tick remover”, such as a Tick Twister.

Also ensure that all of the tick is removed at once. Clean the area with an anti-bacterial cream.

Simply knowing about ticks, and their potential danger, means you are far more likely to avoid any contact with the tiny menaces.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Popular Angus Glens Walking Festival returns

Walking festivals have been growing in popularity over the years, and nowhere more so than in Scotland. Almost every region hosts a number of walking festivals and during most weeks of the spring, summer and autumn there will be a walking festival taking place near you.

The local walking festival for Glentrek is the 9th Angus Glens Walking Festival. This year it takes place on June 2 to 5 and promises more walking routes and guided walks than ever before.

More than 400 walkers attended last year's festival, and this year is set to be even more popular, with the introduction of seven new walks, including a walk each day of the festival that is suitable for walkers of all abilities.

One of the great advantages of a walking festival is the experienced leaders, who offer a great deal of local knowledge, and make each walk a safe outing as well as an informative journey through the countryside.

The Angus Glens Walking Festival offers walk with countryside rangers, estate managers and ecologists who will be on hand to share their knowledge of local history and wildlife.

Walking festivals also create the ideal environment for meeting likeminded people and many have evening social events. The Angus Glens Walking festival is renowned for its programme of lively evening entertainments, including a quiz night and a ceilidh night.

Do remember that these festivals can be popular so the earlier you book your chosen walks the better. In 2011, whether you want to bag a Munro, enjoy a scenic trail along a coastal path or just find out more about the Angus wildlife you'd be advised to book your place early. See Angus Glens Walking Festival.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Summer's here: So choose a walking goal!

We're excited here at Glentrek! Well, we're always pretty high on life, walking and the outdoors but now that the sun has been making a definite appearance and the clocks have gone forward there are even more reasons to be smiling.

British Summer Time has officially started and now is the perfect time to make plans for your year of walking. Dig out those boots (if you've not already) and have a think about where you fancy walking.

There are numerous walking ideas and it could be that you don't feel the need for a goal. But so many people do like to have an aim and find that this motivates them to get out each weekend and into the hills. So we thought we would suggest a few walking challenge ideas:

Go for the summits: Perhaps you'll choose to start ticking off a round of the Munros or Corbetts. The Munros are hills in Scotland with a summit of more than 3000ft. There are 283 Munros and some of the easiest are in Angus. Why not give Glentrek a call to find out more about the Munros Mayar and Dreish?

Meanwhile, the Corbetts are hills that have a summit of at least 2,500ft. There are 221 Corbetts in Scotland. Many of these hills are "less walked" than the Munros and so they can feel even more luxuriously wild and remote.

Walk the distance: There are at least a dozen long-distance waymarked walks in Scotland. These walks range from two day walks to more than a week. Some walkers choose to walk a section of these waymarked walks each weekend and over a longer period of time, while others will hike the entire route in one multi-day trip. At Glentrek we're big fans of the Cateran Trail.

Take a challenge: There is a growing stable of walking events in Scotland. These events range widely in distance and challenge but they all provide the ideal aim for getting fit and achieving a rewarding goal. There is a new walk challenge called the Cateran Yomp, as well as a host of others including the Caledonian Challenge, the Highland Cross and The Moonwalk, in Edinburgh.

Coast the coast: Scotland's stunning coastline makes a great focus for walkers. There are several long-distance routes along the coast, including the Fife Coastal Path. Why not aim to walk the entire coast of Scotland over the next 10, 20 or 30 years?! Now that's a big challenge!

Tell us what your walking challenge will be this year.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

New charity walk challenge on Cateran Trail

Glentrek is a huge fan of the gorgeously scenic Scottish long-distance walking route called the Cateran Trail. So it's with great delight that we hear about a new charity challenge that will see hundreds of walkers heading along this beautiful route in Perthshire and Angus.

The Cateran Yomp takes place on the summer solstice weekend of June 25 and 26 and offers walkers the chance to hike 23 miles, 37.5 miles or 54 miles in 24 hours. The challenge aims to raise thousands of pounds for the Soldiers' Charity.

The event provides a great challenge to a range of walkers and should also bring a big boost to the local economy.

If there are any participants who would like to walk a section of the Cateran Trail for training or who are looking for assistance with accommodation close to the route please do contact us at Glentrek.

We know the Cateran Trail well and we'd be delighted to guide you or offer self-led assistance.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The outdoors is good for you, reveal new studies

Anyone who walks or gets out in the great outdoors every now and then will know the benefits to their physical and mental health. Now two new studies reveal more about the good that comes from time in the open air.

Essex University has found that as little as five minutes of "green exercise" can have significant mental health benefits. Green exercise is outdoors exercise, including walking and cycling. Of course, most of us will want to be enjoying our green exercise for a lot longer than five minutes but it just goes to show that even a short time outdoors in sunlight being active each day is good for our minds.

This study, as well as many others, show that a daily walk in daylight can boost feel-good emotions that keep the blues away.

So it's now wonder that a National Trust survey produced such startling statistics about nature and happiness. Trust survey, which was commissioned as part of the National Trust's inquiry into public access and enjoyment of the outdoors, asked 1,294 UK adults about their connection with nature.

Some 80 per cent of the happiest people in the UK said they have a strong connection with nature, compared with just 37 per cent of the unhappiest.

We're feeling spring in the air - and more time for making the most of our fabulous Scottish outdoors playground. If you're stuck for ideas then give Glentrek a call. We have a wealth of walks, both guided and self-guided, on offer in 2011.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The rise and rise of people walking in the UK

Two websites that offer downloadable walks in the UK are reporting a huge increase in interest. In our opinion, this confirms what we have been seeing over the last couple of years, that walking is now even more popular than ever before.

According to National Trust figures, more than 350,000 walks have been been downloaded from the charity’s website in the last 12 months. This represents a rise of almost 40% when compared to 2009 and it means that a walking route was downloaded every 90 seconds.

Meanwhile, leading Scottish walking website Walk Highlands reports a 70% rise in the number of walks downloaded over the last year, and an even bigger rise in the numbers of people coming online to share their adventures.

In particular it's the walking routes that are most suitable for families that are the most popular.
At the National Trust, a spokesperson said: "We've seen a remarkable growth in the popularity of walking in the past couple of years.

"We’re finding that more people want to get out into the great outdoors but often need to be pointed in the right direction. You don’t have to be an expert to go walking, you just need to enjoy getting outside."

At Glentrek, we're delighted to see this rise in popularity of walking and we have certainly been seeing a greater demand for our guided and self-guided walks.

We are keen for more people, especially families, to make the most of Scotland's stunning countryside by walking further and across a range of terrains. We have blogged before about the benefits of walking. These include improved physical fitness and mental well-being.

So where will you be walking with your family this spring? We would love to hear from you.

Friday, 21 January 2011

The wonders of winter walking

Bright blue skies, dramatic snow-covered landscapes, sparkling frost and ice on bare trees. Just because it's cold outside it doesn't mean you should stay indoors and put your feet up. A walk in the countryside in winter can be a feast for the eyes - and a great way to boost your mental and physical health.

Unless you are experienced in winter walking, however, we recommend you stick to lower level walks on routes that are clearly waymarked. Alternatively you could sign up to a guided winter walk or hire your own walking guide to take you to a range of more remote locations.

Glentrek offers a programme of guided walks and self-guided walks, or give us a call to arrange for a guide to lead your own group. You might also like to join one of our winter skills courses so that you can learn for yourself how to walk safely in the wintry hills.

This weekend, for a taste of winter walking on an easy to follow, signposted trail, we recommend this delightful riverside route at Edzell in Angus. The route is 10kms and flat.

The start and finish point is the village of Edzell. From here the path heads along the roadside to the Gannochy Bridge. Here you cross the picturesque River North Esk. You'll be stunned by the amazing deep sandstone gorge here. In winter the river is fast flowing and the views are very pretty.

Follow the road on the north side of the Esk until you reach Glenesk where a footpath then follows the river via the gorge and again cross the Gannochy Bridge. Continue on another footpath that heads back to Edzell, this time on the south bank of the Esk.

Where will you be walking this weekend? We would love to hear about your favourite wintry walks.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Get on your bike in 2011 - in comfort!

Many people will be thinking about ways to get fit in 2011 - and one of the fastest growing activities is cycling. It could be road cycling, off-road cycling on a hybrid or mountain biking. Whatever you choose you can be sure that cycling will improve you cardiovascular fitness and help to strengthen and tone muscles, especially in the legs.

But before you set out for your first ride, there are a few top tips that we would recommend. These tips are specific to comfort! Anyone who has just jumped on their bike and headed out for a couple of hours will know to their cost what happens if you do not think about your comfort first!

Glentrek's top tips for comfort on your bike:

Buy his OR her padded shorts: Padded shorts for women are made to fit women, while padded shorts for men are made to fit men. We have different physiques and requirements in our undercarriage area so it's always a good idea to buy the one that is made to suit your gender. You do need to buy tight-fitting Lycra shorts as there are other looser-fit shorts on the market, too.

Pay more for more: Padded shorts come in a variety of thicknesses so you might want to pay a bit more for a pair that has thicker padding. This isn't a rule but it is often the case.

Nice and snug: Bike shorts should fit well. If the padded area is loose they will move around and rub. So go for a snug fit.

Softer saddle: You can buy saddles boosted with gel for a softer ride. Or saddles with a wider shape. Some people suit these saddles and some people prefer a harder product. It's a question of taste but well worth considering. Try out a few saddles in a shop for comfort.

Add some cream: For men, the product to go for is chamois cream or Crotch Guard. Women can also use Crotch Guard but better still is Hoo Ha Ride Glide. These creams and oils go on to your nether regions and help to soothe and protect your precious bits from chafing.

Gloves: Protect your hands from rubs that come from sweating or wet weather. Choose fingerless or full finger gloves to suit the climate.

Other clothing: Comfort depends on personal taste but most people prefer to choose neat fitting clothing that wicks away sweat. Layers are a good idea as you can peel these off the warmer you become. A wind and water-proof outer is essential almost year-round in Scotland.

Leg and arm warmers: If you start chilly but have a tendency to get hot quickly then choose leg and arm warmers as a layer. These handy accessories cover the areas from the arms of your t-shirt to your wrists and from the bottom of your shorts to your ankles. When you take them off they roll up into a small package and tuck inside a pocket.

Helmet: Not everyone finds a helmet that comfortable but you'll feel a lot less comfortable if you fall off and hit your head without some kind of robust head cover. There are lots of helmets to choose from so try a few on and find one that fits neatly.

Bike fit: Bikes come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and geometry. It's important for body comfort to have one the right size so go along to a local shop and take advice.You'll be able to try a range of styles and sizes, too.

Now you just need to find a fantastic place to cycling. Why not call Glentrek for some advice?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Set yourself a 2011 walking challenge

Ben Nevis: Step out for a walking challenge in 2011

Are you looking for a little inspiration to kickstart your 2011 "walk yourself to improved fitness" campaign? What? You haven't even thought about getting off the sofa and out into the countryside after all your festive indulgences? Then now is the time!

Walking is one of the most accessible and low-budget ways to get fit and lose some weight. Walking is also a cardiovascular exercise that will help to boost the health of your heart. And it does wonders for toning leg and bum muscles.

So what about the inspiration? Here we bring you some ideas for launching your best ever year of walking in Scotland.

Head for the peaks: You could decide to walk a round of Munros, Corbetts or Grahams. These are all popular bagging (that is walking to the summit) pursuits and while it's unlikely that you'll complete a whole round of Munros, Corbetts or Grahams, you could be into double numbers by the end of 2011.

Take on a challenge: Long-distance walking events, such as the Caledonian Challenge, provide a great goal for walkers. You'll need to train for such events and to encourage friends to join you in a team so a walking challenge can be a great way to motivate yourself to get fit.

Do your bit for charity: Many walk events help to raise funds for charity but you could set your own unique walking challenge and raise funds for your chosen charity. Why not pledge to walk to the top of Ben Nevis three times on one weekend or walk the full 64-mile Cateran Trail in two days? You fundraiser can be anything you fancy, but we're recommending it involves walking in Scottish countryside.

Get out with the family: Make 2011 the year you get your kids into walking. Choose some easier hikes to start with and then build up to a bigger challenge. Some of the easiest Munros are located in Angus and could provide the goal for a summer's day hike.

If you have any motivating ideas please do tell us.