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.