Friday, 17 February 2012

Training tips for hill walking

Chris Highcock has a simply theory. If you want to enjoy hill walking you’d best do a bit of training. But how many of us bother to do any training before hitting the hills? What Chris is suggesting that a little bit of strength building twice a week will increase ability and pleasure when you actually get to the hills. No doubt it will also improve your speed and efficiency when walking and also your recovery time.

So Chris has written a new downloadable book Hillfit: Strength. There are no big surprises in the book. He simply advocates using basic strength training techniques in the comfort of your own home, using mostly your own body weight, or the odd towel or door frame as extras, to become fitter for hill walking.

The explanations of sports physiology are easily understood and the strength-conditioning programme is very straightforward. It fits into just two 15-minute slots per week. Chris reckons that 15 minutes of simple strength training twice a week will create stronger, more efficient muscles that will lead to far better and more enjoyable days walking in the hills.

Basic equipment required includes: Your bodyweight, a towel, a door and occasionally a rucksack and a few bottles of water.

The aim is one set of each exercise following Chris’s guidelines and for a total of only 15 minutes. Twice in a week. Five basic patterns – two upper body (pushing and pulling), two lower body (squatting and hip-hinging), and one whole body (running/hiking) add up to a programme that can be done indoors in your own home without any shop-bought equipment – and all with the aim of building strength step by step.

They exercises are the usual kind, including wall-sits, planks, squats and lunges. So there is nothing complicated to understand or remember. Adding in a weighted rucksack adds extra weight as you become stronger. It’s as simple as that!

The most ingenious part of the programme was utilising an ordinary towel and door to create a “modified row” exercise.

The main emphasis of the book – and something we agree with – is that exercise itself is not the point. Living and enjoying life are the point… and exercise is your biggest aid to this goal.

To download the book costs £10. More details at

Thursday, 2 February 2012

We're wild for the wild map of Scotland!

We have always known that the Angus Glens and the Eastern Glens were special. And beautifully wild and remote. And now their “wildness” has been captured on a new “wild land” map.

Scottish Natural Heritage has come up with a Wild Map that’s a first in Europe and is aimed at protecting Scotland’s stunning wild places and landscapes.

According to SNH project: “Wildness is a quality experienced by people when visiting places of a certain character. Measuring wildness is inherently difficult.... However, we consider wildness depends on a number of physical attributes that can be measured…”

These include: The perceived naturalness of the land cover; the ruggedness of the terrain; remoteness from public roads or ferries; and a visible lack of buildings, roads, pylons and other modern artefacts.

The Wild Map will assist local authorities and other planning bodies to make decisions about development and land use change. And it’s hoped the maps will also help the tourism industry to promote Scotland’s wild landscapes to visitors and walkers.

We’re already doing that and we will certainly be using the wild map to make more of the wonderful wildness of the Angus Glens and Eastern Cairngorms.