Longer Walks

View from Stanage Pole

The photo above is the view from Stanage Pole – a larch tree pole that marks the boundary between South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, Sheffield and Hathersage. It’s an ancient place, there’s been a marker here since at least 1550 and probably long before. The stones around the base show “graffiti” from many dates since then. The latest version of the pole was only erected last week!

It’s in the Peak District National Park, the first UK national park formed in 1951. It’s also just 5 miles from my house and so we walked there!

I’ve been walking as part of my fitness plan for quite some time now. On the days I don’t go to the gym I try to walk a couple of miles before lunch, different gradients, different surfaces, different speeds, to get my daily “movement nutrition” in. And I’ve been looking to add in the occasional longer hike for some time now.

My fitness has improved a lot over the past few months, and a longer walk over rougher, more tricky terrain adds in a further element to building body strength and stamina, and the positive mental benefits of being out in a large more natural environment are not to be underestimated.

This was the first of those hikes and we managed almost 9 miles. The weather has improved dramatically this week, it’s sunny and warmer, there’s been a real sense of summer. But with the weather at this time of year still prone to be very changeable, we decided to make the most of it.

Living in Sheffield, particularly the south-west of the city gives you very easy access to this beautiful and historic landscape. And although I’ve lived here for over 20 years I’ve only recently started to become aware of the possibilites of gettting out and about more.

It’s sometimes hard to understand the state of mind that a previous version of yourself had. I have a real focus on fitness at the moment, both physically and mentally, and that means I want to get out of the house and the urban environment as much as I can. Walking and exploring in this beautiful part of the country fits really well with that.

And as a young child I was the same. Although I grew up in Birmingham – a very large city – I lived in the greener suburbs and I was always out – cycling, fishing, messing about in rivers, or up to something with my friends or my cub pack! Then life moves on, your focus changes, school, college, career, and most of my live has been without a focus on fitness or getting outdoors – and even with a resistance to fitness of any kind – even walking.

But rather than lamenting the loss of all those years of possibilities and experiences, I’m just happy to be where I am now, going on longer walks, exploring, starting new adventures. I have a very reasonable goal of just one longer walk a month at the moment, although I’d be happy to go up to one a fortnight if I can find the time.

It’s hard to carve out the time from a working week to do this, we do go out at the weekend with the kids as well but that is a different experience and not quite up to the 9 or 10 miles yet. But if you can improve your productivity in your focused work time enough then it is possible to sneak in the odd longer walk.