It was a beautiful drive up to Bolam. Heavy frost on the trees and glorious blue skies had me very excited for some really great landscape shots. However on arriving in the car park it was just plain foggy and cold. Jane was already instructing some new walkers in how to get the most out of the Nordic technique and had them squashing imaginary lemons underfoot and striding around the parking area.
Once the rest of the group arrived there was a proper warm up and a reminder about how to use the Nordic poles to enhance posture and walking. There was various comments about who had the silliest hat too and despite the cold everyone was keen to get walking.
There was a short walk through the woods before going out onto the road to make our way to the track that would take us up to Shaftoe Crags.
I had to do a lot of running to get in front of the walkers who were able to stride at quite a pace on the easy road surface. I used a 55-200 lens so I could photograph them at a distance; I did not want anyone to feel uncomfortable about me sticking a camera in front of them!
We quickly managed to get off the road and onto the public bridle path that would take us through some fields and onto the moors. Jane stopped the group just to chat about the route in a little more detail and help with any technique issues that she had spotted on the easy stretch of the road. It allowed anyone who was feeling at all uncomfortable to ask questions. A change of terrain also meant removing the paws from the poles.
The fog really came down in the fields but I think it made for nice atmospheric shots of the walkers coming through the mist!
I loved these massive trees. They must be hundreds of years old.
Jane is a very encouraging and enthusiastic about Nordic walking. This is perfect posture and technique below, leaning forward and driving the poles though with the shoulders to drive you forward. Its a great cross body work out so strengthens the core and back!
Across the field and then onto a track.
Then we came to a farmyard!
Once we were through the farmyard slurry (no pictures allowed as it would put you off) we stared to climb up onto Shaftoe Moor.
It was a very easy incline and again I did alot of uphill running to keep ahead for the pole users! They were quick. Jane suggested to everyone to lift their poles briefly the feel the difference in pace without the poles. Using them definitely helped with walking on an slope.
The reason this location was picked for a walk is because it is like a big walk in a little walk. The terrain was easy but mixed and the view from the top of the crags helped all the walkers realise why walking is so valuable, not only just for health but also because it gives us greater access to the landscape that you would not capture from the road.
Just as we climbed, the mist began to lift and we ermerged on the "summit" to this stunning view of Northumberland below!
There was still mist in the low ground ahead of use but we could see the wind turbines in the "wannies" rising out of the cloud.
Everyone on the walk was really impressed with the view and a long time was spent up there in the sunshine picking out what we could see. For some of the group this was their first every "summit" and they were suitably impressed. It was a remarkably easy walk for such a scene.
Unfortunately during a "reccy" of the walk earlier in the week Jane had found that the planned circular route back down the crags was inaccessible due to the bog like conditions, so we had to return the same way. However this time it was warm and sunny so the landscape felt new all the same.
What a difference 45minutes make, from going from fairly freezing temperatures to having to take a layer off! (Even removed my hat!)
On return to the starting point, Jane ensured that everyone stretched and cooled down properly to ensure that any muscular aches were eliminated! The group definitely felt as though they had a good work out and were all in high spirits!
The great thing about this Nordic Walking course is not just enthusing the participants to walk for health but definitely increased their desire to get out into Northumberland and walk more often, and in whatever weather conditions.
(Nordic Walking courses and 5 mile walks can be booked with www.shepherdswalks.co.uk)