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“OKAY, so cards on the table, I’ve always had a wry smile when I’ve seen a group of Ramblers walk past: but NO MORE.
They are heroes, every one of them.
The reason for my sudden change of heart? I joined them. At weekend I did a C walk, which is deemed to be the easiest of three available to do – and it virtually killed me!
I’ve always seen the Ramblers as a bunch of lonely people with nothing better to do on a Sunday than get together for a bit of a wander, but I couldn’t have been more wrong – not least because the people I walked with were all ages, and from all walks of life, including a mother and daughter who enjoyed it as a bit of bonding time.
I’d been talking about joining the Ramblers for years, so when a friend bought joint membership as a Christmas present, it was time to give it a go.
Now, I walk a lot. I walk from the Liverpool Waterfront to Crosby Beach, I walk around all the city parks, I walk from the city to Greenbank Park to The Watering Can for lunch and a glass of wine… I am used to walking. I do on average around 80,000 steps each week and that’s without a big weekend walk, so I thought I’d be fine. (I even slipped a little bottle of wine into my bag when I packed my bag and butties the night before!)
But it wasn’t the amount of steps we did – 27,000 to be precise – what I wasn’t prepared for was the massive hills and valleys of the Peak District. At one point I was going to have to call for the air ambulance to pick me up!
It was a really tough walk which took more than five hours, with some extremely steep inclines, and some very muddy and rocky terrain which meant my poor walking boots were only fit for the bin when I got back as the soles had started to come away. At one point we were literally crawling up the side of a hill and I thought I’d got on the wrong bus and gone rock climbing!!
And yet – I loved every minute of it.
It was superbly well-organised, we got the bus at Rocket to take us to Eyam and from there we split into groups depending on the level of walk you were going to do.
Of course I could drive myself to the Peak District with no problem whatsoever, but I’d have absolutely no sense of direction when I got there (I could lose myself in my own apartment). All the walks have been meticulously planned, you’ve got a walk leader and someone at the rear to make sure no-one falls off the edge of a cliff and, with the loveliest group of people, you’re on your way.
It’s a really nice way to spend the day.
You get information as you walk, with places of interest pointed out and, what I loved, is that the slowest person sets the pace, and when the going gets tough, you’ve got loads of moral support. They knew it was our first ramble and were mindful of that, and at no point did we feel we were holding anybody up.
You can have a chat with people or just enjoy the peace, and you can stop and admire the stunning views. And we ended the walk at the pub where people had a cup of tea or a glass of wine, while we waited for all three groups, A, B and C, to get back.
The next day my bones ached so much I felt like the lower half of my body didn’t belong to me but I left my Fitbit on and I apparently had the best night’s sleep I’d had in two years.
The biggest bonus for me was I hardly looked at my mobile phone other than to take a few pictures, I got out of the city centre for a while, and, for someone who spends her life organising events and things for other people, it was nice to have somebody organise my day for me.
It was like having a day off the planet. We’ve forgotten how to have ‘me time’.
I would never have done what I did on Sunday on my own, I’d have looked at the next hill and said ‘sod that’, so it also felt like such an achievement. (And if I haven’t got a backside like J-Lo after all that, I’ll be fuming!).
Any advice? Look at the walk notes which tell you where you’re walking, the type of terrain you’ll be walking on – and never, ever laugh at a Rambler. Respect to the Ramblers, I would thoroughly recommend it.”
Pat Sullivan (Chair of Liverpool Ramblers, says a warm welcome awaits anyone wanting to join the Ramblers and membership fees start at £36.60 a year for the chance to fall in love in love with the great outdoors, re-connect with nature, get healthier and help protect the places we love.
She says: “You can find your nearest groups on The Ramblers’ website. You might then want to look at specific groups’ own websites, which will give details of all their activities including the range of walks they offer. You could also contact them for a chat before joining your first walk, so that they can answer any questions you might have, and you can do a couple of walks with a group before you become a Ramblers member.”
Joining the Ramblers gives people access to its ever-growing Ramblers Routes collection of nearly 4,000 walks around Britain, to help people to enjoy walking in their own time and their own way.
And Pat adds: “By joining, you’re also helping to support the Ramblers work removing barriers so everyone can enjoy walking in green spaces, keeping our countryside open for all and to preserving and improving hundreds of thousands of miles of well-loved paths, tracks and trails across Britain.
“Ramblers are a friendly bunch and we love welcoming new people, so why not give it a go?”
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