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Walk from Walmer to Kingsdown, Kent

By 22 June 2014 Life, Lifestyle, Outdoors
Walking from Walmer to Kingsdown

As today was such a lovely day I was determined to get out of the house. So we left the washing up on the side and the bathrooms dirty and got in the car.

I wanted hubby to see Kingsdown because it’s so pretty. I’d never been there until we walked through it on one of our Yorkshire Three Peaks preparation walks. We parked up in Walmer near the bandstand. The Gurkha band were playing and the green was packed with people sitting and enjoying the music.

We grabbed some chips from the chippie and started walking towards the sea. All along the front there’s a level path for pedestrians and a cycle path. There were loads of families out on bikes, which was lovely to see. As you start to leave Walmer the grass disappears and the wild flowers take over.

Walmer is a quiet seaside town 6 miles north of Dover. You’d think nothing much happens here but a quick look on Wikipedia reveals that Caesar’s legions landed upon Walmer beach in 55BC and the castle was built on Henry VIII’s orders when he feared a backlash from Rome after his falling out with the Pope. The castle is in the south of the town and still standing; it’s now owned by English Heritage and open to visitors. You can see the castle from the coastal path.

Hubby at Walmer

Between Walmer and Kingsdown

Purple flower on the beach

Rachel Birchley

Beach huts at Kingsdown

Boats and huts Kingsdown

Hut on the beach at Kingsdown

Could never be mistaken for franks

You know you’re arriving in Kingsdown as the houses pop up along the beachfront road. There’s a real mishmash of buildings from cute little bungalows to modernist edifices. Whatever the house looks like, it’s sure to be worth a fortune due to location alone. Right on the beach, at the end of the main road from the village is the pub, The Zetland Arms, named after a lugger that ran aground up the coast at the end of the 19th century.

Passing the pub, we went straight onto the beach where hubby skimmed stones. I can’t do that, I obviously don’t have the technique. My stones just splosh straight into the water. After a few minutes of sitting on the beach we set back on the path towards Walmer, stopping at the pub for a quick drink before we left. Hubby was disappointed that we had to walk back the same way we’d come but I didn’t know how else to get back so that was what we did.
The walk back to the car was much quicker, probably because I didn’t keep stopping to take photographs!

The distance from Walmer bandstand to Kingsdown is 2 miles. It’s a really easy walk along a beautiful stretch of coastline. The path forms part of the Saxon Shore Way, a long distance (160 miles) footpath that winds its way along the coast from Hastings in East Sussex to Gravesend on the Thames estuary.

How was your weekend? Did you make the most of the gorgeous weather?

Rachel x

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Preparing for the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

By 15 June 2014 Life, Lifestyle, Outdoors
Walking in the woods

This time in 6 weeks, I’m going to be about halfway through the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge with 9 of my work mates! We’re travelling up to the Yorkshire Dales on Friday after work, ready to start walking about 6am Saturday. The walk itself is about 24 miles and takes in the three peaks of the Yorkshire Dales: Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. The aim is to get the walk done is less than 12 hours.

Now I’m not being modest when I tell you that I am not the fittest of people. This is going to be a massive challenge. So I’m having to do some preparation to make sure I’m not going to be left to die on the top of a mountain. But it’s for charity so what are you gonna do? We’re raising money for Combat Stress.

Practice walks

Now I walk all the time but when it comes to hills I’ve never been much good. To try and get some practice in, and wear in my new boots and other equipment, I’ve organised some practice walks.

The first walk was the Tolsford Trek, which was supposed to be about 8 miles but we ended up walking nearly 10 because we took a wrong turn. Oops! There was only one hill climb in this walk, and it was puny compared to any of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. The best bit was the lovely cup of tea back at the country park where we’d parked our cars. 80p for a mug of tea. Bargain.

A couple of weeks ago we did another walk, but this time there was no accompanying leaflet. I simply made it up. An OS map and a highlighter were my tools! We started at my colleague’s house in Walmer and walked across the fields, along country lanes and battled many overgrown footpaths through the Kentish countryside. The last couple of miles were along the seafront from Kingsdown back towards Deal, which was completely flat, very warm and very pretty. We walked 11 miles in 4 hours. By the time we got back to my friend’s house we were all knackered and our feet were killing us! God knows how we’re going to walk 24 miles!

Kingsdown - Saxon Shore Way

Beautiful wild flowers at Kingsdown

The next walk I’m planning is the length of the Elham Valley Way. This 22 mile long-distance path winds its way from Hythe, by the sea, to the historic city of Canterbury. Some of the route runs along the disused railway line, which closed after the Second World Way. It needs to take us less than 12 hours, otherwise we’ll never complete the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge!

I went to school in Canterbury and the old railway line was at the bottom of one the fields. My friends told me that the line was haunted and that you could sometimes still hear the steam trains. Strangely enough, I never heard any!

Overgrown footpath - Whitecliffs Country Trail

There’s a footpath through here somewhere!

Trekking clothing and equipment

To ensure my comfort while on this arduous trek, I’m investing in some decent trekking clothing. Well, I say investing, but really I mean buying stuff that’s on special offer! I don’t want to spend a fortune but at the same time I want the equipment to last as we’re off on our holidays to the Lake District and Scotland in September, so they’re going to get a lot of use.

I bought my walking boots from Sports Direct and they seem relatively comfortable. I think I need to spend out on the socks though. From what I’ve read, your choice of socks can make or break a trek.

For trousers, I picked up some convertible trousers from Sports Direct. They can be rolled up to make 3/4 lengths and zipped off just below my knee to make shorts. Pretty handy I think since we’re doing this walk in July, it could still be cold in the morning but it might get pretty warm in the middle of the day.

I’ve just done a shop at Mountain Warehouse for a few other bits and pieces. They’ve got half price off everything this week, plus I’ve got a discount code for 15% off that came with my last order. I bought:

    • a 35l rucksack that is designed to hold a hydration bladder and has plenty of pockets to make it ideal for a long hike
    • a pair of walking poles because I’ve heard that they’ll help my feet out by spreading the pressure
    • a short sleeve technical t-shirt that’s wicking, quick dry and has built in SPF 30
    • a compass so we don’t get lost!
    • waterproof gaiters to stop my ankles getting wet/water getting in my boots
    • and lastly a retainer headstrap for my sunglasses to stop them falling off my face! I’m going to look like a bit of a prat but they’re prescription sunglasses so quite expensive to replace.

All that cost £60. Not bad, eh?

All that’s left to buy now is some anti-blister socks, a hydration bladder and smaller things like first aid kit, anti-bac hand gel, a map and some food.

Even though it’s going to be really hard work, I’m looking forward to this trip so much. It’s going to be a weekend away with my mates, just with a 12 hour trek in the middle! We’re staying in a bunkhouse, which I’ve booked just for our group, so we’re going to have the run of the place. I think it’s going to be awesome!

Fundraising for Combat Stress

But what we mustn’t forget is why we’re going this walk. Yes it’s going to be fun, but it’s also majorly challenging, especially for the less fit of the group. The reason why we’re doing this trek is to raise money for Combat Stress. This charity relies on fundraising and donations to continue its good work treating ex-Service men and women who are suffering with the psychological injuries of combat such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you wish, you can sponsor me by visiting my Just Giving page.

Have you done any long-distance walking? Do you have any tips you can share?

Rachel x

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#BEDM – Being Adventurous

By 20 May 2014 Life, Lifestyle, Outdoors
My tent - ready for adventure

This year I’m planning on doing lots of adventurous things. I love a challenge and testing myself.

Last year I took part in the National Lottery Anniversary Run, which gave me the unique opportunity of running on the track inside the Olympic stadium, and then I completed a 5k run around Howletts Zoo.  I didn’t ‘run’ either of them properly because I’m not fit enough! I managed to jog/walk my way round. This year I’m forgetting about the running and embracing my walking boots!

Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

Coast to coast path near Keld, Yorkshire Dales National Park

This is my first adventure of the year and it’s part of my company’s efforts to raise £10,000 for the charity Combat Stress. Combat Stress provides free medical and rehabilitation services to British forces veterans suffering with mental illnesses such as PTSD, and anxiety. I’ve taken on the responsibility of organising the trip and 11 of us are travelling up to the Yorkshire Dales after work on a Friday at the end of July ready to start walking early Saturday morning. It’s a 25 mile walk that takes in the three peaks of the National Park: Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent. The aim is to complete the trek within 12 hours. We’re getting some practice in beforehand. A couple of weeks ago we completed a 9 mile walk in the local area, which was pretty knackering! I’ve never walked 25 miles before, it’s going to be tough. But then, that is the idea! If you feel inclined, you can sponsor me on my Just Giving page 🙂

Camping holiday in the Lake District

This year’s holiday is taking us to the Lake District for a week, followed by a week in the Scottish Highlands. We’re camping, not in the wilds but at a Haven park! We’ll be sleeping under canvas in our own tent, which is quite an adventure for hubby as he’s not as keen on camping as me. Last time we went camping the tent fell down in the middle of the night! It wasn’t the tent’s fault; the soil was very sandy and it was too windy. The pegs that come with tents are not designed for these conditions! This year I’ll be investing in some decent V shaped pegs that are more secure.

Neither of us have been to the Lake District before so we’ll be doing lots of exploring. I definitely want to visit Windermere, and perhaps Beatrix Potter’s house. We also might hire mountain bikes in Grizedale Forest.

The Cairngorms National Park

To make up for the week camping, we’re spending the next week in a cosy cottage in the Cairngorms. The only way I could get hubby in the tent was to promise him a hot tub for the following week! The cottage is in the middle of nowhere and looks so cute. I’m so looking forward to it. While up in Scotland we’ll be doing lots of walking, maybe visiting a herd of reindeer and tasting some whisky!

 

What are you doing that’s adventurous this year?

Rachel x

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