FREE The online magazine for WFBF customers
Walk ON! www.walkfreebreakfree.co.uk ISSUE 2 February 2011
“From park benches to mountain bivies” Esquire JP Bass investigates how to correct your lifestyle
GALLOWAY A great location for group walking fun and adventures
OUTER HEBRIDES If you love the outdoors, the Outer Hebrides must be the ideal place for a holiday
Chiltern Day Walks
Try before you buy Chiltern walks P24
CONTENTS ISSUE 2: FEBRUARY 2011
02 04 06 11 12 15
INTRODUCTION “The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose”.Charles Dickens
Introduction CLUB EXPERIENCE PROGRAMME
Find out the latest in the Club Experience programme FEATURES
From park benches to mountain bivies GETTING OUT
We look into Galloway - a forgotten corner of the British Isles SIMPLY ACTIVE & ACTIVE LEARNING
The latest offers in our simply active & active learning programme WALKS IN THE CHILTERNS
See our latest Chilterns walking weekends along with the ‘Try before you buy’ FREE Chiltern Walks
CHILTERN DAY WALKS
PLACES TO ENJOY
Wild places and the mind
Walks of personal self discovery
Free Chiltern day walks
The Outer Hebrides
Keep up to date with all things Walkfree Breakfree by joining our Facebook group. Find us on Facebook by searching for Walkfree Breakfree Walk ON! is a magazine produced by Simply Designs on behalf of Walkfree Breakfree. No part of this magazine can be re-produced. All content within this magazine is correct at time of production and Walkfree Breakfree cannot be held responsible for any changes to planned trips advertised within this publication. Please check our website for ALL up to date information and activities © Walkfree Breakfree 2010
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elcome to the second edition of WALK ON our online magazine and brochure. In this edition we highlight our 2011 walking short breaks and holidays all of which have been developed in the spirit of the ethos that guided us during the many years when we operated as a successful university outdoor club. For us the outdoors and walking is not a solitary activity, rather it is about companionship, fun, seeing new places and enjoying memorable experiences. You have watched these fabulous television shows showing our stunning coast and country, the forests and fields, mountains, tarns, river and glens. Our objective is to help get you outdoors, to enjoy walking, take you to beautiful and inspiring places, to help revitalise physical and mentally and offer you many opportunities to easily enjoy our beautiful countryside. Walkfree Breakfree Ltd offer customised, inclusive walking and activity breaks and holidays direct to groups of all kinds and to singles and couples who seek a group and community walking experience. We are determined as we so successfully achieved in the past, to blend age, gender and race, to encourage participation, deliver outstanding walks and the opportunities for social relationships and fun and the memories that last. We believe our isles are magical and want to share this with you. During 2011 our walks in the UK will encourage exploration and offer inspiration as we take you
on journeys close and far, to wild places and to beauty nearby. Our walks are for all, whether you are a regular group walker, an experienced mountaineer or taking your first steps to enjoy group walks you are very welcome. Do enjoy our magazine which includes a number of articles and photographs from those who have participated on our walking weekends and holidays. We hope these will help to inspire and get you outdoors. During 2011 do have an enjoyable year in the great outdoors. My very best regards Iain Thomson, Director – WFBF firstname.lastname@example.org
“The World’s Walkers Rambling is a great British tradition. It should stay that way. There is no obvious league table to prove it, but the British will take on all comers when it comes to walking. Let New Zealanders throw themselves off cliff edges clinging only to long pieces of elastic. Let Alpine peoples slide down mountains on long poles. Let Californians surf, let Finns sled and the French cycle. The British will walk, stoically, purposefully and safely – free from intimidation by territorial landowners brandishing guns, or salivating and underfed guard dogs. Walking is the most popular outdoor activity in this country.
That is not an accident. Other countries have beautiful countryside. But Britain has the pubs and above all, the protected and maintained pathways. It is easy to forget, as you thrill to the inspiring sight of Atlantic waves crashing on Cornwall’s Coast, that the privilege you enjoy is the exception and not the norm. Few other countries grant you such rights. Britain is connected and bound together, in every sense, by its network of coastal paths and woodland walks, and they nourish both body and spirit. That is now under threat. Local government cuts have reduced the number of countryside rangers who maintain paths, signposts, stiles and gates. When paths slip out of use, land-owners can wrestle them from the public…… a case can be made against every cut…. Health and happiness are rarely more perfectly combined than in a good walk”. The Times – Leading Article 12/12/2010 February 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 3
OUR CLUB EXPERIENCE
â€œIn 2011 Walkfree Breakfree can help you to change your viewsâ€? 4 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk February 2011
ur Club Experience service philosophy is simple - we operate these trips in a classic club style with members voluntarily helping to deliver services including chores such as washing up but these chores are well organised and we make it part of the fun. In return we offer breaks of outstanding value. Accommodation is usually in budget venues such as hostels, or club houses as we prefer to call them. Our club houses offer great value and prime location often right in the midst of the most fantastic scenery Britain has to offer and facilities to deliver a truly sociable group experience for all. Bedrooms are shared but we try to avoid large dorms and often a few twin rooms are available or an opportunity to upgrade to nearby guest houses with
private facilities. Our club houses may not be hotels but they do offer bucket loads of atmosphere, the companionship and community experience we seek, excellent value and opportunities to enjoy walking and outdoor activity breaks more often. In keeping with a business that has emerged from a university outdoor club our ethos is to encourage participation, friendships and community. Whether you are new to walking or experienced walkers our Club Experience short breaks offer something different and are an excellent way for couples and singles of all ages to enjoy the great outdoors. Our Club Experience weekend offer is usually on an inclusive basis with accommodation; meals; guided walks; and travel by minibus or coach,
sometimes a door-todoor service; and our walk programme benefits from having immediate access to minibus support services. Our annual Club Experience membership fee £25 is totally dedicated to keeping our Club Experience weekend costs low and enables us to deliver a free Chiltern Day Walk programme (Club Experience fee only payable when you join a residential weekend) and you will also enjoy a £15 discount on any Simply Active or Active Learning short break you participate on and other membership benefits that will become available during 2011. A downloadable Club Experience Information pack and membership form is available on our website or on this link http://www. walkfreebreakfree. co.uk/assets/Uploads/ TripDownloads/ Club-Experiencemembership-pack.pdf. Please do pass on WALK ON to others who may be interested in our walking weekends. Remember we offer our customised, inclusive services to groups of all kinds - to the destinations below and many, many other magical locations. We are always happy to quote or indeed just offer you a little free advice and assistance on planning your own outdoor breaks if we can - full information on our services to groups is available on this link http://www. walkfreebreakfree. co.uk/group-offers/. But do read on as we have many more club experience trips that will appeal to you during 2011. Opportunities to walk in a quiet and peaceful corner of the Shropshire Hills, or to
enjoy a challenging trek to Morocco which offers excellent value to participants and experiences in abundance. Moving on back to the UK we explore the Suffolk coast, relatively close to London but yet often overlooked by walkers despite its wide open skies, the beautiful countryside and coastline that has inspired so many artists. Midsummer our journey continues to the far north, to John O’Groats and on to the magical isles of Orkney. Discover people, places, history, the birds and wildlife and above all the charm of the isles – a true midsummer journey of discovery – do join us.. In September we will take you to the Lincolnshire Wolds, flat and boring – don’t believe it these hamlets, churches and lovely country walks will truly surprise you. During October we visit one of our coastlines crown jewels the Jurassic Coast of Dorset – dinosaur heritage and long distance paths for us to all enjoy. At year’s end, we gather in the Peak district, in the town of Hathersage and a festive walking break in our first National Park where we have a huge range of short or challenging walks direct from our YHA. With fine food, the celebrations and fun this is one trip you cannot miss. In 2011 Walkfree Breakfree can help you to change your views. Book those diary dates now and reserve your place with prices guaranteed as below – no deposit necessary until the full booking information for each trip is published.
IN 2011 Walkfree Breakfree CAN HELP YOU TO CHANGE YOUR VIEWS MARCH
Walks in Shropshire quiet and secret hills
Trek in Morocco challenge the High Atlas 4000m + mountains
Walks in Suffolk, the coast, the heaths and nightjar magic
Walks in Orkney, John O’Groats - a midsummer discovery experience
Walks in the Lincolnshire Wolds - they will surpise
Walks in Dorset and the Jurassic Coast
New Year Walks in the Peak District - festive fun to be enjoyed
CHANGE YOUR VIEW GET OUTDOORS February 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 5
FEATURE Correct Your Lifestyle
From park benches
to mountain ‘bivies’ A short biographic of how to correct your lifestyle Words by Esquire JP Bass
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February January 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 7
FEATURE Correct Your Lifestyle
t’s hard to see the difference. Looking at a recent photo of half a dozen wine bottles lying outside my mates tent mid-weekend in the Scottish highlands, then thinking about being 15 and hanging around parks.
There are definitely six! The weekly sequence was simple, go to work, go to the pub, and go to bed. Then I was introduced to the hills by Mr.T, a hill walking trip, I didn’t even want to go, just couldn’t be bothered to not go. At twentyfive years of age and sweating like a hairy bxxxxr up Carrauntoohil in Killarney Ireland whilst my old people team mates zoom past, something wrong there! I enjoyed the suffering so much (plus I had coughed up for all the gear) that I put my name down for a trip to Torridon (without any encouragement). I was sold, the beauty of the Scottish highlands is mostly indescribable, and a well taken photo doesn’t do the landscape proper credit. Having been destroyed by these new experiences I signed up again for a trip to Scotland in January, not really realizing what winter was.
hills during the day, walk by their feet in the evening and scale them at the weekends, choosing to stay over night when it suits.
Briareach, Cairngorm. Cool?
Normal Scottish weather is rain; it becomes so normal for it to rain that when it stops the only thing to do is find a water course, especially if the temperature gets over 20oC (It happens)
The Chasm, Buachaille Etive Mor, Glen Coe. Cool!
Time in the hills allows admiration of fauna not possible from the city, seeing golden eagles and osprey less than miles from home, roaring stags in the rutting season, in the spring ptarmigan chicks scattering as the mother pretends to be lame, a pine martin running about with cubs in her mouth. Even an eider duck being killed by an otter, beet that Dave! Right now the ground remains frozen. In the back of my mind is the ridge walk taken on Sunday with blue skies overhead, patches of snow on the ground, and the ptarmigan in his winter jacket pretending to not be there.
If no wildlife shows up there is always the opportunity of a fantastic vista
“Walk On - Move On you just never know where it takes you”
Corrie an T-Sneachta, Cairngorms
Ben Chruachan, Argyll
Although terrified, I had brought the kit and felt MrT probably knew what he was doing. So I continue going along putting my name down for trips as regularly as possible and enjoying great group walking trips from home in SE England . Until, comparing mid-week city life with weekend hill life exposed a hugely suboptimal existence. All in the bin, two years on from my first hill with Mr.T, I moved to live on the west coast of Scotland at the foot of the highlands. Soon I was going from being extremely unfit, to fitter then most and not knowing much about mountain skills, to preparing for a mountain leader award. I look out at 8 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk February 2011
Briareach, Cairngorm. Cool?
Looking east from Ben Lui, Argyll
The Highlands are now home and I look away for holiday destinations, and have enjoyed many walks with MrT in the southern uplands of Scotland and northern England hills. Trips to Europe are awesome experiences, the scale of the mountain architecture and difference in the wild life. Be it Polish bears, a greater McNeil encounter, or simple alpine assenters.
On a recent revisit to Killarney with a friend made through MrT’s Trips. Still wearing the boots I brought for my first trip to Killarney (used everywhere since) I looked down and saw that they were completely worn out. Having gone and purchased a new pair I’ll just have to carry on for another 5years, but I’m not worried.
FEATURE Correct Your Lifestyle
The new and ‘abused’
February 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 9
CHANGE YOUR VIEW GET OUTDOORS
GROUP OFFERS AVAILABLE NOW!
Groups – we are here for you – look no further. We make it easy for you to organise and enjoy that walk, cycle ride, or other outdoor activity or challenge you have always planned. We are here for all - change your views – live life – get outdoors with Walkfree Breakfree. We offer walking holidays and weekends for walking clubs and social groups of all kinds, for all ages, customised exactly to your requirements, interests and budget and we can offer a door-to-door service. On our longer trips, for example to Scotland, we can co-ordinate travel via rail or air with minibus pickups so you can take advantage of budget travel opportunities to spare you many hours on the road. Alternatively join us on the high road – we will make it an enjoyable part of the holiday experience and in a group it’s great social fun, convenient and of course green travel with no ash clouds to interrupt! Our promise for groups – great deals and organisational simplicity – with service and prices customised to your specific needs. Change your views – live life – let’s get your group outdoors with Walkfree Breakfree. Email: email@example.com or ring Iain on 07889 165278
TRIPS TO INSPIRE The Chiltern Hills, Thames & Oxford: Walks & Rambles | Nightwatch – A walk on the dark side in Galloway the first dark park in Europe | Challenge Walks – Avoid the Crowds – Use our Support Services | Snowdonia for All – Epics or Strolls the Choice is | Morocco & the High Atlas - Mini five day adventures or a week’s introduction to the fun, challenge and joy of trekking | Northern Ireland & The Antrim Coast ...and lots more offers - check them out now walkfreebreakfree.co.uk.
GROUP OFFERS GALORE - you just have to check them out NOW!
GETTING OUT Galloway
Galloway A great location for group walking fun and adventures - see the stars in our first national dark park GALLOWAY
SOUTH WESTERN SCOTLAND www.dumfries-and-galloway.co.uk
y wife, Sue, and I, first came to Newton Stewart on holiday, fifteen years ago. From the start we were blown away by the grandeur of this forgotten corner of the British Isles. From the towering hills
and mountains, to the three hundred and twenty square miles of forest. The beautiful and varied coastline surrounding much of this, runs from the Solway Firth, with its picturesque half fishing nets, to the rugged cliffs and bays of the Machars and on up to
the golden beaches of the west coast. And all within easy reach. Three years ago, having discovered that a mere twelve years of visiting was entirely insufficient to explore all the areas hidden treasures, we upped sticks and moved here. We should have done it sooner. I soon found a local astronomy group, meeting at a small observatory just down the road and rediscovered my childhood love of the night sky. Not long after this, a bid was put in to become one of the first dark sky parks in Europe, and I was lucky enough to become heavily involved in taking the light measurements and photographs which were instrumental in our success. During the day, I was free to walk for miles in the
hills and forests, or along beautiful beaches and clifftops, observing the local wild life, which includes, buzzards, red kites, hen harriers, puffins and ospreys, and also, otters, pine martins, red squirrels and five species of deer. Tucked away in quiet corners, we found hidden stone sculptures and ancient historical sites, inspiring us to join a local art group and return to our earlier hobby of ink drawing. Sue was equally lucky in finding a local woodcarving group and was soon immersed in a fine layer of sawdust as she chipped away at pieces of driftwood. However, she soon began to enhance her work by adapting her pen techniques to incorporate pyrography into her repertoire. February 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 11
SIMPLY ACTIVE & ACTIVE LEARNING PROGRAMME
uring 2011 we introduce Simply Active and Active Learning walking breaks for singles and couples - as with our Club Experience programme these offer great destinations, excellent value, fun, community and companionship - making a group walking experience available to all. But no washing up and greater access to single and twin rooms. Our club house venues will differ but not always, do remember some of the world’s greatest walking holidays involves “roughing” it a little. Equally here in the UK we have some stunning destinations and venues that offer bucket loads of atmosphere and direct access to the walks and activities that you dream about. But often these are best experienced outside of a 3* or 4* hotel or guest house environment. Our Simply Active programme offers great walks and destinations and our Active Learning adds a leader with specialist knowledge to further enhance your walks but the walk will always be retained as the core activity. The aim of our Active Learning walks are not to add expert knowledge but to encourage learning and discovery during your walk and hopefully kick start your learning journey and assist physical and mental wellbeing. All our walking breaks are available to those new to walking and to experienced walkers as they offer something different and are an excellent way for couples and singles of all ages to enjoy the great outdoors. Full information on the short breaks below will be available early in the New Year but for your information the destinations and dates are summarised below. It would be helpful if you could let me know if any of these are of particular interest, and especially if you fancy being a team member on our unique and unusual Jenga on Ben Nevis Charity Challenge!
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RAILWAY WALKS AND INDUSTRY IN THE PEAK DISTRICT PEAK DISTRICT Sunday 15th - Wednesday 18th May 2011
You have seen the TV programmes featuring railway walks with Julia Bradbury so now let us explore some of the most interesting walks in the Peak District. We will enjoy walks around Cromford that take us on old railway routes, along the canals at the heart of our industrial revolution and more fully understand the work of Arkwright and our great industrial heritage. This short break will offer excellent value and a great group experience full details to be confirmed but for now please do get the dates in your diary and let me know if you’re interested.
JENGA ON BEN NEVIS - A UK FIRST BEN NEVIS Thursday 25th - Monday 29th August 2011
“a sponsored charity challenge with a difference - it’s the one you have been waiting for!” All participants pay their own costs for the trip but each will carry a sponsored Jenga block to the summit and we will play this award-winning game on top of Ben Nevis - enjoying a fantastic team achievement and raising money for local charities in the process. What else would you want to be doing on a bank holiday weekend? We have the bricks, the technology, the organisation and leaders and now need a motivated team and, of course, generous sponsors to support them. For those of you with little experience of mountain walking, but who wish to set themselves a real challenge for 2011, a few mountain walking training sessions can be arranged prior to your Jenga on Ben Nevis experience. It’s mad but not bad - so do join us on this truly unique and unusual charity challenge!
SIMPLY ACTIVE & ACTIVE LEARNING Offers 2011 northern ireland giant steps, glens and walks on the antrim coast COUNTY ANTRIM, NORTHERN IRELAND Thursday 1st - Tuesday 6th September 2011
The emerald isle – the world renowned Irish hospitality, a magnificent and stunning coastline and, of course, one of the world’s most fascinating natural heritage sites – The Giants Causeway. We will walk along sections of the Causeway Coast Path and Moyle’s Way and venture into the Antrim glens and villages and if you wish on our final day enjoy a tour of Belfast. The troubles and history, bad moments of time, but change is on the way and this short break offers you an opportunity to visit one of the most interesting regions of our great isles whilst from a tourist perspective it is relatively quiet.
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SIMPLY ACTIVE & ACTIVE LEARNING Offers 2011
ALSACE WALKS, WINES AND VINES - A five day break FRANCE Thursday 15th - Monday 19th September 2011
Small historic medieval villages, ancient churches, stunning views, the flowers, the aroma of wine in the still air and golden vines all around, grape pickers at work amidst the rolling hills, excellent country walks short or long and some great French food. If it’s ambience you enjoy, a glass or two of wine and, of course, those strolls too then this is the place and break for you. All within a day’s coach drive or alternatively via low cost airlines – if you are interested do let me know and we could be on our way!
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MOROCCO Introduction to Trekking MOROCCO Sunday 23rd - Saturday 29th October 2011
Do you seek trekking adventure and lifestyle challenges – perhaps you are a little hesitant? Walkfree Breakfree can help with our Active Learning autumn short break to Morocco where, with the assistance of our excellent Moroccan guides, we will offer you an Introduction to Trekking in Morocco – no classrooms here just open spaces, sunshine and a fantastic experience that we trust will deliver an experience to last a lifetime.
The Kingdom of Morocco offers a fascinating insight into an Arabic culture and, for us based in the UK, offers us relatively easy access to true trekking adventures in the High Atlas and other hill ranges of Morocco. The mountains, hills, valleys and rivers and the mix of Berber and Arab life offer unique and breathtaking appeal and treks that can be enjoyed by all. During this short break
we will enjoy a tour of Marrakech city and gardens, talks on the culture and influence of Islam on Moroccan life and gain insights and tips on trekking in remote areas. You will have an opportunity to enjoy tea in a Berber House, and during our trek stay in a mix of gîtes and tents. Above all we will do what we always enjoy, quite simply getting close to the people, places and way of life in this remarkable country.
WALKS IN THE
Closer to home here in our beautiful Chilterns we will be offering walking breaks and holidays for singles, couples and groups during the spring and summer of 2011. This will include a range of Simply Active and Active Learning titles that will appeal and encourage visitors from other parts of the UK and indeed Europe to enjoy walking in the Chilterns. Please do pass on our Chiltern walking information to family, friends, or colleagues in other parts of the UK or Europe who enjoy walking.
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WALKS IN THE Chilterns 2011
Chiltern Walks and holidays The Chiltern’s is a unique and unusual walking destination offering great walks for singles, couples and groups and is an ideal destination for those visiting London and the South East who seek to mix walks with visits to major tourist attractions or the theatres of London’s West End. The Chilterns is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty only an hour from London which with its lovely countryside, superb views and quiet hamlets is a real walker’s delight. Our Chilterns walks enable walkers to enjoy many of the Chilterns unique landscape features, combine stunning walks and views with visits to places of interest. During your walks you will enjoy the Chiltern’s great beech trees, the flora and fauna and the majestic red kites. At times you may be walking on ancient trails that take you to pretty hamlets and old churches amongst our wonderful countryside. Our Chiltern’s walking short breaks usually start with an optional afternoon walk commencing at 2pm and ends on either a Sunday or Monday afternoon. Our walks are designed to be achievable by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and are moderate walks but at times steep gradients (but not major climbs) will be encountered and of course muddy paths. We usually enjoy a packed lunch on the walks and often a visit to one of the numerous and charming country pubs in the Chilterns. We often walk direct from our accommodation or at other times use our own minibus to and from walks which allows us to expand the variety of walks we can offer. Our aim is to deliver leisurely walks and a very sociable group experience for singles and couples with memorable walks and we will complement our walks with opportunities in the evenings to socialise. Do join us in the Chilterns on walks of discovery that will enthral and leave you wondering why the Chilterns and its thousands of miles of footpaths is one of the UK’s most secret and undiscovered walking gems.
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Our Chiltern walking short breaks are usually but not always delivered as part of our Simply Active and Active Learning walks for singles and couples. As with our club experience programme these offer great destinations, excellent value, fun, community and companionship – making a group walking experience available to all. But no washing up and greater access to single and twin rooms. Our Chiltern walks are ideal for those new to walking and to experienced walkers seeking to explore a new area. Our Walkfree Breakfree short breaks are excellent for groups, couples and singles of all ages to enjoy the great outdoors. Our innovative programme of Chiltern walking weekends includes an opportunity to join walks on the Princess Risborough Walking Festival programme; or walk parts of the beautiful Chiltern countryside which often graces our TV and film screens – Walk the Midsomer Murder Trails if you dare! The Chilterns also offer opportunities for long walks which with the rolling hills can offer an adventure at any time of the year and a very active walking day without the need to travel many hours from London. In addition to the nationally ranked Ridgeway Long Distance path the Chilterns is also home to a beautiful section of the Shakespeare’s Way long distance path. On our Active Learning Walks we have numerous topics of interest that aim add that little more to a walking weekend in the Chilterns – whether it is the flora, fauna or wildlife that excites, the people, places or history we have walks for you. We are very excited by our walks of Self Discovery, Introduction to Trekking, Knees and Feet and our NNAS Bronze Navigation Course. As well as being pleasant walking weekends it is our hope they will offer you valuable advice and provide a gateway to venture to wild and remote places in the future.
SIMPLY ACT Adventurous Walks in the Chilterns
The Chilterns are not mountains but with the rolling hills and escarpment and by adding extra distance to walks whatever the time of the year an adventurous walk can be enjoyed here without the need to travel many miles to Brecon, Snowdonia or beyond. Our adventurous walks in the Chilterns allow you to complete a reasonable distance and experience the full joy of the Chilterns as our ancestors did – on foot. These walks are longer and more challenging than our usual Chiltern walks and you do need to be walking fit but we will not be racing each other as we have much to view and enjoy. See the 3 adventurous walks.
The Great Skirmett Skimish Distance: 10 miles This walk explores both sides of the beautiful Hamble valley. After a long excursion into the hills to the east of the valley, the route follows the valley floor to Skirmett, after which it takes to the wooded hills to the west before finally descending to the finish at Hambleden village. Along the way we will be rewarded with a rich variety of scenery and some lovely views but you will encounter several steep climbs and the going in places can be very muddy, even in summer.
WALKS IN THE Chilterns 2011
TIVE WALKS // SUMMER 2011 Follow the Red Brick Road
Distance: 15 miles This is a challenging but very satisfying walk. Every step of the way there is something new to see, from woods to fields, along valleys and over hills, through villages and past great houses. Follow the Red Brick road does it all in style. The scenery is a constant attraction and on occasion we are further spoilt with the reward of some glorious views. As well as the distance which can be tiring we have several steep climbs on our route that starts at the Warburg Nature Reserve and moves on to Nettlebed, Ewelme and Swyncombe.
The Great Goring Grapple
Distance: 13.5 miles This is a superb walk taking in all the best features of the Chilterns and in particular, some magnificent beech woodland. Starting from the historic village of Goring, the walk climbs the side of the Thames valley to traverse several miles of traditional Chiltern beech wood. It then makes a sudden and dramatic descent back into the Thames valley, with the last few miles following the river back to Goring. The highlight of the walk is a spectacular and little known view over the Thames, worth more than just a few minutes pause.
Princess Risborough Walking Festival
An opportunity to experience a range of short and long walks in the Chilterns by participating in this excellent walking festival where all walks start and finish in Princess Risborough’s the town centre. The festival walks have been specially selected so they are suitable for families, wildlife enthusiasts, historians or serious ramblers and offer a great selection of walks which offer a lovely introduction to the joy and beauty of walking in the Chilterns.
Location Location Location – Walk the Midsomer Murder trails if you dare! Distance: 8/9 miles Our lovely Chiltern countryside often graces the TV and film screens as the quaint villages are much used as locations for the likes of the Midsomer Murders and the Inspector Morse drama series and the very popular comedy show Vicar of Dibley. A number of films have been filmed in the Chilterns including the popular children’s film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Three Weddings and a Funeral. Our walks this weekend including “Walk the Midsomer Murder trails if you dare” will take you to a number of locations which you may be able to identify from your favourite television shows or films and our social programme will include a minitour of as many of the locations as time allows. This will take us to some of the haunts and traditional English pubs which were used as locations in the fictional crime scenes and films…… I will count you out and back!
Shakespeare’s Way Long distance Path: Oxford to Marlow Distance: 38 miles This long distance path of 146 miles is named after William Shakespeare one of our greatest dramatists and follows the route that the poet may have taken on his journeys between his home in Stratford-uponAvon, where his wife Anne Hathaway and his children lived and the Globe theatre in London, where most of his most dramatic plays were performed. Enjoy literally miles of interest, as the walk passes through beautiful villages and hamlets and “lost” villages and discover picturesque churches. Along the route we find history and mysteries, view great houses and gardens, enjoy walking alongside the beautiful river Thames and at walks end we can see the amazing recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. On a long weekend break sadly we cannot do the entire route but you will enjoy Shakespeare’s Way as it moves from Oxford and crosses the hills and valleys of the Chilterns and its pretty villages and beech woods and on to the lovely riverside town of Marlow on the river Thames. On our walking journey we will view Stoner House, a beautiful Tudor house nestling in the Chiltern Hills, enjoy the attractive village of Hambleden and the hamlet of Rotten Row and its lovely duck pond, and the many traditional flint cottages along our way.
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WALKS IN THE Chilterns 2011
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WALKS IN THE Chilterns 2011
ACTIVE LEARNING WALKS // SUMMER 2011 The Chilterns offer wonderful walks and on our Active Learning walking breaks and holidays the walk itself and group social experience will as always be the core activity. But we do want to add more to your walking experience, and on these walks our walk leaders will enthuse and share their knowledge
PEOPLE, PLACES AND HISTORY
A Village Odyssey – enjoy a nine mile walk around the lovely Chiltern villages of Jordans & Chalfont St Giles and walk in the footsteps of the poet John Milton. He came to the village of Chalfont St Giles in 1665 to escape from the Great Plague of London and during the year he spent here he finished Paradise Lost and began Paradise Regained. We will also walk to the village of Jordan’s, the village is a notable centre for Quakerism and in this 17th century village we will find one of the oldest Friends meeting houses built in 1688, shortly after the Declaration of Indulgence. In the cemetery of the house is the burial place of William Penn founder of the Province of Pennsylvania as well as other notable Quakers. Within the grounds of Old Jordan is the Mayflower Barn, said to be built from the timbers of the Mayflower the ship that took the Pilgrim father’s to America according to the antiquarian J. Rendell Harris in the 1920’s.
and experience with you. This will include the rich heritage and culture, the outstanding natural landscape, the beautiful countryside, the history of the Chilterns ancient and new and its nature and wildlife. The knowledge they share with you will always be at the level of an enthusiast. Our aim is to add
a little more to your walk, adding to its value, and encourage the members of the group to share experiences and knowledge. It is our hope that our walk leaders passion and enthusiasm will open your eyes to the world around and perhaps to a path of knowledge that might become a lifetime’s journey.
Outdoor Magic – Flora, fauna and wildlife of the Chilterns Perfect Peace – The Shades & Colours of Autumn:
During this weekend we will enjoy eight/nine mile walks through the Ashridge Estate and other woodlands of the Chilterns, contrasting the varied colours of the autumn beech, birch and oak woodland with panoramic views across the Vale of Aylesbury to the distant Cotswolds. The walks encompass thousands of years of history, from the Bronze Age and Iron Age features on Ivinghoe Beacon at the northern tip of the prehistoric Ridgeway, to the ancient deer herds, hunted for centuries but now left to roam in peace amongst the old, gnarled beech pollards.
Mills, Hills and follow the Drovers Footsteps
A summers weekend of eight/nine mile walks where we will explore the Chiltern hills and hollows curved out by the forces of ice and water after the Ice Age, walks that offer a taste of the unique landscape, history and wildlife of the Chilterns. We will pass through a patchwork of down land and beech woods, seeking out sacred Stone Age sites and Iron Age landmarks and more modern wind mills. On our way we will be passing on routes where for hundreds of years Drovers from all parts of Britain led their herds and flocks through this landscape on their long march to the markets of London – and they have left their marks, if you know where to look.
DISCOVERY TIME - LETS ROAM THE RIDGEWAY
Enjoy great active learning walks that will fill your senses, as your walk leader helps you to seek out the flowers, understand the local heritage and history. The aim of your walk leader who is a historian and wildlife enthusiast is to take you on lovely walks and to encourage you to be as passionate on the joy of walking in the Chilterns as he is. The Chilterns, it is miles better and you will enjoy all it can offer us.
February 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 19
Wild places and the mind ‘GREAT THINGS ARE ACHIEVED WHERE MEN AND MOUNTAINS MEET’ William Blake
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FEATURE Wild places and the mind
‘I went to the woods because I wished to live’
lake understood the need to get away from it all and give ourselves time to relax and unwind. You only have to read the work of the great poets to understand the restorative power of the great outdoors. Many people take exercise to improve not just their physical well being but their mental health too and it is increasingly recognized that exercise out of the gym in wide open green spaces is even more beneficial to our stressed and troubled minds. Nature has an inherent restorative and healing power. Capturing that power and harnessing it to de-clutter our minds and recharge our physical batteries is immensely liberating. It is not often I can truly say I feel completely relaxed and satisfied. There are too many unmet demands upon us all, but the simple beauty and peace of a walk in wild places comes closest to reaching that almost unattainable goal of complete relaxation. Couple this with a few exercises to de-clutter our brains and calm our racing blood pressure down and we get even nearer. Each of us has our own way of getting near to peace, whether its exercise, music or meditation and these all help, add a beautiful, wild location and some like-minded company and you have as good a chance of getting there as any. Stress busting weekends aim to do just that, bust your stress, blow it away so that you can return to the fray just that bit more chilled out, in less of a hurry, not quite so hung up about deadlines and with perhaps a better appreciation of what’s important in your life. ‘One touch of nature makes the whole world kin’ Shakespeare
movements have long acknowledged and proven the ability of a healthy dose of the great outdoors to restore individuals and help them grow in confidence and self belief. The ‘green’ aspect of what has now become known as ‘ecotherapy’ is important. Group activity for example in mental health recovery is better if it encompasses some green aspect such as gardening or contact with nature. Engaging clients in conservation work as a group has much more restorative benefit than sitting in a group together at the hospital. Stress busting or team building weekends are often more successful if they are undertaken in vivo rather than in fantasy. The 2010 Faculty of Public Health report ‘Great outdoors’ urges us to use our ‘Natural Health Service’ and the report has one over-riding message, ‘Green exercise quickly boosts mental health’. I will not bore you with the science, if you are interested follow up the references below but the research indicates that a good walk in the wild WILL improve your mood and self esteem. Exercise and exposure to nature both boost mental health so combine the two and its obvious that there are going to be benefits. Throw in some great company, great food, a peaceful location, mix it all together and …….relax. ‘I went to the woods because I wished to live’ Henry David Thoreau
The evidence We often immerse ourselves in fantasy to escape and hope to return relaxed but it is unreal, un-experienced, merely a passive form of escape and relaxation. Experiencing wild places head on and being part of the fantasy, being there for real is what makes this form of relaxation more permanent. The physical effects and health improvements will linger and so will the serenity and peace of the locations. Many mental health wards now run walking groups for clients and membership of relaxation and exercise classes are routinely prescribed by forward looking GP’s. The outward bound and scouting
Environmental news 2010 Green exercise may be good for your head. Environmental Science and technology. 4/21/2010. Page 3649. American Chemical society. Faculty of Public health 2010 Great Outdoors; How our Natural Health Service Uses Green Space to Improve Wellbeing. FPH. London MIND 2007 Ecotherapy; The green agenda for mental health And much of what was written by Robert Frost, Ted Hughes, Walt Whitman, Tennyson, Wordsworth and the rest.
February 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 21
PERSONAL SELF Discovery
22 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk February 2011
WALKS Self Discovery Walks
Self Discovery Chilterns Our modern lifestyle can be so rushed and stressful as we strive to deal with a multitude of daily problems at work, home and in our domestic relationships. All too often there is just too little time for ourselves. We often rush straight back into the fray without being recharged ….. and on it goes. Take a break……. a slow break, giving you the time to enjoy a walk, to interact with the world around you and the people you are with. Use your senses to enjoy and connect with your surroundings and understand the value of a walk in our beautiful countryside. Enjoy the wildlife and natural beauty all around us, and come to appreciate the inner smile a simple walk can deliver. Discover this special sense and much more on this unique break walking break staying in the Braziers community and house in the beautiful Chilterns. During this Active Learning break you will enjoy beautiful walks and precious moments, appreciate the trees and plants around us, hear the birds and feel the breeze that wafts the grass into ripples. You can let nature touch you and feel its unhurried beauty and peacefulness. Feel the sense of calm it gives us if we give it time. We will informally interact with the Braziers community and explore how our walks have impacted upon our self and on our senses. No theoretical lectures or talks, just plain and simple enjoyable companionship and social interaction and as is the community way share the chores. If the weather is fine perhaps a glass of wine around a camp fire or if not around the log fire in the Manor House. We will encourage poetry, readings, creative writing, art and discussion to develop the senses stirred by our walks and our being part of the Braziers community. Our aim is to deliver great walks of six to eight miles at a pace that can be enjoyed and positive, personal physical and mental outcomes to help you deal with the multiplicity of issues arising from our hectic modern lifestyles.
Knees & Feet
Our aim on this Active Learning walking break is to allow you to enjoy a lovely walk in the beautiful Chiltern countryside and walking with us in the group will be a Chartered Physiotherapist. Our physiotherapist during the walk and in an informal session afterwards will discuss some of the more common ailments that hamper walking performance and strategies for prevention.
INTRODUCTION TO TREKKING
Do you want to enjoy trekking adventure and challenges but are a little hesitant? During this Active Learning weekend we will enjoy two long and adventurous walks in the Chilterns in the company of a leader who has enjoyed many treks around the globe over many years with differing companies. Although not a trek leader she has been a very ardent participant and with her university academic and nursing experience is well placed to answer any questions and issues you may have in a common sense and practical way. As well as enabling you to enjoy two adventurous walks in the Chilterns her objective will be to offer you practical advice and tips to help give you the confidence and encouragement to enjoy trekking experiences and to seek out places new.
NNAS BRONZE & SILVER NAVIGATION COURSES
Introduction to Navigation Course (Bronze) During this Active Learning weekend you have an opportunity to participate in an Introduction to Navigation course, the bronze National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) course. During the weekend the navigation exercises you will participate in and advice offered will provide an excellent platform to begin the process to enable you to break free and independently enjoy the moors, hills and mountains of our truly magical isles. As a business that has emerged from a university background I can assure you helping others to break free participate and personally engage with the countryside are a business ethos and personal commitment. The Introduction to Navigation programme will cover the planning and undertaking of simple walks in the countryside mainly on paths and tracks and will include indoor theoretical and outdoor practical sessions.
February 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 23
Try before you buy
FREE Chiltern Day Walks During 2011 we will continue to offer our popular Try Before You Buy Free Chiltern Day walks programme. At Walkfree Breakfree our ethos is simple – we want to encourage participation by one and all – so please do take this opportunity if you can to enjoy one of our free day walks. Get the dates into your diary now and do remember to join our mailing list www.walkfreebreakfree.co.uk so we can send details of the walks and keep you updated.
Sunday 27th February
Trees and water – a glorious mix
Start Point Henley Start Time: 10.30am A 7 mile waterside walk around Henley & Fawley where we have an opportunity to enjoy beautiful beech woods, parkland the world famous Henley Regatta course on the river Thames. If you love trees as well as walking by water, this is the walk for you. It starts on the outskirts of Henley-on-Thames and climbs through woods and across fields to Fawley, high on the Chiltern Hills overlooking the Thames. The route then descends through beautiful beech woods to Greenlands and crosses the parkland with many specimen trees before returning to Henley along the world-famous regatta course.
Tuesday 22nd March
Saturday 26th March
Friday 6th May
A VILLAGE ODYSSEY
THE CHILTERN HAMLETS
Sunday 15th May
Tuesday 24th May
Sunday 12th June
A CHILTERN BLUE BELLS TRAIL
ESCAPING THE GREAT METROPOLIS
FOLLOW THE RED BRICK ROAD
Start Time 1pm Start Point: Lane End A six-mile walk starting from Lane End, which skirts the village of Frieth as we head for Skirmett. This walk crosses three commons each with its own character and wildlife – especially Moorend where rare orchids can be seen in spring and summer. Our walk will take us over open fields and through lovely Chiltern beech woods with views over the Hambleden Valley.
Start Point (To be confirmed) Start Time 10.30am Join us on a walk along one of the many and very beautiful Chiltern Blue Bell Trails (note the date for this might be brought forward depending on spring blooming conditions). Our annual Blue Bell walk of 8 miles through the most beautiful Chiltern woodlands and enjoy a fine display of bluebells. This year our walk is going to be a leisurely affair and will include a visit to one of our Chilterns quaint and pleasant traditional pubs.
Start Time: 10.30 Start Point: Chalfont St Giles Enjoy an eight mile walk around the lovely Chiltern villages of Jordans & Chalfont St Giles and walk in the footsteps of the poet John Milton. He came to the village of Chalfont St Giles in 1665 to escape from the Great Plague of London and during the year he spent here he finished Paradise Lost and began Paradise Regained. We will also walk to the village of Jordan’s, the village is a notable centre for Quakerism and in this 17th century village we will find one of the oldest Friends meeting houses built in 1688, shortly after the Declaration of Indulgence.
Start Point Chorleywood Start Time: 9.30am Join us on a pleasant ten mile walk which starts from Chorleywood. Discover glorious woods and unspoilt villages as we walk from Chorleywood (which can be reached by London Underground) through woodland, riverside meadows and the Chess Valley. We will visit the unspoilt villages of Flaunden and Chenies, which was described as a beautiful specimen of an English village. It is a fairly gentle ten mile walk on footpaths.
Start Point: Cadmore End Start Time: 1pm This is a lovely walk six mile walk starting from Cadmore End through valleys and over rolling countryside with stunning views from the high points including the much-filmed Turville. We will pass the windmill of “Chitty Chitty” fame and the “Vicar of Dibleys” church and pass through the pleasant villages of Skirmett and Fingest.
Distance: 15 miles Start Point To Be Confirmed Start Time 8.30am This is a challenging but very satisfying Chiltern. Every step of the way there is something new to see, from woods to fields, along valleys and over hills, through villages and past great houses. Follow the Red Brick road does it all in style. The scenery is a constant attraction and on occasion we are further spoilt with the reward of some glorious views. As well as the distance which can be tiring we have several steep climbs on our route that starts at the Warburg Nature Reserve and moves on to Nettlebed, Ewelme and Swyncombe.
Other Walking Summer Highlights to Follow – look out for the dates: • A late evening Glow-worm walk • A repeat of our walk and wild swim • The Walkfree Breakfree Club Experience Walk & summer BBQ Do remember and join our mailing list www.walkfreebreakfree.co.uk to be kept fully informed of our Winter 2011 Free Walks in the Chilterns – Try Before You Buy programme and information on other walking opportunities.
24 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk February 2011
Sharing your passion
WITH WALKFREE BREAKFREE
For more information, check out walkfreebreakfree.co.uk/londonescapes
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www.fishandchizh.com February 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 25
Places to ENJOY - The Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides If you love the outdoors the Outer Hebrides must be the ideal place for a holiday. Not only is it a superb destination but the journey there and back takes you through some spectacular land and seascapes. Words and Photographs by Anne White 26 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk February 2011
ailing from Ullapool to Stornaway the boat passes the Summer Isles with the unmistakable shapes of Stac Pollaidh and Suilven in the distance whilst from Oban to Castlebay the route offers views of Ardnamurchan, Mull, Skye and Rum. Why not go one way and come back the other, travelling the length of the Western Isles in the process? Many people leave the car behind as the Hebridean roads are excellent for cycling. They are not too busy and the fact that many are single track with passing spaces tends to slow the traffic down. There is a wide range of B&Bâ€™s and small, friendly hotels. The islanders are very welcoming, too, and although Gaelic is the preferred language they will speak to us foreigners in English! The options for walking are varied and interesting. The beaches, particularly along the west coast of the islands, are second to none. Miles of white sand studded with shells, huge
waves rolling in from the Atlantic crashing against the rocks and sparkling, clear water makes a fantastic backdrop to some bracing walks. Behind the beaches sand dunes and the machair, home to many rare flowers, complete the picture. Be sure to take your binoculars particularly if you visit any of the nature reserves such as the ones at Balranald on North Uist and Loch Dridibeag on South Uist. You may even be lucky enough to hear a cornrake. And whilst walking along the coast you will probably encounter otters and dolphins. The highest mountain in the Outer Hebrides, An Cliseam (799m) on North Harris is a must for Corbett-baggers whilst
on South Uist Beinn Mhor, Beinn Corradail and Hecla make for a good ride walk. There is even some good hill walking on Barra, the smallest of the islands: nothing over 400m but if you combine the central chain of hills they will give you a 15km walk with almost 1000m of ascent. Exploring the Hebrides on foot will like Orkney inevitably bring you close to the history of the islands â€“ stone circles, standing stones, brochs and other prehistoric monuments. Although the Vikings ruled the islands their presence is mainly only revealed in place names. The Christian heritage is represented by ruined chapels and burial grounds
dating from mediaeval times whilst abandoned blackhouses bear witness to the clearances that took place during the nineteenth century. Be sure to take the short boat ride out to Kismul castle, the ancient home of the Chief of the MacNeil clan, in beautiful Castlebay. If all that isnâ€™t enough the islands offer surfing, sea kayaking, boat trips, gold and fishing. And when you are exhausted after the dayâ€™s activities you can relax and enjoy some wonderful local seafood, smoked salmon, Stornaway black pudding or Hebridean beef and lamb. What more could you ask? February 2011 walkfreebreakfree.co.uk 27
MEMORABLE. ADVENTURE. OUTDOORS. SOCIAL. FUN.
Iain knows exactly how to organise the whole package: bringing people, nature, exercise and great food together and infusing everything with the spice of adventure - John
Look This Way â€“ We have the Views You Need We offer inclusive walking and outdoor activity packages customised exactly to your needs. Accommodation, transport, food, leaders, amazing destinations in one simple package. Tailored exactly to your budget our trips offer unbeatable value and memorable experiences for all. Fun and activity for groups of all kinds â€“ amazing social experiences for friends and family, work based charity challenges, employee or club organisers we can get you outdoors without the hassle. With us it can be from door to door as we can pick you up from the location of your choice including airports and whisk you to stunning destinations throughout the UK. We make it easy for groups to get outdoors to enjoy the views, the fun, the adventure and great socialising opportunities. Visit our website www.walkfreebreakfree.co.uk. Join our mailing list now!
For further information visit our website: www.walkfreebreakfree.co.uk
dly n e s ri , f rvice e l se ab eli ney r , o afe or m s ing lue f r e f a Of nd v a
Bus To Go www.bustogo.co.uk offers excellent services to groups requiring minibus or coach private hire services and welcomes any opportunity to offer you a competitive quote that meets your private hire needs. With both a kayak and cycle trailer available we can offer comprehensive services to independent activity groups. We offer an exciting range of London Escape and Activity Tours which are ideal for those visiting London to enjoy a tour or activity. Our London Escapes will take you to famous places, palaces where you can discover history and culture; on our Mix and Match programme you can enjoy shopping adventures in places new and enjoy our lovely countryside or simple get adventurous outdoors on activities in the Chilterns. Our active Bus Tours and walk programme includes a visit to the world heritage city of Durham & York and Rambles in the Glens of Scotland.
Coach & Minibus private hire for groups of all kinds and size Schools, colleges and universities - flexible and responsive to your needs Groups and clubs - avoid the hassle - we can even take your bikes and kayaks Music and sport events - have fun on the way Parties and social events - travel together with us Airport transfers - on the dot! Corporate travel - your agenda - our great deal Short breaks and holidays with Walkfree Breakfree
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