Wednesday 25 April 2007

Nordic walking

Nordic walking was fabulous! I’d been looking for excuses not to go, if I’m perfectly honest. Friends had been making jokes about wearing bobble hats and jumpers with reindeer on them and talking in cod Norwegian accents, which was bad enough. But after the neurotic weather we had on Thursday I thought it might be hell on two legs (and two poles) – waterlogged and soggy. But the sun came out and as I drove down off the moor past Liscombe I saw a huge hare lolloping along the verge. I stopped and he (or she – I’m no expert) stopped and we looked at each other before continuing on our separate ways. It was a good omen and I pulled into the car park above Tarr Steps in a pretty buoyant mood.

There were nine of us in all – three expert walkers were dispatched off to their own devices while us five novices learned how to walk without spiking anyone with our poles (always poles, not sticks apparently!). It is quite a clever technique and does take expert tuition to get it right. Our tutor, Angela, was very tough on anyone ‘hiking’ (ie stabbing the ground in front and then pulling yourself to meet the pole). Nordic walking is all about taking long loose bouncy strides, with the poles never going in front of you (it looks a bit like cross-country skiing).
Once we’d got our basic technique we set off down to the nice easy circular walk around Tarr Steps (it’s gorgeous and well worth trying if you’re in the area – there are also longer walks for the fit and energetic). The river was very high and as we were about to walk over the actual steps, someone pointed out a huge salmon, lying (dead) on the path. The dogs had a good sniff and looked tempted but we walked on by.

The last time I’d been down here was in the dog days of the summer holidays when a pile of mothers from school had organised a picnic. There were about fifteen children swimming in the river and fishing (good trawl of tiddlers). The river then was lazy and serene. Now it was busy and feisty and one of the stepping stone crossings was quite treacherous with the water over several of the stones. But we all made it without a dip.

Once you get the technique right it really is a great way of walking. It’s actually far easier than normal walking because your arms can do a lot of the work – so getting up hills was a doddle. Apparently it gives you gorgeously toned arms – bring it on! We soon found we could power along and it actually looks pretty good once you get the hang of it.

Came back in fine fettle but think I’ll dunk myself in a hot rosemary bath soon as I can feel a lot of unused muscles starting to groan a bit.


annakarenin said...

Keep putting posts up on purplecoo as you add as I never got the chance to read your early stuff and this is a great opportunity to play catch up.

annakarenin said...

Ditto men hot women cold and I have experienced those mine is better than yours kids. Normally about cars and often they come from families with a small income all blown on the flashiest car around??

Urban Chick said...

ooh, nordic walking? saw sth about it once in the weekend papers and it did appeal

anything that makes walking uphill more bearable is worth a try in my books!

and the poles make one look so, well, professional!

UC (and friend of eden's)

toady said...

Sounds far too energetic for me. I'll just come for the picnic. Toady

Aunt-Eunice said...

Aah - had always wondered about the folk with poles...

Fennie said...

Yes, often seen it and wondered 'don't the poles get in the way of your walking? You've given me a new insight, Jane. I did once try Nordic skiing in Nordic Norway no less - the hardest exercise I have ever, ever done - perhaps because I never managed to get the hang of it while the others with me took to it like ducks to water.

Netty said...

Annette Strauch - doing Nordic Walking in Wales. Have been to Exmoor and I did a normal walk around Dulverton along the river which Mike Davey from Ynys recommended.