I would rather be camping than working!

Yesterday I was presented with a lovely gift – a mug with "I would rather be camping than working – a bad day camping is better than a good day working".

This is particularly apt since, for the last month, I have spent the vast majority of my waking hours (including some where I should have been sleeping) stuck in my office working. Perhaps I should not be complaining that I have so much work, but I am really starting to suffer from the lack of exposure to the outdoors.

During the past few weeks I have barely made it out for a handful of dog walks, let alone any longer hikes or exciting trips, and I am currently a staggering 50 miles behind target on my aim to walk 1000 miles this year. I am not alone in finding the outdoors so recharging, but right now I am flashing "battery low"!

Fortunately, by a quirk of fate, the slight easing of work coincides with a long weekend to Brecon planned ages ago. Since pre University days I have infrequently met up with a group of friends for the Brecon Jazz Festival – this mainly involves sitting in the sun (at least I remember it always being sunny) and drinking my friend's dad's homebrew (which is amazing). This year I will be combining the friends and homebrew with hiking during the day and camping (not exactly wild camping… more garden camping… but that still counts!)

Hopefully I will return with batteries at least partially recharged so I can get cracking on all the outstanding blog posts, Social Hiking updates, and making a dent in that 50 mile deficit.

Friday will not come soon enough!

Take a walk at lunchtimes


I try and head out every lunchtime for a dog walk – nothing sensational, just a couple of miles around the local fields or an occasional stroll in the nearby Salcey Forest.

Sometimes though, I convince myself I am too busy to spare the half hour or so needed for a walk. But this is false economy – I find a short time in the fresh air, surrounded by nature and away from work, reinvigorates me ready for the rest of the afternoon. Without it, my productivity and concentration slip.

Of course I am lucky to work surrounded by countryside, but there are enough parks, river /canal sides and trees in our towns and cities for this principle to apply to everyone.

So tomorrow, instead of eating lunch at your desk or the nearest starbucks, head out for an explore. Your body, mind and soul will thank you!

Summary of todays walk #1000miles


A mostly pleasant circular loop in the highest part of Bedfordshire (not really saying much!) from Lavendon, following the Three Shires Way to Santa Pod Racetrack, then back to Lavendon via Harrold.

Most of the route was through some great countryside along fields and through deserted woods. I didn't encounter a single other walker, bar a couple of dog walkers near the more built up areas. Only downside to the route was the long stretch on tarmac towards the end.

View the route at: http://new.socialhiking.org.uk/maps/os/daylightgambler/2011-03-12

Length: 15.8 miles
Height Gained: 784 ft
Number of tea stops: 2
Number of pub stops: 0
Number of times almost killed by a horse: 5
Number of blisters from new shoes: 0

Exploring Salcey Forest (whilst I still can)

I have just come back from a very pleasant 2 mile wander in a blustery Salcey Forest with the dog (as part of my #1000mile 2011 challenge) – you can view the map at http://new.socialhiking.org.uk/maps/os/daylightgambler/2011-02-04

I vaguely followed my favourite walk as a child – the first part (from the horse-box car park into Knighton's Copse) is pretty much non-existent – destroyed by the heavy machinery the Forest Commission used last year during tree felling. The second part still exists as a quiet, rarely used, small track winding through the trees, before finally joining the Woodpecker Trail back to the car park.

There is something magically about walking in a forest, especially as the trees crash together above you in the wind. Part of the reason I decided on this walk was after reading the wonderful "Many Trees Make a Forest" on Hiking In Finland: http://www.hikinginfinland.com/2011/02/many-trees-make-forest.html

"By day, it is that place where you are a basic, simple, human being again….. You're alive, breathing fresh, clean air, seeing the goshawk chasing a hare, the tracks of an elk and hear the call of the cuckoo"

The second motivation was the recent discussions regarding the sale of Forestry Commission woodlands, from which Salcey Forest is not safe: http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/environment_2_5740/please_don_t_sell_off_salcey_forest_1_2367166

As a general rule I am not really a massive fan of Forestry Commission woodlands – it sometimes seems that logging and commercial activities are often put before the users of the forest (on Offa's Dyke a Forestry Commission vehicle speed up as it past us, purposely showing us with dust) and commercial woodlands seem a little spiritless.  That said though if the "government department responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain's forests and woodlands" makes me feel like that, then how am I going to feel when all the forests are owned by commercial organisations?

Assuming of course I can still get access to them…..