Sunday, 9 September 2018

Confessions of a Group Walking Holiday Virgin

Last week I went on my very first group walking holiday.  35 women based at Glaramara House in deepest darkest Borrowdale.  My very good friend Helen organises these hols and they are so incredibly popular that they sell out pretty much as soon as she announces them - check out her Facebook page if you want to see what she gets up to and fancy joining the next hols (or the one after, I think the next one is booked up already!)

I have never done anything like this before, in fact I've actively avoided it thinking I'd hate it but, it turns out, I had an amazing time.  Absolutely everything was taken care of, all I had to do was present myself in appropriate attire for hiking or eating.  Breakfast, dinner and tea were all provided and each day there was a a choice of 3 different walks (to suit 3 different levels) and the option of swimming with Suzanna Swims (who was utterly amazing and I'll write more about my adventures with her soon!).

So what was so fabulous about it all?  Well...

1.  I discovered new footpaths and routes I'd not followed before

Langstrath Valley
Because the hikes were all guided by professional guides (Gaynor, Barbara and Helen) I could relax and enjoy the company and the views.  Inevitably they chose routes that were new to me - being based in South Cumbria my knowledge of the Northern Fells is patchy in places and I've now found a whole host of new places to drag Steve to.  I'd not been up along the Langstrath Valley before and on the final morning Helen took us along a new (to me) route to Castle Crag.  A lifetime in Cumbria will never be long enough to discover all of its secrets!

2.  We were a hardy bunch!


I absolutely *loved* the adventurous spirit of everyone there, during the course of the week most of us pushed ourselves outside our comfort zones and had a go at things we'd never tried before.  Day 1 was wet, soggy and rainy but did anyone even murmur a complain?  No they did not, they donned their waterproofs and cracked on.  In fact we even took the open top bus to the start of our first walk!


And there was no shortage of people ready to take up Suzanna's many challenges - like a dip in a river at the end of our soggy first walk.  Well, I suppose we were all wet by then anyway!

I did go in - honest I did!

3.  Everyone was so supportive


There were 35 us living and hiking together for a week and the atmosphere was fabulous.  I'll admit I found it a little overwhelming at first but that was down to me an no-one else.  Everyone was massively supportive of each other; problems were shared, hiking tactics were discussed and sore knees were sympathised with. And if ever volunteers were called for to help with anything, there was always a ready bunch of folks raising their hands.

 It was so great to be surrounded by a group of people intent on seeking solutions and getting out and stretching themselves.  Each day the hiking groups mixed around depending on who'd signed up for what and each day I walked with different people and every day we all chatted merrily as we pottered along.  New friendships were formed and existing friendships were deepened.

4.  I saw things through new eyes

Innominate Tarn
I swear I have never, ever, taken things for granted up here and each time I'm out and about I take a moment to appreciate the amazing views.  That said it was fantastic to be with a group of people who, in many cases, were new to the area and were experiencing it for the first time.  The different things they noticed really struck a chord with me and watching their faces as we took in the views at the top of Haystacks, or wandered along the Langstrath Valley genuinely brought me to the brink of tears.  I am such a lucky, lucky moo to live here!

5.  We were all equal


We were a really mixed bunch, every size, shape, height and dimension.  Some retired, some still working, some rich, some less so, some straight, some not, some keen and hardened hikers, some weekend walkers - but it didn't make a scrap of difference, we all mucked in and got along. I chatted to folks from lots of different places and definitely made a few new friends.  At breakfast and tea the dining hall was buzzing with chatter and laughter and I'm pretty sure that every single person had a fantastic time.  Would I go again?  In a heartbeat!


I know she's a great friend but the linchpin of the entire thing is Helen - not only does she do the most fantastic job organising the behind-the-scenes logistics but her energy and infectious enthusiasm drives and forms the group. She really is the heartbeat of Wild Rambling and the holidays would really not be so much fun without her.  

The best way to find out which holidays are coming up is to sign up to the newsletter by emailing Helen here. You can also follow the Wild Rambling Facebook page or keep an eye out for the all new and updated website coming soon.

Me & Helen


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