****This is the July newsletter****

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#walk500/1000miles newsletter – JULy

At last! it's been too long! hello challengers! you're doing great!

Hello again (to those of you who've received one of these elusive newsletters before), or welcome to you if this is your first. Needless to say we have been rather more haphazard and enjoyed more IT hiccups with the newsletter than we have with our magazine – but it's Year 1 for the new and improved challenge and we're all on this journey together. Thank you for your company – and your patience! (Oooh, and keep scrolling, this newsletter's loooooooong!)

How the cw crew are doing

Pretty mixed, actually!

JENNY, features editor

Miles walked: 630
Six things I’ve learned in six months and 600 miles…

1. Summer mileage can be surprisingly slow. In the cold and mud (so much mud!) of winter I thought I’d be cranking the miles up now, but I’m doing less than I was in January. I’m guessing it’s because that New Year’s Resolution rush has long faded, and the oh-my-God-I-have-two-weeks-to-walk-737-miles deadline panic hasn’t yet set in. My solution? To get a bit of daily momentum going - even if it’s just a mile. It all helps and makes me know I’m still doing this thing!

2. There’s a reason you don’t see walkers in flip-flops. I managed to get more blisters on a mile-long stroll than when my feet are squished into boots for 15 miles.

3. I never used to listen to anything but the breeze and the birdsong on a walk, but having podcasts queued up for a lunchtime stroll is fascinating and you can learn about cursed forests and the first ice-cream recipe, the remotest places in the USA and how to donate a kidney. Highly recommended for curious minds!

4. Whenever I need inspiration I head for the Facebook group. All the places you walk, all the sights you see, all the heights you soar to - it always reminds me of that Dr Seuss poem  Oh, the places you’ll go! I just have to remind myself after an hour (or two) to log off and go for a walk myself.

5. Longer weekend walks must be put in the diary. In pen. IN CAPITALS. When I think to myself I'll just squeeze in a walk somewhere between visiting friends, doing the chores and ignoring the DIY, it often doesn't happen.

6. I always feel better for a walk. Always.

Nick, deputy editor

Miles so far: 501
And so, in the manner of Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 programme, I enter the confessional.

Bless me, collective, for I have sinned.

In June this year after religiously (pardon the pun) monitoring my progress for six months, I hit the glorious high point of 500 miles – and then promptly lost track. A number of things happened, really. First and foremost there was my appalling attention span for anything that requires a time investment of more than 10 minutes. And, to blame my tools for a moment, there was the fact I couldn't find a means of measuring my accumulating miles that I really trusted for this job.

My Suunto watch is great, but if you forget to stop logging at the end of the walk (as I all too often did), you suddenly find yourself with a ‘walk record’ of 36 miles or something, as you’ve started to drive away from where you walked. And although my Fitbit logs activity bursts as well as steps, I’ve never found that it captures the actual distances of what it thinks are my walks accurately. The most foolproof method I found – plotting out my walks on Memory-Map after finishing them – just turned into an extra hassle at the end of a lunch break, with the working week barking in my ear demanding my attention again.

But then, of course, I felt ashamed. I saw all the amazing posts by Walk1000Milers on the Facebook page; all the love, encouragement and reassurance that flows around out there.

So I’ve said a Hail Mary and got my derriere in gear.

I’ve recalibrated my Fitbit and I’ve stuck a note saying “STOP LOGGING” on my Suunto. Handily, I hit 500 in June (the halfway point of the year), so I should be in a position to #Walk500Miles by year-end. And then perhaps I can salvage some dignity – and feel as good as I did that smashing sunny day in June.

So if any of you have lost track, gone off the boil or felt the challenge was too much, please use me as your yardstick. If a goldfish-brained eejit like me can get back on the horse, so to speak, anyone can.

See you in 500 miles!



Miles so far: 516
This is really life-changing.

Last autumn I turned 40 and frankly I was prepared for the rot to set in. I was ready for my belly to start overspilling my belt like a slow blubbery landslide, to start saying 'Ahhhh!' when I got up or sat down and instead of thumping the off-button angrily when the Archers music pranced its way onto the airwaves, to turn it up so I could hear it better. Frankly, I thought it was inevitable. But then I got started on #walk1000miles, and I think I've actually turned the clock back a bit. At the outset, the thought of walking 2.74 miles a day seemed to be too trivial an amount to expect to see a big difference from. A few big hill-walks would see that average tumble and I would barely notice I was doing anything so effortful as a challenge. But actually, with kids and work and commitments I haven't done all that many big hill-walks, and in fact that 2.74 miles a day has formed the backbone of my walking this year. And it turns out backbones are rather important to 40 year old mammals. There are countless occasions I can remember my inner loafer would have arbitrarily vetoed a lunchtime, evening or showery-day walk that I end up coming back feeling elated from. And all those little kicks up the bum have amounted to the mightiest wallop. I feel fitter and more well than I ever generally remember feeling, I've gone down a hole on my ever-more-insurmountable belt, I've got what could be described as a good colour rather than than my erstwhile liverish hue, and I have the constant pleasure of dipping into the current of joy that is the Facebook group, approximately 500 times a day. It really is one of the best things I've ever done, or taken part in, and I wish it would go on forever. Maybe it will. Maybe I will!

PIP, staff writer

Miles so far: 430
Everything started so well.

Straight out of the starting block in a frosty January I was skipping along at a healthy 81 miles per month, but then things got a bit haywire with the rigmarole of a house hunt in May... and I’ve let things slip. The mile counter says about 430, but I must be somewhere around 500 by now. I need to get in the car to reach a nice walk at the moment, but hopefully the big move to somewhere greener will tempt me out more often.
I love to walk from the door and I’m very much in the ‘boots on’ camp for qualifying miles, relying on tallying them up afterwards on a spreadsheet to keep count. But in a blasé sort of way it’s sometimes slipped my mind when I’ve been carried away by a good long walk, so I need to get on top of counting. Perhaps some passive gadget should do it for me from now onwards.
500+ miles is a big mountain to climb from July... so that’s exactly what I plan on doing this month. Climb mountains. It may be the many little miles that make the difference in the end, but I’ve had a big trip brewing for a while now and finally have a chance to do some catching up. Do vertical miles count too? With a bit of effort, I expect to see my totaliser engulfed in a blur of red with my zealous colouring-in in the coming months. 


A few of our favourite recent pics from the group

Psst – the new issue's out now

and lots of you are in it!

You can get it delivered overnight free, with quick and easy payment options by clicking on the picture.

Have you celebrated a milestone recently? 

Enter our competition to win one of 30 pairs of Bridgedale socks!

New to #walk500miles? us too!

Let's hear from three challengers each under 200 miles

There's always a lot of celebration in the group when someone hits a big milestone – but that doesn't mean there aren't hundreds of us at more modest milestones, or that bigger is always better. The fact you're doing this thing is the biggest cause for celebration of all!

Denise Bainbridge, 66

From Brampton Cambridgeshire

Are you doing 500 or 1000 miles?

Is there anything else we should know about you?
I've been a vegetarian for over 26 years and eat a very healthy diet the majority of the time, I'm not overweight ( but dropping a couple of pounds would be a bonus) but there is heart disease in my family and I have high cholesterol so have to take a Statin :-( Always enjoyed walking, my two children were brought up on long walks on Sundays and they both take their children walking today, over the years the lengths of the walks we can do has decreased and now 5 miles is enough but I'm sure this will improve. Now retired and husband has had a successful knee operation so I have the opportunity to walk more.

How long have you been doing the challenge?
Started 1st May 2016

What's your mileage today?
187 miles

What got you into it and what do you hope to achieve by it?
I was flicking through the Spring copy of Top Sante in the library and read the "Walk this Way"article, at the bottom of the page there was a picture of Country Walking magazine and a line saying sign up to the challenge. I thought, yes I can do this was inspired and got started. It is important to me to stay healthy, I do a lot of care for my Mum who has dementia, she was not a walker, I don't want to get this terrible illness and  there is evidence that regular exercise may prevent dementia. Also like the idea of doing a long (or longer) distance walk one day.

What have been the highs so far?
Getting to 100 miles - going to Norfolk for a week walking by the sea.

What about the challenge has surprised you?
How short walks add up, I round down but do count halves and quarters of all walking outside the house. I love the positivity and encouragement of your FB site. I am thinking maybe I can do the 1000 miles too! Oh and my blood pressure has gone down!

How different is the version of you that begins 2017 going to be from the version that began 2016 do you think?
I won't have put on half a stone over Christmas! I'll be walking through the winter,  I'll be healthier.

What advice would you give a new starter?
Do a bit extra, don't think you have to have a dog to walk by yourself, just down the road or round the block and take it from there, fill in the chart and watch the miles add up. Not everyone lives near beautiful countryside or can drive, walk around your local town or take the bus somewhere. Enjoy the stories and pictures of other people's long walks but if a few miles is best for you that's just fine.


From Shropshire (via London)

What should we know about you?
I have a husband, 3 fabulous boys aged 15, 12 and 9, a dog 2 cats and a tortoise. I have always loved walking and the countryside, hence moving to Shropshire! I started the challenge on 27th April 2016. As I write I'm at 182.6 miles.

What got you into it and what do you hope to achieve by it?
I have been a CW subscriber since 1999, devouring every issue with delight! Opportunities to walk have been less since having the children, but they are that little bit older now that it felt right to be able to get out a bit more. I saw the 500 mile challenge in the May CW issue but initially thought it would not be possible as I have 3 jobs and a busy home life. Then reading through I saw it averaged only 2.74 miles/day and thought that, with a bit of effort, I should be able to average that even accounting for work days. For me it will be a sense of achievement, plus the added value of getting fitter and theoretically losing a bit of weight into the bargain!

How big a change is this for you, and how are you fitting it in?
It's tricky to fit in on work days! Since starting the challenge I have found myself a parking spot one mile from the hospital I work in, which means I automatically walk 2 miles that day getting to work and back. The dog is happy as I now take him for an evening walk around the village last thing at night rather than just letting him into the garden!  The rest of the miles are dog walks, walks with the children, country walks and the occasional long walk when it can be fitted in! am only counting 'purposeful' walking, not walking around at home, at work or shopping etc.

What have been the highs so far?
My husband has joined me for a few walks which I have really enjoyed . Living in Shropshire we have no shortage of beautiful places to explore. I particularly loved our venture to The Stiperstones, and also a walk we did from Lingen in Herefordshire which included escaping from a field of cattle by crawling under an electric fence, negotiating a sunken pathway overgrown with nettles and meeting the friendliest of farmers!

What about the challenge has surprised you?
No mile has ever felt like a chore. The amount of people and enthusiasm on the Facebook group page never so ceases to surprise me, everyone is so friendly and supportive of each other, it is a lovely community to be part of, but then that's walkers for you!

How different is the version of you that begins 2017 going to be from the version that began 2016 do you think?
A fitter, healthier, trimmer(?) lady!

Any advice?
This is YOUR challenge and you are doing just FOR you. There is no right or wrong, no need to compete with others, it should be your pace, your time, your pleasure. Don't worry if your walks are short, they are just as valid as long walks, we all do what suits our own lifestyles, capabilities and itinerary and you'll be amazed to see the miles add up! Enjoy!

jane hall, 30

From Skelmersdale, Lancashire

What should we know about you?
I'm an administrative assistant and my job involves a lot of sitting and answering phones.  Very lazy work.

How long have you been doing the challenge?
started on 8 May 16.

What got you into it and what do you hope to achieve by it?
I have loved walking for years and have done a few big walks with my brother but was huffing and puffing and very out of shape, I wanted to build my fitness, stamina and confidence to be able to do more longer walks by myself.  

How big a change is this for you, and how are you fitting it in?
I am going out after work to make sure I am achieving the two miles a day, and am doing slightly longer walks at the weekend also when I can. It means being firm with myself to make sure I go out in the evenings, especially after a hard day at work.  I have also managed the occasional walk around the block at lunch time and have got a few colleagues into coming along for the fresh air.

What have been the highs so far?
Finding new paths in my local town where I have lived all my life and never noticed.

What about the challenge has surprised you?
How much better I feel in myself after going out in the evenings.

How determined are you to complete the challenge, and how optimistic are you that you will?
I was convinced when first starting the challenge that I would be able to complete the challenge easily. The last couple of weeks I have been recovering from surgery and haven't been able to rack as many miles, but I am 100% determined to complete the 500 by the end of December.

How different is the version of you that begins 2017 going to be from the version that began 2016 do you think?
Hopefully there will be a few less inches around the waist, and I won't huff and puff as much going into the new year.

What's your advice to a new starter?
Don't pay too much attention to other's big miles.  Do what you can when you can and you will soon notice the miles adding up. Just remember, every little helps and everyone goes at their own pace.

The Facebook group is nearly 30 weeks old!

and it's done some amazing things in that time

It's been described as the most positive place on the internet and the numbers back it up: 1890 members have made 17,000 posts, 100,000 comments, and cast 600,000 likes! 

And now it's time to count down the 10 most popular posts made in the 10 weeks since the previous round-up:

1 Is this the most popular 1000-mile completer yet? Thanks for all the stickers!

2 What a bootiful celebration!

3 The power of simple pleasures creates a mega-popular post

4 The group's most popular snapper deserves to put his feet up!

5 Mega popular meet-up-magnets M&M hit the big one!

6 The power of the challenge in one stirring tale of triumph over near-tragedy

7 More inspiration and determination!

8 It's the last straw for Donna Hardcastle

9 The best two miles ever added to a total

10 After the awfulness of THIS there was THIS and then THIS!

And, just for fun, let's hear it for our top 20 members whose contributions have been most appreciated by the group in the last 10 weeks, pop chart style!

20 Nicola Davies (New entry!)

19 Jill Cutler (Down six!)

18 Pamela Wright Brogan (New entry!)

17 Keith Thake (New entry!)

16 Donna Hardcastle (New entry!)

15 Liz Perry (New entry!)

14 Kate Hall (Slips nine!)

13 Lu Smit (New entry!)

12 Maureen Shipley (New entry!)

11 Sarah Brown (New entry!)

10 Douglas Dingwall (Slips two!)

9 Rob Parsons (Rockets eight!)

8 June Scott-Brining (Up one!)

7 Colin Hattersley (Slides one!)

6 Becky Wells (Down two!)

5 Frances Ipson (Up an incredible ten!)

4 Caroline Green (New entry!)

3 Sally Oakley-Qajar (Second chart in a row!)

2 Mandy Jones (Holds position!)

1 Susan Miller (Locked in the top spot!)


THE Story of the month? 

Steve Hart wanted to share something big with you all...

And here it is...

And here it is...

Let's go back to January 12th this year and here I am After surgery to remove a stone and my gall bladder.
This was just prior to me starting walking. Weight just a tad over 15 1/2 stone. Roll on to 22nd January 2 weeks after staples were removed and I started my walking regime and had my trip to Snowdon booked for June 25th. After completely changing my diet and walking daily, sticking an app on my phone and then later treating myself to a Fitbit to further keep an eye on things, conquered Snowdon for the first time, not the easy route I might add and then a week ago joined this group and signed up for the 1000 mile challenge. Now last night I sat down in work and went through my diary had to convert my steps from the earlier app on the phone to miles, then went back through my Fitbit diary and low and behold since January 22nd up to yesterday I have clocked up 807 miles, I was dumbfounded, I could kick myself, why didn't I join earlier? Anyhow just thought I would let you guys know the story to what prompted me to start walking. My weight is now 12.2.8, dropped from XXL tops to a medium, trouser waist from 36 now in to a loose 32... happy days.

Incredible work Steve!

Incredible work Steve!

• Have you got, or have you seen a wonderfully inspiring story in which our challenge has played a part? Email us and we might well feature it in a future newsletter.

And finally... A huge hand for this pair!

Martin & Maureen Shipley have completed their 1000 miles... in one go!

They've done it! Martin & Maureen have walked 1041 miles from Cape Wrath to Dover in one continuous journey, in memory of daughter Dawn, and to raise money for the charity Thrombosis UK. They've inspired and moved us along the way, as well as meeting up with numerous challengers as they've passed through their patches. 

Some of you have shared their burdens by transporting their rucksacks for the day, others have shared miles, stories and brews with them and you can see some of the people they met up with in the gallery below. ALL of you have shared in their joy and triumph through the Facebook group. 

Martin & Maureen aspired to raise a pound for every mile they walked. Perhaps you'll agree that's too modest a reward for such a herculean effort, so today would be a great day to push a few pounds their way, which you can do easily here or on the button below.

still here? one other thing then – are you on the map yet?