I've just come back from a week away in the heaths and woods of Breckland and Sandlings – two areas of East Anglia I've always found as transporting as any National Park. But one of the things I've noticed since doing #walk1000miles is I enjoy walking anywhere – absolutely anywhere – more and more. My once firm ideas of what's 'proper walking', 'really good walking' and 'merely okay walking' have dissolved like sugarcubes in a mug of coffee (and when it comes to that feted drink I'm pretty sure I enjoy instant at least as much as the finest civet-pooped). A good meal is as much about the appetite you bring to it as much as the ingredients you put into it, and the same is true of the walking. Walk more, and the bigger your appetite for every step, the keener your curiosity for the world around you and the more readily-pleased your temperament. At least, that's the positive side-effect of this challenge I've been noticing most often recently. From my frequent browsing of the #walk1000miles and new #walk500miles Facebook groups I know there are many, many more. Enjoy the newsletter, enjoy our momentous new issue of Country Walking, and most of all – enjoy every step.
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Our ever-roaming features editor is always here, there and everywhere: but where is Jenny this month? Can you work it out from the pic she just sent us? The answer's further down the newsletter!
We dare you not to grin! A compilation of our fave challenger clips from the past few weeks!
Thanks for the inspiration!
It's easy to forget as we take our lunchtime strolls or evening wanders just how transforming the seemingly effortless act of walking can be. But every day since #walk1000miles began lives have been been changed one step at a time – on pavement and moor, heath and park, treadmill and trail. So we'll be hearing more – in the newsletters and Country Walking magazine – from people whose challenges we think are particularly inspiring – for all kinds of reasons. People like Angela...
'For the first time in years I don't feel guilty'
In December 2010 Angela Dawson, 46, was in a serious car accident, after which osteoarthritis in her lower back became a problem every exercise she tried exacerbated.
What happened next?
My GP said walking was the best exercise for me but I rejected that because I didn't see it as exercise! By summer 2016 I was diagnosed with depression. I was told exercise helps those with depression but I couldn't muster the energy to do anything, and it was only then my thought s turned to walking. I started going for walks before picking my youngest daughter up from school, starting with 15 minutes and gradually increasing it to 60 minutes.
How did you make the leap to 1000 miles?
I loved being outdoors, regardless of the weather, and I especially loved the headspace and 'me' time I gained. Then I saw the #walk1000miles challenge on Facebook and thought "Maybe I can do that." So, I signed up and started logging my "boots on" miles. As of today I've done over 360 miles and I'm loving the progress I'm making.
How do you feel now?
Now I feel calmer and more focused in my day-to-day life. I feel re-energised and for the first time in years, I don't feel guilty about exercising. I find my subconscious works on stuff too and new ideas seem to pop into my head.
How do you feel the #walk1000miles community helpful?
I love the Facebook group. I love reading about other walkers' stories, their ups and downs and as a general 'go to' source for help and support.
What's something your looking forward to right now?
A month or so into the #walk1000miles challenge, I read about an event taking place on the 17June to help raise funds for Guide Dogs; The 100k Yorkshire Challenge. I thought, "I can do that." So, before I could change my mind, I signed on the dotted line. The event takes place in Harrogate and is approximately 62 miles over 24-30 hours. I haven't done anything like this before and it's a huge undertaking. But, hey, you only live once! My hotel is booked for the Friday night. My rail ticket is booked and my husband and girls will be coming to greet me at the finish line on the Sunday. I am a Volunteer Boarder for Guide Dogs and Guide Dog Locky will be staying with me in June. I'm hoping he'll be at the finish line too!
'People don't recognise me!'
In mid-2016 Doug Stewart, 57, had a sudden awakening: he was out of shape and low on oomph.
I just realised how unfit I was, and started a diet and walking. Today one year on I've lost 11.5 stone, walked 312 miles in the hills, got to 15 miles a day when walking, and am at my target weight. People don't recognise me which is great. I'm in 36 inch waist trousers now, I was 48 inch waist! Last time I was this waist size and weight was 40 years ago!
How do you feel?
I feel so good, fit and filled with energy. I feel I can overcome hurdles and am looking to the next challenge. Happy, proud, energetic and loving being outdoors – I feel I have got a life!
How are the the walking and non-walking parts of your life connected, or how do they affect each other?
I work away from home at times. So I go on the Ramblers website and find a walk near where I am working and have days out all over the country.
How do you find the #walk1000miles community?
Humbling. So many people are on the group overcoming their demons, and doing more tha n they ever thought possible, it is an inspirational group of overcomeers people who are overcoming so many difficulties. And I love the messages of support, and the likes when you post images and so on.
What message would you like to send to other challengers who may identify with your situation?
Plod along, at the end of the day with fitness or weight loss it is not where you are, it is not comparing yourself to others, it is simply distance travelled and be proud of how far you have come.
• Do you have a story of transformation through walking?
We'd love to hear from you! Click here for our Q&A form: you never know who you might help by sharing your experiences!
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Top 10 Facebook posts
ON THE OFF-CHANCE YOU MISSED SOME OF THEM, HERE'S YOUR MONTHLY DIGEST OF THE TOP UPDATES
Click the pics to see the original posts.
10 Jay Mistry and his team completed an incredible 8 Peaks Challenge!
9 The group hit a million declared miles, reveals Susan Miller
8 Every day Tanya takes a photo... this is her favourite yet
7 10 miles racked up and a really tough personal goal achieved by Cath Macdonald
6 How do you eat yours wondered Carl Bullock...
5 Nick Hands has done it!!
4 Barry Skilbeck was a little disappointed with progess. The group didn't agree!
3 'Don't ever give up on your dreams' says Helen who has got off crutches and into a new job!
2 Marvellous octogenarian Pam Wright Brogan hit the 250 and had something to say...
1 This little star has hit 500 miles – and an even bigger medical milestone
Are you doing 30 Days Wild this June?
You should! There are dozens of creative suggestions and it's a brilliant way to boost your miles. We think The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild campaign is ace – check it out! (And you can look forward to some more fantastic ideas to get back in touch with your wild side in the June issue of Country Walking.)