Tag: Offa’s Dyke

Celebrating last year – what did you learn?

Celebrating 5 things I’ve learnt in 2017

As we are all looking forward to what 2018 will bring and how we might be able to shape it I decided to take a look at what I’d learnt in 2017. It isn’t earth shattering or revolutionary but it is worth celebrating.

I am very much about looking forward because that’s the way we’re going! But we should be celebrating what we’ve achieved and how we’ve grown; the latter may be from some perceived failure or overcoming a fear.

I’m happier on my own

2017 started with an unexpected BANG! I was thrown into a new start when my partner decided we should go our separate ways, you can read about that here –  The *hit hit the fan!. The practicalities of this took over and I quickly established my new home and life – Calmer Waters.
As the year has progressed I have come to realise that I’m much happier on my own. I don’t  function well in a partnership, I become dependent and a little too submissive, yes that’s pathetic and I don’t like this about myself.  On my own I’m more resilient, competent and definitely independent!

Abseiling solo!

I love to sing

I have belonged to low key choirs for a lot of my life. However monetary constraints followed by my last relationship meant I had not been part of a choir for over 10 years.
I was pleased to discover in my new home village a community choir, 30 strong, no audition, no cost and just a short stroll away. This ticked all my choir boxes – as I love to sing I’m not very good, and would never sing solo and don’t really like people hearing me sing along with the radio! However in a choir I can tune in with those more proficient. It is a great hobby, has helped me to get to know people in the village and made me feel part of my new community.

I am resourceful

When my relationship broke down I found myself with my part-time massage business that I’d been letting tick over as I was living an hour’s drive away.  This was the impetus to crank this business back up and to look for other sources of income;  Work Update – Do you do a variety of jobs?
This year I have been a poll clerk and an exams invigilator alongside my massage work and blogging.
I have grown my own tomatoes and picked many blackberries whilst walking the dog. I shop wisely and waste nothing. I want to use my blog to encourage people to take responsibility for their health and live well, this post has some great signposts for low cost health.

I love to walk

Fitness and good health are important to me. I have had a dog for over 10 years and he is an active cocker spaniel that needs two good walks a day. I do not resent this I love to walk. I love that I get out into the countryside on my doorstep twice a day and I enjoy seeing the seasons changing in front of me on a daily basis.

Dog walk
Regular dog walk fun!

This year we walked Offa’s Dyke Path, a national trail on the Wales/England border. It was glorious, hard work and rewarding. A fabulous way holiday – activity, good views and good food! Read my post about it here.

Offa's Dyke Path
We’ve arrived in Prestatyn, in the October sunshine

Friends and family are precious, and I count my clients amongst these

Finding myself single I relocated back to be near my Dad and my daughters and I am so happy to be able to easily pop in or meet up for a coffee or a walk. We were celebrating my Dad’s 90th Birthday in December and it’s great to be near to see him regularly and help him out….even if that means digging over his vegetable patch!

healthy later life
Dad & I

I’ve also made a concerted effort to regularly contact and meet up with friends, something I’d neglected. I seem to do more with these friends than I did with my ex’s! The daily routine of work and TV has been replaced by trips to the cinema, theatre, meals out and other adventures.
These posts are a couple of things I got up to – Peak District and North Devon and there’s more I’ve blogged about take a look!

Bargain weekend away Bistro
Blacksands Bistro 🙂

With my daughters in North Devon.

What are you celebrating about 2017?

Thanks for reading.

Jen x

www.jenafitlife.com

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

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OFFA’S DYKE PATH PART 4 – Llanmynech to Prestatyn

Offa’s Dyke Path

I’m walking, in stages, Offa’s Dyke Path on the England / Wales Border. A 177 mile National Trail named after the Offa’s Dyke which is a great frontier earthwork built by Offa, King of Mercia from 757 to 796 A.D  http://offasdyke.org.uk/

The last five day stretch Llanmynech to Prestatyn was possibly the best most varied 5 days of walking on the trail culminating in a paddle! This last section included crossing the Clwydian Hill range, great ridge walking providing beautiful views from our dull heights over the surrounding sunlit valleys. Our first and last days were scheduled to be about 10 miles of walking as we traveled from home (the Midlands) and returned home on these days too.

Part 1, 2 and 3 of this walk can be found here http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/offas-dyke-path-part-1/   ,  http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/walkoffasdykepart2/ and https://www.jenafitlife.com/offas-dyke-path-part-3/

Offa's Dyke Path
Prestatyn….177 miles later!

Wednesday 11th October Llanmynech – Carreg-y-big (10 miles)

Rufus and I met our walking colleagues at a friends in Coventry. We traveled on together to Llanmynech to begin our walk at 11am. An initial climb through the leafy glades of Llanmynech Rocks and along past the golf course.. We stopped in Trefonen, a very friendly village with a lovely little shop selling a variety of good foods. A lovely lady commented on my legs! And the shop directed us to the local Church which was open with a loo available at our convenience 🙂
We continued on with great road walking climbing out of Morda valley and through woods.The Dyke once more evident and the wood offering a little shelter on this wet day, to emerge onto Racecourse Common.

Offa's Dyke Path
Racecourse Common – Almost at our first B&B

A mile or so on was our B & B for the night and a lift into Oswestry (The Townhouse) for a great steak, a chocolate pudding and a beer. The B&B was comfortable, the shower rubbish, the breakfast great and the host……….a tad Machiavellian and a crazy driver (85 mph on wet country lanes)….. we lived to tell the tale!!

Thursday 12th October Carreg-y-big – Llangollen (14.5 miles), including a detour to Chirk Castle

Our plans for walking this day were fluid or at least we changed them, thus facilitating a better Day 3!  The day started on the Dyke once more through farmland, woodland and into Shropshire. After a  long climb, we took a short diversion across fields to Chirk Castle, in search of a coffee, a seat and a snack! It should’ve been easy but sometimes the National Trust???? The cafe was within the Castle, for which payment was required. The grounds and shop were accessible but did not sell what we required and dogs were not allowed in the Castle!! We managed to circumvent this as one of our party is a NT member and was able to get to the cafe. I tagged along to make my purchase 🙂

Offa's Dyke Path
Chirk Castle

Even after this diversion we reached our B&B Plas Offa Farm Froncysyttle at about 2.30. We decided to continue on to Irish Bridge and along the Llangollen canal to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – Thomas Telford’s brilliant piece of engineering completed in 1805, costing £47,000 and one life.

Offa's Dyke Path
About to cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Offa's Dyke Path
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct over the River Dee

From here we continued through Trevor Hall Wood to Panorama Walk’s limestone crags and scree but easy walking on quiet roads. We then took the descent from the trail to reach the wild waters of the River Dee in the middle of Llangollen at 5ish. We took refuge in a pub; steak & kidney pie and good ale. We then had a lucky break as our B&B host was in town and was able to give us a lift back to our comfy bed and lovely showers. We were welcomed by her pet Macaw!

Offa's Dyke Path
Macaw at Plas Offa Farm Froncysyllte

Friday 13th October Llangollen- Clwyd Gate (13 miles)

Our lovely host gave us a lift back up to the path and scree above Llangollen. We were able to start the day at the right height pleased to have completed a longer day on Day 2.
We continued along the scree walk of Panorama Walk with great westward views and down to the ford at World’s End.

Offa's Dyke Path
The ford at World’s End

From here a climb up to the Grouse moors. With Rufus secured on the lead we made our way across the boardwalks and boggy moor, again a little rain was falling. We found shelter in the Llandegla Wood, a very uniformly planted conifer forest. Rufus was free to wander here.

Offa's Dyke Path
Off the lead and into Llandegla Forest

In the village of Llandegla a lovely village community shop provided a welcome coffee and sandwich stop. It was dog friendly and ran by the lovely people of the community, on our visit being ladies over 65!
The afternoon walk was across farmland to Clwyd Gate where we arrived at 4pm ready for our hosts to pick us up and take us to the lovely converted railway station Eyarth Station B&B. A superb room and a lovely bath preceded a fish & chip supper and a couple of beers at the local pub.

Saturday 14th October Clwyd Gate – Sodom (12 miles)

An undulating day of walking over the Clywdian Hills was ahead of us, it promised to be good weather too.  At this point and probably yesterday too the Dyke is nowhere in evidence!  The weather was dull with low cloud up on the hills, but the sun shone all day in the valleys we were looking down on. At least we were still able to get the great views.

Offa's Dyke Path
Jubliee Tower atop Moel Fammau, highest point of the Clwydian Hills

It was Saturday and it was very busy at Moel Famau with a charity event (100 Ascents) resulting in a lot of people making the climb up to Jubilee Tower. Here we were informed that Prestatyn was 20 miles north and Chepstow 157 miles south! As we walked onwards away from the charity climbers, we were rewarded with glimpses of the Irish Sea and the many wind turbines in sea off the Prestatyn beach.
We arrived in Bodfari at about 4pm, with about 1.5 miles to our B&B in Sodom. However the local hostelry and afternoon sunshine led us to the beer garden with pleasing views over the hills we had just crossed.  Our overnight accommodation was in a static caravan , Karen our host brought us toasted teacakes which went down very well with a lovely cup of tea.  Karen also booked a table at the Salsbury Arms Tremeirchion for our evening meal and provided our transport there and back. A brilliant steak burger and even better ale (£2.90 a pint) specifically brewed for the Inn. Oh I shouldn’t forget the great puddings too. A good nights sleep left me refreshed for our final days walk.

Sunday 15th October Sodom to Prestatyn (10 miles, although after a walk on the beach and along the prom we’d walked 12!)

Offa's Dyke Path
We’ve arrived in Prestatyn, in the October sunshine

Our last days walk began along the quiet lanes, the North Wales countryside was pleasant walking. The footbridge over the A55 reminded us that civilisation was not far away and getting closer. The wind turbines and the sea were getting ever closer but it was still a good days walk. The approach to the seaside town is on the gorse and bracken escarpment of the Bryn Prestatyn Hillside. Finally you have to walk from the back of the town, down the High Street, across the railway line to eventually arrive at the sea, and the end of trail/beginning of trail markers – I spotted 3 of them!

Offa's Dyke Path
A paddle in the Irish Sea at the end of walking Offa’s Dyke Path

Have you walked this route?

Thanks for reading.

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Sign up to get notified of my new blog posts – pop your email address in the box at the top right of the page. I promise I won’t be sending spam or selling my email list!

Read my post on avoiding blisters! Which I managed to mess up on this walk 🙁

Birds spotted on the Llanmynech to Prestatyn stretch October 11th – October 15th 2017.
Only listing birds not seen elsewhere on the Offa’s Dyke Path

Black Headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Oyster Catcher
Cormarant
Green Winged Macaw
Meadow Pippet
Bullfinch
Red Grouse
Jay

 

OFFA’S DYKE PATH – PART 3 Kington to Llanmynech

Offa’s Dyke Path

I’m walking, in stages, Offa’s Dyke Path on the England / Wales Border. A 177 mile National Trail named after the Offa’s Dyke which is a great frontier earthwork built by Offa, King of Mercia from 757 to 796 A.D  http://offasdyke.org.uk/

Offa's Dyke Path Stone
Offa’s stone dated 757 AD

Part 3 was over 50 miles hiking in 4 days, including The Switchback; 14 miles of undulating walking, one of the toughest days walking I’ve done. Part 1 and 2 of this walk can be found here http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/offas-dyke-path-part-1/   and  http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/walkoffasdykepart2/

Thursday 13th July Kington – Knighton

I woke early on 13th July to be at the appointed meeting place at 8am. Rufus and I were all packed for our 4 days walk of the middle section of the Offa’s Dyke Path. The weather looked like great walking weather, temperatures down to under 20c in comparison to the recent hot weeks and little or no rain forecast.

We arrived in Kington and managed to start the days hike to Knighton at 11am. 13.5 miles with 2 or 3 good climbs reaching 400m at the highest point, beginning (the highest 18 hole course in England) and ending over golf courses. For the first time the Dyke was much in evidence!

We alighted in Knighton and spent a delightful night at The George & Dragon; very comfortable with great food and beer.

Offa's Dyke Path view to the Black mountains
The first time climb out of Knighton looking across to the Black Mountains

Friday 14th July – Knighton to Mellington Hall

Another good 14 miles but this day incorporated The Switchback, a series of steep undulations – WOW possibly the hardest days walking I’ve ever done – I hate downhill’s this was really tough on my toes. I believe they are now bruised and toenails will be lost, in the making of this blog post no other animals were harmed! In fact Rufus relish’s a good days walk, does 3 to 4 times the miles we do, despite being the oldest in the pack at over 70! (10 years old in doggy terms)

Montgomery from Offa's Dyke Path
Looking down on Montgomery

Again today afforded the best Dyke walking, much of it atop the Dyke itself through rolling woods and farmland with no breaks in the uphill’s and downhill’s.

Offa's Dyke Path half way point
Yay – we’re halfway! But today is a toughie Knighton to Mellington Hall; The Switchback

The best view came at the Cwm-Sinaham (406m) pop over to my Instagram to see a 360 degree video (https://www.instagram.com/jenafitlife/?hl=en). Although the highest point on the Dyke itself was Llanfair Hill (432m) just a little further along the path. We’ve already done the highest point on the trail in the Black Mountains, Hatterrall Ridge (703m) ((Part 2 of my Offa’s Dyke Path walk).

This day ended at the beautiful Mellington Hall where I had a bath, BLISS! (bath’s being a B & B rarity, but so welcome after a hard days walk).  Great beer and Fish & Chips were consumed followed by an early night…….well that was the plan but the boy’s got locked out of their room (broken lock) and were popping in and out of my room whilst the drama ensued and a Man with Ladder came to the rescue.

Mellington Hall on Offa's Dyke Path
Mellington Hall – upmarket B & B for a night

Saturday 15th July – Mellington Hall to Buttington Cross

Mellington Hall on Offa's Dyke Path
Rufus checking out of Mellington Hall

A shorter, much flatter day, 13 miles with just one serious climb to Beacon Ring. This meant a steep climb downhill to Buttington where on advice from Andy (Andy’s Twitter account), who recently walked the entire path raising funds for Midland Air Ambulance , we headed for The Green Dragon, a pint and a phone call for a taxi to our B&B; Severn Farm in Welshpool.

The best B&B yet, wonderful hosts Joyce and Alun were so welcoming and immediately booked a table for us at a restaurant in town and offered to take us back to the trail in the morning. Service 🙂

Sunday 16th July – Welshpool to Llanmynech

Our last day, it’s all over so quickly but my bruised feet (due to adding gel insoles to my boots and then not having enough room for my toes – BIG MISTAKE) were not unhappy about this. Our 10 miles to Llanmynech were flat, canal paths and riverside. My twitcher pals were convinced they’d spot a Kingfisher today (check out the list of birds which were spotted at the bottom of this post).

Breidden Hills - Offa's Dyke Path
Breidden Hills, quarrying underway. The boys are down by the river looking for an elusive Kingfisher!

After some towpath walking the path goes along the top of the Tir-y-mynach Embankment following the course of the River Severn, from here you view the Breidden Hills which are in part industrialised with quarrying. The route continues along the abandoned Montgomery Canal it was a very pleasant walk and along this stretch were swans nesting.

Montgomery Canal / Offa's Dyke Path swans
Swans and cygnets on the Montgomery Canal stretch of Offa’s Dyke Path approaching Llanmynech

Apart from water and an apple we had no refreshments and were very disappointed to find The Golden Lion at Four Crosses was shut. So onward to Llanmynech where everywhere had stopped serving food 🙁 a pint and a packet of peanuts were lunch and dinner! Here we awaited our taxi to return us to Kington and the car for the trip back home – happy, dry, tired but accomplished.

Have you walked this route?

Thanks for reading.

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Sign up to get notified of my new blog posts – pop your email address in the box at the top right of the page. I promise I won’t be sending spam or selling my email list!

Read my post on avoiding blisters! Which I managed to mess up on this walk 🙁

How I deal with my blisters from long walks

Birds spotted on the Kington to Llanmynech stretch July 13th – 16th 2017
Different birds from the previous stretch are marked *

Wheatear
Yellow Hammer
Chiff Chaff
Black Bird
Song thrush *
Goldfinch
Sky Lark
Swallow
Housemartin *
Swift *
Wren
House Sparrow *
Dunnock
Long tailed tit
Coal tit
Great tit
Blue tit
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail *
Nuthatch
Stonechat
Starling *
Robin
Green Woodpecker *
Spotted Woodpecker

Buzzard
Kestrel
Peregrine
Red Kite

Wood Pigeon
Magpie

Carrion Crow *
Jackdaw *
Rook *
Raven

Pheasant
Red legged Partridge *

Mute Swan and cygnets *

Offa's Dyke Path
Swans & Cygnets on the Montgomery Canal.
Photo. courtesy of Mark Godfrey

Heron
Moorhen *
Mallard *

Cormorant *

Fitness Challenges – What are your’s?

People are seeking ever increasing fitness challenges, what are your’s? 5k, Marathon? Triathlon? Heavier weights? Mud runs/ OCR?

It may be to lose weight, walk around the park, build a booty, improve your health outcomes, Whatever your fitness challenges are they are your personal challenges or goals.

Running

I’ve done a couple of half marathons…..with about 25 years between them! The first when the girls were under 5 and time was tight. The second whilst supporting my eldest daughter in her C25k, followed by her half marathon training and later she did the London Marathon…….the latter definitely not my bag, so time consuming….not to mention the pain. I supported her with this one by taking her drinks when she was doing a long run, running out to meet her and running the last couple of miles back with her and giving her massages!

The second half marathon was not really a planned goal, it was however a challenge!  As I said I was running with Alice as she trained for her first half marathon. After running 12 miles with her I questioned why I didn’t do my second half marathon. Unfortunately I couldn’t get into the one she was doing so we both booked onto one for about 3 weeks after. It was a glorious day and a lovely run which I managed in a very respectable 2 hours 4 mins, not bad for a 53 year old with dodgy knees. Shame I didn’t break the 2 hour mark tho’ cos I don’t plan to run another one!

Fitness challenges running
Half Marathon 2hrs 4mins

Wolf Run

A couple of years ago I did the Wolf Run, now that was great fun, very, very muddy and one to do with friends as you need to push and pull each other up and over obstacles. Woods…..Obstacles…..Lakes….Fields: a 10k run with tough natural and man-made obstacles, actually not a lot of running, lots of trying to stay on two feet in the mud, climbing, swimming and crawling! Definitely a fabulous fitness challenge!

fitness challenges wolf run
Wolf Run – just washed off crossing the river!

Walking

Walking is now my thing: Coast to Coast, ( in 3 sections), Cotswold Way and now Offa’s Dyke Path piecemeal. These walks are fitness challenges, completing good mileage to reach your overnight stop, on Offa’s Dyke we are carrying our luggage including 3 days worth of dog food! and climbing over 100 floors – the health app on my phone recorded 105 floors, over 30,000 steps and 19km covered on one day 🙂

 

Fitness Challenges walks
Offs’s Dyke Path – the end of Hatterrall Ridge

Online Gym

Generally my fitness challenges are almost daily, personal and in the front room …..my workout space! 

Julia Buckleys online gym programmes have a mix of HIIT, weights, weighted HIIT, flexibility work and cardio. Great for doing in your own time and space, no one watching, fabulous workouts and excellent programmes done for you!! Fantastic camaraderie and support on the website too.

fitness challenges online gym
Post workout – online gym
Training in my front room!

Your Fitness Challenge

Don’t be intimidated by the guys that want to do ultra runs/massive cycling mileage/ strong people events ( delete/ insert as appropriate) if you struggle to jog to the end of your road.   It is your fitness journey, your life, have fitness challenges that will change you. You’ll be rewarded by health benefits, oh and great satisfaction.

Let me know what your current fitness challenges are in the comments below.

Thanks for reading

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Sign up to get notified of my new blog posts – pop your email address in the box at the top right of the page. I promise I won’t be sending spam or selling my email list!

Read about the further challenge from long walks here ….Blisters!    https://www.jenafitlife.com/2017/05/30/blisters-when-walking/

Further blogs on running:

Running – Most of us have done it

Running – How To Get Going

This post contains an affiliate link

National Walking Month – Do you walk regularly?

May is National Walking Month, here you can find out more about why walking is good for your health and how I get my walking in!

Dog walk
Regular dog walk fun!

Do you get in 10,000 steps a day? Should you? Is that the recommendation?

Walking is a great way to get fitter, lose weight and begin to take charge of your health. It is simple, needs no equipment and can be done anywhere.

Most people are able to walk, it is a low-impact exercise – easy and free! It is shown that walking can have very valuable health benefits:
– reduces your risk of heart disease
– reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
– helps with weight loss
– exercise improves your mood
– improves your sleep
– it is energising
and getting outside will boost your vitamin D
(Source http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/09/11/daily-walk-benefits.aspx )

Interested in doing more walking? The advice is simple comfortable clothes and shoes and take some water if it’s hot or you’re out for a long time. Try to make walking part of your daily routines – the school run, walk to work or the shops, take the stairs, go for a stroll after dinner, in your lunch break or when you get home from work. For more advice and suggestions take a look here http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx

So 10,000 steps? We are advised to do at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity such as fast walking every week (as well as strength exercises on two days a week) . 10,000 steps equates to about 5 miles, and will generally include 30 minutes of moderately intense walking thus meeting the suggested healthy activity.

If you are interested in improving your health outcomes and grabbing some of these great health benefits, the NHS websites offer some good advice. Programmes like WalkActive offer scientifically effective walking techniques to ensure correct postural alignment. If you’d like to progress to running the Couch to 5k programme starts with a good walk!

I found getting a dog meant I easily walk my 10,000 steps and it certainly means I keep fit and healthy, although this option obviously comes with other obligations and responsibilities. I have explored some of these here http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/get-a-dog/ .

stick walk
Rufus always likes a stick on his walk!

I love to take walking holidays, with friends and my dog! We have together walked the Coast to Coast, a 192-mile unofficial and mostly unsignposted long-distance footpath in Northern England, from St Bee’s to Robin Hoods Bay. You can read a little about that here on the Good Dog Guide website https://www.thegooddogguide.com/blog/a-big-dog-walk/.

C2C Walk
On the Coast to Coast Walk

We have also walked the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile long-distance footpath, running along the Cotswold Edge escarpment of the Cotswold Hills. Currently we are walking Offa’s Dyke Path, following the English/Welsh border for 177 miles alongside the 8th Century Offa’s Dyke. We have walked from Chepstow to Kington and have the next stage planned for July! Read about this adventure here http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/walkoffasdykepart2/

OD Walk
Walking Offa’s Dyke

I’m not suggesting you need to start planning epic walking holidays, it is a great way to see our beautiful country, but adding more walks into your life is a fabulous way to get fitter and healthier. Why not give it a go!

Let me know about your walking experience.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Sign up to get notified of my new blog posts – pop your email address in the box at the top right of the page. I promise I won’t be sending spam or selling my email list!