It’s no secret that regular brisk walking – just 20 minutes or so a day is good for you and will keep you in the kind of shape you’d like to be in. But walking on a regular basis – particularly if you don’t have a dog or, like me, can simply sidle upstairs to work – can be less compelling than one supposes. That’s proved true for me. My aim to take exercise at least five days a week has looked a bit threadbare on a number of occasions. And suddenly the date of a giant walk we’d optimistically committed to at the beginning of the year had arrived. The folly of it.
Yesterday, on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday, miraculously sandwiched between two duck-weather days, the Husband and I set off on a Coastal Challenge Walk. The route took us along the stunning Northumberland Caost from Budle Bay just above Bamburgh south to Alnmouth taking in seaviews, landscapes and three castles (I’m counting the views out to Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island). It was a marathon. Literally. That’s 26.2 miles. We completed it in 9 hours.
What kept us going? Chatting to people along the way. Keeping a couple of friends who were rather fitter than us in our sights – and walking the final leg with them. Gorgeous scenery. Excellent organisation from Shepherds Walks – who offer a range of fabulous-sounding less demanding walks as well as these stonking leg-buster challenges. The cheerful and kind encouragement from the volunteers who manned the checkpoints. Regular munches of cheese and pickle sandwiches. And, above all, the realisation at around the 15-mile point that we really could do it. Something that we had both secretly doubted.
We were pretty much in permanent forward motion for 9 hours on fairly uneven terrain and today – bar a few aches and pains – our limbs are still functional. We are pumped up with achievement and the wonderful adrenalin rush that comes from intense exercise – we even braved the drizzle this morning for a cool-down stroll along the banks of the Tweed. Would we walk a marathon again? Possibly not. But we’ll certainly be striding out again for sure – enjoying the fact that our bodies are rather more capable than we gave them credit for.