Saturday, 14 April 2012

Walking the Sandstone Trail

This is me tackling what must have
 been my 50th stile that day. 
Totally knackered after reaching the highest  point on the
trail. Ok, so it's only 750m but it felt like Everest to me!
This Easter, in my efforts to get fitter, I decided it would be a good idea to have a three day break doing something active. Our daughters were going to be busy writing up projects and revising for exams so Ian and I invited two good friends of ours to walk the Sandstone Trail in Cheshire.
I love walking! Doesn't everyone? How else would you get to the fridge or the biscuit cupboard?
Anyway, I researched this walk very carefully since I had never walked more than six miles in one go before. I thought 34 miles over three days would be ok, as long as there were some good pub lunches to be had, and I was particularly attracted by the rather long section of canal towpath on the last day.
The weather the previous week had been glorious so I advised our friends to remember to pack sun cream. As if! What was I thinking? The day arrived and we woke up to snowflakes the size of saucers passing our bedroom window. Two inches of snow carpeted the ground and trees were bending in the gale. We phoned our friends to ask what the weather was like with them and were told that they had snow but they were willing to give it a go so we put on our ski gear and set off. Fortunately, there was no snow in Cheshire. It was bitter cold and windy but the sun came out just enough to prevent frost bite. The 14 miles we walked on the first day was a real shock to the system. We started out chatting enthusiastically but by the end of it we had our heads down just putting one foot in front of the other. At the end of the day the farmhouse B&B was a welcome sight for this couch potato I can tell you.
We slept well but next morning I could not walk much less get down the stairs for breakfast. How on earth was I going to walk another 11 miles? It is a fact that the smell of bacon has magical powers and somehow I found myself staggering down the trail again. I wish I had a video of the four of us forty-somethings looking more like eighty-somethings for the first half hour of that day. We did loosen up eventually and I might say, with the sun out, we really enjoyed day 2 - until we got to the hilly part, that is, when I felt as though I had axes through both knees.
The second night we stayed in a pub before our final day's walking. This time we all had to apply numerous blister plasters and I abandoned my hiking boots in favour of soft comfy trainers for the last stretch. Tired and a little grumpy, we trudged through the rest of the hilly section and eventually reached the canal path for which we were all truly thankful. Four miles later we proudly reached the end of the trail and agreed that our next trip would be the ascent of Ben Nevis. We must be completely mad!
It took my poor knees three days to recover from this ordeal and my toes may never be the same again. I considered taking a photo of my three black toenails and various blisters but thought that might be a little gross for a blog. The biggest disappointment for me was the discovery that after such an epic trip I had in fact gained three pounds in weight. I can only put it down to muscle gain. I am sure it had nothing to do with the cooked breakfasts and pub meals we had along the way.
Has all this put me off walking? No, it was fantastic and I can't wait to do it again (when I have acquired a better pair of hiking boots that is).



  1. You've made me smile with your observations on these healthy activities. We've signed up to go on the coast to coast cycle ride with friends next half term. I've not got a bike but my super fit hubby and girls are raring to go. C25k is my attempt at not being quite so breathless in the support car behind them!
    Mrs Ramblings

  2. Ah, cycling yes! I have it in mind to try a triathlon at some point. I got on a bike yesterday and managed a whole 10 minutes before my butt complained too much.
    Pity there isn't a couch to 20k cycling programme - or is there?
    Good luck with your coast to coast ride. I am thinking of trying one of the Breeze rides for women that I have seen on the Sky ride website.