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Posts Tagged ‘for the love of walking’

Hah!!! Another postcard just popped into my mailbox 😁😁 I updated the app after today’s walk and brief exploration of Faversham and as I pressed ‘post’ I waited with anticipation and a few seconds later – boom, a notification popped up….you’ve received another postcard πŸ™ƒπŸ™ƒπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

I’m not sure what I enjoy most…the walking, the postcards and accompanying information, that I’ve also passed the 60% milestone on the Alps to Ocean virtual challenge which means another tree planted, or the medals when I finish πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

60% done and dusted

To be honest, I think I enjoy it all.

Here’s the latest postcard and the information that came with it…from where I am – virtually. πŸ˜‰

Otematata- sounds a bit like Akunamatata..

Defined as “a populated area less than a town”, Otematata is more of a holiday town nowadays when it’s small population of around 180 explodes to 5,000 during the summer season. With easy access to both Lake Benmore, downstream Lake Aviemore and nearby hiking trails (known as tramping in NZ), holiday makers swarm to the area for camping, water skiing, boating, fishing, swimming and cycling among other activities.

Otematata sprung up in 1958 as a base for construction workers of the Benmore and Aviemore Dams. Within a year the population grew to 450 and at its peak it was as high as 4,000 residents. Built by the Ministry of Works the town had all the necessary facilities and services such as schools, clubs, pub, cinema and mall. The 1,500 strong workforce of engineers, builders, electricians, concreters and truckies spent seven years building the dam. Once the dam was finished, as it often happens with these kind of projects, the town was slowly dismantled. The houses that were trucked into town were years later trucked out and moved to Twizel for the next project. Benmore Dam is the largest earth-filled dam in NZ and the largest of eight in the Waitaki hydro scheme. As the second largest hydro station in the country, Benmore generates sufficient electricity to cover nearly 300,000 NZ homes.

Leaving Otematata, I travelled north on a sealed pathway alongside the Waitaki River until I reached the massive Benmore Dam and stood atop it with a bird’s eye view of the lake to the north and the river to the south. When the lake is over capacity, the floodgates open to release the water down a spillway and to prevent erosion a lip was inserted at the end to deflect the water. The spillway can handle ten times the normal river flow thereby allowing it to cope with severe flooding.

I skirted around the shore on a narrow sealed road to Deep Stream Track on Lake Aviemore for a walk along a flooded canyon. The deep green water was quite inviting for a swim but I settled for a picnic under a shaded tree enjoying the tranquility of this location and the reflection of the hills on the water.

A little further I crossed the Aviemore Dam back onto the State Highway and was relieved to be travelling on an off-road path beside the main road all the way to Waitaki Dam. Aviemore Dam was built in 1968 and the construction was on uneven ground because the Waitangi Fault runs beneath it. Although at the time of construction the fault was considered inactive, in the 2000s the fault was upgraded to dormant and as such the dam was reinforced against earthquakes and potential landslides. Because of the fault the dam is a mixed structure being part solid rock topped with concrete on the north side and earth-fill where the fault line runs beneath on the south side.

The Waitaki Dam is steeped in NZ history. As the smallest in the Waitaki hydro scheme, it is also the oldest having been built in 1935. Being the first dam to be built on the South Island, it was also the last to use pick and shovel. These archaic tools were retained because politicians wanted to reduce the unemployment rate during the Depression Era.

The building of the Waitaki Dam inadvertently played a major role in the birth of the social welfare system. In 1928, the Waitaki Hydro Medical Association together with the Waitaki Hospital Board developed a scheme to deduct monthly fees from wages in order to provide medical and ambulance services to the workers. When two politicians, one a doctor and the other a reverend, took office in 1935, they based the social welfare scheme on the one developed by the dam project.

From here it was a 5mi (8km) journey into Kurow. I heard the Waitaki Valley, which begins in Omarama, is a young winery region with a flair for developing good pinot noir and pinot gris. I’ll be sure to sample some after a hearty meal. I’m thinking fish and chips at the nearest pub.

The fish and chips sounds yummy, I think I’ll have some of that, thank you πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

Where I really was is in Faversham. Had a brief visit to the optometrist with my client, which gave me 15 minutes for a quick whizz around. I’m familiar with Faversham, it was my last stop before Canterbury on my Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales camino in 2017, at which time I staggered into The Sun Inn my feet blistered beyond agony and absolutely drenched from the pouring rain – a drowned rat….and more recently I plodded into town covered in mud after getting stuck crossing what looked like solid ground, but wasn’t while walking a section of the Saxon Shore Way between Whitstable and Faversham πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ I nearly lost my shoes in the morass.

A brief glimpse of Faversham

Onwards…..

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Well, would you just look at that!! Just over 24 hours to go (UK time) and we say goodbye to 2020. I can hardly believe it.

Not that the new year, 2021 is going to start off very well at all with now 8 in 10 people in the UK going into tier 4 and virtual lockdown. Although 2020 didn’t do too well at all, 2021 is not going to get off to a very good start.

To say I’m peeved at our useless government would be an understatement because tomorrow brings the double whammy of the final twist of the Brexit knife and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to really give this year a bad name. And do I believe our feckless PM when he spouts out his nonsense about having got a good deal?? No. I do not.

Meanwhile I, like millions of others, am trying desperately to keep my head and not fall into the pit of despair at the way life seems to be spiralling out of control. To that end I’m not watching the news nor reading the papers and still off Facebook. I am however spending quality time with my family and walking….walking and walking. I’m also grateful to still have work.

Although I only started in April, having the Conqueror virtual challenges has been a bit of a life saver really because keeping up with my targets gets me out, and the walking, which I love, keeps me sane.

I’m nearly at the end of the 2020 challenge and yesterday I completed the Mt. Fuji challenge after a fantastic walk from Margate to Herne Bay 22.18 kms. Although it was bloody freezing, I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and was not only surprised at how quickly I walked the distance, but also at how easy it was.

I’ve long wanted to walk from Broadstairs to Reculver after visiting the Roman site a few years ago, so it was absolutely thrilling to finally make the journey, albeit only from Margate. Except for one very short section, there is a promenade/footpath and the sea the whole way. The final section to Herne Bay was a breeze…literally and figuratively. I nearly froze πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ it was so darn cold – at one stage I was sucking my thumb just to get some warmth back into it.

Fortunately the cafeteria at Reculver was open so I stopped for 15 minutes to rest my feet and warm up with a hot chocolate and a yummy caramel fudge brownie…delicious.

Herne Bay is a fascinating place with so much history, not all of it good. But they do have some fantastic fish and chips shops….😁😁 I have to give a shout out to Gary of EKS Office Equipment in Herne Bay for not only agreeing to charge my phone (for free) but also allowed me to sit in a corner of the showroom to eat my chips while I waited. It was very much appreciated.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, despite the cold, the saddest sight was the vast amount of plastic pollution that quite literally lined the whole 22kms….I could have filled 50 black bags and still not cleared it all. Its terribly painful to see all that pollution.

So as the year comes to an end, I have one final day of walking to do to finish my 2020 km challenge. Its been a most satisfying pastime and I must thank my daughter for introducing me to the Conqueror Virtual Challenges….thanks to that I have improved my fitness levels, walked extensively in areas I would likely have not except for wanting to meet the challenge of the challenges πŸ˜‰ and I’ve inadvertently accumulated way more medals than I had planned. Its been a fairly expensive hobby, but so much fun.

I’ve started on the Alps to Ocean, NZ challenge and hopefully tomorrow I’ll complete another decent distance as my final walk for 2020.

Other than that, I have finally found a suitable place to rent. Went to look at a room last night….and as Goldilocks said “it’s just right ” and I’m saying “It’ll do Pooh” πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ It’s not a huge room, but it’s on the top floor, its spacious, it has cupboards, and a bed, and a skylight for summer nights, and a desk for my books and computer and MOST importantly, the landlord said Jamie can visit. So HOORAH!!! after 18months I’ll have a place to go ‘home’ to. I’m feeling quite emotional. It means I can get my clothes out of storage, and my books and Jamie’s toys and my amazing South African mattress. I can brighten it up with my own bed linen and pictures and bits and bobs.

Today we had a photoshoot done. The fab photographer of @createdwithlightphotography on Instagram did the shoot for me with my gorgeous grandson. We had lots of fun and then had hot chocolate to warm up, because of course it was freezing on the beach. β˜ƒοΈβ˜ƒοΈβ˜ƒοΈβ˜ƒοΈ

Me and my boobee πŸ₯°πŸ₯°

Tomorrow, weather depending I’ll walk from Ramsgate to Margate one last time before I tackle the next section of my own challenge….to walk the whole of the English coast within next 5 years.

Cheers folks, thanks for reading along with me. In case I don’t get to write a post tomorrow, although I probably will, I wish you all a VERY safe, healthy and wonderful New Year.

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Just thrilled to have finished the Great Ocean Road, Australia virtual challenge yesterday….exactly 5 weeks & 5 days πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

And just because I can….I signed up for another 3 and the 2021 challenge. πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ so some serious walking coming up next year.

My goal for 2021 is 2600kms

I’m planning on walking these as part of my 2021 challenge…along with The Ring Road of Iceland, Alps to Ocean New Zealand and the Cabot Trail in Canada.

First though, I must finish off my 2020 challenge…Getting started on the Mt. Fuji (74kms) challenge this morning I set off just on 7am and headed to the cliffs. Hardly saw a soul…it was quiet and peaceful, not a breath of air. I didn’t get a spectacular sunrise, but it was soft and pretty and I had a super walk and my total for today is 15.76kms.

The harbour is so pretty, especially now with the Christmas lights decorating many of them.

The wind came up on my way back as storm Bella started making herself felt.

With only 63.4 kms to go, I’m really excited to be reaching the end of the 2020 challenge.

Why not join me https://www.theconqueror.events/r/CE1474

I finished off the walk with fresh croissants from the CoOp πŸ₯πŸ₯ and a cup of tea with the family and then a much enjoyed sleep, but not often done. My daughter and I had a quiet walk to the cliffs and back before supper as well, after which I spent the late afternoon and evening with my beloved family and just enjoyed being with my grandson. He is ever so cute, a real little munchkin, so full of beans, and boy can he be demanding…when he says “G’anny sit down!!!” – I sit πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ usually on the floor which is not good for the old bones πŸ‘΅πŸ»πŸ¦΄πŸ¦΄πŸ¦΄πŸ˜©πŸ˜©

I hope you are all well and had a lovely 2 days. If you didn’t get to see family and friends, I truly hope that 2021 will see you all reunited.

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In April of this year, just one month after we went into lockdown, my daughter introduced me to the Conqueror virtual challenges. A friend of hers was participating in them, and knowing how much I love walking, she thought they would be a fun idea for me too. Initially I was like…hmmm that’s a bit expensive, but hey I like the Hadrian’s Wall medal, so yeah, why not sign up and do just the one (please note, at the time I said “just the one” πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ)

I signed up, downloaded the app and for the next week I swore and spluttered as I tried to get to grips with how it all worked…and I walked. But soon enough I figured it out and in no time at all I was adding on the miles and watching my progress.

My very first walk …

The organisers are very clever… besides the fact that the app has (actually) been beautifully designed, the features keep you hooked as you progress along the route…click on the map and you can see ‘where you are on the route’ and until I figured how to turn it off, all the other virtual travellers who were either with you, or ahead or coming up behind. I found that a bit busy and switched to only me.

A little too busy for me, but wow, there were a lot of people on the same route

Besides that, you get award notifications (via the app)…Flying Start Award 5%, or Trail Blazer 20% and Halfway There Award 50%, a bit like a coach would do, keeping you motivated.

Virtual coaching

If you click through to the actual challenge they have 2 stats: Distance and Time which show you the distance you’ve covered and how long it’s taken you. You can set the length of your own challenges. I usually overstate mine and end up completing well before my expected date – then you get a message that says “well done Cindy, are you sure you’re not a pro? Or “you’re well ahead now” LOL Brilliant.

Besides that excitement, they intermittently send you virtual postcards telling you more about the route and the history of said route or the country you’re virtually walking through – and they have really put a lot of thought into it. I get a thrill each time a new postcard pops up in my email.

Conqueror virtual challenges – Hadrian’s Wall
Conqueror virtual challenges – Hadrian’s Wall

They’ve recently introduced a new feature and for every 20% of the challenge you complete, they plant a tree in conjunction with their partners Eden Projects; their reforestation programs help the environment and reduces extreme poverty by employing local villagers. The trees are planted all over the world, from Madagascar and Indonesia to Central America and Haiti. Being eco-conscious and concerned about the destruction of our planet, this was an exciting feature and keeps me heading for the 20% markers. I’ve planted about 20 trees so far β˜Ίβ˜ΊπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Conqueror virtual challenges

At the time I started the Hadrian’s Wall challenge I was working in a wee village in Somerset; Nether Stowey, miles from anywhere, out in the countryside and right slap bang on the Quantocks. Give me the name of a walk to do, and I’m there…πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Stepping out on Hadrian’s Wall virtual challenge

And so, during lockdown, I used most of my 1 hour allocated free time for exercise and I was out exploring and walking, the kms/miles soon added up. Using the calendar on the app I added a description of where I’d walked and added a photo for each day’s mileage and looking back its brilliant to see what I did each time I went out ‘boots on’ walking.

Suddenly hoorah!! To my excitement I completed Hadrian’s Wall challenge….I marked it as completed and waited in anticipation for my medal. Yes!!! You get a real life medal, and it is beautiful, a real solid medal on a lanyard. Clever clever organisers.

My first medal – Hadrian’s Wall

At that stage I was like okay, that was fun but I’m not going to spend anymore money on this….

Until I did 🀣🀣🀣 I ‘happened’ to look at the website and saw the Camino de Santiago challenge….my resolve dissolved. I loved the medal, and since I’m planning on actually walking the Camino in the next couple of years, I decided to sign up for ‘just one more’. So I signed up for the Camino de Santiago; at check out, they offered a 15% discount for doing 2 challenges….how could I resist!

And so my one challenge became 3 as I signed up for the English Channel challenge as well – of course the medal had NOTHING at ALL to do with my choice hahaha. Of course I had/have no plans to actually swim the English Channel, but I’ve walked along the beaches and waded in the sea often enough…so, I walked. The distance is only 34 miles and within 4 walks I was done! Whoo hoo…another challenge completed (30/09) and my medal was in the post! Some people actually swim laps in a pool while doing this challenge.

How could I possibly resist this??

Now what? I really really didn’t want to spend any more money on this, but! I follow the Conqueror Conquest Challenges on instagram and one day to my cost, I noticed their new challenge : The Ring Road – Iceland! OMG Sold to the lady in the corner LOL Dammit it. The medal is absolutely stunning. I caved, and not only that but I bought the 5 challenge pack as mentioned in an earlier post, as well as the 2020 Challenge which lists all my walks from 01.01.2020 right through to 31.12.2020 – super awesome. Of course the amazing medal had nothing to do with that either. My goal for 2020 was to walk 1600kms (1000miles) again, since I didn’t in 2019.

….and so I bought The Inca Trail – Peru (since completed), The Ring of Kerry – Ireland (since completed), The Ring Road – Iceland (for 2021), The Cabot Trail – Canada (for 2021), and the 2020 challenge. And then for good measure I added the Great Ocean Road – AUS (currently walking) and Alps to Ocean – NZ (for 2021).

Conqueror virtual challenges I’ve completed
Congratulations on starting the Inca Trail Challenge. This is a 26.2 miles / 42.1 km journey from Ollantaytambo District, Peru to Ponte da reserva de Machu Picchu, Peru.

This trail is so beautiful and full of historical value and because of that, UNESCO declared it a “World Heritage” site.

Machu Picchu β€” A New Wonder of the World

Richard L. Burger (an American archaeologist and anthropologist) thinks that Machu Picchu was built in 1450 – 1460.

The reason it was built is unknown. But most archeologists agree that the city was built to be a “royal” estate.

They think that the Inca emperor Pachacutec ordered the construction for himself, most likely after a successful military campaign. However, it is interesting that although it is considered a “royal” estate, it has not been inherited.

How is the journey so far, Cindy? Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and rest from time to time.

But at the rate I’m going trying to complete each challenge asap to get the medal, I’ve already exceeded my 1600km target and am close to completing 2020kms, my current total is 1749kms including today 9th December LOL – an awesome challenge!! Its been good to push myself to achieve that target.

Conqueror virtual challenges
Conqueror virtual challenges

And so, I’ve gone from signing up for 1 challenge to 10…..I love it. It’s a bit crazy really, but I love walking, and these challenges really keep me motivated, and the medals…..well, they really are beautiful and had a lot to do with my decisions..

In fact you can join up and either walk indoors, run, swim, cycle either indoor or outdoors, you can do rowing and skiing, you can participate even if you’re in a wheelchair, and of course outdoor walking which is my preferred method of exercise. It’s just brilliant.

As for the future…well there’s the John O’Groats to Land’s End challenge …that’s quite far at 1733kms/1083 miles, so I’ve looked at that for 2022 and maybe I’ll plan to walk that in real time and follow the virtual trail at the same time…πŸ˜‰

Now, I wonder what other challenges they’re going to design? I have no doubt that I will in all likelihood sign up for those as well. This could keep me going until I fall over…kaputski!! LOL

and unbelievably (or not) just last week I signed up for their latest challenge: to climb Mount Fuji – Japan…virtually of course 😁😁😁 The medal is absolutely stunning, why would I resist

I mean, come on seriously…why would I not!!

And that brings me up to 11 challenges!! To say I’m addicted would be an understatement….

Why not join me and sign up to complete a couple before the end of 2020 and maybe set yourself a challenge for 2021. If you sign up via my link you get a 10% discount, as do I on my next challenge. https://www.theconqueror.events/r/CE1474

See you at the top!! πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅

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I’ve had some amazing walks the last few years since moving to the east coast. The scenery along the Thanet coastline is really beautiful, especially at sunrise on a clear day, and then sunset. You can catch a gorgeous sunrise from Broadstairs or Ramsgate, and if it’s a good day, an equally gorgeous sunset from Pegwell Bay or Margate. I’ve been known to rush over to Margate to catch the sunset or a quick walk to the cliffs above Pegwell Bay.

Sunrise in Broadstairs
Sunset over Pegwell Bay

I’ve always loved walking. As a young girl, in my 20s’ when I lived in Hillbrow Johannesburg, I used to spend the whole of Sundays just walking around the suburbs for hours on end. I used to walk to work every day, up the hill and down the other side….right up until I was 8 months pregnant, and then my boss wouldn’t allow me to walk anymore and insisted one of the staff take me home by car and collect me the next day.

I lost my walking after my daughter was born and my husband bought me a car. By then it wasn’t that safe to walk alone anyway and I got lazy.

When I arrived in the UK, my love of walking was reignited. I lived in Dublin, Rep. Of Ireland for 6 months and my sister, brother-in-law and I used to walk everywhere, especially on weekends when we’d head out to DΓΊn Laoghaire or Glendalough and the Wicklow mountains. In fact we travelled to so many places, I’ve quite forgotten all but the most memorable. I do remember though being able to walk home from Dublin to Monkstown late at night and never feel unsafe….and my love walking,  freedom really, was reborn.

I remember one weekend when we walked across country from Waterford city to PassageEast in the County of Waterford, took the ferry across the River Barrow to Ballyhack Lower in County Wexford, then walked to Arthurstown and onto Duncannon…and in reverse the next day. One of the many fun excursions from my 6 months there.

A walk across country in Rep. Of Ireland

On most of my overseas trips since, I’ve invariably planned a 10 day stayΒ  and walked….everywhere, and included a day trip to another destination. When I visited Venice I literally walked around all the accessible islands and usually started at 8am and walked till late at night exploring every nook and cranny. Actually, after Ireland, Venice was my very first trip to Europe and albeit terrified, I loved every minute.

I’ve since walked 80%+ of the streets in the City of London….much of my free time was spent exploring every court, lane and street, and I walked a fair amount of the City of Westminster too. When we still lived in Richmond, I often walked along the Thames riverbank, either downstream to Kew Gardens or upstream to Kingston and even Hampton Court. Even in the snow πŸ˜‰

When we moved to Broadstairs we used to walk along the beach to Ramsgate. I always thought it was quite far, but its actually only just over 3kms. Now that I frequently walk in excess of 20kms and occasionally as much as 35kms, it seems absurd that I thought 3kms was far 😁😁

During my last stay, I walked along the beach from Ramsgate to Stone Bay and back, and one morning I enjoyed a sunrise walk to Viking Bay…of course I stopped off at The Old Bake House and bought a take-away coffee and my favourite pastry; an almond croissant then sat on a bench on the promenade to enjoy my treat.

Its such a stunning section of the coast and offers much of interest to see. Stretch your legs and walk to Margate… fantastic route, especially along the beach.

No hardship walking in this environment

A few weeks ago I decided to walk to Sandwich (for the 3rd time) in order to increase my mileage for the Conqueror 2020 Challenge.Β  Somewhere along the way I hatched the insane idea of walking the whole of the English coastline….I know…bring on the strait jacket. I blame it on the moon 🀭🀭🀭 I’ve walked as far as Dover so far. Of course Covid-19 has held back my horizons, but I’m hoping to get out more frequently in 2021.

Crossing the White Cliffs of Dover

I love walking and one of the benefits of my job is that I get to travel all over England, often times to places I’d never heard of…and then I walk…

Old disused railway line in Lewes

But my walking got a real sense of seriousness when I started training for the Portuguese Camino in 2017, and started following the #walk1000miles challenge in 2016. That really got me going. I struggled at first to get into walking daily, bought my first pair of walking poles (still have them πŸ˜„), a decent pair of walking shoes (asics) and I’ve never looked back, now I find it difficult to not get out for a walk on a daily basis and get quite tetchy if my walking is interrupted ….πŸ˜‰

Stunning coastline between Deal and Walmer.

Show me a path and I’ll walk it….

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