As National No Smoking Day is coming up on 14th March, I thought I would include a post about giving up. On or about this time of year a few years ago, I finally gave up smoking using nicotine patches and healthy nibbles, after a couple of failed attempts. I am not trying to preach about the dangers of smoking, because any smoker would be hard pressed to ignore the warnings emblazoned on cigarette boxes.
If you decide to give up, focussing on a physical activity you enjoy helps to remind you how much better you feel by not smoking. I started with easy walks and built up over the course of a year or so to more challenging routes. Getting fit again was not an overnight achievement and I had to work at it gradually.
If friends find it hard to accept your decision to stop, maybe it’s best to broaden your circle to include more non smokers. Try not to worry, as I did, about making smokers ‘feel guilty’ as that is for them to weigh up in the end. Since I gave up smoking I have met new friends through my hiking who have made me feel like a reasonably normal person without a cigarette in my hand. I may not be an elite athlete, but this doesn’t matter as much to me as having restored my health.
I am happy to support anyone who tries to give up, having seen the damage it can do to a member of my family. Statistically many of us are likely to have friends or family affected by lung disease, so please donate to the British Lung Foundation if you have a few pounds to spare.
If, like me, you are a last minute seasonal shopper, these are 25 gift suggestions under £25, for walkers of all abilities – from first timers to experienced hikers. They are all items which are in regular use in my kit.
Buff – A versatile item available in a wide range of colours and designs to suit the person you are buying for
Head Torch – Very useful to have in your rucksack during winter walks when the days are short so you don’t get caught out
Gloves – Available in a huge range of colours, styles and fabrics
Mini Tripod – Popular items available for smartphones for those outdoor selfies
Drink Bottle – Possibly the most important item of kit. Available in plastic and metal
Flask – For that timely brew on the hills
Maps – One or two local maps could encourage a novice walker out on a walk
Waterproof Phone Case – Another increasingly popular item to protect your phone from getting wet
Lapel Microphone Clip – The perfect present for anyone wanting to vlog about their walks using their phone. Stops you being drowned out by wind
Beanie – Economical, versatile and easy to shove in your pack or your pocket when not in use
Compass – Another ideal gift for a newbie walker. Worth getting a decent one on a lanyard to attach it to a pack or jacket
Pen-knife – A good quality pen knife is a permanent part of many kit lists. Obviously it must conform to knife laws wherever you are.
Hand Warmers – Nice to keep hands warm at this time of year and available in a wide range of prices
Cheap Poles – My first set of trekking poles were pretty cheap and lasted for ages
Dry Bags – Always useful and available singly or in sets
Socks – A good outdoor shop should stock a good range of these for different times of year. Available in different sizes, colours and designs to suit the person you are buying for.
Outdoor Wallet – A useful gift available in synthetic or cuben to replace a bulky purse or wallet on outdoor trips
Head Net – An essential item in some parts of the country at certain times of year. Light and compact enough to stay in your rucksack during the summer months.
Gaiters – Excellent for wet and boggy terrain
Walking Guide Book – A good book of routes is a great present. The best ones have OS maps, are pocket sized and resilient.
Guided Walk – In this age of things, experiential gifts are a growth market. A good experience could be to take someone on a guided trip or walk.
Lunch Box – Along with the drinks bottle and flask already mentioned, a good, robust lunch box is always nice to have and can last for years.
Attachable Accessories – You can get great drink bottles holders and cases in cuben and gridstop fabric which attach to rucksack shoulder straps and hip belts for extra space.
Anemometer – There are a range of hand held anemometers available for measuring temperatures and wind speeds during a walk
Gift Card –Available for high street stuff, digital maps and routes on most route apps
With the recent opening of The Sill on Hadrian’s Wall, complete with its shiny new Youth Hostel, I decided to put together a collection of day hikes which incorporate some of the excellent Roman sites, such as Housesteads, Vindolanda, Chesters and the Roman Army Museum, along the Northumbrian section of the wall.
So, if you enjoy history, archaeology, ancient walls, forts, turrets, milecastles and temples, but don’t have the time to do the complete National Trail, Roman Roaming offers three moderate hikes between 5 and 10 miles long. Together they offer a great introduction to this famous World Heritage Site. The page includes maps, photos, videos and GPX downloads.
I have been gradually adding day routes onto Viewranger 👣 for some time. As long as the routes don’t seem to involve any hazards, I have made them public and free for people to download on an ad hoc basis. As I have realised how helpful good quality downloads can be, I decided to start adding GPX files for all my day routes and publishing some routes retrospectively to replace the slightly vague descriptions I had been giving on early YouTube and blog descriptions. I have also been improving and standardising the route information provided with the downloads.
There are now over 40 free, downloadable routes on Viewranger. I am pleased to see that there has been a steady interest in downloading these routes, so I have added links to Viewranger from my blog posts and YouTube. I hope you will find them helpful if you are considering walks in this part of the world, and that they will work well in conjunction with the blog posts and videos.
If you or your company enjoy my routes or use them for groups and / or for profit, I would be really grateful if you would consider supporting me so that I can increase the number of routes which are available to download.
Since I returned to my blog after some time away, I have been trying to improve my videos. To do this I have planned several clusters of walks using my new car club car. A couple of months ago I did 3 walks on the North Northumbrian coast between Holy Island (Lindisfarne) and Berwick upon Tweed in the Northumberland Coast AONB. To be honest it was a disappointing trip because the weather was a mixed bag for the new videos I wanted to make, and the route recording didn’t work well for the routes I wanted to upload. However I did the walks anyway, made the videos and uploaded the routes and put it down to experience.
I have finally written them up because they remain beautiful walks, and that is the most important thing in spite of my bad luck on the day. So do take a look at my new Coastline Collections page and I hope the sun shines for you if you visit this lovely part of the Northumbrian coast.
Also in other news I have finally uploaded my first talkie. I have overcome the urge to delete everything with my voice in it and uploaded my first walk video with a commentary. I hope you enjoy the video if not the commentary.
As well as the geographical posts which focus on a particular area or valley, I have been gradually creating themed walk collections from my Northumberland routes which I can add to as and when. Sometimes it is interesting to focus on one aspect or feature of an area, which can then be done as a group. So far there are walk collections in the Northumberland section featuring the coast, castles, waterfalls and short walks.
I’ve always had a soft spot for a sacred site or a cave, so my latest collection Rock Routes features some of my personal favourite geological, historical and archaeological places in Northumberland with links to GPS files.
As well as videos, I am gradually enriching my blog by adding more maps, data sheets and GPS links to all my posts. I hope you will enjoy these moderate walks which are all lovely in different ways.
I have listed a selection of six of my favourite short, easy walks (under 5 miles long) in Northumberland, hand picked because they contain some lovely places. Take your pick from castles, waterfalls, grey seals, St Cuthbert’s Chapel, puffins, scheduled ancient monuments, salmon fishermen and pristine beaches on walks which are suitable for all the family. They all have easy parking and facilities such as pubs, cafes and shops nearby, details of which are included on the page. Take a look at Six Shorts in the Northumberland section.