Yesterday I went on another training hike in preparation for my Peak District 6-Dales challenge on 24th June.  This time I was with my good friend Sarah, and we tackled Shire Hill in Glossop.

The weather was cool (2c) and wet when I left Rotherham.  As I proceeded over Woodhead Pass (A628), the temperature went down to -1c and the rain turned to sleet and then snow.  Visibility in places was reduced to 50m thanks to low cloud and fog.  Arriving in Glossop it was still sleeting and some snow covered the ground.

After catching up with Sarah and her husband Aidan over a lovely cup of fresh filter coffee (#BlackWithASplash), myself and Sarah ventured out with Tristan the dog.

CROP Me start of hike P1010110The going was easy to start with – a nice wet, but well-maintained pathway.  Within minutes we’d left the town behind and were into the beautiful scenery – made all the more pretty with snowy highlights on the distant hills.  We crossed a river and began the steady ascent up the hill.

There is something relaxing and refreshing about being in the open air, surrounded by beautiful scenery, just chatting away with a friend.

Talking while doing an activity is also a good way to see how hard someone is working.  If you can manage a short sentence before taking a breath, this is a good indication of Moderate Exercise.  It is recommended that people do 30 mins of this level of activity five times a week.  If you can only get a word or two out before having to take a breath, that is classed as Vigorous Exercise – recommended to do 75 mins of this level per week.  Alternatively, you can do a mixture of both.  The important thing is that you just do SOMETHING in the week which raises your heart rate for at least 10 mins at a time.  Start where you are and build up gradually. Everyone can manage 10 mins in their day!

After about half an hour, the terrain underfoot changed – mud!!! If you’ve read my previous post, you will be all too aware of how much I “love” (HATE!!) walking in mud.  But this was mud mixed with ice and snow too!

Me Shire Hill climb gradientAnd then Sarah turned right and we headed into woodland, and up Shire Hill proper.  So now I had mud, snow, ice AND a huge incline!!!  Now I still prefer to go up hill rather than down, but this was tough terrain for me.

Fear is a very personal thing.  I am terrified of this type of terrain and slow down to a snail’s pace.  I’m frightened of slipping – ending up covered in mud – and having my pride dented, if not a bruise, sprain or break.

But I’ve learnt that it is much better to face your fear and overcome it, than to limit your life by avoiding the things which scare you.  So I pressed on.  Little Tristan kept running back down the hill to check on my progress!  Sarah took the photos of my effort.

Having a good support team around you is important.  Sarah knows me well, is encouraging but doesn’t pander to my fears and whimpers!  When I reached the plateau, I was filled with the buzz of achieving – overcoming another small obstacle of fear.  Others will laugh and say “it’s only a hill Sharon”… but as I said, fear is personal.

Shire Hill lake belowThe view from the top was spectacular.  It was lovely to ‘just’ be walking in snow and mud on the relative flat.

But that didn’t last for long.  What goes up must come down!  And this time the route became full of tree roots and small rocks – another fear of mine.  But there was no turning back.

The final 300m descent was full of stones to climb down.  My panic about ‘wrong footing’ and tripping myself up raised it’s head.  I consciously slowed down, planned my route, and experimented by trying to step down on my left (weaker) leg as well as my right.  No point doing something if you’re not gonna push the boundaries a bit.

I recently read an article on the ‘Psychology Today’ website.  It said that if you are constantly in a state of anxiety, but you are forever pushing the boundaries and trying new things – all is well.  If you are calm, but staying within the safe realms of what you can do – that’s not progress at all.

This morning at church, Pastor Manny spoke about obstacles and opportunities.  When I’m training for and then actually doing, my Physical Challenges, I often keep myself going with this thought: “what would happen if I decided the ‘obstacle’ in front of me couldn’t be overcome and I gave up?”  How many people would then think it’s ok to give up, admit defeat and continue to live a life of limitation?  And vice versa, when I DO persevere through something I’m fearful of, and turn that obstacle into an ‘opportunity’ to conquer my fear, how many people are encouraged to do the same in their own lives?

Safely down on to the path back into Glossop, Sarah rewarded me with her encouraging words…

Sarah Me start of walk“You did well… for a southerner!!”

We went home after our 2.5hr hike and enjoyed a hearty bowl of Sarah’s homemade cauliflower and blue cheese soup with some delicious rustic local bread.  And of course a cup of ‘BlackWithASplash’ coffee!

Until next time.