Friday, 22 January 2010

Girls are doing it for themselves

It used to be that you would always see women out on the hills trailing their man. Or else they would be a group of male and female walkers with the tiny minority being made up of the fairer sex. But in recent years there's been something of a boomtime in female hikers.

Groups of walkers are now more likely to be evenly split in the male:female ratio, and I frequently see girl-only groups enjoying some of their own time and space in the Angus Glens.

There has been a significant rise in the numbers of enquiries from women looking for female-only guided walks, or else from all-female groups planning to head off for a self-led walk organised by ourselves.

In fact Glentrek is planning a range of women-only walks this year, including a winter walking skills course and a Lairig Ghru guided walk on May 1.

Other adventure holiday and guided walking companies in Scotland have been reporting a similar trend. Among other benefits it seems that women like the less competitive atmosphere, camaraderie, social aspect, chat and generally more relaxed feel of a female-only walk or adventure activity. Indeed, one of the most popular activities for women-only groups is learning about navigation. (How many times, ladies, have you had to give over the map and navigation to a bloke on the hills?!)

It's not that us girls don't like the guys (on many occasions it's great to be in mixed company), it's just that sometimes it's rather nice to get away from some of the bravado and full-speed-ahead-ness of some male groups for a little more contemplation, relaxation and (well, we are renowned for it!) quality chat.

If a few female-only walks and courses also encourage more novice adventure women out into Scotland's great outdoors then all the better. So, let's hear it for the girls doing outdoors adventures for themselves!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Your (new) boots were made for walking

Recent reports reveal that there has been a dramatic rise in the sale of walking boots in the UK during the recent cold snap. And with many snowed in, it has been e-commerce sales that have seen the biggest climb. During the festive period, and in particular since January 4, the growth in sales of all kinds of walking and hiking boots has been impressive according to many high street and on-line outlets.

Other statistics across the outdoors clothing industry have also been showing a boost in the sales of boots, jackets and all kinds of walking kit since Britain slid into its current economic gloom. The theory is that with less disposable income people are looking for leisure activities that have a minimal initial outlay and offer plenty of scope for free/low-cost exercise and fun.

Here at Glentrek we're really excited by the news. Okay, so we know that some people have been having a difficult time due to the snow and ice over the last month or so. And we are not so callous as to be rejoicing in the general lack of cash in people's pockets. But we are delighted by the idea that more people might use their boots and outdoor clothing to get out and about in the countryside. (Of course, we also realise that some of the sales increase will have come from people buying boots to walk the streets around their homes!)

But we reckon it only takes one walk in the countryside to convince most people of the wonders of our great outdoors. Whether you decide on a riverside stroll, a ramble in the hills or a climb to the top of a Corbett or a Munro, you're pretty much guaranteed to benefit both emotionally and physically. Walking is an ideal activity for everyone and it's also amazingly accessible.

So come on, pull on your boots, tie the laces and take a walk that's a little more on the wild side than your local shops.

Monday, 18 January 2010

WINTER BLUES -Avoidance tactics

I've never been sure if I actually suffer from these or not...once went skiing abroad in January and felt abnormally fantastic so that led me to wondering briefly if I did. Sadly there's no annual winter holiday to keep flagging spirits up, so I'm delighted to have stumbled across a foolproof, cheap, winter blues avoidance tactic..... WINTER HILLWALKING in SCOTLAND!

Now don't stop reading..

Never in a million years did I picture a non -athletic, impractical female like myself wielding an ice axe without (yet) doing myself or anyone else an injury... or for that matter wearing crampons over my newly acquired hiking boots. Yes, I too thought crampons were purchased by women on a monthly basis and ice axes were for hairy mountain men of incredible physical strength and ability. My oh my how wrong can you's a photo of me on my first Scottish winter mountain last year (Tarmachan Ridge). Hopefully the distinction's clear between this and my imagined winter mountaineer
Anyway, proud to say that although it didn't last long in the howling gales and snow up there I did start out as usual with nicely washed hair and a full face of make up (no reason to drop the standards of a lifetime) My advice to all women (especially) who have never been particularly athletic but fancy doing something different is WALK to get fit and then LEARN the skills to hill walk in winter. It's FAB and you FEEL GOOD!