Winter exercise? It’s a Walk in the Dark!

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The clocks have gone back and although we had an extra hour in bed on Sunday morning, the reality is that our evenings are now BLOOMING DARK!

 

Great for Halloween but is it great for our walking groups? The answer is a resounding yes!

Many of our groups find that their evening sessions actually grow in the Winter because let’s face, there are far less distractions such as a BBQ supper in the garden to tempt people away from their exercise. Granted the fireside and a cosy evening be appealing but for those who can only exercise in the evenings a brisk winter walk is actually a great option. Being in a group also makes it fun as well as safe too as you can see from the faces of this group from Watford Nordic Walking

Would you rather be out walking or running solo or in a well organised (and well lit) group?

Donna from Preston told us……….

The advantages are I’m feeling safe walking in the dark in a group (wouldn’t go out there on my own for such a walk), the company ( we always have a good laugh and natter) and getting out into nature and filling the lungs with fresh air. Everything looks so mystical with just our torch lights shining. I also love the variety of walks on offer with WALX Preston.

A walk in the dark can be a magical experience too

It’s also actually really invigorating to go for a brisk walk in the dark, you are more in tune with nature as your other senses are heightened in the darkness. The sound of the wind in the trees, crunching of footsteps on the gravel and owls hooting are really atmospheric and quite mindful (if the banter stops long enough for you to hear them!) Factor in the amazing night sky peppered with stars and the light from the huge Autumn moon and fresh cool air and you have a peaceful invigorating setting to workout and unwind.

Jayne P also from WALX Preston told us

I did my first night time walk this week. I was surprised how different it is. A lot of usual cues are “missing” and I thought it was more “relaxing” because I wasn’t bombarded visually. Although being nosy it gives you a better view into other peoples lit up houses.

There are obviously a few things to consider so here are our top tips for staying safe in the dark

Rule number one – be bright (see and be seen!)

Wear bright clothing ideally with reflective strips and add some lighting too. We love these little flashing clip ons which you can pop on the front and back but we do also stock flashing paws that light up when your poles hit the ground  (yes its true – click here to see them!)

ALWAYS wear a headtorch not just so people can see you but in order to see ahead and check out the path in front of you. Check them out for brightness (lumens) but also the width and length of the beam range. Some will really light up a long way ahead but not provide much light on either side so if you are in a workkout session, trying to follow a stretch or check out what is right beside you, it may not be ideal. One thing to note re brightness is that the brighter the light….the more power it will need so consider whether you want to select one with rechargeable batteries to cut costs. Batteries are also quite heavy too.

We like this from Headtorch  by Ledlenser because it is fairly lightweight and comfortable but provides a nice wide range of light which you can point according to what you want to see.

Final tip when using a headtorch for the first time – do not look straight at somebody without dropping the beam downwards or slipping the torch down around your neck to avoid the glare ‘blinding’ them.

Rule number two – Choose routes where there are good flat paths

Even with a good headtorch, you need to pay more attention to where you are placing your feet and the darkness can mask potholes, a camber and even puddles! Another huge risk is if the latter freeze over on a chilly night as you can not spot black ice easily in the dark. Fallen leaves can also cover a number of hazards which are harder to spot at night so tread with care and maybe slow down and enjoy yhr experience more. Our leaders know these risks and take care when planning routes and they always check conditions before taking a group out.

Rule number three – know who (or what) else is about!

Although our groups are highly visible, other users of open space may not be so well equipped which can cause quite a fright! Make sure you are lit up at the front and back and avoid routes where people or traffic may encounter you side on. Livestock can also both spook you and be spooked so make sure you check the area out in the daylight first. Finally keep an eye out for wildlife, there’s nothing quite as enchanting as spotting the bright eyes of the creatures who are watching you go by and wondering why you are not at home with all the other humans!

A new walker from WALX VER VALLEY in Hertfordshire (pictured below) told us………

I experienced my first night time walk last week. The difference is extraordinary. The air seems cleaner with a sharp edge of autumn. The evening light blurs the landscape until head torches bring everything back into sharp relief – but only for a few metres! It’s the same tough workout walk but with added magic!

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