Women’s Activity Week in the Lake District

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There is no such thing as too much cake declares a sign in the lounge of Hassness House, overlooking Buttermere. And I, and my fellow walkers, couldn’t agree more.

We’re in the Lake District on a Women’s Activity Week organised by Ramblers Walking Holidays, and our days are filled with walking this landscape with its sharp ridges, cool grey lakes, and moss-covered forests.

The week-long holiday is designed to give you an introduction to a variety of activities including Nordic Walking, Yoga and Pilates.  Everyone in the group has some walking experience and you certainly need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy the hike around Crummock Water, or the walk from Stonethwaite to Keswick (both about 10 miles). But this isn’t a hard-core holiday – it’s about enjoying the outdoors with exercise and fresh air, trying something new and sharing stories over delicious home-cooked food and freshly baked cakes.

It’s also surprisingly good value. Starting at just £585pp for seven nights, including accommodation, guides, all meals (except one dinner) – you enjoy the entire week without spending much money at all.

Each day starts with some gentle outdoor exercises followed by a cooked breakfast. We then gather our packed lunches and stride out.

Monday morning is our first Nordic Walking lesson. Clare, our guide and British Nordic Walking qualified teacher takes us through the first five steps of the ten-step learning process (yes, there really is that much to it). We march up and down flinging our arms around, trying not to wiggle our hips as we engage our cores and push our shoulders back using the long sticks to propel us forward. Very soon our triceps are aching and we know we’ve got the hang of it, so off we head.


Our route takes us through fields, past ginger-coated cows with wet noses and wise eyes, over tiny wooden bridges, along the gravelly path of the lake edge and though woodland where grey sheep with white faces munch on the grass while keeping a dark beady eye on their lambs – and all the time we’re using our poles to ensure we activate over 90% of the skeletal muscles in our body as we walk.  “The poles make it easier to work harder.” explains Clare as we zoom along much faster than during yesterday’s pole-free walk.

In the late afternoon, after home-made lemon drizzle cake, we’re joined by Jo, a local Iyengar yoga teacher who helps us stretch our tired bodies – with a particular focus on the muscles in the feet. With the help of a variety of bricks, blocks and belts we all stretch our toes, arches and heels, preparing them for tomorrow’s mileage.

Wednesday is a free day. Some of the more experienced walkers decide to tackle a tough uphill climb to the summit of Haystacks, others opt for an easier hike, and a few of us take the bus (£8 pp return) into Keswick for a day of shopping, coffee, a boat ride on Derwent Water (£10.50pp) and a trip to the Pencil Museum (£4.95pp – and your ticket is a pencil!)

Our evenings are spent relaxing in the lounge, playing games and swapping walking tips. It’s well worth picking the brains of the two leaders, Clare and Linda, as they have lots of advice on fitted rucksacks, appropriate boots for the type of walking you are doing, hiking poles and clothes to suit all conditions. And, perhaps most importantly, where and when to buy them so you aren’t shelling out a fortune.

We’re a disparate group, including ex-forces, a charity worker, a minibus driver, and a retired dentist – all drawn together by a love of the outdoors, and it seems, homemade cake.



Ramblers Walking Holidays: https://www.ramblersholidays.co.uk/home

Women’s Activity Week: https://www.ramblersholidays.co.uk/womens-activity-week


Chantal Nordic Walking


Chantal Cooke is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster with a passion for the planet. In 2002 she co-founded the award-winning radio station PASSION for the PLANET and in 2009 Chantal was awarded London Leader in Sustainability status. Chantal also runs a successful communications agency – Panpathic Communications.


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