I’ve started to enjoy walking, thanks to Nik Shah and gang. I used to not see the point, especially when I see the locals in their rainproof gear trekking through the Peaks in the gloomiest of autumn weather. At Portora, there was an orienteering club which would’ve put me in good stead if I ever to blindly walk with just a map and a compass. However, the paths in the Peaks are by and large well-trodden bridleways, and one shouldn’t be too worried as there are many other walkers/hikers (mountain bikers too) around. I do find going in a group is a better experience, especially if you are doing a bit of a distance, especially if there is a climb involved (nope, I don’t do scrambling, thanks).

About a month ago, we did about 8 km near Castleton in the High Peaks, which included that nubbin of a hill called Mam Tor. Well, that’s what EVERYone said but if you look at the guide book, this trail is classified as moderate/strenuous. I am not great with heights and I have to admit, that wearing trainers with relatively poorer grip than proper walking shoes took a toll on my energy levels negotiating the downhill bit from Hollins Cross towards Castleton. Reminder to self: put camera back in knapsack when walking down to maintain a relatively recognisable centre of gravity! As with walks like this, the end bit where there is food involved is the best. Provides some motivation, at least, to complete the journey.

This experience led me to pay a visit to this shop right in front of my house, which is managed by one of the most experienced walkers in this neck of the woods. I described the likely frequency of me going on walks and based on that, they recommended a pair of Meindls. My feet were measured and I was asked to walk on level ground, inclines and declines to check for that perfect fit. I bought new walking socks too as it is said that both shoe and sock are to ‘season’ together.

So, last Sunday, I was really keen to get walking again with the gang. This time it was drier and half the distance. It was still a laugh-a-minute. We did a shorter Ladybower circuit from Fairholmes up to the Lockerbrook Farm, down the bridleway where you could see the range of hills at the High Peaks nearish Edale, and back up along the Derwent aqueduct to Fairholmes. The verdict on the shoes? Fantastic. I actually tried it the weekend before doing a 6 km circuit via the Sharrowvale Sunday market and no blisters, compared to the Mam Tor hike we did prior.

I have mentioned walking in the Peaks to a couple of my Sheffield friends and hope to do a couple more before winter sets in (which doesn’t stop seasoned walkers, really). I live 20 minutes away from some of the best walking spots in England. No excuses, huh?