Category Archives: United Kingdom

Department of Misinformation XVIII

Another blog has declares Nordic Walking to be “new” and offers questionable equipment advice

From “Home Living News,” a UK blog by a ‘team of homemakers, gardeners, landscapers, coffee enthusiasts, chefs, and do-it-yourself home improvement specialists comes this tidbit of misinformation” from Lindsey, who just discovered it::

A Giant Step Towards Health: Nordic Walking Techniques

“Nordic walking is a new revolutionary technique that enhances the way people work out. It uses two walking poles that propel the person along, ensuring an upper and lower body workout. The walker takes big lunging steps forward, getting the quad muscles working. It’s becoming popular among personal trainers, gyms and physiotherapists worldwide.”

Nordic Walking is not new, as I wrote as a comment to that post. Nordic Walking does not require “big lunging steps.” If the prime muscle benefit were working the quads, leg lifts would arguably be more effective. And as for “become popular…worldwide,” we can only hope that its worldwide popularity increasing. When I see how much Nordic Walking (and generally walking) activity takes place in the UK, I can see how Lindsey would infer that it is more global.

Then there is the “Home Living News”  paragraph of equipment information:

“All these techniques make use of walking poles. The poles should be suited to the person – one that is too big or small might potentially cause an injury, so before you start, get a customised walking pole. Shoes are also an important accessory to avoid injury. Hiking boots are comfortable and offer loads of support.”

True, the poles “should be suited to the person,”  but efficiency and comfort are more of an issue than the injury-causing potential. There is no mention of the fact that correct pole size is possible by adjusting variable-length poles to the correct size or by using correctly sized fixed-length poles. And hiking boots? Not under most circumstances. Nordic Walking shoes? Yes, if available. Otherwise, walking shoes or trail-running — or other running shoes in that order of preference. But hiking boots? Preferably not.

The post is worth clicking on if only for an endearing image of two ladies walking on a pretty riverside path. At least one is wearing a skirt and one has a large purse slung across her shoulders. I

Nordic Walking Instructional Package

Innovative new instruction package contains DVDs, MP3 app and eBook

I found the following recent message on the Nordic Walking eCommunity to be very poignant:

“I am still very new to this sport and while I love it, I am having trouble finding information other than the 20 minute video that came with my poles. I don’t know anybody in the Tidewater VA who coaches this sport. At 58 with bad arthritis under both kneecaps I can,t safely do what is posted on the online magazine. I really enjoy the online magazine, but am wondering if there are any other resources out there for the novice?”

How unfortunate for the growth of Nordic Walking in general and for individuals who want instruction that information is so hard to come by — in this US at any rate. Many people in the Nordic Walking world know that what is needed is a searchable directory of instructors, regardless of the technique they teach, but that simply doesn’t exist yet — and perhaps never will. Several eCommunity members came up with suggestions, but here’s something that I only learned about recently and that doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar screen.

Nordic Walking Made Easy is a new package that includes a 16-DVD instructional series (above) with photographs, an interactive MP3 application with 30 minutes and a 105-page eBook called Walking for Fitness, that might be a general walking book rather than specifically including poles. I haven’t seen any of the components, but the contents list is impressive. Nothing beats benefit of personal instruction that includes error detection and correction, but if there’s no instructor nearby (or for someone who wants some reinforcement or review), this package appears to have a lot of promise.

P.S. 3/22/2010: When I saw the image that I used above, I inferred that the instructional videos were DVD form, which is the reason I was surprised that there was no shipping charge. Turns out that they are online videos, so if you order — and anyone who wants to learn Nordic Walking and has no instructor anywhere nearby — should consider doing so, don’t expect a shipmnent of DVDs.

It was put together by Paul Collins (right), a chartered (a Britishism for certified or licensed) physiotherapist, health professional and Nordic Walking instructor. He teaches the International Nordic Walking Association method, and I don’t know whether his instructional materials include any other technique variations. But no matter. He has created something that I believe is groundbreaking in the Nordic Walking world. Anyone anywhere can order it — including in Virginia’s Tidewater region.

There is a current US$49.95 introductory offer. At some unannounced time, the price will rise to US$99. There does not appear to be a shipping charge. The package can be ordered online, and buyers can enter other countries too and pay in the applicable currency.

Note: Please be sure to click on comments to this post.

Oh, To Be a Walker in Wales!

Gwynedd plans weeklong festival devoted to walking for health

Gwynedd, a town of fewer than 120,000 souls in beautiful northwest Wales, hosts the inaugural Gwynedd Health Walk Festival from Monday, March 22 through Saturday, March 27. Ten voluntary (i.e., free) groups in communities across the county host regular walks for locals and visitors. For the festival, voluntary walking groups all around Gwynedd have organized walks of various lengths and degrees of challenge. The event concludes on Saturday at Plas Tan y Bwlch, Maentwrog with two events. At 1:30 p.m., a demo (which the Brits call a “taster session”) will give everyone an opportunity to try out Nordic Walking.

Walking groups have been established in nearby towns with such picturesque names as Barmouth, Bethesda, Dolgellau, Y Bala, Nefyn, Penygroes, Porthmadog, Tywyn, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Maesgeirchen. Impractical as it may be, how can you not want to grab your poles and participate?
For more information (or to even book a spot on the final day’s walks, should you be in the area) at Plas Tan y Bwlch, Maentwrog contact Gwynedd Council’s Physical Activity Development Officer, Sharon Jones on 01341 424 410 or email

Nameless Nordic Walker Pledges Miles for Charity

British organization(s) will benefit — but who is the Nordic Walker?

I encourage visitors to leave posts on this blog, as well as my travel and culinary blogs, and I even allow anonymous comments so have become quite accustomed to them. But I just encountered something that struck me as odd and perhaps counterproductive. I found a blog call The Big 30 that seeks to raise money for two worthy causes, Sport Relief and the British Heart Foundation. But I have only the vaguest idea of who the anonymous blogger might be. Such secrecy is usually associated with witness protection programs!

The nameless individual has committed to the effort has pledged to Nordic Walk and/or bicycle ride for 30 consecutive days in March — I believe aiming for 900 kilometers in this period. I trolled through the site and the links trying to find the name of the blogger/fundraiser, whose name might be Tracy Reck, which I found on the Heart Foundation page. There’s a fuzzy photo on the blog that I am taking the liberty of adding here. I really admire and commend such a commitment, but I am puzzled by the anonymity.

Department of Misinformation, XVII

“Collapsible ski poles”?!?!?! Say, what?

A UK site called Independent Minds, which might be an online versiuon of a print publication, ran a piece called “Five Spots for Winter Rambles,” describing fabulous-sounding route suggestions from Cornwall to the Isle of Skye. I’d love grab my poles to explore any or all of them.

One of the route listings contained this information (italics mine):

“How to do it: This is relatively easy walking, and well signed with Forestry Commission waymarkers to guide you; but if you do fancy joining a group, there’s a regular Nordic walking society (it’s walking but with collapsible ski poles to help exercise the upper body too) who take trips to Peaslake and neighbouring Hurt Wood.

“Further info: has plenty of info on the Nordic walking tours of the area, and the Hurtwood Inn Hotel can be found at”

How confusing to the non-Nordic Walker to read that collapsible ski poles help exercise the upper body. Would that insprie anyone to contact to learn more? I don’t think so.

International Fitness Week, February 1-7, 2010

Good idea, but no North American and not always Nordic Walking

International Fitness Week is scheduled for February 1-7, 2010, and while it is multi-national, it is hardly global. Promoted by Fitness First, a consortium of 540 health clubs in 17 countries, its goal is stated as, “We want to make the world a fitter place and inspire you to make a change to lead a healthier lifestyle. Anyone can get involved with free gym passes, taster sessions, health checks and advice from the experts.” Its real goal, of course, is drumming up business for those 540 clubs.

The information is different from country to country. The UK page includes a multiple-choice question asking what fitness item people would want from Santa Claus. It lists everything from celebrity fitness DVDs to an at-home smoothie maker, but no Nordic Walking poles. Not surprisingly, the German section includes a search function that comes up with 30 Nordic Walking opportunities. The United States and Canada are not among the countries with Fitness First affiliates (Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore, as well as the UK and several other Asian and European countries).

I really am happy every time health, fitness and wellness being promoted, and I’m every happier when Nordic Walking is one of the options, even if North America does not seem to be poised to celebrate International Fitness Week,

New British Nordic Walking News Site

News site for all Nordic Walkers, whichever side of the Atlantic they live on

David Downer, a Nordic Walking instructor and founder of Nordic Walking Dorset in the south of England, Nordic Walking book author and owner/original moderator of the Nordic Walking eCommunity, has donned a new hat: website owner. In the four weeks since he decided to generate news content, he has tinkered with the format and the day he wishes to publish. He is now updating this new Nordic Walking News website every week with mostly Nordic Walking happenings but occasional newsbits and fun trivia. The site includes:

  • Weekly news postings
  • Events calendar
  • Shop, promised as “Coming Soon” (hope he will offer my Nordic Walking book, which is international and inclusive
  • Disclaimer and Privacy Statement that seems to indicate the degree to which lawyers (or solicitors or maybe barristers) have infected all manner of UK online media

Click here to subscribe. I did.

Walking Week in Wales

Nordic Walking is part of an admirably organized autumn week

As I have admiringly written before, the British countryside from the Isles of Scilly to the Shetlands is criss-crossed with marked walking paths — many of them easily accessible from railroad stations or bus stops, and guided group walks and walking festivals abound. It’s no wonder that people are avid walkers and that Nordic Walking has a real toehold in the walking world.

Coming right up (September 20-27) is the annual Denbighshire Walking Week in Wales — not a specific Nordic Walking week, but a walking week with Nordic Walking as a part. One Nordic Walking-specific event is on the program, but I suspect that many participants will use a single or a pair of trekking poles or Nordic Walking poles whatever they sign up for. When I looked look at the events page of the walking week website, I again admired and envied the organzation. All individual walk listings include degree of distance difficulty, time of day, access to public transportation and whether dogs are permitted. All events are free. Participants are asked to sign up for “fun and fascinating guided walks… including the popular [three-day] Long Distance Challenge and the new Big Hillfort Challenge….The festival also features Nordic Walking at the Alwen.”

Of the specific Nordic Walking event, the website notes: “A Nordic walk around the Alwen, come along and learn the technique to Nordic walking followed by a guided Nordic walk taking in some of the magical countryside. Bring a packed lunch and a drink.” It’s scheduled for five hours. I wish I could be there. Like so many counties in Britain, Wales’s Denbighshire abounds in walking tails — festivals or not — and the county council encourages this healthy and socialable activity.

Walking for Mental Well-Being

Nordic Walking events again to slot into Mental Health Week in Britain

A British oganization has connected the dots between exercise and physical health with mental health. Time to Change, an organization in the UK dedicated to ending discrimination against individuals with mental illness, again is organizing a nationwide series of events called Get Moving Week, this year from October 3-11. It aims to connect people with mental health issues and the wider community to promote acceptance and understanding.

Nordic Walking is again one of the activities in local programs that differ by location. One intriguing event that is already detailed on Time to Change’s calendar takes place in the Borough of Greenwich, best known for Universal Coordinated Time, which in a more Anglo-centric era was called Greenwich Mean Time. But that’s an off-topic drift, isn’t it!

I include the details of the program there just to give other communities ideas they might adopt and adapt. Greenwich’s includes “A Super Older People’s Sports and Physical Activity Event on Saturday 3rd October from 12pm to 4pm at Woolwich Polytechnic [that] will mark the beginning of ‘Get Moving in Greenwich’ week and International Day of Older People. A ‘Get Moving and Get Active in Greenwich’ Festival at the Greenwich Heritage Centre on World Mental Health Day, Saturday 10th October from 1.30pm will mark the end of the week, with lots of different ‘Get Moving’ activities to try out, including dance, hula hooping, Nordic walking, cycling and much more….Then wind down after the day’s activities, with free entertainment and refreshments, at the Literary Night Club. Come along at 1.30pm for the launch of the festival and to take part.”

In 2008, Charl & Rena Erasmus of Nordic Walkrite participated in Get Moving Week by offering five free Nordic Walking intros, which in the land where the Queen’s English is spoken, are called “taster sessions.” I suspect they are no longer around, because their most recent blog post was back in October and their website appears to be gone too. Still, their support of Get Moving Week Week is a good example of how Nordic Walking can be integrated into other activities and other agendas.

Living Streets: Advocating for Pedestrians Since 1929

Boulder, Colorado, which I have called home for 20 years, six months and 14 days is an extremely pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly community. In fact, in Hoboken, New Jersey; Manhattan, and Boston, the three very urban places I lived before moving here, walking was a way of urban life. But it is only (relatively) recently that other places in the US have made efforts to get people out of their cars and onto their feet, on two wheels or into public transportation in order to address multiple problems from obesity to air pollution.

Nordic Walkers enthusiastically participate in a two-footed, two-poled fitness and recreational activity, and in that sense, we all have an interest making our communities more welcoming to pedestrians and foot traffic in general. I typed “Nordic Walking” into the search box on the website for Living Streets, up came 299 separate items. Living Streets is a British organization that introduces itself this way:

“We all use our local streets. But for decades, traffic priorities have been
allowed to overwhelm them, leaving them dirty and unsafe. We fight for vibrant
streets to revitalise neighbourhoods and reconnect people.”

Amazingly, it was founded in 1929 as the Pedestrian Association and in 2001 changed its name to Living Streets. That’s eight decades of advocating for pedestrians over vehicles. In that time period, United States policies favored the internal combustion engine over everything else. Except in the Northeast Corridor, our railroads are shadows of their former might, most American cities eliminated street cars (though it is coming back slowly as “light rail”) and shopping malls and big-box retailers surrounded by acres of parking lots have replaced friendly, locally owned downtown business as the places Americans shop. And of course, in the name of “convenience,” drive-in everything from fast-foodeterias to banks have replaced And as a nation, we have porked up and more of us have developed diseases that could have been prevented with more physical activity.

But I’m preaching to the choir here. What I really started out writing was a tribute to an organization that has been committed to making streets more congenial to foot traffic since King George V resided in Buckingham Palace and Herbert Hoover lived in the White House.