KATE'S BLOG

The Cotswold Way
The Cotswold Way
22nd Mar 2017
We have received requests from our clients who want to walk the Cotswold Way - "Do you cover this trail?"  The answer now is yes.

This 102 mile walk takes in some of the finest Cotswold scenery, starting in Chipping Campden and fishing in the city of Bath.  Typically it would take about 9 days and we can arrange some lovely overnight stays as well as transporting your bags from one overnight stop to another.

Panoramic views, gorgeous honey coloured stone villages, ancient remains, good food and drink on the way and a sense of achievement are all there for you to enjoy.

So what are you waiting for?
Thames Path Challenge
Thames Path Challenge
20th Sep 2016

 So what has been happening recently at  Inspired Walking.....


Well apart from being busy organising walking holidays, the Inspired Walking team decided to get involved in walking themselves and raise some money for charity.  We chose to take part in The Thames Path Challenge earlier this month walking the 50 Km from Putney Bridge to Runnymede.


Despite a very wet day, we all completed the course along the river and there were some emotional scenes of celebration at the finish, especially for those who would not normally have considered attempting a distance of over 31 miles in one go.


It was particularly rewarding to realise that the total funds raised for different charities, but particularly Cancer Research, amounted to over £10,000.


There is a good feeling about walking to give something back to worthwhile causes.  

A Purbeck Ridge
A Purbeck Ridge
8th Aug 2016

Who doesn’t want a trail that provides continuous walking along a grassy ridge with far reaching views over land and sea?  Well this 11 mile walk delivers in all respects plus interesting starting and finishing points.


Corfe Castle, with its haunting castle remains and set in a marvellous defensive position in a gap in the ridge, is your beginning.  We can also thoroughly recommend a fantastic B + B just off the main  road which will set you up for the day.  Plenty of coffee stops to choose from in Corfe - perhaps the best is the National Trust with its garden that enjoys wonderful views of the castle.


Then it is a climb up onto the ridge for a panoramic walk of some 4 miles with outstanding views over to the Purbeck coast, inland over Poole Harbour, Bournemouth and inland Dorset, The Needles on the Isle of Wight and to your destination, Swanage.  A drop down to a gap in the ridge is followed by 209 steps to take you up to the obelisk on Ballard Down - a great stop for your picnic lunch and a chance to catch your breath!


The final part of the ridge goes all of the way to the chalk stacks of Old Harry - but first a detour to Studland with its sandy beaches and the Bankes Arms for a pint.  A level path gets you to Old Harry (but be careful not to get too close to the edge).  


Then more gorgeous sea views before a descent into seaside Swanage and much needed refreshment.  The best way back to Corfe is to catch the steam hauled train and so take you back in time.  So many happy memories of a fabulous day of walking.

Delights of exploring a new route
Delights of exploring a new route
17th May 2016

Where to explore today?   The beauty of walking, particularly a new route, is that you never know what you will encounter.  It is amazing how often you come across unexpected happenings.


With an encouraging weather forecast, the vote was off to South Wiltshire and a circular walk with Salisbury in the middle. Starting from the tiny village of Stratford Tony, our route took us by the side of the infant River Ebble, a beautifully clear chalk stream along to Combe Bissett.  It was bright and crisp - just right for photos - and everywhere was full of the new growth of late Spring.


Far reaching vistas were enjoyed as we approached Salisbury, a city without urban sprawl, and quiet backroads took us over Harnham Hill with the magnificent cathedral and its mighty spire in full view.  The cathedral close is an absolute delight and just the spot for lunch, with a choice of the Refectory Restaurant off the cloisters or the cafe in the close - too nice to sit inside today.


You cannot go to Salisbury without going into the cathedral to take in all of its glory and visiting the Chapter House with its Magna Carta.  


Our return to Stratford Tony took us across the famous Water Meadows with its backdrop of the cathedral, made famous by Constable’s painting.  Then uphill by the golf course, being careful about low flying golf balls, and over the racecourse.  More pastoral views to finish off a delightful 10 mile walk.

A Day for the memory box
A Day for the memory box
12th Apr 2016
The weather is improving and just the day to stretch the legs.

A circular walk along the downland of the Wiltshire/Dorset borders was the ideal route to gain some far reaching views.  But first food - the cafe at Compton Abbas airfield was just the place for breakfast to get us off to a good start.  Then up to Win Green with its 360 degree views with even the Isle of Wight visible in the distance.  A steep descent took us along Ashcombe Bottom to Tollard Royal and the King John for some liquid replacement and then a picnic in the sun, sitting by the village pond.  The Wessex Ridgeway path led to Ashmore, the highest village in Dorset, to be followed by more up and downs.  Sheep are everywhere and we timed it just right to witness the birth of twin lambs out in the field.  And so back to the airfield to watch the many little planes taking off to make the most of the glorious weather, while enjoying mugs of tea.  Nothing like a bit of walking between stops for food and drink!!

One of those days for the memory box.  A feeling that you could go on walking for ever.

Spring Is On Its Way
Spring Is On Its Way
20th Mar 2016
Spring is on its Way

Every day I go walking is a treat but sometimes its just magical - all day sunshine, the perfect temperature for walking and at last the ground is drying up to give easy conditions under foot.  A 12 mile walk in the marvellous Dorset countryside took me from Portesham to Osmington along the South Dorset Ridgeway.  An elevated route with sea views all of the way.

My first sight was a buzzard gracefully circling in the thermals, followed by the first skylarks of the year with their cheerful call.  New born lambs were everywhere.

What is a walk without good food?  A perfect picnic spot with far reaching views and  homemade soup and rolls - how good food tastes in the open air!

You never know what you are going to see next and ahead were five deer leaping the fence.  The only problem was the last one chickened out and got left behind!

Is it the endorphins they say that make you feel so good when out and about?  I don’t know but there can be no doubt that it is sheer joy to be outside in such a magnificent landscape on a real Spring day. 

If you would like to share this feeling, do get in touch and we will design a walking holiday that will enable you to enjoy these delights.
Inspired Walking’s ‘Great Wessex Way’
Inspired Walking’s ‘Great Wessex Way’
8th Mar 2015

It’s taken a lot of planning (and walking), but we are all very excited to announce our very own long distance walk: The Great Wessex Way. Inspired by wanting to offer people a new and achievable challenge, we have designed a fascinating trail coursing through our favourite areas of Dorset and Wiltshire. At 205 miles (‘Cathedral to Abbey’) or 181 miles (‘Cathedral to Coast’) it will certainly test both physical and mental strength. However, by allowing flexibility as to how you take on the challenge, we hope that we can make it achievable for most walkers. As with all our holidays, it is our aim to tailor a walk to suit: start when you want; choose how far you want to walk in a day; incorporate rest days and, in this case, even split the walk into sections to make it more manageable on your legs and time. We also hope that we can encourage people to walk the Great Wessex Way for charity – what better way to spur you on! For every party who decides to walk our trail for charity, we will make a donation to your chosen good cause.

We hope that with so much to see along the way (Salisbury’s magnificent Cathedral, ancient earthworks, Roman roads, stunning coastal and inland views, Corfe Castle, Lulworth Cove and Golden Cap – to name just a few!), that the experience of walking it will equal the rewarding sense of achievement on completing it.

Stethoscope for walking boots - an unusual trade!
Stethoscope for walking boots - an unusual trade!
21st Jan 2015

"Why would you want to do that?” asked an old friend as we sat catching up over a coffee. I didn’t take offence as it has become a rather familiar question when I try to explain to people why I changed my career from working as a GP to running a walking holiday company. It’s never an easy one to answer if I’m honest, as even I occasionally admit that it may seem a little strange!

However, a beautiful frosty walk this morning reminded me that there is some method in my madness: Crisp clear air, frost crusted ground and a low glorious sun provided the backdrop to an invigorating walk over Dorset’s rolling hills. A sense of wellbeing was almost immediate as I strode out to keep warm. It reinforced my belief that walking helps to keep us well and happy. If we could harness this and put it into a pill, then my old life as a GP would have been so much easier! Instead, I hope that by enticing people to walk (especially those who wouldn’t normally or those who are put off by having to organise a walking trip), that maybe I can still make a difference.

Diary of a Winter Cotswold Round
Diary of a Winter Cotswold Round
18th Dec 2014

Day 1 – A greeting of tea and mince pies awaited us at our ancient and luxurious Inn in Winchcombe. Leaving the car at the long stay car park (not bad at £1 per day), we were under our own steam from here!

 Day 2- With clear winter light, we stocked up on treats from the tempting deli, and began our journey. Passing Sudeley Castle, we walked into the hills, then through Guiting Wood before a warming soup for lunch. The afternoon took us through the prettiest of Cotswold villages, and after nearly 13 miles, we arrived at our country pub, which surpassed our expectations - complete with roll top bath in our room.

 Day 3 – A more leisurely start with only 9 miles to walk today. We had time to explore Stow on the Wold, and the delights of Huffkins (at least we were going to be walking the calories off)! Can’t believe that the sunshine stayed with us all day. More pretty villages and rolling hills before reaching our hilltop stop for the night. The food here was the best so far, and a great Christmas atmosphere.

 Day 4 – Another 13 miles today, so a relatively early start was needed so that we would finish in the light. A welcome coffee in a fantastic community shop and café in Blockley was first on the agenda – and so continued our tour of the Cotswold eateries interspersed with a little bit of walking! A true gem of the Cotswolds next: Chipping Campden, then an introduction to the Cotswold Way for the rest of our walk to Broadway. We had amazing views from the top of Dovers Hill – all the way to The Long Mynd – some 54 miles away. Still time for one more café stop at Broadway tower before our final descent. Walking past twinkling Christmas lights, we reveled in the sense of achievement that we had completed our trip.  It had been a true break from the pre-Christmas rush. The quality of the route and accommodation choices were excellent – we would have no hesitation in recommending their services to anyone who wants to have every detail of their walk so well planned and coordinated.

 Day 5 – A short bus ride back to Winchcombe to return to our car – but should we have walked the extra day to complete the round by foot? Next time….

 

Spare a thought for the Dartford Warbler
Spare a thought for the Dartford Warbler
11th Dec 2014
Whilst frosty mornings and crisp days are currently giving us beautiful conditions for walking, I couldn’t help but think, as I neared my cosy stop for lunch, that we don’t all have the luxury of an open fire over which to warm our toes. A fleeting glimpse of a Dartford Warbler, perched on a twig of gorse and emitting its scratchy song, had caught my eye earlier in the day. To spot this secretive bird is considered to be one of the many walking ‘rewards’ of the Dorset heathland. A non-migrant, they run the risk of starving during a harsh winter, and if snow lingers for more than a few days, it can prove devastating. Their numbers declined massively in the early 1960’s after a couple of bitter winters, and although their numbers have recovered, their dependency on mature dry heath habitats, leaves them vulnerable. 
We are lucky that Dorset boasts the best and most well preserved heathland in Britain. Not only does its gorse illuminate our winter landscape with its bright yellow flower, but it also provides crucial winter shelter for this charming bird.

Salisbury’s new crown
Salisbury’s new crown
2nd Nov 2014
Beating the likes of Toronto and Vienna, Salisbury may not have been the obvious choice to have been recently ranked as 7th best city in the world by the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2015 awards (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel/cities/07-salisbury), but I believe it’s new crown is deserved. It provides a starting point to several of our walks in ‘Hardy’s Wessex’, and each time I visit, I find new reasons to fall in love with this fascinating city. On approaching the city, you cannot miss the 123m spire of it’s 13th century cathedral – a view I never get tired of. It houses the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta (which will be 800 yrs old next year), and the oldest mechanical clock.
Salisbury is a quintessentially English city with an historic old centre of lovely medieval and Georgian buildings (one of these being Arundells – former home of Prime Minister Sir Ted Heath, and is now open to the public). It provides the backdrop to Thomas Hardy’s ‘Jude the Obscure’, and inspired the likes of Constable and Turner.
So, although there have been some who have been surprised by Salisbury’s new found fame, I agree with the Lonely Planet, and feel it is a ‘forgotten jewel in the UK’s crown’.

Why not visit Salisbury in 2015 as it celebrates the anniversary of the writing of the Magna Carta? Spending a day there before starting your walk provides the perfect opportunity to explore. After a nights rest, you can look forward to walking into Constable’s countryside and enjoy looking back at this amazing city.
The new breed of boutique B&B
The new breed of boutique B&B
14th Oct 2014

If 'Bed and Breakfast' conjures up images of net curtains and paisley carpets, then think again. On my constant search to find lovely places to stay, I am continuously reminded what fantastic B&Bs we have in the UK. It is not just the boutique hotels where you can find Egyption cotton, fine cuisine, and luxury bathrooms; the new breed of B&B is offering something above and beyond. It was only the other day that I was lucky enough to take a peek at the most gorgeous B&B in Broadway where every detail, every luxury had been thought of. It would make the perfect host for a special occasion, where a bracing walk from the door could be followed by indulgence and luxury. After all, the two are not mutually exclusive; just because people have a love of the outdoors, it doesn't mean that we can't also enjoy the finer things in life.

In many ways, B&B stays can offer more personality and idiosyncratic charm than a hotel, and they have fewer guests so the service and hospitality can be more personal. They certainly have earned their place in a very competitive market, and I hope their rise continues to delight and surprise their guests.

Can we get our children to love walking?
Can we get our children to love walking?
16th Sep 2014

"Do we have to?” was the response my 11 and 9yr olds gave me at the weekend when I suggested a walk in the Cotswolds. Only just persuaded by a promise of an ice cream at the end, we set out on what turned out to be a glorious afternoon. Whilst enjoying fantastic views from the escarpment, I had time to ponder on whether a love of walking is something that we grow into. I’ve tended to blame the many distractions that children have (largely their screens!) for their protests at the suggestion of a walk, but perhaps they are no different from how I was as a child. I’m inclined to remember, through rose tinted glasses, myself skipping along grassy paths and never complaining "how much further?”. But, I suspect that my parents had to dangle a carrot in much the same way as we do to our children. As my daughter so succinctly put it at the start of our circular route "what’s the point in walking nowhere?”. As a child there may well need to be more to keep them interested than a good view, but I hope that if we can instill the habits and memories at this age, that one day they too will grow to love walking.

The gentle rhythm of walking…a sure way to refresh your mind.
The gentle rhythm of walking…a sure way to refresh your mind.
8th Sep 2014

It was Charles Dickens who wrote "The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy". At the time some thought he was strange for having such beliefs, but as I stride out along the Purbeck Coast with far reaching sea views, I can feel my stresses lighten. I find it fascinating how repeatedly putting one foot in front of the other can have such powerful effects on my mind. Perhaps it is the rhythmic movement that is so restorative, even meditative. A walk seems to free the mind; it enables you to be aware of the small details around you. Whilst I stop to take in my surroundings, I enjoy the moment, and realise that one of the most beneficial things that walking does is it teaches us to be mindful.

The first glimmers of autumn
The first glimmers of autumn
28th Aug 2014

It seems that nature is in a rush this year. First signs of autumn have been reported as early as July, and as I amble through Guiting Wood in the Cotswolds I start to feel excited about the change in season. Autumn is my favourite time of year for walking - cooler days with crisp views are greeted by vibrant woodland colours. For me it also heralds a time of change and reflection. Perhaps it goes back to school years and the association of autumnal scenes with a new school year. It definitely encourages me to want to make new resolutions, even more so than at the beginning of the year.

I love the changing scenes that our countryside gives us, and the way it can make you feel. I'm already planning with enthusiasm which warming soup I will take on my next walk, and look forward to a chill in the air that will make me stride on to a cosy pub lunch.