:

New Year’s resolutions – why not try something new?

New Year’s resolutions – why not try something new?

January is the traditional month for making New Year’s resolutions and for sharing our best intentions for the coming year with family and friends. It’s the perfect time to get out of a rut and sort out our life. January is ‘all change’, whether it’s our job, relationships, home or lifestyle. Most of us feel a psychological need for renewal, both physical and mental. It can be a reaction to the holiday season, when we throw sensible routines out of the window, often leading to weight gain and unhealthy habits. So we start each year with ambitious plans to sort out our mind, body, and soul, but after the big buzz and enthusiasm of the first weeks, success is elusive. With all this in mind, we have come up with some ideas on how to combine fitness with enjoyment, so you don’t ditch your good intentions at the first hurdle. New Year’s resolutions: wellness tips Losing weight is not ‘mission impossible’ but it’s not easy to maintain that ideal weight. Our busy lives and sedentary jobs often lead to eating convenience, fatty foods and skipping exercise. It’s a well-known fact that most gym memberships are bought early in January but access cards end up languishing in a drawer come February. Walking for fun and fitness The NHS has recognised the benefits of walking with its campaign Walking for Health.  Walking groups are operating in many UK counties to suit all levels of fitness. The campaign’s website offers plenty of advice on how to start and, crucially, how to stay motivated. It also explains walking health benefits in great detail:...
Tips for taking great Instagram photos on the go

Tips for taking great Instagram photos on the go

With over 200 million users, Instagram is now one of the most popular social media apps, doing for photography what Twitter did for blogging – giving users a mass platform with which to easily take, edit and share micro content. Modelled on the Polaroid photos of old, Instagram photos and videos are a distinctive square shape, with the added bonus of a set of packaged ‘filters’, which can be used to easily enhance your pictures. Whether you just want to share great looking photos of your activities with your friends and family, or if you’re just aiming for more followers, there are a few basic tips that will help you take great Instagram photos wherever you are. Photography basics and Instagram specifics In one of our last blog posts, we discussed a few ways you can improve your outdoor photography. Two of the most relevant here include abiding the ‘golden hours’ rule and the ‘rule of thirds’ – respectively due to smartphone cameras generally being lower quality than digital cameras (though this is changing), and due to the peculiarly square nature of an Instagram snap. Continuing with our casual photography series, we want to explore the specificities of ‘Instagramming’ when you’re on the move. It’s good to be familiar with these photography basics, but there’s also a few rules specific to phone pictures, and Instagram in particular. Use your inbuilt camera app One secret great ‘Instagrammers’ keep is that they don’t actually use Instagram to take most of their photographs: they use the native camera app that came with the smartphone. There’s a number of distinct advantages to this,...
Newlands Corner and Shere Walk

Newlands Corner and Shere Walk

Distance 6.75 miles (10.8 km)          Duration 2:45 hrs             Calories 1000 (est.) Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), this countryside walk offers architectural gems by Victorians Lutyens and Pugin, a hauntingly beautiful pond, a quintessentially English village popular with film location scouts, and tales of smugglers and a 14th-century religious devotee. If you’re looking for a day out that combines charming landscapes with glimpses of rural British life over the last thousand years, this Newlands Corner and Shere Walk is for you. To get the walk: Install the Handheld Tours app (free) – iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. Select tour using list or map view Click download button Enjoy an excellent day out! Walking in the Surrey Hills is stunning at any time of year. From our starting point at Newlands Corner, there are breathtaking views over the valley that you will explore. From this beauty spot, on a ridge of the North Downs east of Guildford, the tour heads out along the North Downs Way before descending into the valley below. Following the route through woodland, fields and open countryside, you will encounter a Second World War pillbox, ready and waiting for an invasion force that, fortunately, never came. Next you will be greeted with the unexpected sight of vines belonging to an organic vineyard. You can then rest a while at the tranquil setting of Silent Pool before continuing on the tour. The route turns off across fields and through woodland as it makes for the village of Shere, the backdrop to several blockbuster films. Stop off for tea, a pint or...
Ramsbottom and Peel Tower Walk

Ramsbottom and Peel Tower Walk

Distance 5.87 miles (9.45 km)          Duration 2:30 hrs             Calories 950 (est.) With dramatic landscapes, a fascinating industrial past, modern art, a heritage railway service, independent shops and tearooms, cosy pubs and link to 19th-century statesman Sir Robert Peel, the Ramsbottom and Peel Tower walk gives you a great introduction to the West Pennines and the area’s Victorian legacy. To get the walk: Install the Handheld Tours app (free) – iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. Select tour using list or map view Click download button Enjoy an excellent day out! The walk starts and ends in the Victorian mill town of Ramsbottom in Lancashire. The town was awarded joint runner-up in the Daily Telegraph’s 2013 High Street of the Year contest, a testament to its old-fashioned charm. As you wander it’s streets, you will come across a traditional sweet shop, a butcher that makes exceptional pork pies, the Chocolate Café, art galleries and a great choice of tearooms and cafés, There are lots of annual events that draw large crowds, including the Easter egg rolling or ‘Pace Egging’ on Holcombe Hill, the Chocolate festival, and the International Black-pudding throwing competition. Starting at the free car park at the train station, this 5.87 mile walk takes you through Ramsbottom and then up onto Holcombe Moor, visiting Harcles Hill and the Peel Tower. Coming back down via an ancient roadway you will come through Summerseat and return to Ramsbottom, roughly following the routes of the East Lancashire Railway and the River Irwell. On a clear day, the views from Harcles Hill can be spectacular, taking in Manchester, the mountains...
New Alresford Walk

New Alresford Walk

Distance 6.46 miles (10.40 km)          Duration 3 hrs             Calories 900 (est.) A historic market town, ancient trading routes, a deserted village, and a heritage railway service set the stage for this engaging walking tour. The walk starts and ends in the charming Hampshire town of New Alresford (pronounced ‘Allsford’), which Country Life magazine voted its ‘Favourite Market Town’ in the south-east. With its evocative colour-washed Georgian houses, specialist  shops, independent cafes and old-fashioned inns, you can see why. To get the walk: Install the Handheld Tours app (free) – iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. Select tour using list or map view Click download button Enjoy an excellent day out! Though founded in the 12th Century, most of the modern town dates back to the mid 18th Century, when it was rebuilt after the last devastating fire to hit the town in 1736. (There were quite a few fires in the 17th and 18th Centuries, leading to the town gaining a reputation as a dangerous place to live!). The town is famous as being the capital of the UK Watercress industry and the train station is serviced by the Mid-Hants Steam Railway, also known as the Watercress Line. Starting at the pay and display car park at the train station, this 6.5 mile walk takes you down through the town, along the River Alre and out into the surrounding countryside using some ancient paths and tracks. You will see examples of the famed watercress beds in nearby farms. When you return to the town, you will be able to enjoy well-deserved refreshments in one of the town’s...
Witley and Hambledon Walk

Witley and Hambledon Walk

Distance 6.6 miles (10.6 km)          Duration 3 hrs             Calories 1000 (est.) This countryside walk is set in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It starts and ends at the train station in Witley, which is on the mainline to London Waterloo. This offers easy access to Portsmouth, Guildford and Woking. To get the tour: Install the Handheld Tours app (free) – iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. Select tour using list or map view Click download button Enjoy the walk! The walk visits Hambledon, a small scattered village with a number of historic buildings that have a story to tell. It then heads up to Hydon’s Ball & Heath, one of The National Trust’s earliest acquisitions. This is one of two high points on the walk that give the walker great vantage points with extensive views of the Weald and the South Downs. Towards the end, the walk visits the Merry Harriers, a 16th-century pub that offers great food and drink, as well as an opportunity to play petanque in the beer garden while being overlooked by Llamas! The terrain is mostly woodland walking with a few stretches through farmland. If you are looking for a day out that offers a flavour of rural Surrey as well as an insight into the local history this is the walk for you. If you want to visit The National Trust’s Oakhurst Cottage, which is a stop on the route, you need to book your visit in advance. See the National Trust website for more information. Please be considerate in the countryside: keep to public rights of way,...