As the weather gets warmer and the nights get lighter, more interesting ways of getting active outside become available. We look at the companies and individuals in the Shire area helping us find new ways of enjoying ourselves as we keep fit…
Gone are the days when popping out for a stroll was the only way to get your daily exercise. Much as the Victorians loved a promenade to ‘take the air’, things have moved on in leaps and bounds – quite literally.
While walking is the top active pastime for most people, even that has taken on a life of its own. Official routes are cleared and cared for across the country, rambler and orienteering clubs make it a more sociable sport, and walking festivals celebrate the event.
Now summer is almost here, many of us will be upping our game. Don’t forget that Shire’s regular contributor, Clive Williams, provides walking routes in our Active section. But if you’re ready to step things up a notch, it may be time to join the two million people across the UK who run regularly.
The need for speed
Running is a popular sport for people of all ages and fitness levels. A number of government and health initiatives have launched a new breed of runner – those who’d never tried running for anything more than a bus before.
Probably the most successful of these schemes is the NHS Couch To 5k programme, which takes people from a totally sedentary lifestyle to being able to run a 5km. Many leisure clubs have also developed running groups that cater for all abilities, and more people than ever are signing up for 5km and 10km runs, as well as half and full marathons.
Some people talk about the ‘runner’s buzz’ and developing a love for the activity, but for many it simply remains an affordable and flexible way of keeping fit. However, there are a lot of other ways we can do this, and over the next four pages we introduce a few more ideas to add a little variety to your routine and take your active lifestyle to the next level.
On yer bike
Prefer using two wheels to your own two feet? One of the best ways to challenge yourself and meet like-minded individuals is to sign up to a sportive
If you’re looking to get more out of your cycling, one of the best ways to do so is by joining an organised event, or sportive. Don’t worry – they’re not always as competitive as they may sound. One company that is happy to help is Bostin’ Ride, a family firm run by keen cyclists who like to have a good time and give others a great time too. With more than 10 years’ experience organising sportives, it knows what makes a great event and has a calendar of regular fixtures across the region. ‘We only organise sportives that we’d like to go to ourselves, which combine a friendly atmosphere with a professional service,’ says Calum Grew from Bostin’ Ride. ‘We have some of the most picturesque but challenging landscapes around us: Snowdonia, the Welsh and Shropshire Hills, the Peak District, Cannock Chase and Sherwood Forest, to name just a few. These areas all lend themselves to sportives.’
Dates for your diary
The Bostin’ Vyrnwy Velo Sportive takes place on 16th June, starting from the Welshpool Livestock Market. It offers the choice of three fully signposted routes through the Welsh countryside, which all follow the same initial 25km.
The Bronze route then turns left into a quieter country lane, while the other riders carry on into the hills. Silver route riders head for Lake Vyrnwy and Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, while those on the Gold route climb along the edge of the Afon Eirth valley to the summit of Bwlch Y Groes. On 30th June, the Bostin’ Bridge Sportive starts at Harper Adams University just outside Newport, Shropshire, before tackling three fully signposted routes along predominantly country lanes. The longer routes get up close and personal with the famous Wrekin hill and the banks of the River Severn and past the Iron Bridge.
For more information about Bostin’ Ride and its upcoming sportives, visit bostinride.com
Hit the hills
The sport of orienteering develops attributes that aren’t advanced in any other sport. It began as a means to test participants on their ability to traverse virgin forest in Scandinavia with only a basic sketch-map and a compass. While today’s electronic timing and compasses are great advances on 1919, the sport’s principles remain the same: the orienteer has to make their way from start to finish by passing a number of mandatory checkpoints in the fastest time possible.
The unseen map presents the possibility for endless variation in route choice and direction between controls. At every event there’s a wide choice of course categories to suit any individual, from tough, long courses that require the intense focus of an experienced athlete, to shorter, easier routes that encourage the enjoyment of everyone.
Sport for all
There are some 120 orienteering clubs across Britain, in areas such as mixed woodland, open moorland and hillside, or even in urban areas such as university campuses. Competitors of any age and ability can find a course to suit to them at any event, and the demographic of orienteering ranges from the under-10s to the over-70s, with a great mix of families, dog-walkers and enthusiastic athletes in between.
Eryri Orienteering Club has event areas across north Wales. It staged the British Championships in 1995 and 2001 and will stage the multi-day Croeso event in July 2020.
At our events there will always be a more experienced orienteer on hand to explain which is the best course to try, how to use the map and what to do along the course. All our courses are colour coded depending on their complexity and physical difficulty, and we have courses suitable for families and young children.
It’s helpful if you know how to use a compass, but it can be introduced as you gain experience. Electronic chip timing will provides you with information on how you did.
Membership to Eryri Orienteering Club and the Welsh Orienteering Association is free for the first year, and having just drawn the annual Night Street League to a close, an exciting summer of challenges is approaching!
For more information, visit www.eryri-orienteering.org
The quick way down
Over the past 10 years, Coed Llandegla Forest in north Wales has become known as the place to go for your mountain biking adrenaline fix. There you’ll find trails for all, from the Green trail around the reservoir to the airtime-tastic B-Line trail.
Experts such as OnePlanet Adventure are on hand to ensure progression is simple and finding a trail that suits your ability and fitness is easy.
‘We offer courses for everyone, from complete beginners to seasoned experts,’ says Harriet from OnePlanet. ‘Our fully qualified instructors give a friendly and professional coaching experience on a group or one-to-one basis, and use video analysis to help you perfect technique and maximise progression.
If you don’t have the right kit, that’s not a problem either. ‘All our bikes are “real” mountain bikes, with front suspension, hydraulic disc brakes and off-road tyres. They’ve got everything you need to take on our trails.’
For more details visit www.oneplanetadventure.com
New centre for adventure
Surf Snowdonia may be best known for its wave machine and watersports, but this year sees the launch of a whole range of further activities under the umbrella of Adventure Parc Snowdonia
This summer, the world-first inland waves at award-winning Surf Snowdonia have been joined at Adventure Parc Snowdonia by a bucketload of new nature-inspired adventures.
Exciting instructor-led activities include gorge walking, abseiling, stand-up paddle safaris and coasteering, and there’s on-site mountain bike hire too – perfect for exploring the nearby Gwydir Mawr forest trails.
From July there will be weatherproof activities too, thanks to the introduction of Adrenaline Indoors. This impressive high-thrills family adventure experience will feature artificial caving, climbing walls, extreme slides, a via ferrata, a multi-level aerial assault course and a parkour ninja trail.
There will also be ‘freefall’ jumps for the fearless, and visitors can finish with a zip line over the surf lagoon.
If you want to get stuck into some serious adventure activities but the weather doesn’t make it easy to do, the Adventure Parc is a great place to investigate. There is also a separate soft play zone for younger guests, and there are glamping pods, a bar, diner and the magnificent setting of the Conwy Valley if you fancy staying over.
For more information, visit