Swapping Pedals for Poles!

Hope (my beautiful bicycle) sits in the garage looking very clean but a little forlorn! I have left her at home this weekend and picked up the hiking poles instead.

Now I love being outdoors and when my friend asked if I’d like to join her to walk 25 miles along the Offa’s Dyke path I jumped at the opportunity. My excitement at doing something new overcame my initial fears. Although they did come back to me with a vengeance when I told my husband about the mini adventure I was going on. My fears were that I wouldn’t be very good at slipping into a walking pace – having completed multi day bike tours and getting to places much faster on two wheels. I was also secretly worried about my fitness, again being bike fit was not a problem but walking 15 miles in a day was daunting.

What have you said YES to this week that has taken you on a fantastic adventure?

I felt like a newbie preparing for the two day hike. I had no idea what to take with me to keep warm and dry. I also knew I would have to carry all my kit so the backpack needed to be as light as I could make it. Then there were these new extensions to my arms… walking poles! Was I really going to need them…. and how on earth do I use them?

Of course I walk. There are a couple of beautiful little routes round by us in the Cotswolds, yet these short meanders in the woods or along the reservoir by our home are tame in comparison to the Offa’s Dyke path. I know because I have cycled through that terrain just 12 months ago when I tackled the Trans Cambrian Way (click here to read about that mini adventure). I needed to check in with a bit of realism, yet there wasn’t much of that to be found in my thoughts.

Many of my clients feel exactly like I do right in this moment. Especially when starting something new. I know the fears they hold secret from everyone about how they will do on their first visit to the gym or the running club or on their first adventure. I help them to find their way through this minefield. To see the inner gremlins that feed the thoughts in their head and be able to discern what each thought needs to quieten down.  In my head right now I had an inner committee of gremlins! Not just one but several voices all shouting at me at once.

I hadn’t noticed this before but I could quite clearly see them all sat around a boardroom debating my demise on what essentially was a walk.

That is the point at which I laughed at myself. I couldn’t help it. I had wound myself up into a frenzy without even realising it. It’s incredible what your thoughts can do when you leave them unchecked. I had inadvertently been feeding them and they had transformed from that cute little gremlin to the evil monsters they become after midnight. That film, I realise, really hit the nail on the head.

Time for a little talk with my inner committee.

Feeling more optimistic I slung my backpack into the van and set off to pick up Jess to drive the two hours to Knighton.

We parked at the Offa’s Dyke Visitor Centre and within 10 minutes we were literally off and walking. It was as simple as that. The path leaves the centre and very quickly climbs out of the valley. A little too quickly for us! The first hill was immense. I had not thought it would be so steep on this walk and this wasn’t to be the steepest climb of the day.

At the top we rested and took in the view. Little did we know at that time that this was to be the first of six maybe even seven climbs. The guide book was extremely useful and Jess had routed us through to ‘Brompton Cross’, arranging for a B&B close by who would also pick us up at a point on the trail. All we had to do is trek the 15 or so miles to get there before 5 o’clock.

We knew that today’s weather would be clear yet windy. Hurricane Ophelia was due to hit the west coast during the day and this part of Wales would experience fierce winds from about 1 o’clock.

The views were stunning, yet there was an eire feel to the landscape. I kept thinking I had my react to light glasses on and they were distorting the light, yet I was wearing my clear lenses. The sun, as we later found out a hurricane sun, was blood red and as it peaked between clouds it created an intense orange darkness. Boy did it creep us out. The photo’s just don’t do it justice.


As the wind blew the clouds the sun became its usual bright self. Our feelings of trepidation lifted and we began to feel the force of the wind. Stood atop of the next climb that warm wind felt like we were in the path of a turbine engine. The force was immense. We stood to take a video to capture the moment. I know you can not hear me speak as the rush of the wind is so intense that my voice is lost.

We walked with this noise as our constant companion. When there were moments of shelter from the wind we could still hear the effect of it. Through the creaking in the trees of a nearby wood or the rattle of the tin roofs on the sheds. We often thought about our safety. How this incredible force could take these trees and buildings and scatter them. We opted for the safest path wherever we could. Keeping out of the wooded areas, walking with the wind to our backs and giving shelter to the trees rather than the other way around.

Moody hurricane skies that moved to a beautiful clear blue. It was intense at times but oh so worth the effort.

The poles I had thought would be a nuisance eventually became an extension of me. To be honest they were brilliant, especially on the hilly sections. Creating a stable platform to go up and providing a more comfortable descent. It gave me a solid base too when the wind became unbearable. On one memorable steep section both Jess and I stood for a good few minutes whilst the wind did all it could to uproot us, though the poles and our crouched position wouldn’t pander to its wishes. I do have an apology to make though…. I know that I hit Jess one or ten times with them along the route. The odd poke in the boot was ok but it was the styles that were the biggest problem. Thankfully she was incredibly patient with me on that front.


The first day of our walk was intense and incredibly beautiful. The second day in comparison was like slipping through the last part of a dream. The moments that you can’t quite remember as it is just an afterthought. Being able to hear the birds in the trees and the swish of the leaves underfoot gave me an inner peace and calm that I so needed after the previous day.

To be able to hear each other breath let alone talk was a gift.

I shall remember this first foray into hiking. It won’t be my last hike but I hope not to head out in that intense weather again for some time.


It won’t ever replace the bike but hiking will have a place in my heart.



Nicky is a coach, supporting her clients to put ‘Life back into their days’. To find the courage to say YES to even the smallest of adventures and then find the way to become the person that can achieve them.


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