At the end of 2014 Nigel Ayers challenged himself to walk 1,000 miles in 2015, attempting to fit it in around his work and personal life plus his other hobbies. Armed with plenty of waterproofs, a lot of enthusiasm and ViewRanger on his phone, he set off on his challenge on 1st January and hasn’t looked back. We caught up with him to find out how he’s got on so far and, most importantly, how many miles he has to go.
Nigel created and runs Canoe & Trail, a blog dedicated to his hobbies both on water and on land. When he’s not walking 1,000 miles he can be found pursuing other outdoor interests including canoeing and mountain-biking. He lives in Wirksworth Derbyshire and enjoys sharing his hobbies with his wife and children.
Firstly, can you tell us a bit about what you’re doing and what inspired you to embark on this challenge?
Well things actually started in August 2014. I was way overweight, tipping the scales at nearly 20st and I no longer felt comfortable with myself. Not favouring the gym, I decided to start walking. I used to walk a few miles to work every day many years ago and lost loads of weight, so I knew this could be the answer again. In fact I lost 3st in a couple of months! But I needed to challenge myself to keep at it, and seeing an article in Country Walking magazine about walking 1000 Miles in 2015 I knew this would be the ideal thing to keep me going; and it seemed fitting as a New Year's Resolution too!
How have you found it so far? Has it been what you’d expected or have there been any surprises along the way?
Initially, after working out what average daily distance I needed to cover, it seemed a very easy thing to maintain. However things are never what they seem. Most of my walking has to be done in the early hours before work, and picking yourself out of bed at what some would term as “stupid o’ clock” in the depths of winter is not most favourable of things and takes great effort and determination, this has and still does fail me on occasions though. But early mornings in spring, summer and early autumn are simply the best times! Finding myself on a quiet part of our local trail in the early morning spring sunshine is just the best tonic!
The only real surprise I got was injuring my calf after stepping off a curb; which was swiftly followed by a long spell of flu and bronchitis. Both putting a serious dent in my progress which has been an effort to claw back!
How many miles have you completed so far, and when do you plan to finish your 1,000th mile?
As of 7th December I’ve completed 852 miles; still a fair bit to do yet! The first walk was on January 1st with my eldest son for company, he’ll be back from university for Christmas and hopefully will accompany for the last remaining miles on New Year's Day 2016.
Which of your #walk1000miles routes has been your favourite so far?
I decided early on that as a walking challenge there was very little point in taking the car somewhere only to walk when I got there, and although I have travelled into the Peak District to do one or two routes; my real favourites are those that I can experience walking from my own front door. I love finding places I have never set foot in locally!
I think the best thing about this challenge is that you can do it at your own pace and tailor it to your own fitness and confidence level. What would you say to someone (of any skill level) who was thinking of doing something similar?
I think it would have to be know your own physical limits, you are not out to set records, increase your mileage gradually. But more importantly is to put a little effort into all your walks! A lot is made of how walking is good for you; even the shortest of walks. But for it to really be of benefit you have to exert yourself a little!
You’ve tracked each of your routes with ViewRanger and we’ve loved following your progress – what made you decide to track each one?
I had already tried one or two tracking apps but was dissatisfied with inconsistent results. Many times I would walk the same route never to record the same distance twice. I found ViewRanger via a fellow walker on YouTube who recommended it in one of his videos so thought I would give it a go. I was immediately impressed! It returns the same results time and again. The only problem I have is my phone’s battery will not last for a reasonably long day walk, so I carry a small portable charger and plug it in when it gets low. This I had to do the other day when I completed a 26 mile all day route.
Your main passion is canoeing, something you’ve passed on to your children – do you have any plans to do something similar on the water? How does #canoe1000miles sound?
It would be nice to do something similar with the canoes but it would involve too much travelling to suitable waterways. There is precious little close by! The canoe is indeed a big passion of mine, but remains a relaxed, leisurely outdoor pursuit. I do however have plans for some challenges next year though, but these will be two wheeled variety. I have plans to do several multi-day routes on my mountain-bike namely the Coast to Coast and the Pennine Bridleway, so you can be sure I will be using ViewRanger for all my route tracking, both during preparation and the challenge themselves.
We've just launched #walk2016
Challenge yourself to walk 1,000, 500, or 250 miles in 2016
Inspired partly by Nigel's determination, we've just launched our #walk2016 campaign, and you can be part of it! Simply pledge to walk 1,000, 500, or 250 miles in 2016 using ViewRanger to track your routes and view your progress online. Click here to find out more and to take part.