Nordic Walk - Pilgrim's Route to Holy Island
Tue 25th March 2014
Nordic Walk – Pilgrims Causeway to Holy Island
The first Nordic Walk of the year and what a way to start! 22 men and women met to follow the footsteps of the pilgrims who came before us. This promised to be a truly special walk and there was a buzz in the air as we all gathered. Clear blue skies, windy but not too cold – perfect.
We met on Holy Island itself, and were concerned as it was blowing a hooley! (“It's blowing a hooley” comes from the steamship captains who were unable to sail up the Hooley River (in India), because it was really windy, too windy to sail up river). After handing out poles to those who needed them and brief introductions we had a short transfer by bus, to the other end of the causeway.
We had quite a few people who had never Nordic walked before and some who needed a refresher in the technique. So after a quick warm up and adjustment of poles we set off. Those new to the technique stayed at the back with me, others were able to stride ahead with Julie and Jon. As always with Nordic Walking, the emphasis is on walking at your own pace and doing a linear walk across the sands enables this perfectly.
The first section of the Pilgrims Way follows the tarmac road. If we hadn’t done this I think we may have turned into Nordic swimmers as there were a couple of deep water channels, even though the tide was going out. Once passed these channels we veered off and onto the sand.
The Pilgrim’s Way to Holy Island follows a series of poles across the sand. Pilgrims have walked this 3½ mile route for more than 1300 years, though not so many with Nordic Walking poles! The expanse of mud flats are quite breath-taking, though they can be treacherous and there is also the danger of the tide, which cuts the Island off from the mainland twice a day. Proof of the tide can be seen by the many barnacles clinging to the Pilgrim’s route marking poles!
The group were able to spread out as we followed the poles across the sands, each person going at their own speed, allowing those new to the technique plenty of time and space to get into a rhythm.
We stopped briefly at one of the refuge huts on stilts, there for the safety of those who do not heed the warning of a rising tide. There was a real buzz within the group, as people chatted, made new friends and caught up with old. The new Nordic Walkers in the group were amazed at how easy their walk was. I asked them to lift their poles at one point but to continue walking. They all slowed down and groaned as the walk suddenly became hard work for their legs again. Keen to practise the technique again, we set off.
The middle section over the sands was quite slippy and boggy in places, so Jon advised us of exactly where to walk. Once across this short section we were back onto the sands and the pace quickened.
Another brief stop at the next refuge hut on stilts to re-group, before veering off to the left due to a deep water channel. Those of us in wellies plodded our way through, whilst Jon and Julie offered different rates for piggy backs to those in shoes. No takers meant a few people with wet feet, but no grumbles as the end was in sight.
Walking at the back of the group you can see when people begin to tire and their technique changes. But once the end is in sight the pace quickens and so we returned to our cars.
A few cool down stretches, a chat about our next Nordic Walk and an invite to all to go for a well earned cuppa, and we had completed our pilgrimage.
I have to say that this was a very special walk indeed. I have had many e mails this week with some lovely comments. Here are just a small selection:
“Many thanks for last weekend’s Nordic walk – a great stroll in brilliant weather”
“It was great to get the poles out today, many thanks”
I think this is one to be repeated later in the year and perhaps bare footed this time. Watch this space!