Wednesday, December 13, 2006



My thanks to fellow UK based INWA Nordic Walking Instructor - Oliver Gynn from for contributing this interesting and amusing two part article. Look out for Part 2 next week.

The winter of 2006-7 saw much hard work to recover my Nordic Walking fitness after an arthroscopy to my left knee. To test my physical improvements I embarked on a number of adventures to distant lands.

My first foray was in May to Faakersee in Southern Austria, venue for weekend workshop I was leading. Due to an administration hiccup I find that I have a group of canoeists not walkers. Never mind, my enhanced upper body strength and improved triceps tone soon had me skimming across the lake like a demented water boatman insect. I felt like a nautical Pied Piper with my guests following in my wake.

Moral of story:- Check your travel details and itinery carefully.

My second trip was to Madeira to experience 'levada' walking. Lavadas are man made mini-canals used for irrigation; they hang precariously to precipitous mountainsides and distribute water from the highlands to the surrounding countryside. Our first choice was a levada with a very narrow footpath alongside. To have used my poles in anything like correct style I would have needed a Wellington boot on one, to go in the water and a 300foot extension on the other to reach the valley below...

...However with a pigeon heeled poling action I did manage to affect some benefit from the poles. My friend unwilling to compromise his Nordic Walking style decided to abandon poles and stick them in his rucksack. Thus we proceeded until we reached a low tunnel...

...My friend forgetting the poles projecting from his rucksack entered the tunnel with gusto only to be projected backwards as the tips of the poles made contact with the tunnel roof. He hurtled back with much haste ending up sitting astride the footpath with one foot in the water and the other hanging over the abyss. Beyond the tunnel the land opened out to a splendid plateaux well suited to Nordic Walking.

Moral of story:- If visiting Madeira make sure your routes are Nordic Walkable throughout their entire length.

Oliver Gynn

NEXT WEEK: Oliver shares the stories of his encounter with an inquisitive 'Pilgrim' in the Pyrenees and rather bizarrely the lady with a pink 'hairdo' and matching small 'poodle dog' in the Dolomites... Yes, you did read that right!

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