Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Nordic Starlight Trek 2008 – Saturday 14th June

With thanks to Catherine Hughes in the UK for this information

This event may be of interest to UK based Nordic Walkers...

“Dig out those trainers or walking boots, rope in your friends or family members and take part in the Nordic Starlight Trek."

On Saturday 14th June Midlands Nordic Walking is teaming up with Nottingham and East Midlands Sharers of Bereavement by Suicide to raise funds for the charity.

- Today, 8 people in the UK will take their own lives
- Today, at least 70 peoples’ lives will be broken apart with grief

By walking the 10 miles of Nottingham’s ‘Big Track’ route, which passes through some of Nottingham’s most attractive waterside scenery, people can show their support for the charity that aims to provide a drop in centre, called the Garden of Grace, for self help and healing after bereavement by suicide. We will finish with an informal party at the pavilion just as the sun is setting with some live music to celebrate.

For more details and how to register visit

P.S. The National SOBS Charity provides a telephone support line 0844 561 6855

Cathherine Hughes
INWA National Coach & Personal Trainer
Btritish Orienteering Coach
07940 57 57 58

Monday, May 05, 2008


Postscript on Ticks

Only a few days after posting my article “Snakes and Cows” I read a “warning” about ticks in the June 2008 issue of the UK hill walking magazine “Trail”. The short article in Trail recommends a look at a web site called which will tell you of the risks in Europe and the UK.

The article points out that there has been a 30% rise in cases of Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE) across Europe and up to 3,000 cases each year in the UK of people suffering from a tick borne infection (including Lyme disease). So, rarity is perhaps no longer the case and this is maybe another symptom of climate change!

The above conditions can be very nasty, so please take care.

Malcolm Jarvis
Nordic Walker
Leeds UK

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Snakes and Cows

Having just read an American book* about trail running I was impressed by the number of potential hazards that outdoor enthusiasts can encounter in various parts of the US. Apart from bears and mountain lions (albeit in limited regions) I was struck (no pun intended) by the variety of poisonous snakes which inhabit the US and that many varieties of rattlesnake can be found throughout the country! I concluded that we are very lucky here in the UK not to have any dangerous animals roaming around our countryside.

However, an article in the Ramblers Association magazine “Walk” put paid to that particular assumption. A full page report in the current edition explains the very real danger of attacks by overprotective cows during the calving season. By all accounts, the Health and Safety Executive has investigated nearly fifty incidents involving cattle and the general public in the last ten years, seven of which have tragically resulted in a fatality (HSE Information Sheet 17EW). There must also be a number of unreported incidents and “near misses” involving members of the public and cows with calves.

The reported attacks have happened to people whilst they were walking on rights of way in “managed” countryside – probably the kind of paths many Nordic walkers use. It therefore occurred to me that this might be a good opportunity remind us all (in the UK) of the accepted guidelines on dealing with the potential threat posed by animals (and smaller creatures) which you might encounter on your walks. Of course, the following “perils” are not commonplace but should nonetheless be a topic for your risk assessment regime.


All large animals are potentially dangerous, even if of a normally quiet temperament. A creature which weighs around a tonne can easily knock a grown man to the ground and being trampled can lead to very serious injuries. Stress, or when maternal instincts are aroused, can make normally placid cows aggressive. Whilst very few Nordic walkers take dogs on outings, the presence of a dog, even on a lead, can exacerbate the situation.

The Ramblers Association recommends finding an alternative route; but if you have to cross a field containing cows with calves, then go quietly. Never position yourself between a cow and its calf and do not act in an excitable manner. I would add that it’s probably best to carry your poles discreetly as cattle may “see” your Nordic poles as sticks. It follows that you must not brandish your poles at cattle in an effort to deter; it will simply make matters worse.

If you experience an “incident” then you should inform the landowner and the highway authority. It is also recommended that you inform the police and the Health and Safety Executive. Of course, if you are leading a group and there is an injury to one of the party (or yourself) which requires a trip to hospital then you should report the incident to the HSE under the RIDDOR requirements (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995)

Legally in the UK a farmer can keep bulls, up to ten months of age in fields which are accessible to the public. However, the Wildlife and Countryside Act bans the keeping of bulls of recognised dairy breeds, and which are older than ten months, in open fields which are crossed by public rights of way. All other bulls are banned unless accompanied by cows or heifers.

Personally speaking I would not knowingly go into a field containing cows with calves or a field containing a bull, regardless of how much company it has. It’s up to you.


You may encounter dogs where a right of way passes close to farm buildings, or through farm yards. When coming close to farm buildings it’s best to take off your poles and keep them discreetly by your side. Treat untethered dogs with caution and back away slowly if you are approached. Do not stare at a dog, as it may view this as a threat, and do not wave your poles in an effort to deter. As with cattle, stay quiet and move away.

If you consider that the incident you experienced was dangerous and/or unlawful, then you should report the matter to the police. If this is a situation which you think you might encounter with some frequency it might be worth investing in a small portable ultrasonic device known as a “dog dazer” (currently retails in the UK at about £38).

Ticks and Lyme Disease:

Ticks can be active in many places, particularly in grass, bracken and leaf litter and some ticks can carry some very unpleasant infections, such as Lyme disease. However, the majority of people who are bitten by a tick will not experience disease symptoms and Lyme disease is thankfully quite rare.

Having said that, it’s still worth taking precautions if your Nordic walk takes you into tick territory (bear in mind that Lyme disease is known to be present in central London parks!). Advice given by the Lyme Disease Association suggests that methods of preventing ticks reaching your skin (long trousers etc.) have not been measured for their effectiveness and that awareness is probably the best strategy. Some insect repellents can be effective (permethrin) but a bit of a chore to apply and maintain, particularly if you are exercising quite hard.

In essence, the most sensible precaution is to avoid their favourite places by walking in the middle of paths and checking yourself if you sit, or lean against tree trunks. Also, after your walk, examine your clothing and yourself (particularly scalp, groin, under the arms and the backs of knees). If you do find a tick DO NOT SQUEEZE the tick but remove it by grasping it with pointed tweezers as close to your skin as possible, and pull it out without twisting. A proprietary tick removal tool can be obtained from many pet shops and are specially designed to avoid the risk of leaving the tick’s mouthparts still in you! Needless to say, seek medical advice if you are concerned about Lyme disease since early treatment with antibiotics will normally prevent the disease developing.

Malcolm Jarvis
Nordic Walker
Leeds UK


* “Trail Running: From Novice to Master” by Poulin, Swartz and Flaxel and published by The Mountaineers Books of Seattle.

“Walk” Number 18 Spring 2008 published by the Ramblers Association

“Cattle and public access in England and Wales” published by the HSE

“Basics of footpath law” published on the Ramblers Association website

“Ticks – Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases in Britain published on the Lyme Disease Action website.

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