I’m back from my holidays refreshed and raring to go!  Mallorca, the Surrey Hills and County Durham were stunning with some good Nordic walking opportunities.  However there is something closer to home which I am very keen to explore over the next few weeks - Westonbirt, The National Arboretum.  

Westonbirt has one of the finest collections of temperate trees and shrubs in the world and is known internationally for its spectacular autumn colour display.  With 600 acres, 3,000 different species of trees, and around 15,000 individual specimens it would take a fair few visits to explore the place properly.  But I have to start somewhere and there’s no time like the present.  I’m told that good footpaths criss-cross the arboretum and I see that new this year are eight special poetry installations featuring the poems of local poet Marchant Barron beside the trees that inspired them.  It’s all on the Westonbirt website
The Macmillan Way and the Monarch's Way long distance trails also skirt the wood so I may well pick up one of these trails and extend my walk.  By the way, if you don’t want to pay to enter the arboretum there is a public footpath which slices through the middle – but I should imagine you would miss much of the best autumn display.

Not only do we have Westonbirt on our doorstep but there is also a smaller privately owned tree collection at Batsford Arboretum in Gloucestershire - not far from Chipping Campden (the start of the Cotswold Way).  With ‘only’ 56 acres to explore it is tiny by comparison to Westonbirt but apparently there are a series of good footpaths with many rare trees and plants, particularly from the Far East. Plus a café stop of course!  The AA have published an excellent looking 4.5 mile walk which I hope to do in the next couple of weeks, detouring into the arboretum itself as well.  Here’s the link if you would like to try this walk for yourself.   If you do, please let me know how you get on!

Stress and our health

Dr Sally Norton has written a useful article about stress and how it can sabotage both our health and our waistline.  It is well known that walking, particularly outside in beautiful surroundings, is good for our stress levels and INWA instructor Mel Mackintosh is due to start our next four-week Mindful Nordic Walking course shortly.  However stress can also lead us to binge eat – which is a pattern that is difficult to break.  In this article Dr Norton gives some practical advice on how to manage those munchy moments. 

Vitamin D reminder

Last but not least is a reminder that the end of September marks the end of our ability in this country to make vitamin D from sunlight.  This vitamin is important – our bones, teeth and muscle health are all reliant on vitamin D.  It also seems to play a part in boosting our immune system and acting as an anti-inflammatory.  Whilst vitamin D is found naturally in a small number of foods (oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks) it’s hard to consume enough to meet our requirements.  So now is the time to go out and buy your supplements. Oral spray, tablets and capsules are all available (I use DLux 1000).  The government’s current recommendation is that everyone over the age of one needs to have about 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D each day to stay healthy. 
If you want more information about our relationship with vitamin D you might want to read a previous blog of mine – Vitamin D: why we should be worried.