Saturday brought practically the first sun of the new year – so, before you could say ‘quick – find your shoes’ we were through the door and off for a bit of outdoor activity. The idea was to try some gentle outdoor running after a long period of being constrained by poor weather and (if we are honest) one or two overuse injuries.

We decided to get onto the Letchworth Greenway and run/walk in gentle intervals out to Willian Arboretum – since a visit to this pleasant spot had been something we’d had in mind all through the poor weather. The trip out was a pleasure – wonderful to see blue skies again, and very quiet on the path. Also the running aspect of it went well, given that the idea was to take some lengthy, low-intensity exercise on the actual route we expect to be running in May. The only slight downside was some very soggy conditions underfoot.

The arboretum is clearly not at its best this close to midwinter, but was still a fine place to visit. With the trees shedding their leaves it’s possible to see the bare bones of the place and get a fine sense of contrast for when spring comes and the trees start coming into leaf. The low winter sun across the fields was also an inspiring sight after so much murk and gloom.

The running/walking intervals heading back were also successful, leading us to decide that we’d hit upon pretty much the perfect formula for the longer, gentler weekend run that you’re supposed to mix in with all the short, high-intensity stuff and labour in the gym. We’ll certainly be trying this again, and probably quite soon too. Let’s hope for more nice weather.

We did manage one other walk recently – a very brisk four-mile guided trip in the dying days of the old year around an area to the west of Hitchin which is organised annually by one of the local Countryside Management Service project officers. This was fascinating, taking in as it did an area we don’t often visit and covering everything from farming policy and archaeology to natural history and hydrology. The same organisation will be having a conservation volunteering event in a couple of weeks’ time so we shall be off to that as well.

Arboretum pictures below: