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2020/21 – The Lockdown Years (Part I)

It was the roller coaster that nobody wanted to be on.

It was a trilogy, possibly to be continued (but let’s hope not).

But hark, can you hear the bells and cafe tills ringing? We have emerged from the gloom into a world of semi-freedom and carefully considered hugs.

So how are you and how have you been feeling over the last few months? This is a question we asked some of our longest standing (and wonderfully articulate) Nordic walkers.

We also wanted to know what their motivation was to restart their exercise routine.


“Covid-wise my lockdown experience was, as we have all experienced, a challenging one. My children live away from home now, but isolation wasn’t a problem as I work in the NHS, and never stopped. The workload increased substantially so the problems others may have had with suddenly being isolated, with no routine, wasn’t an issue. 

Accessing nature was however, due to a lack of time off. I was so pleased when the 1:1 Nordic walks were allowed. I hadn’t realised how quickly my general overall fitness had waned. Although my job is very physically demanding Nordic walking does “exercise parts other exercise routines don’t reach”. 

Mental health is equally important and I felt that returning helped a lot.  For at least an hour the world seemed normal again.  It’s been a very sad time for a lot of people, we in the NHS are all very tired but getting out into nature with lovely people certainly recharges the batteries.  Long may it continue.”  


“One of the best parts of Nordic walking has been the range and number of people I can call on to walk with! This was a life saver in lockdown as we moved from pairs to groups of six.

Walking is a joy and now I have my new dog Alma I can rejoice in longer Nordic dog walks again. (Ebony is still going however much slower) As you can see in the picture the Girona trips have also been a joy!”


“It wasn’t until lockdown came hurtling towards me that I realised how important Nordic Walking had become and I know I can speak for my NW friends when I say that we felt the structure and tenor of our lives disappearing, along with our fitness and friendship networks. A small group of us found ‘safe and legal’ ways to continue walking as rules changed and this became an important part of coping.

Interestingly though, I found I really missed the instructor-led walks. Most of us eagerly  signed up to our contracts as soon as they were on offer again.  Although we had kept up the walking and, to some extent, the fitness levels, and definitely the gossip, we felt we’d lost the challenges, the instruction, and the shape and structure of our weeks.

We clearly needed ‘managing’. Our informal walks lacked the pleasing warm-up session, speed challenges, and the instructors’ weekly exercise rota on various parts of the body. Needless to say, we loved concentrating on arms, legs, core etc. but a collective groan (or whimper) was usually heard, when ‘brains and balance’ week was announced.”


“During lockdown I did Nordic walk with a friend. We got lost quite a bit as we were so used to following our expect Nordic walking guides, but we did explore different parts of Bristol that we hadn’t before and it was great fun.  

When we were allowed to meet outside in a group of 6 Clair Cusack set up a group at Stoke Park which was amazing. The small group meant we could go further and faster and a lot of us improved our fitness during that time. Plus I hadn’t realised how incredible Stoke Park was despite working just round the corner! 

I work in mental health so I found society’s focus on wellbeing and being outside a really positive thing to see. But like many people, I found the last lockdown a drag. Clair kept us going with a zoom class but it’s not the same as being outside in a group.

When things opened up again in April I was super busy with work as many people’s mental health had suffered and as a result I couldn’t rejoin my normal Nordic walking class. It wasn’t until I restarted walking again recently that I realised how much I had missed it and how important it is for my own mental health. I have now moved my work days around so that I can continue to Nordic walk.”  


“Throughout the pandemic, there have been long periods when the Nordic walking classes weren’t possible because of lockdowns. I just kept walking, occasionally with my poles but usually brisk ‘regular’ walking. Almost every day I walked with my husband and we’ve gone all over Bristol and discovered places we’ve never been to before.

We quite enjoyed lockdown in some ways; it was peaceful and undemanding for us introverts. But it was good to go back to the classes and see everyone again. I returned as soon as possible without a qualm. It feels very safe even at times of high infection rates.”

Huge thanks to everyone who sent in their stories and allowed us to read their own personal journey over the last 18 months. They were absolutely fascinating.

More stories to follow, and if our walkers have inspired you why not come and join us on any of our many regular weekly Nordic walks 😁

The Bristol & Bath Nordic Walking Team

You can find our favourite Nordic walking poles here and if you’re looking for our advice on best walking kit here’s our recommendations: 

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