It’s time to hit the trail – but what do I need to pack? There is no straight forward answer – it depends on the duration and remoteness of the hike, the season, the terrain, and any other risk factors. Gear lists are personal, what’s essential to you might be unnecessary extra weight to me. Here’s a check list for you to think about as you pack. What else would you take? … [Continue reading]
After our successful walk in 2016 on the Kepler Track, in 2017 we selected the Heaphy Track, once again expertly organised by Mary. The Heaphy Track is an easy, scenic 80km walk located in Kahurangi National Park in the north west corner of South Island. The final day is a stunning 17 km walk on the wild South Island west coast. … [Continue reading]
Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell the slice of an English Mum! We have some creative and healthy cooks in our group. This recipe is for Fee’s delicious and healthy muesli slice. … [Continue reading]
On nearly every trail walk we go on, food is a subject that consistently crops up in our conversations. We tell each other stories about food, we share recipes and the challenges we face with family and food on a daily basis. Of course food keeps us in tip top shape for the Sydney Sole Sisters walking schedule! So here we share some of the fantastic ideas and tips we hear out on the trail with a wider audience…. [Continue reading]
We can’t remember who had the idea to walk the historic 46.5km Six Foot Track in the Day. A mix of single track and fire trails, the total ascent on the Six Foot Track is some 1600m. Hours after we set off from Katoomba, high up on the Black Range, we are tired and freezing from the wind and snow flurries. Our support crew feed us hot tea and homemade anzac biscuits. We don’t stop long, as we want to reach the finish line, Jenolan Caves House, before dark. … [Continue reading]
Stair climbing intervals are a quick and effective way to improve your fitness. Walk them, run them or bound up two at a time. To liven up my Sydney CBD workday routine, I went looking for some lunchtime stairs in Sydney, exploring Barangaroo, Millers Point and Dawes Point west of the Harbour Bridge. The rule I set myself was at least 50 steps with a nice recovery run or walk to link the sets of stairs into a circuit…. [Continue reading]
Like many people, I have a day job that involves too much sitting. However you couldn’t ask for a nicer place than Sydney CBD on a sunny day for a lunch time stroll. I thought I’d be a tourist in my hometown and test some apps for Sydney urban walks. A quick search of the appstore found three, which I downloaded onto my smartphone, and then headed out the office. … [Continue reading]
The Blue Gum loop walk in Old Man’s Valley, Hornsby, includes fern filled blue gum high forest, creek crossings, and irresistible opportunities for hill climbing intervals up side tracks. It is easily accessed from the lovely park at the end of Rosemead Rd, Hornsby, or from Quarry Rd down the Heritage Steps.
Hill climbing on side tracks
The 4.2km Blue Gum Walk circuit is relatively short, so we add in some steep side tracks to increase both the training distance and improve the cardio workout.
The lovely Heritage Steps, originally built during the 1930s depression era and recently renovated, link the park at Rosemead Rd with Quarry Rd. Intervals here will get your heart pumping. A flock of resident cockatoos provide a noisy soundtrack amongst the leafy trees.
After approximately one kilometre on the fire trail from Rosemead park, you will reach a junction. The Great North Walk towards Galston has been re-routed since the closure of a section of track in the valley below the Rifle Range. The GNW track crosses a wooden bridge over small creek and climbs steeply towards some houses. This provides a great opportunity for some hill intervals.
Returning down the hill to the Blue Gum Walk, we head towards Fishponds and cross the steeping stones. Not long after the crossing, is another junction and Pogsons Link trail. This trail heads up to Pogsons Trig. More hill climbing! Pogsons Link Trail has also been recently renovated with new sandstone steps.
We return across the stepping stones and continue on the Blue Gum Walk. There are lovely rocks at the crossing of Waitara Creek which remind me a spa bath or perhaps a laundry tub. Sadly for such a lovely spot, the water is quite polluted. It can also be impassable in heavy rain, so take care.
Over the creek, the track climbs another hill towards the ridge line and turns left at the junction. A nice sunny rock makes a good spot for morning tea. Phew, a rest.
A much needed gentle recovery stretch through the beautiful ferns and tall blue gums follows the tea rocks. The single track through the forest eventually meets a fire trail – and yet another opportunity for hill climbing! We go right at the junction with the fire trail to climb to the top, before returning down to Ginger Meggs park, the Rosemead Rd park, and back up the Heritage Steps to our cars.
All told, we’ve climbed over 500m on a mix of steps and fire trails, and the muscles in our legs are feeling better for the workout.
Layers of stories
Stopping for a quick breather at the top of the Heritage Steps, I notice a plaque in the a rock – with stories of the Higgins Family. I have climbed these steps many times, but never noticed the plaque. Too often we are moving too quickly and so narrowly focussed on our fitness goals that we fail to notice the environment around us. This area is rich in layers of stories – geological, fauna and flora, Aboriginal and European activities.
Thomas Higgins was the first permanent settler in Hornsby in 1824, in the fertile Old Mans Valley, which he supposedly named after a local kangaroo. The Higgins family lived in the valley until 1960. Their house was demolished, but the Higgins family cemetry remains and has heritage status.
The Blue Gum High Forest is a rare and critically endangered ecosystem, for both the trees and other plants, and the habitat it provides to animal and plant life, such as the powerful owl. A Biobanking biodiversity scheme is operational in the area to address the habitat degradation.
Other walks nearby include the GNW to Tunks Ridge.
Lighthouse 2 Skillion (L2S) is a 27.5km coastal walk between two iconic Central Coast landmarks, Norah Head and The Skillion (Terrigal) that traverses beaches, rock platforms and a National Park headland with good whale watching lookouts. We signed up thinking how hard can a flat beach walk be? Quite hard, when there is 17km of soft sand walking and a steep headland climb to the finish line.
Anna’s delicious, fruity, nutty treat to give you an energy boost while outdoors on the trail. Easy to make and even easier to eat and share with your hiking friends!… [Continue reading]