Thursday, 19 July 2012

Keep your Dog free from Ticks

Ticks are small, blood sucking arthropods related to spiders, mites and scorpions.  There are many different species living in the UK, each preferring to feed on the blood of different animal hosts, some will also feed on human blood.  Ticks feed on just about any bird or mammal and some reptiles too.

As ticks can survive and thrive in most places they can be found in both rural and urban locations, but they prefer slightly moist and shady areas such as woody, grassy and bushy settings.

Ticks can carry many diseases (more than any other invertebrate host) such as Lyme disease which they pick up from mice, voles, squirrels, blackbirds, pheasants or seabirds, which all carry the diseases naturally. This is why it's essential to keep them off you and your pet.  If an infected tick bites you, it may transfer one or more of the diseases into your bloodstream.  Therefore you should check your pet for ticks daily especially after going on a walk outdoors.

The ticks bite itself is totally painless and most people will only know they have been bitten if they become aware of a feeding adult tick attached to them.  Ticks can attach anywhere on your body, so you should check all over, especially armpits, groin, navel, neck and head.

Ticks are most active from April to October, however during warm winters and in certain areas of Britain, ticks ‘quest’ for blood throughout the whole year.  Our friends at Bob Martin recommends using FleaClear Spot On all year round to give your dog the best protection against fleas and ticks.  The treatment of fleas and ticks often goes hand in hand and this product will protect your dog from fleas for up to 8 weeks and from ticks up to 4 weeks.

If you find a tick on yourself or your pet you should remove it as soon as possible.  Ticks are tiny black/brown/reddish arachnids (they have eight legs), about the size of a pin head.  If they have attached themselves to their host (you or your pet) they swell up (to the size of a grape in some cases!).  It is also unpleasant if ticks are not dealt with before they fully engorge and detach: if a female tick detaches in the home after feeding, she can hide away and lay hundreds of eggs.
Photo -

Top tip: feel your pet all over, especially around the neck, head and ears.  If you encounter a lump like a small pea, move the fur on your pet to see if you have found a tick.

There are a number of precautions you can take to avoid ticks:

  • You should check your pet for ticks daily if they spend a lot of time outdoors, especially if you live in an area known for ticks

  • When walking your dog wear shoes rather than sandals and tuck long trousers into socks
  • Walk in the middle of paths and check yourself and your pet after sitting on logs or leaning against tree trunks
  • As ticks are more easily seen on white or light-coloured clothing, use light-coloured blankets for picnics
  • It is possible for you or your pet to bring ticks into your home. Consider spraying your home with an effective anti-tick pesticide like Bob Martin Home Flea Fogger Plus or Bob Martin Home Flea Spray
  • Use Bob Martin FleaClear Spot On for Dogs to prevent and kill fleas and ticks on dogs for up to eight weeks, safely and effectively without the need for a stressful trip to the vets

Should you find one, here are some top tips on how to remove a tick from either yourself or your pet:  If you have them, put on latex gloves to avoid direct contact with the tick and contaminated skin, as diseases can be transmitted from tick to pet to human.  Put your pet in a comfortable position. Ask a friend or family member for help in distracting your pet.

  • Grasp the tick with tweezers as close to your/your pet's skin as possible  (make sure not to pinch your pet's skin) – do not use your finger nails to remove a tick as infection can enter via any breaks in your skin
  • Pull the tick upwards and outwards using a straight, steady pulling motion – there may be considerable resistance. The aim is to remove all parts of the tick’s body whilst preventing it releasing additional saliva or regurgitating its stomachs contents into the bite wound
  • Be gentle; pulling too hard on the tick can cause its head to remain lodged in your/your pet's skin, which can lead to inflammation and secondary infection. If you squeeze to hard the head and body may separate, leaving the head embedded in the skin
  • Dispose of the tick by throwing it into a fire, or by squishing it in a tissue using the tweezers and then flushing it down the toilet. Do not crush it with your foot or bare hands as this may cause it to regurgitate its infected stomach contents into the bite wound
  • Apply antiseptic ointment to the bite. Remove the gloves, and wash your hands thoroughly
  • Clean the tweezers with hot water or isopropyl alcohol or by holding them over a flame

For more information on ticks along with other pet care issues please visit the Bob Martin website or if you have a question, please visit the Bob Martin Facebook page.

For more information about going out walking with your dog, visit our website.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Coming Soon - A walk to Seymour Tower, Jersey

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Other outdoor listening...

Although we really would like you to listen to our Walks Around Britain monthly podcast - which is available on Podcasts page of our website - or even to subscribe to it on iTunes or on AudioBoo - there are (surprisingly) some fantastic programmes available which you might not be aware of...

Country Focus

Rachael Garside - Photo (c) BBC

Country Focus is BBC Radio Wales' programme serving everyone living in the countryside and tackling the issues affecting them - with rural, farming and environmental news.

It's presented by Rachael Garside (left) - who has to have one of the most mellifluous voices on radio today - and regularly covers topics which are of interest to us walkers and lovers of the great outdoors.  The programmes' website has a whole archive of editions for you to pursue -

Scotland Outdoors

Mark Stephen- Photo (c) BBC

Scotland Outdoors is the weekly podcast taken from the popular BBC Radio Scotland series Out of Doors - of which you can listen to via the iPlayer if you are outside of Scotland.  Now you might wonder why there's a podcast when you can listen to the radio programme - well, the radio programme is 90 minutes long, and so the weekly chuck of 15-20 minutes on the podcast version is perhaps more manageable!


Clare Balding - photo (c) BBC
Ramblings is the gold standard of audio outdoor programmes.  Hosted by the incomparable Clare Balding save for one series, Ramblings manages to pull off the seemingly impossible - making what is intrinsically a visual mediums domain work on the radio.  And the reason why it can?  Simple - Clare Balding. Clare's eloquence and turn of phrase turns this into a must listen.

The website has editions going back ages, although some of the older ones are in the Real Media format (remember that??).  The podcast is under the title "Coast and Country" and shares its time with...

Open Country

Helen Marks - photo (c) BBC
Open Country shares Ramblings slot both on the radio and on the Coast and Country podcast.  Presented usually by the distinctive Helen Marks, the programme has a wide brief featuring the people and wildlife that shape the landscape of the British Isles.

Always good for a listen, even if you initially was reluctant about the subject - but that's in no small part to the enjoy and enthusiasm Helen brings to the programme.

And the Coast and Country podcast is here

Countryfile magazine podcast

This is confusing - and hold on to your hats for this.  The BBC One television programme Countryfile bred a magazine off-shot which has become more successful after the move of the tv programme to the primetime slot on a Sunday it still currently holds.

The magazine has a website to go along with the printed edition and in March 2010 they launched a podcast - which centred around the the discussion of outdoor news, some reports on location and talking about what was in the next edition of the magazine.

It didn't turn out to be a regular podcast at all - in fact only 8 have been produced since March 2010 - but there did seem a glimmer of hope for a more regular occurrence with a new edition appearing in June 2012.

But because it's a podcast of the magazine and not a podcast of the television programme, Julia Bradbury or Matt Baker aren't the presenters - it's the editorial team of the magazine who are in front of the mic on these - and don't expect the familiar Countryfile music either - the cost of licences must prevent that from being used.

But it is a good listen and we hope it will turn to a more regular pattern of editions.  (If you guys would like some help with that, give us a call :) )

The Outdoor Station

No blog post about outdoor listening is complete without mentioning The Outdoor Station - the award-winning outdoor podcast which has been going since 1245.  Well, ok, maybe not - 2006 to be precise, and they are past the 350 edition mark - which is an astonishing achievement.

Presented by the show's producer Bob Cartwright (right) - who's calm and relaxed delivery makes each edition a joy to listen to.

There's a lot of variety between each edition of this podcast - some are Bob talking in the studio, some are Bob on location and some are Bob introducing a long segment recorded by someone else - in the style of Jeremy Vine's introductions a couple of years ago to the new-style Panorama.

All feature impeccable production standards and are well worth a listen.

The Bald Explorer

A mention should be made here about our good friend Richard Vobes's series The Bald Explorer.

Although not strictly a podcast series, Richard's deep and long history in podcasting (he was possibly the first person podcasting in the UK) means he produces regular podcasts which tie in with his videos.

The podcasts have a history and travel leaning and some explain the complexities of producing his complicated videos.  Richard is an inquisitive chap, and his desire for knowledge punctuates his podcasts.  He has the canny ability to condense volumes of history down to a bite-sized chunk, which is made all the more easy to understand thanks to his confident and bold style.

Walks Around Britain

And whilst we're wrapping up this look at outdoors listening, can I remind you about our own humble walking and outdoor podcast - which is available on this very blog every month.  Or, if you'd like to subscribe and get every edition sent to your computer, then we're on iTunes here.  You can follow us on AudioBoo and we even have our podcasts on our YouTube channel, so you can listen to them on there too!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

When Richard Met Andrew...

A couple of weeks ago, Richard Vobes - aka The Bald Explorer - had cause to travel to Harrogate in North Yorkshire for his work, and took the opportunity to stay in one of Doncaster's more unconventional hotels for one night to meet up with me.

We made a podcast around the Georgian country house Cusworth Hall just outside Doncaster -  - and Richard updated his regular audio blog-style podcast The Naked Englishman with a report about the meeting.

You can follow Richard's Bald Explorer persona on his Twitter account here.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

10 Ways To Walk More

We all know that walking isn't just great at the weekend through the Lake District but also something we should be doing more of all the time - it keeps us healthy in body, mind and soul.

So here's a few ways the team here at Walks Around Britain have introduced more walking into our week...

1. Take Your Lunch

Photo - MyUrbanLife
On average, us Brits only take 22 minutes a day of our lunch hour we're entitled to.

Strike a blow for the workers - take the whole one hour and find a place to eat that's a 30 minute round trip walking from your office - 30 minutes eating and 30 minutes walking - excellent.

2.  Listen to your Reading

If you're a bit of a bookworm, why not combine your love of books with your walking?  Lots of books are now released as audio books too - which you could loan from the library or from websites like Audible - which you can listen to on your walks.  If you're happy about to listening to a computer-style voice, certain versions of the Kindle e-book reader from Amazon - like the Kindle Touch - will read aloud most e-books, albeit sometimes with some distinctly odd pronouncation in some instances.

You can always listen to our monthly walking and outdoor podcast whilst out walking - download them from iTunes here. :)

3. Raise some money

For a more long term goal, there are plenty of sponsored walks you can sign up to which raise money for some great good causes.  Two very interesting ones are the Shine walks - which are night time walking marathons taking place in London (September 29th) and Manchester (September 8th) at night, passing well known landmarks along the route.  The organisers are expecting to have 15,000 participants this year and hope to raise £3.5m for Cancer Research UK.  To find out more info, visit the Shine website.

4. Walk to Work - at least once a week

Photo - Living Streets
If you're within walking distance from your work, how about doing just that - at least once a week.

You'll soon see the benefit to your health.

To find out more about walking to work, visit the Living Streets website.

5. Park a Little Bit Away

If you need to drive to work, how about parking 10 minutes away from your office - that way you've got another 20 minutes of walking exercise every day.  And if you pay for your parking, the chances are car parking further away from your office might well be cheaper than where you are parking now.

6. Use the Stairs

Seems an easy suggestion, but if you avoid the lift and use the stairs for a long period, you can greatly increase your lung capacity, blood pressure and cholesterol measurements.

7. Pack up your baby

If you're a new parent, leave the buggy or push-chair behind and take your little one out in a baby carrier harness.  This gives you both unbelievable closeness to your child as well as the ability to go for walks which aren't accessible to buggies.

It's a great way to get your child feeling the wonder of the fresh air whilst at the same time.

8. Get a Dog

According to a Canadian study, urban dog owners are more likely to walk on average almost double the amount non-dog owners did.  There's also many other health benefits now recognised in dog ownership, including the lowering of blood pressure, an increase in mood and others.

But obviously, a dog is for life and should be well considered before taking a puppy on.

9. Take a walking City Break

A long weekend in often takes the form of a trip to the countryside or the coast, but how about an urban minibreak?  There are some great towns and cities across Britain which have great history and stories to tell if you just do a little research.  Link together a couple days of urban walking with a trip to the theatre, great restaurants and museums, and you've got a great break away.

Take a look at our walk around Newcastle-Upon-Tyne's city centre for some inspiration.

10. Use technology to get out walking more

With modern technology as it is now, you often don't have to be in the office to do work, or communicate with people.  Use technology such as smartphones with Twitter and Skype to keep in touch whilst walking and try to schedule television programmes on personal video recorders, such as Sky + or Freeview +.  And don't forget, there's always the BBC's iPlayer and the commercial equiviants to catch up with tv you've missed whilst out walking.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Podcast Edition 006 - Show Notes

Edition 6 of the Walks Around Britain podcast features an introduction to the county of Sussex from writer & blogger Tanya Oliver and an interesting insight into the background and aims of Stuart Jessup's epic 2,600 mile walk around the edge of England.  Merino experts Chocolate Fish Merino join us to explain the benefits of non-synthetic clothing and presenter Kate Humble tells us about her passion for walking and the great outdoors.

Tayna Oliver's Sussex

Writer and blogger Tanya is a big advocate of going walking in Sussex, and in her introduction on the podcast to hiking in the county she certainly makes a great case.  In the August edition of the podcast, she'll take us on a walk in Ashdown Forest.

Tanya's blog is here and she's on Twitter too if you'd like to follow her.  Don't forget there's the Visit Sussex website with more information about the county.

Walking on the Edge

Stuart Jessup's epic 2,600 mile walk around the edge of England started at Tower Bridge in London on the 9th October 2011 and finished back there on the 10th June 2012.

As of 30th June 2012, he has raised a mammoth £11,723 for the charities SANE and Anxiety UK to support their work with mental health sufferers.

Stuart tells us a great insight into the background and aims of the walk in his audio blog on this months podcast - and if you want to find out more about this challenge, you can visit his website at and follow him on Twitter at

Chocolate Fish Merino

You can find out about the benefits of Chocolate Fish's Super Fine Merino at their website

If you want to check out our Beginners' Guide to Walking, it's on our website here.

Kate Humble

Kate Humble - photo (c) BBC

Following her success in series in Springwatch and Lambing Live, Kate's new series, Volcano Live, starts on the 9th July on BBC Two and is broadcast over four days from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.

The programme will connect viewers with this active terrain as it transforms the life and landscape around it.  As Kate embarks on a journey of discovery, geologist Professor Iain Stewart provides context and insight and together they guide viewers through the science of volcanology.  Below is a taster from episode one...

You can find out more about Kate's farm and the course she mentioned on the podcast at the Humble by Nature website - and there's more about Kate herself at her own website here.

Well, that's another podcast completed - it was so full up this month we didn't get space to say "bye"!  Hope you've enjoyed it.  If you've got any comments and suggestions, please let us know - either leave a comment here on the blog, or post on our Facebook page.