Balm to the Rescue!

Walking Pembrokeshire

Walking is good for your health and well being. I enjoy walking whenever and wherever I can. I walk my dogs in the morning – I am lucky to live but a stone’s throw from the beach. I also enjoy walking in the countryside and being a member of a local walking group, I get out to some wilder and more remote places.

The annual walking club weekend away took place in Pembrokeshire, this year. Twenty or so of us get together and do some serious walking during the weekend. The remoteness of South Wales (and lack of direct roads), meant it was a five and a half hour drive down there. My friend, Claire drove us. It is always nice to be chauffeured somewhere.

Choosing what to pack is always difficult, because living here in the UK it is always hard to predict the weather. Clothes for all types of weather – a woolly hat and gloves and a sun hat; a coat for cold weather, a light raincoat. Everything was packed into the car, just in case!

However, my must-take essentials are always our skin care products. Cleanser, toner (with muslin cloth), night repair serum, Collagen gel (for the daytime), aloe gel in case of sun burn, lip balm and my favourite, tea tree balm . The balm has multiple uses and I make sure I always have a jar in my rucksack, when I am walking. It’s also true to say that many of my fellow walkers have also purchased our balm and carry it with them. They have seen and felt how good it is and experienced it’s ‘save the day’ qualities.

The weather was fine when we left Liverpool, but as we got nearer to our destination, the clouds became heavier, darker and there was fine rain in the air. I was fearful that inclement weather would spoil our weekend somewhat. Walking around the cliffs of the Pembrokeshire coast would be much better in sunshine.

My fears were soon dispelled though, because by the time we arrived at our destination St. David’s, on Friday evening, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. The temperature was a balmy 20 degrees. All boded well for the weekend ahead.

Saturday morning arrived and we were greeted by bright sunshine. There was a stiff breeze, but it would be welcome if  we were to be walking in the sunshine. Ten of us were going to do the longer walk – taking the local bus to a small village on the coast, called Nolton Haven. From there, we were going to walk back to St. Davids along the cliffs.

I knew before we left for the walk that the combination of doing 13 miles in new walking boots and warm weather could cause problems with my feet. I don’t normally suffer with blisters, or boots rubbing, but as a precaution, I put balm on my feet. I never wait for it to soak in before I put my socks on – I let all that happen as I am walking. Its nourishing properties acts as a skin conditioner, giving the skin on my feet more elasticity and allowing it to withstand the pounding of the 25,000 steps which I would make that day.

The coastal scenery was absolutely beautiful in the sun. Clear blue sky and the sea had a Mediterranean look. The wild flowers were blooming – every colour under the sun. Gannets soared around the cliffs, using the thermals to go great distances without much effort. We walked through a herd of wild ponies, who were grazing perilously close to the edge of the land. It was more than one hundred feet, straight down into the sea, but they seemed oblivious to the danger and also to us walking past them. I had my camera permanently in hand. There was almost too much to take in.

Near to the end of the walk, we turned off the coastal path and made our way inland and eventually back to St. Davids. Much of this way was through overgrown fields of tall grass and nettles. Some of us (myself included) had chosen to wear shorts for the day. The nettles were in full bloom and at their most potent. I was trying to avoid them, but it was impossible, as there was so many of them. I got stung many times on my right knee. Normally, nettle stings don’t bother me – they are irritating and itchy, but I can usually live with them. These stings seemed to be stronger than I have ever experienced. We came out of the field and as I walked along, I could see my knee was swelling up. It wasn’t a pretty sight – blood, nettle weals and pink puffy skin. I think it might have been the combination of sunburned skin, sweat and general weariness which aggravated it. One of my fellow walkers said that I should put some of my balm on it. I stopped and everyone it seemed gathered around me – all unhelpfully remarking how bad my knee looked.

I put the balm on and carried on walking. I had no idea what the balm would do. It had an immediate effect though – the swelling started going down, the stings didn’t sting any more. By the time I got back to the hotel, my knee looked normal again – apart from a few pale red spots where the nettles had stung me. An hour later, those red spots had gone, too. I also noticed that I didn’t get the usual long-lasting itchiness which nettle stings generally give me. It was a case of ‘Balm to the Rescue!’, yet again.

Guess what – I had no problems whatsoever with my feet, either. Thirteen miles and 3400 feet of ascents later, they felt great good as new. Which is just as well, because we had another long walk to do the next day.

I also got two orders for the balm!

Lynn Smith