Dear Doctor Heike

Published : 18 October 2014
Over the past 14 years we have had the benefit of the advice of our resident agony aunt, Dr. Heike von Artengill. Dr. Heike tells us that she is Britain’s premier ‘lifestyle dilemma counsellor’ and has, since 1968, been specialising in sporting-related problems, specifically those of fell walkers and runners. We felt it would be well worth republishing her sound advice.
Dear Dr. Heike,

I have always had small boots. I have had little experience of hiking and cannot walk far or fast. I often end up walking alone and put this down to my having small boots. During the early 1990’s, when the fashion was for straight, shapeless feet, it didn’t seem to matter so much. But fashions change and I am afraid that I will never find anyone who wants to walk with me. I have become desperate and am seriously considering undergoing a boot augmentation operation but have heard reports of how dangerous it can be. What can you advise?

Vi Bramm – Seoul (2003)

I must stress that, in itself, getting quick ‘boot-job’ rarely solves anything. Your inability to meet walking companions cannot be put down solely to the size of your boots. While it is certainly true that some people look no further than the biggest pair they can find, these things seem much less important when you are up to your gaiter-tops in mud. It is what’s inside that is important. All you really need is a confidence boost. I recommend you treat your feet with some of the excellent lotions in the Von Artengill range (personally developed for the feminine foot); buy yourself a new cagoule; hold your head high; stick out those boots and go and enjoy yourself. I guarantee you will not be walking alone for long.
Dear Dr. Heike,

My partner and I have taken part in the Fellsman Hike for many years and have been very happy with it. While tidying the house recently, I found some Malhamdale Meander literature (including pictures and route maps) that had obviously been intentionally hidden from me. As this hike is to take place on the same weekend as the Fellsman, I can only assume he intends to abandon our event. Have all those years been wasted?

Anne K. Schuss – Leeds (2003)

Before you rush headlong into accusations, it is important to be sure of the facts. Are you positive that he has actually paid his deposit to this other event? It is possible that he has no intention of entering but is just getting a thrill from reading the entry form, looking at the map and imagining a different landscape. Although this is perfectly normal, it may point to a possible deficiency in your relationship. Choose a suitable moment to talk to him about it. You will most likely find that he wants nothing more than to continue walking the Fellsman. However, if he admits to having entered a rival event the best course of action would be to sue his socks off.
Dear Dr. Heike,

My wife has lost all interest in hiking. She turned 54 last year (I am two years older) and now thinks that we are too old for hiking. Not only does she refuse to compete but she will not let me enter either, telling me that “such nonsense should be left to young people”. I would like to think that I have a few hiking years left in me. I don’t want to stop just yet but cannot imagine hiking with anyone else. What paths are open to me?

Des Prate – Gloucester (2003)

Although I am yet many years away from this situation, I know that this can sometimes happen as people get older. If a couple’s appetite for hiking declines at different rates there is a danger that one partner feels pressured into doing something they no longer enjoy and the other feels rejected. With the possibility of having to stay at work for another 15 years looming, perhaps she simply cannot face taking on anything too big. Will she agree to try something less demanding? Can you encourage her by making an extra effort with yourself? Brush your hair and dubbin those boots (or vice versa), put on your best shorts and rekindle the old fervour.
Dear Dr. Heike,

There is a rumour going round the walking clubs that the Fellsman is soon to include a 3-legged element – presumably following the success of events such as the ‘Jake-the-Peg Perambulation’ and the one on the Isle of Man. Since hearing this, my husband has become enthusiastic about the idea and is trying to persuade me to try a ‘threesome’. To be honest I am not particularly keen. We have always enjoyed normal, healthy hiking but he is so insistent that I wonder if I should relent, if only to please him. What do you think I should I do?

Mrs. Pru. Dishe – Brigg (2003)

There are no rights and wrongs in fell running. What suits one person does not suit another. The most important consideration is that you are both completely comfortable with the idea of something new. A stable relationship is vital when attempting such changes and the necessary matching rhythm can easily be jeopardised if you and your husband have very different heights or length of stride. As the Fellsman Hike committee consult me regularly on many aspects of the event, I am sure I would have heard of plans to include a 3-legged element. Unfortunately, despite it being one of my best modernisation suggestions, I do not believe it is being considered for this year’s event.
Dear Dr. Heike,

I think I have become obsessed with the Fellsman. I cannot think of anything else and spend all my time dreaming of taking part or meeting members of the committee. I am only 12 years old and don’t think I can wait until I am old enough to enter and get my gold badge. I have collected lots of items from the hike shop and have all the handbooks since 1995. When I heard that Tim was not going to be Hike Organiser this year I was so depressed and even considered killing myself. Luckily, I saw a photo of David in last year’s handbook and he’s quite a hunk, too! I can’t think of anything nicer than being married to the Hike Organiser and my horoscope says that this could be my lucky year. Do tell me he’s not already married. Am I being silly to hope?

Stella Ninfent – Rampton (2003)

Firstly, pay no attention to the horoscope, dear – that dippy daydreamer, Margo Astroturf, knows very little about what’s happening right now, never mind the future. It’s good to have a dream but you must keep such things in perspective. Wanting a gold badge is fine but try not to aim as high as the Hike Organiser just yet. You are still young and believe me, things change quickly at your age. This crush will soon be over and before long you will have found someone new to dream about. In the meantime, keep on collecting the memorabilia and practising your hiking.
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