Going for a walk in Britain; a beginner's guide
With so many amazing places to explore in Britain, you needn’t travel too far to find a perfect getaway spot. Forget the planes, leave your car keys at home- some of the most beautiful spots are found on foot.
Walking, you’d think, comes natural to pretty much all of us. Yet set the task of reaching the top of a hill, and all of a sudden, this everyday locomotion becomes a sport. And if you’re not careful, an extreme one at that. The Yorker is on hand to give you a run-down of the dos and don’ts of EXTREME WALKING.
First and certainly foremost- get the shoes right. If, like me, you only own heels and a few pairs of peep toe sandals, then consider yourself at a severe disadvantage. Unsurprisingly, your feet are pretty vital to your mission, so treat them as a precious resource. You want them to be comfortable, and this means trainers. Or proper built-for-serious-walking shoes, the type your old geography teacher used to wear daily. Those battered Converse under your bed will do- just hope it doesn’t rain. There’s nothing worse than soggy socks slipping down around your heel while you’re clambering up a hill.
The weather is bound to be against you, so ready yourself. Layers are key- and I’m not talking latest-trend layering. I mean business. Light t-shirt, jacket and a waterproof coat. Something with a hood is pretty important- this is England, you can predict with virtual certainty it is going to rain, and lugging an umbrella around with you is going to be pretty futile if you’re travelling even remotely uphill, as all winds will conspire against you.
Take a bag- not the snakeskin clutch, too glitzy- to store your picnic and supplies in. If you have a rucksack, then this is perfect. Otherwise, anything across the shoulder should suffice. Just about anything that will free up your hands for when you slip and need to grab the nearest tree for support will do the trick. Stock it full of bottles of water, a few plasters in case your footwear isn’t as friendly as you’d planned, and a celebratory snack for when you arrive at your destination. And of course your camera- you won’t want to forget the stunning views in a hurry.
Have a map. And keep it safe. Don't stick it in the back pocket of your jeans, because you will lose it. Trust me, I've learnt the hard way. Trusting your nose might work when you're trying to find the way to the toilets in a bar, but there's a reason orienteering exists. It's pretty easy to get lost when the only landmarks are trees and rocks, and your iPhone GPS won't work while you're stuck down a valley in the middle (or to the left of, or behind, or...?) of nowhere. If you do lose it, then stick to rivers or paths- and if all else fails, forget your pride and frantically ask directions from the next passer-by. If there is one, anyway.
If you’re at a loss as to where to wander about- try Thornton-Le-Dale. Dalby Forest has some amazing walks, complete with expanding views of untouched nature at the top of every peak. Or head further up North to Edinburgh, where Arthur’s Seat offers more stunning scenery over the capital. Of course, there’s the Peak District practically on our doorstep for meandering at your leisure, and vast expanses of countryside just ITCHING to have you stumble over them all over our fair isle.
Lastly, just enjoy it! Fresh air, no traffic noise, the wind whipping your hair around in front of your eyes. There's nothing like looking back at the route you've just completed, and feeling very, very smug.