Country Walking – A Life-long Love

Date: 1 March 2023   Author: Energise Me

Throughout her life, Emma has immersed herself in nature by walking. It is a love that she has since passed on to her children. Now, she hopes to encourage others to put on their walking boots.

The thing I love most about walking is its multiple and flexible benefits. Not only is it great for physical fitness, allowing you to push your body as much or as little as you want to, but it is also good for mental wellbeing. It’s a perfect way to unplug and de-stress from the demands of the modern world.

Where It All Started

Long country walks have been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up in an inner-city council estate in Nottingham, my friend Bruce and I would grab our dogs – his, a big, soppy Bull Mastiff, mine a border collie with boundless energy – and we would take a short train to Attenborough Nature Reserve. I thought we were in the wilderness. I learned later in life that we had travelled just a couple of miles beyond the outskirts of the city.

Later, at university in Manchester, I’d hop on a train along the Hope Valley line with a handful of friends and, in no time at all, we’d be up Jacob’s Ladder surveying glorious and dramatic countryside. The perfect anti-dote to red brick student squalor and the grime and grind of the big city.

Walking is the activity that reconnects us as a family.

Walking As A Family

From an early age, we’d zip our kids into their all-in-one waterproof suits, pop on their wellies and pile out of the car for bracing walks in all weathers. It must have had a positive effect on them as, years later, they both thoroughly enjoy outdoor pursuits – from climbing to caving and potholing.

Living in Hampshire we are so lucky. Whatever terrain we might fancy – hills, heaths, clifftops overlooking beaches, clear chalk streams or wild woods – Hampshire has them all. And for us, all are reachable in less than an hour’s travel in any direction.

Now, with the kids grown and semi-flown, walking is the activity that reconnects us as a family. Giving us precious time to enjoy each other’s company, challenge ourselves physically (if we feel like it) and explore new places. Plus, we love taking the dog along too. These days, she’s a little too old to manage more than 5 miles, so we have a couple of carriers. A front loading one for shorter strolls, and a backpack for serious hikes.

Walking really can be for anyone.

If You Want To Try

If you are thinking of trying country walking, it doesn’t have to cost the earth. The basic kit you need is a good pair of walking boots, walking socks and some everyday waterproof clothing. When selecting a pair of walking boots, remember, if well looked after, they are designed to last for a good ten years, so think of them as a long-term investment in your health. Travelling by car is convenient, but there’s plenty of beautiful countryside to be enjoyed by public transport. For example, a mainline railway runs through the heart of the New Forest.

How I Prepare

What I pack in my rucksack:

  • Sandwiches
  • Trail mix (a mix of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit) and oatcakes for slow-release energy
  • Dark chocolate to give me an energy boost on the final mile
  • Spare socks and a carrier bag
  • A simple first aid kit with plasters (for blisters) and pain killers
  • An OS map and / or walking book in a waterproof case
  • A battery phone charger for longer walks – this means I can use my OS Map app or my phone torch if I need to
  • A hand torch (on winter walks)
  • Sun cream (on summer walks)
  • Filled water bottles
  • Hand gel / hand wipes
  • A water bowl and food for the dog

So Why Walk?

Walking really can be for anyone. NHS advice states that even a brisk, ten-minute walk helps build stamina, burn calories, and makes your heart healthier. Armed with this information, walking for health is something that most people could try from their front door. You never know how far it might take you.

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