Many of us of course enjoys walks in the streets, parks and open spaces in our
neighborhood, and as we know its a great way to keep fit, breathe in some fresh
air and simply 'de-frag' from our busy lives. Thousands more of use walking as
exercise beyond where we live to experience the historic walks and trails of
regions and countries. My home county is Cumbria in the UK and the Lake District
which apart from the beautiful lakes themselves is also renowned for its walks
and trails made famous by the wonderful pictorial books of Alfred Wainwright. The books were written between 1952 and 1966 and are still top sellers.
There are several ancient trails and long walks in the UK comparable to any around the world. Some of the trails around the world are as you would expect serious challenges rather than a stroll
in in the park! The Inca Trail in Peru, for example is thousands of kilometers
in its entirety and takes the walker up to as high as 16,000 feet in places.
Each continent has its famous trails and walks. The Appalachian trail in the USA
is 2,179 miles long, the longest trail in Canada is the Trans Canada Trail at
11,233 miles, and the Australian Alps Walking Track in News South Wales is 655km
There are various forms of exercise walking and hiking. Backpacking
is a lot more than young people sitting around European train stations in their
gap year, it is a demanding form of walking combined with camping, usually
undertaken in mountainous areas. Nordic Walking simulates the action of skiing
and walkers use ski sticks in a form of walking that is extremely good for
fitness. If you do decide to take your walking more seriously and go further
afield then it is wise to go prepared. In Robert Engs book Freedom of the Hills
he recommends ten essential items, 1. Map, 2. Compass, 3. Sunglasses and
sunscreen, 4. Extra food and water, 5. Extra clothes, 6. Flashlight, 7. First
aid kit, 8. Fire starter, 9. Matches,and a 10. Knife. It is also a good idea
to tale plenty of water or water purifier, some insect repellent and signaling
devices like mirror and whistle.
There are plenty of books on walking and hundreds of club and associations too. The hobby of walking has huge benefits in so many ways from fitness, socialising, peace of mind and just the sheer experience of seeing what the natural world has to offer.