The reason I find walking in Britain so inspiring – is it’s variety.
Last week I was walking in the snowy mountains of the Lake District. This week it was the rolling hills of Rutland, in the soaking rain. Last summer I walked some of the Jurassic Coast in glorious sunshine.
For such a small island we have such a choice of landscapes. Weather which is almost impossible to accurately forecast. And endless historical and geographical discoveries waiting to be made. No two walks need ever be the same,
I have been up Snowdon in blazing sunshine, pouring rain, gale force winds, fog and snow. Walked along miles of sandy beaches, ploughed through seeming endless peat bogs, clung onto granite rocks, wandered through leafy glades and dreamed through fields of corn. Marveled at stone circles, explored caves, enjoyed quaint English villages and been impressed with great Victorian structures.
That is why I love walking in Britain
The different landscapes
Some walkers have a passion for the mountains only, while many walking groups prefer more pastoral walks. I love both, if there is a possibility of a walk anywhere, I am in. I am even contemplating a long walk through the parks of London.
I was brought up in the south, and enjoyed many walks through Ashdown Forest with my Grandad. Putting on our wellies we would walk for what seemed miles to us. Crawling through the bracken, climbing trees and building dams in the streams. These are some of my best memories.
In contrast to the bracken heaths and enclosed woodlands, we also would visit the South Downs. Wide open spaces of rolling grasslands, with never ending views. They were a place where grass and sky would meet. The grassy slopes just seemed to shout, “come on, run”.
Since those days I have travelled much of Britain. Ascending some of the mountains in the north, crossing the moors of Yorkshire. I have walked through the vast forests of the Borders and the rugged coast and sandy beaches of South Wales. There are the gentler landscapes and quiet lanes of the midlands, hedgerows ripe with fruit surrounding fields of golden corn. Ancient woods and peaceful rivers.
Each part of Britain has its own beauty whether wild or pastoral there is so much to experience and enjoy.
We English spend a good proportion of our time complaining about the weather. “It’s too hot – It’s been raining all day”. I think being a walker means that we have to accept whatever the weather may be. I had a friend who maintained that “the weather is not an issue”. It is not about the weather it’s about having the right clothing.
The unpredictability of the weather can really mess up a planned summers walk, or make it too dangerous to do any walk at all. On the other hand it can turn a predictable walk into an adventure. Powerful wind or rainfall is quite stimulating, being in a force so strong and totally out of your control. There is a challenge to take it on head first and win through.
Different weather has its own beauty if you look for it (even drizzle), Who doesn’t feel stimulated by a sharp, frosty morning, or revel in a warm summer’s day. See the magic of dew catching cobwebs, or feel the quiet of snow-covered fields. Thank goodness for the seasons.
One of my best experiences was watching the sunrise from the top of Snowdon.
Wouldn’t it be boring if our weather was always the same, or almost totally predictable as it is in some countries. It would be tedious if all my walks were in bright sunshine, then again it would be depressing if it always rained. The sunshine, rain, fog, snow, simply add another dimension to this land of ours. Adding to the mood or colour of a walk. Dare I say – it’s the icing on the cake.
This is a country that is rich in its history, and monuments to that history are everywhere. You may have strong feelings about whether some of these are scars or features on the landscape. The truth is I suppose that some things are features enhancing the land, and some are blots on the countryside. I have always had a love of history, especially history that which relates to this country. I always try to imagine how a place used to look, and what the people’s lives were like that lived or worked there.
My pet hate is farmers whose farmyards look more like Steptoe’s scrap yard. Piles of old rusting machinery, dumped anywhere, covered in weeds and brambles. Apart from that, most historical man-made things that I come across on my walks, I find add to my walking experience. Sometimes when I get home after a walk the first thing I do is look on Google, to see what the history is of something that I have come across.
And – the warmth of humanity
Finally – of course! there has got to be the people you meet on your walk. The old man I met when walking through Braunston Village in Rutland, with his dog. Who was happy to stop and chat about the weather, and where I was going for a few minutes last week. The couple I also met at the bus stop who heartily recommended the walk I was about to embark on.
There are often fellow walkers who will pass a few minutes with you to discuss the pros and cons of the route you are on, and share some of their adventures. I once met a group of lads on top of Y Garn playing patience in the mist.
There are always other walkers that I meet on my travels, who will stop to chat about their walk, and ask about yours. the ones coming down the hill when I am going up, who give you a smile and a “not far to the top“, whether that is true or not !
Yes there is so much to walking in this country. Even as I am writing this blog, there is a growing pang inside me to get out there. I hope it has the same effect on you. I might see you out there ?