I walk to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my skin. To feel the rain and wind lash my cheek, the elements batting me around as if I‘m a small toy in their giant game.
I walk to hear the birds chattering in the hawthorn bushes and calling to each other across the woods and moors. I walk to catch glimpses of hidden creatures. Voles and field mice, stoats and deer, and occasionally, at night, a fox or badger.
Sometimes I walk with purpose, to reach a destination. The top of a hill or mountain, most likely. A viewpoint from where I can survey the world or what little of it I’m allowed to see. But a walk does not need a destination and sometimes I just let my feet carry me where they will.
I walk to give myself thinking time. To mull over a problem or reassess my priorities. It’s as if the movements of my legs turn cogs in my head that power my brain to find a solution to whatever’s bothering me. The answer does not always come on the walk, but the walk is part of the process of discovering it.
But, there are also times when I’m content to think about nothing. To just let thoughts flow through my mind like water trickling down a beck. This too, is what walking is all about.
When I get angry or frustrated, I can feel trapped in the house. This place where I should be doing this or should be doing that; where I haven’t done this, or have failed at that. Walking is my escape. A chance to walk away from the anger inside and be calm again. To return to work with a fresh state of mind.
I walk to forget about the problems of the world. To put aside worries and cares, particularly those that I have no control over. To realise that I don’t have to change the world, I just have to do my bit.
I walk to feel the ache in my muscles and the pain in my feet. The focus that comes after you’ve been trudging for hours. How your world narrows to focus on just one thing: putting one foot in front of the other. It’s almost like a meditation. Left, right, left, right. There is just you and the footpath in front of you.
But, perhaps most of all, I walk to be outside. To breathe fresh air and walk in the beautiful countryside that we’re blessed with in the UK. Whether it’s a stroll through my local woods, a walk up over the moors or a hike up a remote Scottish mountain, walking makes me truly appreciate how lucky we are to have these beautiful landscapes. And why we must protect them.
Walking outside makes me feel alive. It reminds me of why life is precious. It makes me happy.
That is why I walk.