Walks Around Britain: Why Walking is on the Rise in Britain
Andrew White is an expert when it comes to all types walking especially guided short walks all over Britain. But what advice does he have for getting outdoors…
Does walking get the respect it deserves? I sometimes feel like running and other more rigorous forms of exercise take all the plaudits when it comes to our health. It’s true, in spite of being just as effective for our mind and body, the benefits of walking are often underrated for one reason or another. With this in mind, I took great interest over the past year in watching the entire nation embrace walking like never before!
But what’s really behind this sudden enthusiasm for walking? Is this a temporary trend due to restrictions and will the nation continue with this new-found love for walking?
In this article for C+S I’d like to explore the reasons behind this sudden interest in walking.
The Recent Rise of Enthusiasm for Walking in Britain.
In my recent interview with Andrew White, the popular presenter dived into his love for walking and efforts to encourage others to #getoutside. In case you might be asking yourself, Andrew is mostly associated with Walks Around Britain his TV show, website and now app. On which he highlights the pathways around Britain that locals can explore for themselves.
As for the encouragement, you need only listen to the Doncaster man as he talks about the “accessibility of walking” to feel inspired. That is to say, Andrew likes to focus on short walks (2-8 miles) that require no special equipment or gear and just as little in terms of fitness. What’s more, he explains with great charisma how the act of walking has “never been more pleasing or accessible” to people from all walks of life.
Since early last year, this simple advice about taking short walks was more relevant than ever as Britons were restricted to areas surrounding their homes. Now, it should go without saying that Andrew did not foresee the pandemic and his advice is relevant, no matter the time, place or situation. And this is why I believe the recent enthusiasm for walking is just as much about having fun as it is about maintaining our health.
A Quick Word about the “Accessibility of Walking”.
If you read between the lines, Andrew is also removing some of the common obstacles that stop people getting active in the first place. Without any need for expensive gear, there is no real preparation and with so many beautiful parks, hills and country lanes on our doorstep, we don’t even need to travel. This also reminds me of Alastair Humphrey’s and his pioneering work with “microadventures”.
Among Andrew’s favourite spaces to explore in Yorkshire are well-loved walks in settings which could grace a picture-postcard.
While many people enjoy a summer stroll to Flamborough Head, the presenter said he prefers it in winter, “when the sea is choppy and with a wind coming through”.
There are the falls at Conisbrough viaduct, known for their views of the Dearne Valley and the River Don. Roseberry Topping he describes as “the Matterhorn” of Yorkshire, hailing its views and accessibility.
Then there is Ribblehead Viaduct, which carries the Settle to Carlisle railway across the Ribble Valley, and the surrounding scenes around Whernside.
“You just can’t imagine that valley without the viaduct, it seems like it’s always been there and should always be there,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see.”
What is a microadventure?
“Amicroadventure is an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.”
As part of this work, Alastair, a British adventurer, is trying to remove certain obstacles that seem to stop people taking an adventure. In other words, a short, local, and cheap adventure doesn’t require a lot of time, effort and money. And when you remove these obstacles or excuses, there’s only one step left – to start!
The Real Reason to #GetOutside and Go Walking in Britain
I know all about the scientific benefits of walking but if you’re like me, there’s only so much of these statistics and studies that we need to know about. The truth is, my own favourite thing about walking is the walk itself and the sense of fun that comes with hiking up a hillside at sunset or exploring a local park for the first time. It certainly beats staying inside all day and even the shortest amount of time outside can bring a sense of excitement to a rather dull or boring day.
Andrew White was also quick to talk with me about the fun side of walking and what a brief encounter with nature can do for the soul. I especially enjoyed how he described
the feeling of calm that comes when one stops in a woodland and listens to the wind rustling through the trees. According to White, “just being outside and breathing in fresh air” is a rewarding experience that can leave a person feeling more relaxed.
I suppose walking is what makes this possible and it just so happens to be a fun way to take an adventure – even a short one. And I believe this is the real reason so many Britons continue to explore the benefits of walking this year; not because they’ve nothing else to do but because it’s fun and there’s simply no excuses left to go outside.