So you are thinking of going for a walk? Excellent idea! It is fine exercise and you will come back refreshed and with your spirits lifted. And it is so easy. No special equipment to get started and you can do it from home. But after a bit you may get more ambitious. Here are a few pointers to walking in the OutdoorsWest area.
First decide what sort of walk you want to do. Will it be short and sweet or long and pleasantly exhausting or perhaps something in between. Do you want to enjoy our amazing urban landscapes or the pastoral pleasures of our countryside. Do you want to commune with nature or take the opportunity of talking to the kids without the backdrop of Spongebob Squarepants. Perhaps you prefer the breeziness of the hills or the fascination of our valleys and waterways. It’s all here in the West Country – Bristol harbourside, Georgian Bath or one of our small towns; the Cotswolds or the Mendips; the Avon, the Chew or the Frome rivers; the Severn Vale and the Estuary or the Kennett and Avon Canal. Hopefully you will find something to suit you in the walks section of this site. If not get the map out!
Remember that you do not have to have a car. See [Ipsum]. for hints on using public transport to access walks. And you do not have to go it alone. The local Ramblers put on literally hundreds of walks every year. Or, there are many other walking clubs, health walks or other events in our area.
A few things to keep in mind:
Know your limitations. It is no fun struggling back when you or the children are tired. You can always build up to the twelve milers! Bear in mind that winter daylight is short so take a shorter walk or start early. Check the terrain – most published walks have an indication of difficulty. If you are less mobile then look for easy access walks.
What to wear. It is common sense isn’t it? Take clothes to keep you warm and dry. We do not have mountains in this part of the world but some of our hill tops are pretty exposed so be aware of the weather forecast and dress accordingly. Alternatively protect yourself from the sun. On your feet wear "proper" shoes even in town. Open-toed sandals and high heels are a no-no. Wellingtons are not great for any distance but if it is wet underfoot you must keep your feet dry.
What to take. Food and drink - keep your energy levels up and do not dehydrate. Take it with you and do not depend on finding a shop or hostelry that is open. A map is essential. If you are in the countryside it needs to be the Ordnance Survey Explorer series to give you sufficient detail. Do not depend on the app on your mobile. The battery may go down. The same is true if you are lucky enough to have a gps device. For comfort carry what you need in a back pack.
Safety and courtesy. On roads the trick is to see and be seen. Generally walk on the right to face on-coming traffic but be prepared to cross over when approaching sharp bends so that you can continue to see and be seen. On farm land the critical point is to leave gates as you find them.
There is plenty of further ready advice for walkers. The Ramblers website is comprehensive, for instance they have a lot of information on walking safely. The Countryside Code tells you all you need to know to feel comfortable in the countryside and fully enjoy our rural heritage. Above all do not be put off by all the advice and expensive gear. After all, it is only walking!
This article was contributed by Ron Phelps. Ron is the Area Access Officer (a volunteer post) for the Avon Area of the Ramblers Association.