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The Common Appeal of Walking

One slice of this common appeal is the sense of achievement that walking brings. Even within the realm of achievement there are many facets which appeal to different groups of people. Some measure their achievement through the distance they have walked, others through the heights of the peaks they have scaled. Peak bagging describes the popular activity where mountaineers attempt to reach the summit of a collection of peaks in a particular region.


landscape pictureWhich brings me on to the next facet of achievement: completion of a tick list. Similar to bird watching, some walkers measure their achievement through the completion of certain routes or the reaching of certain points. Many walkers work their way through the highest peaks in Britain, whilst others take on the numerous long distance paths. Some say that this approach devalues the actual experience of walking in favour of reaching an arbitrary point on a map, but I say each to their own. You see, that is the joy of walking, you can tailor it to suit your own needs.

A further sense of achievement for some is the successful navigation of a route. Armed with a map and compass people can derive a real sense of satisfaction from being able to navigate across remote terrain. Orienteering courses are set for those who crave this type of achievement and, more recently, the popular sport of geocaching tests participants’ navigational skills with the reward of ‘treasure’ to be found at the end of the trail.

In an age where we are constantly aware of healthy and unhealthy lifestyles, exercise forms part of our conscious decisions on how to stay fighting fit. Within the realms of physical activity, walking has many clear benefits. It is inexpensive with no entrance fees or membership fees required and the ‘kit’ can be as simple as a good pair of walking shoes. Compared with the gym, swimming or cycling the costs are minimal. Walking is also particularly accessible, being equally available to those in rural and urban areas. For those starting from a low level of fitness or recovering from injury, walking also offers a low impact way of improving stamina, cardio-fitness and strength. For those wanting more of a challenge hill climbing increases the cardio workout and some people move on to Nordic Walking with the use of walking poles, offering the chance to use muscles in the entire body.

For many, this achievement driven approach is simply not required. Indeed for many, the entire purpose of walking is to escape the rat race and the constant need to achieve. Being close to nature and having the space and time to reflect on life gives most people a sense of quietness and relaxation that is hard to find elsewhere. With such a wide range of landscapes in the UK, there is time to appreciate the most unspoilt rural areas as well as man-made features such as parks and forests. And every landscape tells as story as you are taken on a journey through history with Iron Age hillforts, ancient burial mounds, monastery ruins and old mine workings littered across the countryside.

So, whatever appeal walking holds for you, you can be sure of one thing: you are certainly not alone.


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Friday, 23 March 2018
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The length of our walking guides is given in miles and rounded to the nearest full mile (whole number) for simplicity. For short walks (of less than 2 miles) or walks that have a length that ends in .5, a more accurate walk length may be given in the first section of the walk introduction. For example, the Length in the header may be listed as 6 miles, and the introduction may confirm that the exact length of the walk is 5.5 miles. The walk length is calculated from the GPS file that was created by the walk author GPS tracking the walk whilst walking, using the iFootpath App GPS Tracker, meaning it is very accurate. Our bespoke tracker is particularly detailed and plots a walkers position about every 10 seconds. The tracker is calibrated to match two other reputable map and walking sources, Ordnance Survey and Nike. As with all standardised walk and map lengths, the distance does not take account of hills and slopes, just the distance you would measure using a piece of string on a flat map version of the terrain, so hilly walks will feel longer than stated. If you track the route using another GPS App or Tracker App or Fitness Device, you can expect the distance you record to be different due to different calibrations. This is particularly true of those Apps and devices that count your motion and steps – these can only guess the distance you have travelled with each step and so are much less accurate.

Grade (Boots)

The grade of a walk is an indicator of how difficult the terrain is that you will encounter along the way. This does not take into account the walk length but does suggest how challenging the walk will be. It takes into account things like hills, path surfaces and obstacles (like stiles, gates, steps and rock scrambles). An easy walk, graded as 1 (and shown as 1 Boot) indicates a walk that is essentially flat, has no sharp hills to climb, has no stiles, is easy to navigate (probably along a well-worn path) and is suitable for most levels of fitness. A difficult walk, graded as 5 (and represented by 5 Boots) indicates a walk that is strenuous and involves steep ascents and/or descents. It may be technically challenging involving difficult terrain or obstacles that require scrambling with your hands. Please note that the grading for walks is subjective and open to interpretation and should only be used as a guide when selecting a walk.

NOTE: Do be aware that the level of stamina required for any walk will vary depending on both the walk length and the difficulty grade - you should only walk within your limits.

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