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Time to Face Your Walking Fears

Today, 11 October 2016, is Face Your Fears Day. The organisers explain, “Take a moment to consider what your life might be like if you conquered some of your greatest fears. What would you do differently? Face Your Fears Day gives you the chance to stand up to your fears, overcome them, and to seize the day.”

eliseandbabyThis got me thinking about the myriad of reasons that people give as to why they can’t embrace walking, despite all the scientific evidence of the physical and mental health benefits it can bring. Here are just some of the very understandable fears and barriers that we’ve heard over the years…

“I’m scared of getting lost, because I can’t read maps”

“I don’t know how to find the best routes”

“I have a disability so I need to avoid stiles, but these aren’t marked on OS maps”

“I walk with a large dog so I need to avoid stiles, but these aren’t marked on OS maps”

“I’m scared of cattle so I’d rather walk in areas free of livestock, but these aren’t marked on OS maps”

“I walk with children and would like to avoid busy roads or other dangers”

“Walking groups and health schemes tend to arrange walks during the week but I’m at work then”

“I’m out of shape so I need to start with short walks of less than 3 miles”

“I don’t want to join a walking group because I’m embarrassed, so I’d prefer to walk alone”

“I don’t drive so I need to find walking routes that start at train stations or bus stops”

“I can’t afford to pay a membership subscription to be part of a walking group”

Patching low sizeWell, here at iFootpath we completely understand all these fears and barriers. Our mission in life is to make walking fun, accessible and stress-free. Walking, like any outdoor activity, can be a bit intimidating to beginners and does come with some small risks, but there are walking routes on the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) suitable for anyone and everyone. Short beginner walks, longer training routes, routes in woodland where your pooch can enjoy some freedom and even accessible routes for people in wheelchairs or those with pushchairs. Countryside rambles, riverside strolls, town trails and coastal adventures, the choice is enormous. For a small one-off fee of £1.49, you get access to the 800+ walking guides currently published, and all future guides too. That’s less than the cost of half a pint of beer, a takeaway coffee or a weekend newspaper. So, that’s the affordability barrier handled.

Every iFootpath walking guide is created by an author who has walked the route themselves. By doing this they have already checked out, on the ground, what walkers will come across on the route. The introduction to every iFootpath walking guide includes accessibility notes that will tell you about hills, mud, livestock, stiles, kissing gates, roads, rail crossings and other features you will need to contend with. The introduction also tells you everything you need to know to reach the start point of the walk, including details of the car park and nearest post code plus public transport options where these are available.

WSW MarkC 6211 8Once you are following an iFootpath walking guide you have all the information you need in the palm of your hand. Detailed written turn-by-turn directions and photographs act as your virtual tour guide, leading you by the hand around the route. There are even extra snippets of information and interesting facts to keep you entertained along the way. All this information is stored locally on your phone so you don’t need to worry about losing mobile signal. As if this wasn’t reassuring enough, you will also have the comfort of a live GPS-based map. The GPS function of your phone will show your current position on the live route map as you walk, so you can say goodbye to wrong turns.

It is no wonder then that the iFootpath customer base is as varied as it comes. Within the group of people regularly using the iFootpath App, we hear from mothers walking with young children, dog walkers of all ages, young couples using walking to relax at the weekend, people of all ages using walking to lose weight and get fit and people with a disability that walk or use a disability buggy to navigate our accessible routes.

So why not give it a try? Make October the month that you face your walking fears head on and see if the iFootpath App can help you to overcome them. You might just discover that walking brings you as much joy as our thousands of other customers. What have you got to lose?

11 October 2016

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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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