Well, I just found out my local authority operates a “Walking to Health” programme of free guided walks! You don’t have to be referred by the doctor or anything.
Since January, I’ve been walking regularly, gradually increasing my range. I normally walk between one and two miles on weekdays, and up to three miles on Sundays.
Lately, work have not been doing very well, and have been “encouraging” staff to take annual leave. So I booked five Mondays in a row (Who wouldn’t? Mondays are horrid, aren’t they?)
I was desperately searching for something to do on the Mondays off, so I won’t spend the day just wasting it. Last week I went to the big restaurant! But then I found out the walks programme, by a lucky coincidence, operates Mondays. I don’t mind walking by myself, which is what I’ve been doing usually, but I’m getting a bit bored with the same old routes, and there’s only so much you can do to vary it.
So today, I joined the guided walk - about 20 of us. It was a bit of a test for me, in terms of both distance and terrain, because usually I can do about 3 miles on the flat, but this was 3.5 miles, including two sections through woodland. The walks are graded, so I knew it wasn’t going to be too demanding, and it was only half a mile further than I’m used to, so I was fairly confident it would be OK. Even so, it was a route I wouldn’t have tackled by myself - EVER. Quite muddy and uneven, and well outside the area I’m familiar with, or have ever walked before.
Most on the walk were OAPs, so I did feel a bit conspicuous, being the youngest by some 20 years. But the great news is I completed it, so I feel really chuffed now. There were a couple of patches I was in a sweat, thinking I’ve done a bad thing, here. I was having to concentrate very hard on where I was putting my feet, and not really able to talk, or pay attention to the scenery. But those sections were mercifully short. Most of it was fine. I’m a bit sore now, and could sleep for England (in a minute, that’s exactly what I plan to do - yes, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon).
But I think it went fine. It’s certainly given me the confidence to do another one. Next week’s is shorter, and more on-the-flat, I believe, so if I could do this one, I certainly should be OK for that. In these times of austerity, I think it’s really good it’s council funded. I was quite impressed by the guides. They don’t do a talk about the landmarks, or anything like that, but they seemed very efficient, and to know the route, and to watch out for any stragglers. Pretty good stuff. I walked some places I’ve never been to, or even knew existed - including the grounds of a spooky old hospital, now converted to luxury flats. I’d never even have thought to walk up there, so quite a change of scene.
I’d encourage anyone to see if there’s similar in your area. As I say, the walks are graded, and some are designated suitable for wheelchair or mobility-aid users. Obviously, the one I did this morning wouldn’t have been - but some are. It’s reassuring that you know someone has checked it, and assessed the difficulty involved. It’s not like just setting out blindly, on your own. Oh, and also there were optional sections. There was more than one guide, so if anyone wanted to take a shortcut, or cut out a hilly bit, there was someone to show them an alternative route. Very useful if you do find yourself struggling - although I didn’t need it this time.