It’s a shared experience

As humans we love to share, be it: making meals, watching films, discussing books or most importantly, doing chores. Max and I both have our own hobbies which we share with each other on occasion but there is one thing that we both really enjoy doing together and that’s going for a walk – ideally with a packed lunch and thermos of tea.

Max and Tom walk in the local woods, Alton, Hampshire
Walks in our local woods, Alton, Hampshire

But why walk?

It lets us forget about all the things that need to be done at home to just go and hang out together, walking and talking. While out on our walks we can reconnect with each other because we are usually out walking for hours rather than minutes. This means we get past the surface chat and really discuss the weird, wonderful and, sometimes, serious subjects that we are really interested in, which means that, when we get home and we have been hanging out all day, seeing and doing, and ultimately experiencing the same things, we feel that we have shared a great and meaningful day — what could bond people more? That’s why we walk.

A quote from Chris McCandless in the book ‘Into The Wild’ is: “Happiness is only real when shared.” We like to believe this is true.

It’s good for you physically

Be it a quick 10-minute stroll into town or a several-hour hike up a mountain, there is no arguing that walking is great for you physically.

I love to get my legs moving, get the blood pumping, feel the body come alive; breathing in the crisp fresh air even deeper, taking off that extra layer I was wearing, now I have warmed up a little, and feeling my brow getting a little damp, as that was quite a hill.

It’s a must, as Max and I love to eat, so burning off a few extra calories is essential. One, because the packet of Fox’s biscuits that we devoured last night were delicious and two, the cheesy chips that I’ve been thinking about repeatedly all walk will be even more delicious after we get a few more miles under our belt. 

We all know that exercise is good for us; it keeps the heart healthy and the muscles moving and even some light impact is good for our bone density. I like to use the expression: “Use it or lose it”.

Let your mind relax, get some perspective and recover.

Walking can bring you into ‘the moment’ or perhaps ‘the present’. You are able to leave the problems and stresses of work and home behind, and it can offer physical space away from these things which can also offer mental space. It’s a great time to get out in nature to get a different perspective and remember what is really important. It’s a time to reset and take some much needed time out of the potentially hectic lives that we lead. I find it very calming and relaxing, a place to shut off and quiet my thoughts.

I find it’s not only about relaxing the mind; a walk can equally be a brilliant place to let your mind run free and explore all the possible solutions and options that might be available. Now that you are not sitting at your computer number crunching (for example) or doing the important stuff that needs to be done, you are able to give the situation some room to breathe. I then have the time and space to find a new perspective and perhaps, a better solution than the one I am currently employing. 

Nature can connect you.

When we are out on a walk, wandering in the woods or strolling down a beach, I feel I’m out in real life. You can see it all around; a castle far away on a hillside or a bee clambering around on a flower. You can feel it — the crunchy yet soft sand under your shoes. You can touch it — the incredibly rough and tough bark of a haggard old tree. You can smell it — the wild flowers or freshly cut grass. I find that when I’m stuck at home, all i want to do is get outside.

When I’m out in nature I feel that I am in it, living in it, present at that very moment. You might not even have realised it at the time, but perhaps afterwards, when discussing it with a friend over dinner and you see a photo, you remember how amazing it was to really be in that moment. Perhaps the next time, then you will realise how amazing it really is to be in the ‘here and now’.

Sitting on the sofa watching TV whilst messaging family is all well and good, and there is a time and place for it, but I think the less we are on that sofa and the more we are enjoying the outside and experiencing the great outdoors, the richer and more fulfilled our lives will be. That’s just how I feel about it. It might sound too idealistic and perhaps even air-headed to some, but what’s wrong with that?

It gives us purpose

There’s no more “only boring people get bored” (as dad used to say) now that we can fill at least one day of the weekend with a walk. This gives us purpose to jump out of bed, even on a Sunday, to make an incredible breaky (essential for hiking) and to get out there. The mission is always: see some incredible views, find a great spot for lunch, have a good old fashioned catch up with whoever we are walking with, build up a healthy appetite for dinner (and dessert) and finally, not get lost.

Even when you’re back home and all the excitement is over, there is still that happy glow within and a feeling of accomplishment which comes from the perfect combination of three things: 

  1. The sleepy, tired feeling that comes from moving and breathing outside for a couple of hours. 
  2. Contentment from restoring and refilling your body with something delicious. 
  3. Happiness after spending a brilliant day in nature whilst enjoying a shared experience with great people.

Cost effective

Walking is a very cheap hobby; all you need is a pair of shoes, and some people don’t even need that. Yes, you will need something to eat while you’re out, but you’re going to need to eat lunch if you’re out on a walk or sitting at home. You can spend hundreds of pounds on the latest hiking gear but that’s not really required either.

Walking also offers the opportunity to travel to new places, so having access to public transport or a car makes this easier, but then again this is not a necessity to go for a walk around a local wood or a park, which is a great place to start. Then you can do a bit of saving and planning for epic hikes in far-flung lands.

Adventure is another reason why we walk, and our next one is our Walk for Good 2020. We’re going to attempt to walk 2422 miles, covering 14 National Trails and raise money for charity!