Walking the same paths each day as we stay local in Lockdown 3.0 can get pretty tedious.
Last year, in the first lockdown, the lovely people at Country Walking magazine wrote a short guide with suggestions to keep your walks interesting as you went outside for your daily exercise, (May 2020). Now, in our third lockdown of the Corona virus pandemic, their suggestions are as relevant today as they were almost 12 months ago. I decided therefore to dig out last Mays edition of the magazine and give some of their suggestions a go.
They offered 20 suggestions, but I’ve picked out 6 that appealed to me and I’ve tried them out.
1. Draw with your feet
After a slow stroll with the hubby and dog, we had only managed to walk 1.9 miles, (you need to do an average of 2.74 a day to reach 1000), so I knew I needed to walk a little further to reach my daily goal. I offered to get some milk from the shop, and as I walked back I decided to have a go at a bit of drawing. The premise is you use your chosen gps tracker to write or draw something on the map.
I rather originally wrote my name, but it was actually a lot of fun, and I ended up walking a total of 3 miles.
I think this tactic is a winner and one I will definitely do again. It’s actually really enjoyable to, plotting and planning how you’re going to draw the word or picture. I’m already thinking about what I want to spell next and how I will manage it, so it’s a great way to make boring, city streets more interesting and keep the motivation going.
2. Walk it back
A regular walk I do, is to walk from our house, through the park to the seafront, and then to my husband’s office, and he then gives us a lift home. It’s a fairly flat, 3.6 miler that goes through 3 parks and ends up with lovely sea views.
To mix things up a bit, I chose this walk to do in reverse, or walk it back as they suggest.
I drove into work with hubby and after helping him out with a few tasks, took the dog backwards to go home.
Initially it didn’t feel too different, but it was nice to take in different views, up the Tamar as opposed to out to sea. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why it made the walk different, I didn’t notice anything new that I hadn’t seen before and it wasn’t exactly life changing, it just felt a bit fresher, kind of like cleaning the house. Nothing major is different, it’s still your house and your things, but at the same time everything just feels a little nicer. I would do it again just for a change.
3. Walk the alphabet
This was so much fun! The concept is you have to find something on your walk for every letter of the alphabet.
I tried this on a walk in my local park. The same park I’ve walked the dog in for the past 4 years, it’s right by my house, I know it better than the back of my hand and I often get fed up of the same routes, but on this walk I managed 3.7 miles and I wasn’t even bored.
The hardest letters were Q (in the end I took a penny out of my pocket just so I could see the Queen!), U (a no U-turn sign on the road by the park) and Z, (this was the extra mile, post park trying to find a house with a Zafira parked outside!).
I will definitely be repeating this as the seasons change, I’m hoping to learn some tree identification at the same time to improve my eye-spy game.
4. Pick a theme
The theme idea suggests you pick a theme, such as a colour or an animal and then look out for it on your walk.
When we tried this theme it happened to be Blue Monday, (the 3rd Monday in January), so on this particular day for our walk, we had the theme blue and yellow. Blue, because it was Blue Monday, and yellow because it cheers me up, and also I saw on someones Instagram the first daffodils and primroses were out and I wanted to see some!
We walked 6.11 miles that day and pretty much the only blue or yellow we saw was a coloured car, or some litter, (it is NOT ok to dispose of used masks and gloves on the floor people!).
We did however see a pretty painted blue butterfly, the first dandelion of the year, and what I hoped was a blue tit, but was actually a coal tit.
For the themed walk to work, I think you need to time it right or pick a different theme. If I had chosen red, my walk would have been a lot more interesting, or if I had waited a few more weeks, I am sure I would have had bluebells and hyacinths alongside primroses and daffodils. Conclusion, good concept, but make sure you pick a theme that will be successful or you could get bored.
5. Ask Wiki
To take part in this idea you download the Wikipedia app to your phone, click on places and then create your own guided tour of your local area. The map will show you Wiki entries of things near you, so you can walk to them and read all about them.
I did this, and it turned out the only things with a Wiki entry near to me are one football stadium (I hate football), four schools, a train station and an old cemetery.
I did not think this would be interesting but I persevered and actually I did learn things I never knew about where I lived. For example, the site of the local primary school used to be Thornhill House where Sir Francis Drake once lived, and there is a WW2 bomb shelter in the school grounds. Also, in 1988 a woman was murdered in the cemetery that I walk past almost everyday, and John Betjeman once called Plymouth Railway Station “the dullest of stations.”
My mind was blown, I cannot wait to do this for more places, especially around Plymouth which has so many weird and wonderful places full of history. I’ve also been meaning to do the walks featured on the new Plymouth Trails app which this Ask Wiki idea has now got me really excited about.
By the end of lockdown I will be able to run my own guided tours of the city!
6. Find The Path
“Take on the challenge of walking all the paths within three kilometres of your home.” The magazine suggested having a look at an OS map and seeing what paths go past your house. I took a different approach and just googled walks in Plymouth and found something I wasn’t expecting, a 15 mile walk that almost goes past my front door.
It’s called The Co-operative Way, and I haven’t done it yet due to time, but I’m saving it for a day off and I cannot wait. I wasn’t expecting there to be such an interesting walk on my doorstep, and I’m not sure I’d of known about it if it wasn’t for trying this, so it’s definitely worth looking.
You probably can’t get hold of the May 2020 edition of Country Walking, but I did see this in The Guardian that might help if my 6 ways haven’t inspired you. If they have let me know, I’d love to know what you do to make sure you get outside on these winter days, especially in this crazy time!