Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Dog walkers, runners and psychos...

Sunshine on Grange prom
I inherited my love for walking from my dad.  He never needed an excuse to walk and neither do I. Walking was his 'thing' and it's also mine. It never really occured to me that some people might find it odd to go out for a walk on your own when you don't have a dog, or aren't clad in lycra and cluitching a water bottle, but then last year I was asked to judge a podcast comeptition and one of the entrants focused on how they felt a little odd 'just going for a walk'.

The title of the blog comes from my friend Rachel, who used it in a Facebook post after she'd been on a morning walk. I know she was joking, but it got me thinking...

...And then I was invited to review the book 'Do Walk' by Libby DeLana - Libby goes for a meditative walk every morning at 5am; the book is a reflection on those walks, and it's made me reflect on my own morning walks.

I never used to go for a 'morning walk' until 'Lockdown 1' curtailed my work travel, and now I don't know what I'd do without it. In fact we recently went on hols to Scotland - we had an amazing time walking, cycling, swimming and kayaking but, after we got home I was feeling antsy and I didn't know why. We'd had fun, I didn't mind being home and I was quite happy to get back to work, but I just wasn't settled.

A lovely bike ride to Port Logan

Kayaking - so much easier without the water...

It wasn't until we headed for Coniston Water on Bank Holiday Monday that it all fell into place. After going for a lacklustre swim I left Steve to head off for a longer paddle in the kayak while I headed off up into the Blawith Fells, and then I realised - despite having loads of fun, I'd not had my morning walk and I really missed it. Suddenly I was alone with my thoughts again (despite the large crowds on the water, the fells were pretty quiet) and I began to feel so much better. Nothing against Steve at all - I love going for walks with him - I just needed some alone time.

Alone again...

In her book, Libby explores this, and it's a fascinating read although, being from New England, some of her winter walks are a lot more extreme than mine, plus I only ever walk for around 40 minutes whereas she heads off on some pretty hefty hikes. I love the part where she talks about really seeing things on your walk and quotes a friend as saying "you never see anyone running through an art gallery" - I'm pretty good at slowing down on my walks, so that made me smile.

She also talks a lot about the solitude of the walks and that has had me pondering too, especially since lockdown restrictions have eased. I find I am torn between the part of me that says it's selfish to want my beautiful morning walks through the woods all to myself, and the part that truly resents seeing other people on 'my' walk.

And here's another question - is 'Good Morning' compulsory? My working life requires me to talk to people all day, so I savour my solo morning walks and specifically take less popular routes. If I do meet someone else and they offer a 'good morning' I will smile and return the greeting - but there's one gentleman on my walk who, if I don't reply loudly enough, will stop in his tracks and shout 'GOOD MORNING!" at me until I reply in a manner that satisfies him.

It's mine...all mine!

I've seen some really sharp comments on social media recently with folks getting angry when others share pictures of their favourite quiet spot, thus 'ruining it'. Wordsworth thought that only the 'right sort of people' should come to visit the Lake District - but who gets to determine what the 'right sort of people' are? (I don't have a complete answer to that, but I'll kick off with people who know how to park properly, close a gate and take their litter home, for starters.) 

The 'right sort of people' on my morning walk would be those who slip past quietly, in their own little world, and definitley not the ones who shout at me but, for them, the 'right sort of people' could be the person that stops to chat a while. Who's to say which is right?

My favourite view from my morning walk

As well as meaningful insights and reflections the book also has lots of practical tips too - very handy for those new to walking or needing a bit of inspiration. I can also vouch for the fact that, as with most things, it goes splendidly with a spot of sunshine and a big mug of tea.

You can find the book at thedobook.co and it really is a rather lovely read, full of great quotes and interesting photos.

You can find me in Eggerslack Woods most mornings. I'm also full of great quotes, but best left alone at that time of day. And please don't shout 'good morning' at me either. Thank you. 😀

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