Walking is simply the art of putting one foot in front of the other. Anyone can do it. It’s easy, isn’t it?
No. It’s not always easy. Some days it’s easier than others. Some days you float along, your feet beating out a steady rhythm, as the miles glide by without effort. On other days, every step seems to drain your energy and you wonder why on earth you’re doing this. For fun? Pah!
I’ve been thinking about what makes an easy walk, and what makes a difficult walk.
Sometimes it’s the terrain. Thick mud, hard climbs, overgrown paths and high stiles can all be energy sapping. I’m not particularly fit and I walk slowly. But if I pace myself and take plenty of breaks, I can deal with most obstacles – with a bit of patience and perseverance.
For me, the main factor is monotony.
If every twist and turn brings a new view, whether it’s across the sea or across the countryside, I find the miles slip by without me really noticing. But if the route is straight and takes me through a landscape with nothing interesting to look at… well, then every 100 yards can seem to take 100 years.
Cycle routes along old railway lines, for example, can be torturous to walk along. Especially if they are buried down in the base of cuttings or surrounded by high hedges. Physically challenging? Certainly not. Mentally exhausting? Yes, definitely.
There are other things that make my walks difficult: getting lost, brambles and nettles, fierce cows, yappy dogs, mud and slurry, etc. But, for me, it’s monotony that creates the main challenge.
I wonder if other walkers feel the same? Or is it just me?