Tag Archives: walking

Spring Tease

It was almost 60 degrees here Sunday and the respite from the damp and windy cold of an English winter was most welcome.

Matt and I have taken to going on walks on the weekends, although unlike our British neighbors who trek out rain or shine, we mostly stick with shine.  Cold we can bear, but Americans don’t embrace the rain the way the Brits do.

Yesterday, though.  So good.

We figure out a lot of our plans for the future while we’re walking.  Lots of parenting discussions and chats about selling our house and where we want to live when we move back to America in the summer and where we still want to travel before we leave Europe.  Long term plans about work and retirement and bucket list dreams get sorted out on these long walks.

This little church is just over two miles from our house.  We walk there and then turn around most days, although sometimes we keep going. 

It’s enough to get to walk and talk without distractions and phones and kids and chores, but when you get to do it on a sunny warm day at the end of January when the air smells like spring might actually be on the way, it’s just that much better.

(Spring is NOT on the way in England, but it’s nice to pretend for an afternoon.  It’s back to freezing today.)


People in England walk way more than people in America walk.  Most of the people in my village “take walks” for no other reason but to walk.  And they don’t walk on sidewalks, cause there aren’t any, or on the roads even – they walk on public footpaths.  There are signs all over the place pointing out public footpaths, which wind their way across the country.  But we have been here over 18 months and I am still scared to try it.  

My American fear of walking on someone else’s land makes me nervous.  The footpath signs show you where the paths begin off the side of the road, but they’re not clearly marked once you’re on them.  There are also public bridleways, which are not just for pedestrians, but also cyclists and people on horseback.  They all wind across open fields, through back yards, across roads, and although there are signs at junctions, I am just never sure where, exactly, I’m supposed to walk.  So I stay on the road for fear of doing it wrong.

I’m determined to give it a try though.  There are over 140,000 miles of public footpaths and bridleways in England and Wales and we’re only here for so long!

I set out last week on a walk, hoping to get the nerve up to venture off the road and onto the path.  As a warm-up, I walked on the grass along the road to where the footpath signs mark the junction near my house, rather than on the pavement.  Walking on grass changes your speed.  It also changes your ability to pay attention to other things — you’ve gotta keep an eye on the ground or you might trip.  It slowed me down, but made me more aware.  I think maybe that’s the point of walking those footpaths — it is not to make sure you get x-number of miles in, but that you enjoy and pay attention to the miles you do walk.

When I got to the beginning of the footpath, though, I chickened out.  I looked along the edge of the field where the sign pointed and it just was not clear to me where I was supposed to go.  So I stayed on the road.  I walked, but I’m not getting the full English-walking-footpath experience that way.  I’m going to ask my neighbor to meet me a few times and show me “the way” I think, so I can get a few accompanied walks under my belt and get brave enough to try a solo.

While in Rome, they say, do as the Romans do.  And so, while in England, I shall walk.  Off the beaten track.  Because that’s how it’s done.  I just have to find someone to teach me how.

Taking a Walk

B and Daddy walking

I remember taking walks with my family when I was little.  My sisters and I would ride our bikes or roller skate, going off ahead of my parents and circling back.  They walked and talked about stuff that didn’t register with me at age 10 — bills and cars and house stuff.  The stuff I talk about with Matt now. 

They probably chatted about other, cooler things too.  Just like Matt and I do, although my children, like I did when I was little, most likely cannot fathom that their parents would talk about anything cool.

According to this article from the BBC, going for a walk is a becoming a lost art.  In many places I think it might be, but not here in England.  No, here walking is like a religion.  Everyone walks.  They walk far.  They walk places I would most certainly drive.  They walk no matter what the weather — rain, wind, dark, cold.  I know for a fact that if I leave my house at a certain time of day to drive somewhere, I will pass specific people on my way out of the village.  I don’t know them.  But I know they walk, every day probably, at about the same time.  Some with dogs.  Some without.  Walking is a thing here.

The article says May is National Walking Month in the UK.  I can’t imagine that people here need a specific reason to celebrate the art of walking, but I can see why May might be the most lovely time to walk.  I can imagine how beautiful it will be here come Spring. 

Walking supposedly ignites creativity.  It’s good exercise.  It’s almost certainly time better spent than sitting on Pinterest pinning just one more amazing outfit I won’t buy or perfect kitchen I don’t have. 

We haven’t adopted this particular cultural pastime yet, but the weather is getting warmer and we’re all a lot more comfortable in our new surroundings.  The days are getting longer — they are SO short here in winter, but gratefully they lengthen quickly.  By summer I hear the sun won’t set until possibly after I’m in bed, never mind the children. 

A walk here and there sounds pretty good.

Also, this is one of the most beautiful walks I’ve ever taken, and this is pretty much the definitive book on purposeless walking.


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