Walking too fast

Published 16 July 2014

Runner on the Thames Path

By far the most popular sections of this website is the “Planning a Trip” section. In a way this is slightly disappointing given the work I put into the rest of the site, but that’s the way it is. Besides, the Amazon links on the planning articles help pay the bills for the web server, so I can’t argue too much.

I only ever write a planning article for a walk after I’ve done it myself; it’s a core principle I have. I want each one to include information based on the experiences I’ve had. At the end of each one I invite people to ask me questions – partly because I’m nice and partly because the comments often give me good ideas for how to extend and improve the articles, to make them more useful for others.

The questions and comments I get can be varied, but a regular theme is “Can I walk this walk in [insert some insanely fast speed here]?”

My reaction is quiet raise of eyebrows, followed by a “Why on earth would you want to?” said to myself, before I get down to the matter of replying.

The reason for my reaction is that I simply don’t understand why you would want to do a long distance walk, and rush through it. For me the joys of walking are the chance to slow down life.

We rush around so much in our lives. From the hasty breakfast before zooming off to work, through to the manic dash round the supermarket in order to get something for tea. There’s so little time for the slow life, and even when we try to create some, it doesn’t always happen.

Yet walking forces it upon us. There is no choice but to reduce our speed, to relax and to enjoy. All of a sudden we can’t do things quickly. That ten minute drive between two villages, suddenly takes all day on foot.

And at a slower pace, you can take in the scenery; see sights you’d probably miss otherwise. Listen to the swishing of the crops in a field; look at the birds hovering ahead. And what finer way to spend some time can there be than sitting on top of a hill on a lovely summers day, taking in the view?

That for me is what walking is all about. And that’s why I won’t be rushing my walks any time soon.

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