Walk this Way

It’s something most of us do without giving much thought – but walking is not just a handy way of getting from A to B, it can be a source of great pleasure and comes with huge benefits too

The act of putting one foot in front of the other comes pretty naturally to most of us and is something we’ve generally mastered by the time we’re about two years old. It allows us to control our destiny in as much as we can propel ourselves forward in a chosen direction, and for early man it was pretty much the only option. So whether we were trekking across the wilderness or hunting for food – we have relied on our ancient ambulatory skills since the beginnings of existence.

Unfortunately, the human being seems to be an inherently lazy beast. As soon as we could tame a horse to ride, we did it. Once we invented the wheel and worked out how to cover ground on a bicycle, we did it. And after launching the motor engine and spawning a global car industry that would transport us with minimal effort we embraced the sheer laziness of not having to walk anymore.

Nicety not necessity

Suddenly there was less of a need to walk – not a great thing for our health, but not

a bad thing for the act itself as even as far back as the 1860s, when steam trains were sneaking into existence and motor cars were still the stuff of science-fiction, walking became something of a hobby. Led by an American ‘famous pedestrian’ (which is not a title many people can lay claim to) Edward Payson Weston, the pastime of walking shot to popularity and Weston gained celebrity status for his walking habits, once being described as a ‘notable walkist’ when he walked 478 miles from Boston, Massachusetts to Washington DC in 10 days and 10 hours in 1861. He hit the headlines which spurred him to take on many more challenges and becoming a regular speaker on the benefits of taking a walk.

Walking has followed peaks and troughs of fashion, yet we have come back time and again to the simple pleasures of getting out in the fresh air, employing a little gentle exercise, and striding purposefully off on a walk. Walking has physical benefits but has also been shown to boost mental health with both the Department of Health and the MIND charity finding that regular walking improves mood, reduces anxiety, aids sleep and improves self-image. Plus it must be the most sustainable method of transport. So what’s not to like about a hike?

‘Anyone can walk. It’s free, like the sun by day and the stars by night. All we have to do is get on our legs, and the roads will take us everywhere.’

Edward Payson Weston

There is no shortage of walking routes across our region, and no reason to follow a path already trodden – so long as you are sensible you can head of on a walk wherever you like. To help, we’ve put together the following top five recommendations with a little help from the Ramblers’ Association

North Wales

Snowdon is the highest summit in England and Wales, ranked second only to Helvellyn in a recent ITV poll of the top 100 walks in Britain. With so many accessible routes up the mountain, it’s hard to know which to choose. Hike via Moel Eilio, Foel Gron, Foel Goch and Moel Cynghorion for a great walking challenge with stunning vistas as your rewards before heading back down the Llanberis Path.

North Wales

Not too far from Snowdon is Tryfan, a mountain in the Ogwen Valley which forms part of the Glyderau group. It is one of the most famous and recognisable peaks in Britain. Its classic pointed shape with rugged crags make it easily identifiable from miles. Tryfan offers an exhilarating climb and options for a proper grade one scramble if you head up the North Ridge taking in Adam and Eve and the Cannon Stone.

Gwynedd

If you want a bit of history and heritage with your walk then look no further than this fairytale-tastic walk around the Nant Gwynant valley. Discover the legend of Gelert and Prince Llywelyn along the way, which gave the village of Beddgelert its name and explore the tumbledown remnants of Gwytherin’s fortress at Dinas Emrys, with a great viewpoint over the valley. Ascend the famous Watkin Path out into the open fields and pass the ruins of Cwm Llan House and head towards Craflwyn, watching out for feral goats in the wooded glades.

Shropshire

The seven-mile Long Mynd is a picturesque heath and moorland plateau, cut by steep-sided valleys that form part of the Shropshire Hills. Walk it via Carding Mill valley, and enjoy incredible views before descending into Small Batch. The surrounding area is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Shropshire

The Stiperstones and Long Mynd can be tackled seperately or make a great full day hike if you combine the two as the eerie, jagged ridges of the Stiperstones cut along one edge of the Long Mynd. The Stiperstones have been the subject of many a myth and legend. The route also boasts spectacular long-range views into Wales.

For full maps and details of any of our walks, or to access to hundreds more and get advice from experts, visit the Ramblers’ website at

www.ramblers.org.uk

As soon as we start thinking of heading off on a walk we have to think about our route. Most of us have heard of public rights of way but do we actually know who can go where and when?

The government’s own website offers some clarification on the ‘right to roam’ rules and what they mean to walkers