Found on foot
many artists and poets; and an enhanced ‘attunement’ to nature, an awareness not just of our place in the world, but the world’s place in us. If this list is in any way valid, and I believe that it is, then it maps extraordinarily neatly onto the whole experience of walking in the countryside alone. I get a sense of joyfulness, beauty and well-being that not much else gives me. Walking with others is fun, but walking alone is blissful.
The case against such activity, apart from the disapproval that some people seem to feel about anyone choosing to do anything alone is that it is dangerous – that solo walkers put themselves at risk and cause distress to themselves and anxiety to others. You probably do not have a greater chance of falling or getting lost on your own, but the consequences are potentially more serious. I do accept that and believe the risks are worth mitigating – if I am going off the beaten track I leave a note on my front door or the dashboard of my car saying where I am heading and when I expect to be back. (I also carry a lighter so could create a smoke column, but have never had to do so.) But mitigation is enough for me. Life is a risky business – and some things are worth the risk: like love, courage and a hen harrier hunting low on the slope below you as you walk a high windblown ridge with the views dropping away on both sides in silence and solitude and joy. Arctic Terns, those elegant little sea birds with black caps and red legs, who will dive bomb you with sufficient vigour to draw blood during their nesting season, travel up to 59,000 miles (more than twice round the earth) on their annual migration, the longest on record. MARCH 2017