“” I met a man who served in Afghanistan, was suf­fer­ing from PTSD and cured him­self by walk­ing.

Talk­ing walk­ing with ... KATE HUM­BLE The TV pre­sen­ter and na­ture lover re­veals the story be­hind her new book on walk­ing, and how trav­el­ling on foot helps her feel more con­nected with peo­ple and places…

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I live in an area of the UK where if you don't walk, you are wast­ing a land­scape that de­serves to be seen at that pace. I also have three de­mand­ing dogs, so I have to start my day on foot.

I soon re­alised I was walk­ing with an un­crowded mind: not wear­ing head­phones, not look­ing at the phone, just al­low­ing my­self to be a part of the land­scape. The other thing I dis­cov­ered is that these morn­ing walks do good things for the cre­ative part of the brain and your at­ten­tion span. Through walk­ing, some­thing that seems enor­mous and in­sur­mount­able sud­denly feels man­age­able. It might take sev­eral walks to dis­si­pate an anx­i­ety, but it works.

I mulled this over for a cou­ple of years, then I thought, ‘I want to turn this into a book'. It isn't a self-help book but it is about well­be­ing, so I sought out other peo­ple who walk for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. I met an artist who walks for in­spi­ra­tion, and a young woman who got ovar­ian can­cer at 30 and said walk­ing gave her back her iden­tity. I met a man who served in Afghanistan who was suf­fer­ing from PTSD and cured him­self by walk­ing, and I met a ther­a­pist in New York who walks his pa­tients around Cen­tral Park. In a funny way it is a book about trav­el­ling.

Do you get a sense of im­mer­sion when you walk?

I had a mo­ment when I walked 219km of the Wye Val­ley with my dog. I'd taken ev­ery­thing in a ruck­sack and had stayed in a cou­ple of B&BS, as it turns out you can't carry nine days' worth of dog food and a sleep­ing bag. Then a friend of mine came and did a day with me, but picked the time when I had the most ex­cru­ci­at­ing blis­ters on my feet. It was only a short walk – yet still 21km. It was ab­so­lute agony, but as we walked down to the river I heard this ‘beep' and said, ‘That's a king­fisher'. She told me that she'd never seen a king­fisher be­fore, so we stood still, looked at the branches along the river and watched it. She was so de­lighted, and in that lit­tle mo­ment I over­came the pain of walk­ing with blis­ters.

What hap­pens when you walk on your trav­els?

Walk­ing is a nice way to pick up the vibes of a place. I open the book with a story about be­ing in a re­mote bor­der town in Kenya. Ev­ery morn­ing I'd walk around this vil­lage – it was not a place where tourists go, so there were no other white peo­ple, cer­tainly not scruffy blondes wan­der­ing about at 6am. We were there for three weeks and I walked ev­ery day. Peo­ple started recog­nis­ing me. The woman on the cor­ner sell­ing goat milk would say hello, as would the guy sell­ing man­dazi (an East African dough­nut), and the boda-boda boys on their mo­tor­bikes would of­fer me lifts.

It made me feel I wasn't just vis­it­ing, but like I was in­vest­ing a bit of my­self in the com­mu­nity by hang­ing out and do­ing noth­ing in par­tic­u­lar.

Does walk­ing foster unique travel ex­pe­ri­ences?

One day af­ter film­ing, I de­cided I would walk back to the ho­tel. I set off and, within a few min­utes, Sam­son, one of the lo­cal se­cu­rity guys, came and caught me up. He usu­ally worked for the Pres­i­dent of Kenya and was not used to walk­ing. Any­way, we walked for two hours. He was in his san­dals and I was in my flip-flops, so we were not well equipped! And we talked about dif­fer­ent things. Walk­ing is an un­con­fronta­tional way to have a con­ver­sa­tion. It was about his fam­ily, his chil­dren and his job and stuff. I also had lots of other lovely in­sights into life in that ru­ral part of Kenya – you know, go­ing past some­body's hut and they've got their cooking pot and the kids are run­ning around, or they are ty­ing up their goats. It's those mo­ments that make you feel like you are part of their day. You are part of a land­scape.

Think­ing on My Feet (Aster, 2018; £20) by Kate Hum­ble is avail­able to buy now

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