WALK­ING SPE­CIAL Walk­ing soothes my soul, says tv’s Kate Hum­ble

TV broad­caster Kate Hum­ble has just writ­ten a book on the joys of walk­ing. Here she tells Char­lotte Wil­liamson about her most mem­o­rable jour­neys – and why she some­times walks in Crocs…

Woman & Home - - In This Issue… - think­ing on my Feet by Kate Hum­ble (Aster) is out now

Kate Hum­ble craves the great out­doors. She’s sup­posed to be stay­ing in a ho­tel in east Lon­don, but couldn’t face it. “i know it’s trendy but i looked at a map and saw no green spa­ces.” in­stead, she’s moved to Not­ting Hill so she can walk around the park each day.

Her love of ev­ery­thing out­doorsy, and in par­tic­u­lar her pas­sion for walk­ing, is re­vealed in her new book, Think­ing on My Feet: The Small Joy of Putting One Foot in Front of An­other. It’s a lyri­cal record of her walks from the big (the

Wye Val­ley Walk, which took nine days) to the daily ones that are as “es­sen­tial to me feel­ing good for the rest of the day as that first cup of tea.”

Kate grew up in bray, berk­shire, and started in tele­vi­sion as a run­ner then a re­searcher be­fore her po­ten­tial on the other side of the cam­era was spot­ted. she’s now best-known for pre­sent­ing pro­grammes such as Spring­watch, Lamb­ing Live and Back to the Land with Kate Hum­ble. Kate lives on a small­hold­ing in trel­lech in the Wye Val­ley with her hus­band, ludo. Walk­ing is a form of med­i­ta­tion – there’s def­i­nitely a con­nec­tion be­tween the rhythm of your feet and how your brain works. It’s re­ally im­por­tant for me to have at least one walk a day; I find it very sooth­ing. If I’m at home in Wales, it’s of­ten with my dogs badger, bella and teg. I don’t take my phone as I’d rather al­low my thoughts to wander.

there’s a very hack­neyed phrase: “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.” It’s true! Hav­ing dogs means you have to go out in all weather. I re­mem­ber one walk after there had been an ice storm and it was just so cold, like some­thing out of Bat­man where ev­ery­thing was frozen. and I thought, “Well, I could have missed this.” I’m so glad I didn’t. i’m a to­tal kit whore. out­door cloth­ing and kit shops are like porn for me. I do a lot of walk­ing in wellies – there are some bril­liant ones now with proper soles, and prop­erly in­su­lated. and proper wool socks – you can’t beat them. but also, and here’s a ter­ri­ble ad­mis­sion – I have a pair of Crocs flip-flops that are the most un­sexy things. but I’ve walked miles in them – they’re re­ally good walk­ing flip-flops.

My favourite win­ter walk is on the Gower Penin­sula in South Wales. my hus­band and I don’t re­ally do Christ­mas Day so we’ll go walk­ing there in­stead with sausage sand­wiches. one Christ­mas Day we walked along oxwich bay and it was like the Caribbean – un­in­ter­rupted blue skies and golden sands with only two or three other peo­ple on the beach.

Some­times when you’re walk­ing, you can have the most won­der­ful en­coun­ters. on one of our Christ­mas Day walks we could see a knot of peo­ple com­ing along the beach. as we got closer, we re­alised one of them was a man in a wheel­chair who was whizzing around the beach. It was the most joy­ful image – of free­dom and gay aban­don, of him al­most danc­ing. the next year we saw them again, and I went up to say hello. then a few months later I got an email from the man in the wheel­chair’s carer who said, “I just wanted to say my pa­tient en­joyed meet­ing you and I thought I’d tell you a lit­tle more about him. He’s called Pro­fes­sor nigel stott – he was an amaz­ing doc­tor, he got a Cbe for pri­mary care, and had been in the olympic sail­ing team.” and then he’d had a cat­a­strophic stroke, which had put him in the wheel­chair. He asked if we’d be com­ing back that Christ­mas be­cause he’d love to see us again. and

It can lead to the most won­der­ful en­coun­ters

now meet­ing nigel has be­come part of our Christ­mas tra­di­tion.

i’ve al­ways had wan­der­lust. aged three, my par­ents dis­cov­ered me a mile from home walk­ing along the road with a wheel­bar­row. mum says I have an in­her­ent rest­less­ness.

i ab­so­lutely love maps. ord­nance sur­vey is one of the most bril­liant things. there’s no other coun­try I know of that has as de­tailed and cheap maps. I spread them out on the kitchen ta­ble – I love look­ing at them and plan­ning routes.

i don’t like Ken­dal Mint cake. my favourite walk­ing snacks are nuts, nakd bars and baby­bel cheese – and I’ll never say no to an ap­ple.

i tend to be very op­ti­mistic about the hu­man race. last year I did the Wye Val­ley Walk on my own with my dog, teg. one day I hadn’t seen any­one else for hours, then up ahead I could see a man with his hood up and a very big dog. I sud­denly felt very vul­ner­a­ble. I de­cided to just say hello and not act scared. the two of us ended up hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion – he was on the run be­cause his dog had at­tacked some­one and he thought the po­lice were go­ing to put his dog down. there was some­thing amaz­ing about him – he just loved this dog. and he said, “I’m just go­ing to keep walk­ing un­til I can’t walk any more.” I re­mem­ber say­ing, “I re­ally do think you’re go­ing to be oK.” and I re­ally hope he is oK.

there are so many walks i’d love to do. a lo­cal one is across the bre­con beacons, about 100 miles long. I love the idea of walk­ing for re­demp­tion. there’s an amaz­ing route that goes through nor­way called st olav Ways. and one that starts in Devon then you get a boat and walk along the west coast of France to spain. I get the feel­ing that one day, like For­rest Gump,

I might just start walk­ing

– and never stop! w&h

For Kate, walk­ing in the coun­try­side is now an ev­ery­day part of her life

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