THE GREAT OUT­DOORS

One of the sim­plest ways to stay fit is to get out and walk. For­tu­nately in Bri­tain there are 2,500 miles of Na­tional Trails through some of the loveli­est coun­try­side in the world

British Travel Journal - - Contents - Words | Adrian Mourby

Dis­cover Na­tional Trails through some of the loveli­est coun­try­side in the world

WALK­ING IS GOOD FOR US. When Bill Bryson made his epic jour­ney along the Ap­palachian Trail, he was de­lighted by not only how much wis­dom he gained, but by how much weight he lost. Wil­liam Wordsworth used to tramp around the Lake District all day com­pos­ing poems in his head be­fore writ­ing them down at home. Rousseau and Dick­ens both cov­ered great dis­tances on foot specif­i­cally in or­der to think. Our minds and bod­ies ben­e­fit from get­ting out into the coun­try­side, sniff­ing the air and tak­ing in the scenery.

It's only when the Bri­tish try hik­ing in other coun­tries that we re­alise how very blessed this nation is with its Na­tional Trails and rights of ac­cess for walk­ers. There are fif­teen of these ma­jor routes es­tab­lished by the Na­tional Trust and they are sacro­sanct. No one can build their new house across a trail or take pot shots at you for tres­pass­ing on their land. All these routes are clearly marked with their own sig­nage or the Na­tional Trust acorn sym­bol so you won't get lost. Best of all, fol­low­ing these paths means you get to visit some beau­ti­ful vil­lage pubs and stay at some lovely ho­tels too.

Criss-cross­ing Bri­tain's Na­tional Trails there are smaller lo­cal routes. Take an Ord­nance Sur­vey map out into the Bri­tish coun­try­side and you'll be amazed how of­ten routes split off and sub­di­vide, of­fer­ing a seem­ingly in­fi­nite num­ber of ways to get from A to B and back again.

See­ing Bri­tain on foot is the best way to ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­tra­or­di­nary ge­o­graph­i­cal va­ri­ety in this coun­try. From broad river-val­leys to dense, de­cid­u­ous wood­land, from hill­top forts to wild heath­land to flat­lands that run all the way to the sea, each Bri­tish county looks so dif­fer­ent from its neigh­bours. And by the end of the day you'll be feel­ing a lot fit­ter too.

The hill fort of Bri­tish Camp in the Malvern Hills, an Iron Age fort and ex­ten­sive earth­works

IMAGES Left-right: The White Horse at Uff­in­g­ton; The Grey­hound Inn, Let­combe Regis; ncom­ing tide at Bran­caster Staithe on the North Nor­folk coast; The hill fort of Bri­tish Camp in the Malvern Hills, an Iron Age fort and ex­ten­sive earth­works; The Cot­tage in the Wood, Malvern.

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