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
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.