Outside Opinion: Walking Home (with apologies to Simon Armitage)

Regular Country Walking readers will know I�m a fan of linear walks. When time is limited you can see more scenery and traverse a greater variety of terrain in a 10-mile route from A to B than a circular walk that starts and finishes in the same place.

There�s also a greater sense of purpose and adventure on a linear journey and with barely nine hours of daylight to play with at the moment, every second counts.

I�ve exhausted pretty much all the circular routes within comfortable walking distance of my house and while I never tire of watching the changes in the landscape as the seasons unfold, stomping across the same footpaths and bridleways while the countryside hibernates under winter�s chilly cloak can pall.

Then, one bright wintery morning, I stumbled over a solution. Instead of setting out from home, I turned the whole process on its head. Grabbing the Explorer map of the largely rural terrain within a 10-mile radius of our humble abode, I persuaded a slightly baffled Mrs S to drop me off in the middle of nowhere.

I�m familiar with the broader lie of the land from travelling across the same terrain by car and bike, but I don�t have the intimate knowledge of the paths and tracks as those closer to home. So mapwork is involved, but the objective is simple: find a way home cross-country with the bare minimum of road walking.

There�s just enough of a challenge to make it feel like a mini adventure and it�s fascinating to get a totally different perspective on places you thought you knew quite well.

Adopting this novel approach has really shaken up my winter walking routine and I�m enjoying exploring new routes. Some new favourites are beginning to emerge and I�m already making mental connections between familiar and less familiar paths to create longer circuits for the summer months.

There�s a glorious simplicity in pursuing just one navigational objective and a quiet sense of satisfaction as you arrive back at your front door, because as everybody knows, the best journey in the world is the one that takes you home.


Do you agree with Mark? Share your walking-home stories and comments below.


Do you have an opinion you'd like to share? Something you need to get off your chest? A rant you simply can't keep in any more? Send an email to ben.weeks@lfto.com and your thoughts could be blogged here.