Last week I drove a hundred miles in the dark to see some women's underwear and be hugged by a series of very friendly women in t-shirts with bras on the front. It was, as you can imagine, a kind of pleasure overload, which will explain the state of manic high gloss I have achieved in the picture. At times I didn’t know where to look, but I did know what to say – and it can be pretty accurately approximated as ‘Isn't walking brilliant? And isn't it brilliant how brilliant walking is at changing people’s lives?’ Because this was a launch event for the London 2018 Moon Walk – run by Walk the Walk, the charity which has raised and distributed an astonishing £121m among cancer causes. I’ve noticed Moon Walkers and #walk1000milers exhibit a lot of the same symptoms of ecstatic life-improvement, and if ever there were an organisation to match our own for enthusiasm for all things Shanks's pony, this pink-clad powerhouse is it. Which is why we’re so thrilled to be working to support each other for next year’s challenges (more on which in due course). I could have nattered to founder Nina all night about the 1000-mile completers who keep crossing the finish line aglow and with arms-full of stories of what walking has done for them (and there’s more of that in the new issue and the newsletter too). I was of course prattling to the converted. But if Walk the Walk is intent on changing the world through walking, #walk1000miles’ ambitions are in one sense at least more local. One life at a time, one step at a time. That’s our world. The journey starts outside your front door, destination unknown – but all the signs are it's wonderful. Pass it on.
The new edition's in shops today and it’s...
The official club mag of #walk1000miles and #walk500miles! Are you in it? Click the cover to order a single copy with free P&P or subscribe and get 13 issues for less and £3819.85’s-worth of OS mapping free. (Your Country Walking subscription now comes with free premium access to OS Maps on your tablet, phone and computer. That's every single sheet of Landranger and Explorer mapping – currently on sale from the OS at the discounted price of £1238.77 and £2536.08 respectively.)
PS – this is our cover illustrator Steve, when the new issue arrived in the office. A prouder dad you never did see!
We love autumn! Some of our favourite autumn pics submitted by you
...and there are many more in the new issue
Have you finished? This lot have!
And there are hundreds more of you every week. What should you do now? We've a few suggestions...
Watch the month's best-of video compilation
Featuring stop-motion! Catchy tunes! Dancing! A certain amount of wind noise!
Thanks for the inspiration!
'I lost my desk job and was devastated'
Katherine Taylor, 55, from Shefford, Bedfordshire
Two years ago I had a desk-bound job working for a local police force. I was devastated. But I decided to turn my hobby of designing and making silver jewellery into a small business and at the same time started walking two miles early each morning. Three months later I took up nordic walking and #walk1000miles and now do up to six sessions each week plus my early morning walks. I also walk to as many places as I can rather than take my car.
I walk in all weathers and always in walking boots or all-terrains trainers. Two years ago I wouldn't have been seen dead in anything less than a suit and heels!!
I feel fabulous! I've lost two stone in weight and feel significantly more alert. It's not all plain sailing though. I have problems with my left foot – multiple sprains to the ankle, two fractured metatarsals and a Morton's neuroma. But with the right footwear I can overcome any discomfort.
My life and business is timed around walking. My husband also loves it so we regularly head out together for a brisk 8 or 10 miles. I relish that time with him now that the children have moved away – we can walk and talk about everything. A day without walking isn't nice at all and thankfully seldom happens!
I love the #walk1000miles community. It's so supportive, incredibly friendly and the photos are stunning. I find inspirational stories every day and I always try to comment on those that particularly inspire me. I'd recommend everyone to take a deep breath and have a go. Every step walked is one more than sat on the sofa! And though I love the Lake District for walking I also appreciate walking straight from my front door.
'I'm doing the challenge with a broken pelvis'
Zoe Summers, 29, is a health care assistant from Plymouth.
In March 2016 I fell off a horse and broke my pelvis in two places. Despite best efforts, it didn't heal and in January 2017 – when I'd just started #walk1000mile – I was put on the waiting list for surgery to plate and screw my pelvis back together. So up until the day of my surgery, at the beginning of April, I had been doing my best to complete this challenge with a broken pelvis, the later stages with the aids of my crutches.
I was determined not to let my injuries beat me. I wanted to use the challenge as a way of building up the supporting muscles to help ease my discomfort. Sadly, my pain got worse, but I like to think my determination stayed for the most part and as soon as I had my surgery, I was eager to be able to get back to the challenge.
I’m currently on 402 miles so I know I'm not going to make the 1000 this year. But I'm hopeful for between 500-600 boots-on miles by the end of December. Since May, I have been steadily increasing my walk distances, as advised by my consultant to try and build up the muscles around my pelvis and the new plate and screws. At my last check up in September, things were much the same with little improvement so am still restricted to what I can do – still no walking up mountains for me! But I do feel stronger in myself, both mentally and physically from getting out walking every day, especially as it’s one of the things I can still do that’s “normal” for me!
Everyone in the group is so supportive of each other. I think it's very rare to find that nowadays. I find the pictures and stories great motivation to go and explore other parts of the UK and I would love to do the national 3 peaks – just not in the same day! I had them all planned for last year before my accident happened, so I'm looking forward to be able to plan them again. I'd also love to do the Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro and trek in Nepal at some point.
Whatever's going on in your life never give up! Despite what's going on, try and see the positives, sometimes they're extremely hard to find – but they're there!
'I was at rock bottom'
Dawn Fletcher, 49, is a psychiatric nurse living on Anglesey.
I used to love walking and climbed Snowdonia's mountains and walking long stretches of Anglesey's coastal path on my own. But just over two years ago my partner was told he needed a liver transplant to live and our world changed. I just stopped walking as I became a carer and hospital companion. We were so fortunate in that Andy didn't have to wait long for a transplant and in November 2015 it happened. It hasn't been plain sailing for Andy, but he is a remarkable person and very soon was able to get back to a normal life, despite health set backs and hospital visits. I couldn't. I felt lost and unmotivated, nothing seemed to make me happy any more. In addition I'd lost my fitness, put on weight and my self confidence was rock bottom.
Then I saw the #walk1000miles challenge on Facebook and bought Country Walking Magazine. I remember thinking "I can do this" but the first time I put my boots back on and had a pre challenge walk of 2 miles I was out of breath and shattered. It was a shock.
Gradually the fitness improved and the distances I could walk increased. Walks alone gave me time to reflect, time to switch off from the negativity and fear, and tune into the beautiful world around me. When a couple of old friends got back in touch to ask if I wanted to Walk Offas Dyke next year I said "Yes". I would never have had the confidence nine months ago. Getting out walking can be tough, but the 1000 mile goal and seeing the amazing achievements of others in the community keeps me going.
This challenge is helping me rediscover who I am. Im not the same me as before but thats absolutely fine. I am happier, content with who I am and more motivated. Of course I’m also much fitter. There are so many people with amazing and inspiring stories in this group. I love seeing other places that people are walking in and reading about the meet ups. It's a great source of information and motivation. And I'm really looking forward to the future now. That would have been difficult to say a year ago.
'I thought I'd have to give up walking'
David Maughan, 65 from York
Several years ago I was diagnosed with early arthritis in one hip. It was a bit of a shock as walking has been a major part of my life, having completed over 50 long-distance walks, written and had published a coast to coast guide book, and currently writing a walking blog. The first instinct was to stop and rest. But I soon found that made the arthritis worse and more painful.
So I carried on walking. And in fact I've managed it successfully since, still walking up to 15 miles in a day. The main change is that I no longer walk consecutive days with a backpack. Otherwise, I enjoy and appreciate my walking more than ever. Since joining the 1,000 mile group this year I've completed 851 miles by increasing and doing more short walks of 3-4 miles around my village to add to the weekly 10-15 mile walks I do each week. My main ambition is to keep walking........
When I started walking longer distances in the 1990s it was thought to be a little eccentric. But it’s great to see so many people are now enjoying its health benefits in the 1,000 mile challenge. My mother was a walker all her life and is now 94!
If I don't walk I don't enjoy life so much. Most of my close friends are also walkers. I love blogging and writing about my walks, including many photographs, as it brings the enjoyment of the walk back. It would be nice to think that my experiences of walking might encourage others to take up this wonderful activity. We all need a little distraction from the regular bad news on our TVs.
I'm now on my 52nd long-distance walk. There are lots to tackle in lovely Yorkshire. I’m not getting any younger and may have to reduce my mileage a little. I already have a library of shorter walks for the future, including many from Country Walking.
I am thoroughly enjoying all the conversations and posts on the 1,000 mile group. After so many years of walking I just want others to take it up and have similar great experiences to me. My advice to newcomers is always the same. Keep walking and keep within your limits and build up your fitness gradually. It is a lifetime activity not something you need to rush at.
• Have you got an inspiring story to tell about your journey to 1000 miles? Do you know someone who has? Here’s the link to our Q&A.
Treat yourself with 17% off all our 2017 t-shirts, mugs and hoodies
Use the code WALK17 at checkout before midnight on Monday.
12 funny signs you've found out walking
Seen an unusual sign? Post your find in the Facebook group using the hashtag #unusualsign, and we'll print our favourites in the mag. You'll be literally a bit famous, in your house!
Top 10 posts of the month
Click the pics to see the posts in full...
10) a transformation turbocharged by walking
9) group record-keeping volunteer star susan hit 1500!
8)Donna just walked her 1000th consecutive 5-mile day
7)'This time last year I was a total couch potato!'
6)from a cardiac arrest in cineworld to 1227 miles by september!
5) '500 miles. 42 days since I left home. can't believe I'm here'
4) Gareth just did his first marathon in 4h 31m in memory of his brother
3) 'I was 20st and couldn't walk without crutches. Now I'm lighter, happier & doing a job I love'
2)'On 31st december 2016 I made a pledge...'
1) Incredible shrinking man of the month! Bob's lost 5 stone since January.
And finally... what it was like when we rode the world's fastest zip-wire, in Snowdonia. Just because.
Oh, and did you know?
You walk faster than Venus spins (at least, when you're really pushing on). While earth spins at 1040mph, Venus rotates at a sedate 4mph. That also means a day on Venus is just under 117 earth-days long. If you read this far, perhaps you'd consider using the word 'Venus' in the Facebook group. Market research, innit.