When you walk, do you wander or do you follow a prescribed route?
I like discovering new walks and become very fond of particular known walks. I don’t at all mind doing the same walks over and over, and noticing how different light, times of day and seasons change them for me. I especially like being able to walk from home. I walk avidly in the spring to local bluebell woods, in summer along the wild rose hedgerows and in autumn to the same hedgerows now full of plums – but I’m always aware of how destination-minded I am, and how rarely I’m able to be there in the present for the entire journey without periodically checking where I am in relation to where I think I want to get to; and whether I’m on the outward journey or homebound.
I find it very uncomfortable, maybe almost impossible, to just go unless I’m away somewhere with time on my hands. I don’t like it when I don’t know broadly how long or far I’ll be walking. There’s a fear of getting lost or maybe of losing my energy somewhere in the middle – especially if I don’t know where or when the middle is! I think this is because walking is usually framed by other elements in my day; and a sense of commitments or responsibilities pending. If I were to give myself up to walking, it might be a different story.
I really dislike using a map, and when I do I usually end up somewhere different anyway. I find it interrupts the journey. I’m lazy and I like someone I trust to give me a broad overview of the way or to guide me, although I can get very impatient with my guide and even treat them badly. I like it best when I know the route without having to consult something outside of me. When I’m confident enough of my bearings I vary the route – even if only slightly – and so make discoveries. I often get a little lost and end up trespassing, sometimes with my heart in my mouth should I get caught but always hopeful I’ll be let off for an unpremeditated offence.
While walking with others can be enjoyable, I prefer the silence and pace of being on my own. I find it much more relaxing and I’m more able to be comfortable in myself in the landscape.
I’m not usually ambitious in my walking. Ambition puts a barrier between me and the experience of being there.
Do I always need to have a destination? I think I’m always moving towards something – the end of the walk, a pleasurable experience such as the bluebells etc – and not just moving. Is that a kind of ambition? Well, I’m not moving away from something at least. I don’t walk to get away from where I start, though I do sometimes walk to clear my mind and change my mood. And I do, nearly always, get pleasure from returning.
I’m wondering how much an approach to walking can reveal about an approach to living. Intuitively I feel it should be revealing. What do you walkers out there think?