I have always enjoyed walking well apart for a brief stroppy time in my late teens when I remember going round Ullswater in the Lake District moaning like mad at my poor parents who had taken my sister and I there for a family short break before I went to University. I regret the strop I had to this day and every time I have done the walk since I have cringed at the point just after Howtown that I really let rip! Still can’t have been to bad as my parents went on to buy a house in Glenriding by Ullswater so I didn’t put them off.
Nor me to be honest apart from this brief strop walking has been the one constant exercise in my life that has remained central to my wellbeing. Some of my happiest times of my childhood is remembering walks on Arran during our October weeks holiday when I got up early and walked Snoopy our cocker spaniel. I can still picture the walks above Corrie looking out to the Firth of Clyde and then when we switched to staying in Lochranza the walk along the front there smelling the peat from the smoking chimnies and feeling the relaxation that only an island can bring. Walking was also my way of relaxing during school exam times too and many of my memories of walking in Glasgow is of the walk from Park School in Lynedoch Terrace to Central Station via Bath street when Glasgow was the centre of my world. It is still one of the reasons I know the city so well to this day and why Glasgow always has a special place in my heart.
Then it was Edinburgh’s turn for me to pound the city streets firstly as a student walking across the meadows to classes and seeing the seasons change or walks across the city to get to where ever I was going. So again I got to know a city by walking around it and by the time my student days were over and I was married, living in Morningside and working in the city centre walking was instilled in me as the best way to get round Edinburgh. On a winter’s evening I can still see the lights of Morningside in front of me on a Friday night and that feeling that I was coming home to my own village or part of the world for the weekend. Even when we moved to the suburbs of Craiglockhart I continued to walk to work and although I wasn’t as keen on suburbia as Morningside living I did like walking along the canal to and from work.
But I kinda of took walking for granted it was so much part of my life that when I got a job in the Scottish Borders and started commuting I didn’t notice I didn’t have time to walk until it showed quite clearly on my waistline! But at this point we moved to St Boswells and not long afterwards I got pregnant so even more expansion of my waistline. Post the birth of my daughter I did walk lots with her in the pram and then later we explored the Borders with her on the back pack. Our daughter soon learnt to walk and she too seemed to love it from her first step. I have very clear memories of a holiday in Minorca when we had to take turns to eat, read or relax whilst the other walked her up and down as she discovered that walking was fun! However before we could take advantage of this our son was born and we discovered walking any distance with a toddler and baby is impossible or if there is a solution we didn’t find it. So we both took up running and although I am very proud to have done the Great North Run and the Glasgow and Manchester 10k’s not to mention the Jedburgh half marathon. I have to confess running lacked what I like in walking. Walking you can do alone and it gives you time to think and sort out your thoughts or even try some creative thinking. Running I am too busy trying to catch my breath and work out how far I can respectably go before I have a rest. Walking is a social activity where as running even with a partner you are either the faster one or in my case the slower one and conscious that you are holding the fast one up.
So we were delighted when our son turned four and started to develop an interest in walking which we fully took advantage of and walks along the Tweed are now a mainstay of a Sunday afternoon. As are the delights of re finding the Lake Land Fells. We have re discovered Place Fell, Gowbarrow Circuit and yes even the walk around Ullswater. Last year in the Isle of Man we walked part of the coastal route from Port St Mary to Port Erin and it was one of the best days of the holiday if not the year for me.
Plus in getting back to walking I have made friends in St Boswells. I am by nature a shy person and far happy to spend time with my immediate family . But I couldn’t say no to a friend in the village who asked if I would walk with her round the village after we had dropped the kids to school. There are now up to four of us who walk regularly and I have made some really good friends as a result. Plus I have to credit these walks and these friends for getting me through a particularly stressful time last autumn. They didn’t know but seeing life through their eyes and their friendship and acceptance of me plus the daily exercise kept me smiling on many an occassion. We are still walking this year and the owner of the St Boswells Post Office says in St Boswells the women in the village walk the boundaries of the village each day in true Border tradition.
My love of walking was one of the reasons that I wanted to get a dog as having re discovered walking I know unless you fit it into your life it is very easy to become a couch potato and walking for me is the best and most enjoyable exercise there is. You have to do that with a dog even on a day like today where there is torrential rain and I would rather stay in doors.
This weekend I spent alot of time walking and two walks made me think I should write about how it is good for the soul. Firstly a walk with my son first thing on Sunday morning when we didn’t talk much but just enjoyed each others company and the world around us. Sometimes with scenery as good as we have on our door step there is no need for words. Secondly I finally climbed the three brethern this weekend and as we sat at the top looking out to the Southern Uplands I realised that I had three very happy people beside me plus one chirpy pup. The Borders is under rated for many things in my view and I wish more people visited this wonderful part of the world but it is certainly under rated for the walks it gives and the ability that it has of giving you the feeling that God has given you the best gift on earth. The ability to enjoy this fantastic landscape.
So like many areas of my life I haven’t always been fully committed to walking but when I reflect on it when I have walked I feel the better for it and not just on my waistline but also mentally and spiritually.