And why shouldn't it! Walking has huge health benefits... Apparently Hippocrates had worked that out over 2,000 years ago, allegedly stating that "Walking is a man's best medicine." This had seemingly been forgotten for many years, perhaps just because people were more active in the past; without the convenience of cars or the abundance of seated hobbies and ways of passing time. In the last decade or so though we have seen a plethora of studies and research done on what most people that are active know anyway... It makes you feel good! Mind, body and soul. The exercise, open spaces and wildlife. I often find myself smiling as I walk along listening to the birds chattering or just observing nature and the landscapes around me. However I feel as I start a walk, as long as I'm dressed for the weather, my mood will lift and lighten. Green spaces in particular are best for those living under the heavy cloud of mental health issues. Being in touch with the natural world lifts the weight of life's worries.
According to a study of 334,000 people done by the University of Cambridge, just 20 minutes a day cuts your risk of a premature death by over 30%. Walking briskly for 25 - 30 minutes a day lowers your blood pressure, fights the onset of dementia and cognitive decline, cuts your risk of dying from certain forms of cancer and reduces the chances of you suffering a cardiovascular event (such as a heart attack). Remember you don't have to start by walking briskly, you can build up to that in time, even a stroll has benefits. It will help manage weight, improve the flexibility and strength of joints, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, increase good cholesterol, boost your immune system and release 'feel good' endorphins, among so many more good things. And what's more it's free!
The walks that come for free with our Cornwall Walks greeting cards are ones we walk regularly. However, plants grow, rainwater creates gullies and paths get worn. We will never knowingly send out a walk that's not up to scratch; where there are regularly occurring issues we have tried to provide alternate routes. The walks detailed are not overly strenuous but there are parts where a certain level of mobility and fitness is required. It is the responsibility of those undertaking these walks that they can meet these demands and to exercise due care and consideration to all members of their party.
We have not designed the walks to be once a year affairs but rather ones that you can do every day or every week. All of our current walks are in Mid and West Cornwall. We are working on a few others a little further afield but they take time to perfect and different seasons to fully appreciate the going underfoot and the hazards. Our walks do overlap to a small degree and intercept one another. This is done intentionally so that you can join walks together to create longer ones, or just to give you the confidence in the area to brave new paths. From experience I can tell you that you can find fantastic new walks by doing this. You can also find complete duds; impassably overgrown and mud up to your eyeballs! In order to appreciate dry feet one must first have had wet ones!
The length of the walks is given in time because that is the measure I use. It is a rough guide only and does not include exploration time if the area is new to you, so please always ensure you leave yourself a little more time than you think the first time you undertake one.
It's also a good idea, particularly when you're with children to take a backpack with drinks and snacks. And please, please pick up after yourselves and especially after your dog.
I know; one foot in front of the other... Except it depends what's on those feet and where you expect them to walk. I advise against the wearing of flip flops, crocs, sandals and anything that you'd wear out for the evening! 99% of the time I wear hiking boots; I like the ankle support they give and the fact I don't have to worry about mud. If I know the paths well and it's completely dry I will sometimes wear trainers. So whilst I recommend hiking boots, sturdy trainers and wellies will do on most occasions.
The Countryside Code, plain and simple is:
Respect other people:
consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors
leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available
Protect the natural environment:
leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
keep dogs under effective control
Enjoy the outdoors:
plan ahead and be prepared
follow advice and local signs
Please be aware that:
Old mine buildings and ruins can have unexpected drops and when the undergrowth is rampant these can be hidden.
Loose stones and uneven paths are tricky to traverse, especially on a downhill slope, so take extra care.
Paths that are normally lovely can become ridiculously slippery and squelchy after just a small amount of rain.
The same goes for stiles, both granite and wooden, for which the consequences can be far more unpleasant than a muddy backside.
Coastlines and quarries feature on our walks and do not always have fences around the drops or deep water so please take extra care when near.
The only officially dangerous creature we have in Cornwall is the adder. This snake can be well hidden under rocks, in woodlands and on heathlands. I have not seen a single one on any of these walks but I have heard them on occasion. My advice is always to make a good amount of noise to scare them away before you get close. They have no interest in you and will only bite if they feel threatened. Billie and I sing a 'snakey song' whenever we go along a path through densely covered heath, feel free to create your own!
There are other animals that when provoked or rattled can react dangerously. Always stay clear of cows with calves and horses with foals, especially with dogs. Young animals can behave boisterously so I would advise not to enter a field with kids and/ or dogs if the livestock is showing a lot of interest in you. If you hadn't noticed them and suddenly find yourself cornered, release your dog if not already, try to stay calm, stand squarely and face them. Then walk quietly towards the nearest exit. The Countryside Codes states 'It’s always good practice (and a legal requirement on ‘open access’ land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses... However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead – don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.'
Road safety. Please walk on the right, facing the oncoming traffic. That way if they don't see you, you will still see them and have a chance to get out of the way. The only exception I have is around a blind bend when I will walk on the outside of the bend keeping a listen out for traffic behind me. When visibility is limited in any way I wear a neon tabard. It may not be the height of fashion but I'd rather be safe.
You are responsible for your own health and safety. Please take care and enjoy your walk!