The wonder of walking
Since Christmas our book club has been a little obsessed with reading about walking which, along with now having a dog, has inspired me to make 2019 the year I start walking more. The first book we read was Ben Fogle’s book Up, an account of his epic journey up Everest. We all enjoyed the adventure so much we then chose Raynor Winn’s best selling book The Salt Path – a heart-felt account of her wild-camping walk along the entire 630 mile length of the South West Coast Path with her husband Moth. If you haven’t read it I wholeheartedly recommend it.
It inspired me to join the South West Coast Path Organisation, who sent me a guidebook as part of my membership and my gorgeous friend Sarah kindly bought me the map, complete with colour-in trail so you can mark off sections of the trail as you do them. Their website has handy hints on what sections can be done as day trips, with children, as circular walks and so on. Perfect for trying a bit of the trail while holidaying in Devon. It passes by some of our favourite spots, including Branscombe (pictured below) and Beer on the East Devon coast, Thurlestone and Bantham in the South Hams, Croyde in North Devon and Gwythian and Godrevy in St Ives Bay in Cornwall. We can’t wait to get exploring places we’ve not yet been this year.
My mother-in-law gave me Kate Humble’s book Thinking on my Feet for Christmas, which contains a year’s worth of Kate’s diary entries documenting her walks and runs in various locations around the world and near her home in the Wye Valley. She muses on the health benefits, both physical and mental of walking, as well as giving a sensitive and knowledgable insight into the natural world’s changing seasons along the way, as you might expect from one of the presenters of Springwatch/Autumnwatch et al.
It’s a very gentle and easy-to-read book, it doesn’t really go anywhere other than for a nice ramble through nature, which I think is the point. Walking for me provides much needed headspace, time to reflect and get away from the endless to-do list at home for a while. It grounds me and connects me to the natural world around me, allowing all the senses to come alive and my brain to become calm but curiously at the same time to become creative. If you follow Halsbeer Farm on Facebook or Instagram you will often see images and video snippets from my walks – forest bathing, listening to the birds, basking in the sun for a second, things I’ve not noticed before and the English countryside in all its changing glory through the seasons.
As well as the South West Coast Path I’m looking forward to exploring Exmoor this year. My daughter Mia hopes to be selected to represent her school in the Exmoor Challenge (an orienteering adventure) and I hope to join her on some of her training walks, building up from 8 miles this week around Culmstock, to 12 miles and then 16 miles out on Exmoor. I plan to visit Dulverton myself too to take part in Number Seven Dulverton’s ingenious walking book club. In March they will be welcoming Tom Cox, author of 21st Century Yokel (a tale of Devon landscape and fokelore that I look forward to reading), along on their walk. In June it will be all about Lorna Doone, to celebrate the book’s 150th birthday and the landscape that inspired the book’s setting. Check out their website for details of the walks and to book.
I will be sharing walks we do from Halsbeer and in the surrounding area on Facebook and I plan to put together a new walking webpage in the coming month or so. We have plenty of books that suggest walking routes and maps available in the conservatory to borrow during your stay and there are also online resources such as the Blackdown Hills AONB website. Do ask Katie if you would like some recommendations for walking, trail running, road running or cycling.