7 things you need to know this National Walking Month

Because I’m a lover of being active and getting outdoors, I love initiatives like this — National Walking Month. Initiatives that encourage people to get outside for some exercise, leave the computer behind, and catch up with good friends. The world is full of bad media, so it’s really refreshing to see some good, wholesome news and marketing for a change. Just for you, here’s some inspiration to ring up your buddies, go grab those boots, and head out for an adventure…

1. Top 10 secret walks

Discover a secret cave behind Malham Waterfall, Yorkshire Dales (c) Paul Buckingham and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Discover a secret cave behind Malham Waterfall, Yorkshire Dales (c) Paul Buckingham and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

When the National Trust launched its Great British Walk last year, it revealed some beautifully enchanting ‘secret’ walks. Why are they secret? Because they can only be accessed by foot. Naturally. And before you go saying, “What’s so secret about the White Cliffs of Dover?”, have a look at the rest of the list. If you’re a gentle stroller who takes joy in history, old castles and wildflowers, you’ll find some real gems here. Enjoy!

2. How to find urban walking routes

Turns out a 6.4 mile slow circular walk from Trafalgar Square will burn  577 calories

Turns out a 6.4 mile slow circular walk from Trafalgar Square will burn 577 calories

Walkit.com is a cool tool for finding new places to explore in and around city areas. The search function allows you to find circular walks, themed walks and walking events in most UK cities. Sadly it is missing a few important places like Oxford and Cardiff, but apart from that it’s a pretty good tool for finding new routes.

3. Turning your steps into energy

These new SolePower (c) insoles use the energy created from your steps to charge mobile devices

These new SolePower (c) insoles use the energy created from your steps to charge mobile devices

Normally the idea of walking is to escape the strain and stress of the day, escape technology. But this new shoe insole from SolePower enables you to take technology with you and make it last even longer. Handy for overnight hikers and the like, the gadget takes the energy you create from each step and uses it to charge mobile devices and can be cut to fit any shoe. Available later this year, the current version can fully charge a smartphone on a 15 mile hike, but the team is working on a version that will do the same in just 5 miles. If you want to know more, iflscience.com does a pretty good review.

4. Walking poles aren’t just for old people

Save your knees with trekking poles (c) BMC

Save your knees with trekking poles (c) BMC

If you’re more serious about walking — and you don’t already — consider using walking (or trekking) poles. You’d be surprised how much pressure your knees take on a long hike. Especially one with a lot of downhill. According to Professional Standards Officer for BAIML, Richard Ayres, poles take 20% of your bodyweight, helping dramatically reduce the impact on your knees and lower body. But there’s so much more to it than that. The BMC goes into a lot more detail about why you should use walking poles, how to improve your technique and what to look for in a good walking pole.

5. Animal tracking

A rare but majestic sight (c) Dougie Cunningham

Red deer – a rare but majestic sight (c) Dougie Cunningham

Being able to identify animal footprints is always a handy skill if you want to spot badgers, red deer or even Scottish wildcats. Apparently if you’re looking for red deer, keep your eye out for two evenly-shaped slot marks. They’ll be indented with slightly pointed tips. To find out more, The Great Outdoors has a pretty detailed article on learning to spot animal tracks. Would have been nice to see some actual footprint images though.

6. Some interesting walking stats

(c) Living Streets

Did you know there are 109 journeys between central London underground stations that are quicker to walk? (c) Living Streets

Pedestrian safety charity Living Streets put together this awesome infographic to show off the benefits of walking a little more. Apart from enjoying some funky illustrations, you could really learn something. You can see the whole infographic on Leeds Met Library’s Pinterest Wall.

7. How long your rubbish takes to decompose

From orange peels to cigarette butts, you'd be surprised how long our rubbish takes to disintegrate

From orange peels to cigarette butts, you’d be surprised how long our rubbish takes to disintegrate

And last but not least, remember if you take it onto the mountain (or wherever you’re walking), take it back with you. Here are some shocking facts about how long stuff takes to decompose. Who knew cigarette butts would take so long?

As for me… Despite a pretty busy month, we’re going on some Snowdonia walking adventures later this month. We’re gonna leave the path, find a bothy, drink steaming cups of tea and simply enjoy each other’s company without the distractions of life. I love it, escaping, hiding, exploring, discovering. I can’t wait. I’d love to hear what exciting exploits you’re getting up to this May. Send me some pics, would you?

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