The snowy peaks of distant mountains border the sweeping valley before you. A deep lake in its centre is fed by a fast-flowing waterfall, shrouded in mist as the water cascades from a rocky outcrop into the dark waters below. Slate grey scree slopes merge into rich purple heather, before becoming a vast wooded area. The crystal blue skies overhead are punctuated by fluffy white clouds. This is the outdoors, this is the place for adventure. This is the dream.
This is not the reality for most of us.
Social media would have us believe that this is what being outdoors means. It has to be open vistas, and high mountains to be a real adventure. Deep isolation in wild forests, are the only way to immerse yourself in nature. But over 80% of us in the UK live in urban areas, access to these amazing locations isn’t available every day to most of us.
This doesn’t mean that we have to live our lives inside though, no far from it.
Green Woodpecker hanging out in a local park
I am an everyday walker. An urban walker. Many of my miles are made up on the streets and alleys of a town setting. A walk to work; an amble to the shops; a short stroll on the school run. I haven’t visited a mountain in, well, far too long. The last hill walking I did was in the Chilterns in 2016, but in 2017 I managed to walk over 2500 miles!
Often my paths were bordered only by the brick of a Victorian factory, the glass structures of a modern city, the manicured lawns of suburban gardens. A mix of concrete and tarmac the surfaces I walked on most. My longest walk followed the snaking path of the Grand Union Canal, a 137-mile-long monument to our industrial past, not that I walked it all of course, not yet anyway.
The Grand Union Canal at Sunset
But even in inner cities there are opens spaces, town parks, and occasionally nature reserves. Canals, brooks, and rivers, snake through most urban settings. Abandoned railway lines have been converted into tree lined walks. Check out the Ordnance Survey Green Spaces maps and you can easily find something near where you live. A small green oasis in the concrete jungle.
Getting outside doesn’t have to mean mountains, forests, and costal walks. It can just as easily be town squares, inner city parks, and tree lined avenues. Walking doesn’t always need hiking boots, or walking poles. You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and look around you. Become an everyday walker, like me.
MK Rose, a memorial site in the heart of Milton Keynes