Walking My Way Through Winter …

I haven’t been  afflicted with winter  blues so much this year, not really sure why.  Maybe because we have had plenty of bright days and not so much gloom as usual.  I have been walking every afternoon,  part of my daily winter routine -  and feel much better for it – especially on these crisp, frosty days when my cheeks turn rosy and the tip of my nose feels as though it’s about to drop off.

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Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. It's underrated as a form of exercise but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active. Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.  ~ 'NHS Guide - Walking for Health'

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Walking clears the mind – makes you more aware of your surroundings – I know you dog walkers probably go out twice a day but walking with dogs is a distraction, keeping them under control, preventing them from eating sheep droppings or rolling in something nasty.  When you walk alone it is different especially in the country.

Country lanes in winter are different, they are lonely places. {…} Nevertheless,  I can understand the solitude, the dankness and early dark, the absence of human activity, immediately beyond the window, oppresses some and can make the everyday business of country life lonely and wearisome. {…} That is one of the great differences between life in the village and in the town, especially in winter which, after all, lasts for more than half the year, and it has driven away many who are not naturally withdrawn, cannot take the solitude and the emptiness of fields and lanes, the apparent monotony.  Susan Hill

Sometimes when the weather is dank and miserable I stride out, taking notice of nothing, head down, shoulders hunched, hurrying on my way to get back to the warmth of the fire and the friendly light from the lamps.

Monday walk - three curious horses

But then there are the bright crisp days when the sky is as blue as a robin’s egg  and walking is a pleasure -  you become aware of everything about you – two blue tits flitting through the hedgerow following you as you walk along the road, playing and twittering to themselves.  A single leaf unfurling on a sycamore tree; the cows in their winter quarters making soft lowing noises as you pass -  These are the delights of walking alone in winter, nothing to distract you, going at your own pace and watching and listening to nature at work.

Travelling on foot can also be meditative, fostering a Slow frame of mind.  When we walk, we are aware of the details around us – birds, trees, the sky, shops and houses, other people.  We make connections {…} Walking takes longer, for example, than any other form of locomotion except crawling.  Thus, it stretches time and prolongs life.  Life is already too short to waste on speed.  Walking makes the world much bigger and therefore more interesting.  You have time to observe the details.  ~ Extract from In Praise of Slow (Carl Honore).

Monday walk - bright sunshine with darkening sky - beautiful effect

Walking with someone else is also a different experience, chatting,  pointing out little things that they might have missed – like on Sunday morning – a really cold and frosty start but the sun came out so we wandered down to the local reservoir – a lovely spot for a walk on a wintery morning.  The puddles on the side of the road were iced over or shattered where cars had driven through them.

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  The water was frozen in parts and the ducks were all at the far side, but then I spotted a flash of blue at the side of the water, the sun catching the iridescence of feathers – a Kingfisher – only a quick glimpse, moving too fast to capture with the camera, but definitely a Kingfisher.  So rarely seen around these parts – a Sunday morning bonus, that’s for sure.

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“Walking … is how the body measures itself against the earth ~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust:  A History of Walking

At the moment I am reading Nightwalk by Chris Yates – subtitled A Journey to the Heart of Nature.  Something I have never considered -  walking at night.  How different would the experience be to walk across the fields and into the woods in darkness.  A bit scary I would think -  but maybe on a hot summers evening it would be delightful to be out and walking by the light of the moon – listening for the night creatures.

“Following a path that runs from the edge of his garden over luminous hills and into shadowy woods, we are lead closer to the heart of nature, for while the rest of the world sleeps the nocturnal landscape comes mysteriously alive.  Time slows down for a deeper intimacy with the natural worldwe hear every rustle of a leaf, every call of a bird.  Widening the power of our imagination, heightening our senses, revealing beauty in the smallest details. ~ Chris Yates

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Strangely though I don’t get out and about so much in summer, there is always so much to do in the garden that I never seem to think about it – this year though I will take an early morning walk, before I get caught up in other things – and what could be nicer, before the day gets too hot and uncomfortable – yes that will definitely be going on my agenda, although we have a long time to wait before that happens – oh well, I can but dream.

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A few garden birds that I hope will hang around for the bird count at the weekend

let's go on an adventure http://piccsy.com/2012/03/picc-7a9cfkd2d/

‘Til next time – happy walking.

Comments

  1. Lovely post Elaine. I'm affraid to say I've resorted to the gym this January but have appreciated the frosty mornings nonetheless.

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    1. Thanks Victoria - I have to say that a visit to the gym doesn't really appeal - but each to their own - give me the great outdoors any day.

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  2. Hello Elaine,

    You have captured so brilliantly here the different moods that walking takes on when done at different times, with different companions or when carried out alone.

    And, what wonderful surroundings you have in which to walk. So much to see and the individual joys that each season has to offer. It is so good and, indeed, therapeutic, to connect with Nature in thus way, noting the tiny details of daily life.

    We love to walk everywhere in the city as one sees so much more than when transported around.

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    1. Dear Jane and Lance
      I think we all feel more connected with our surroundings when we walk rather than drive. Bicycling used to be my favourite mode of transport - but these days with such fast moving traffic you fear for your life - so what should be a pleasant way to travel has become a little stressful to say the least. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

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  3. There is nothing better than a good walk in my opinion! Lovely photos. Suzy xo

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    1. Thanks Suzy -as you can tell from my post I heartily agree with you.

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  4. It must be good to have somewhere close by where you can walk with nature, we need to drive somewhere first so it's not something that can be done each morning,

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    1. No - I understand that not everyone is fortunate enough to live with wide open spaces all around them - but even street walking can be an adventure of sorts.

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  5. I like walking too. Going on foot gives you the time and opportunity to see things that you would miss if you were in a car. I can't be doing with this "going to the gym" malarkey. Monotonous walking on a treadmill indoors, (probably listening to music via headphones) can't compare with a walk in the countryside!

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  6. A most enjoyable post, and lovely pictures. I like to get out for a walk most days, weather permitting, usually just round the allotments. Flighty xx

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    1. Allotment sites have such a variety of things to look at - just think of all the different things you have spotted on or near your plot - a haven for wildlife.

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  7. Lovely photos of your walks, Elaine - you describe them so well. I love getting out and about to walk and it does lift the spirits. I want to get back to walking again as soon as I can:)

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    1. Thanks Rosie - hopefully your back will soon be back to normal and you can enjoy getting out and about again.

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  8. I have fallen into the trap of believing there's not enough time for walking. It needs a rethink. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Making the time for a walk is definitely worth it - it certainly lifts the spirit, especially in winter.

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  9. So glad you popped over to my blog to leave a comment, just read your post how lovely, (will be looking through the rest later) walking is a big part of my life, and you are right most of the time I am walking the dog, but on the odd time I get to go out on my own it dose feel different. During the summer I had thought about going to the park at night to see what was about, then I would talk my self out of it as it would be quit scary....
    Amanda xx

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    1. Thanks for coming over for a visit Amanda - I used to love walking our dogs and when they passed on I used to borrow dogs but now I have got used to walking on my own and don't feel so self conscious now as I did to start with.

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  10. " ‘Til next time – happy walking ".

    Walking is so good to do - even a wander around the block can lift the spirits.

    Your pictures are great I am there with you.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks for visiting Jan - I went over to your blog and found a post very similar to this - great minds think alike eh.

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  11. I've enjoyed your reflection on walking. Beautifully composed. Walking in the rain is my particular pleasure. It takes a torrent before I'll think twice.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Susan - I think my neighbours think I am a little eccentric (or mad) when I set out for a walk in the rain.

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  12. You are so right about walking being good for the body and the soul. I have not walked any this year and I can tell it in the body and I miss just out walking and letting my mind wonder and looking at the changes you see every day.Thanks for the walk today. :)

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    1. Do you no longer have your little dog to walk?

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  13. Your walk is lovely Elaine, I would hate not being able to get out and walk too! sarah x

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    1. Ah but you have a lovely excuse to walk with your sweet pup - who wouldn't enjoy walking with such a sweet companion.

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  14. A wonderful description of walking - in words and pictures! xx

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  15. I love to walk, Elaine. I've been out on my snowshoes and touring skis by a full moon, and it's magical. In the summer, I'd have to worry about bears roaming at night, but in winter they're in hibernation. You have a beautiful landscape for walking!

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    1. I am not sure I would be able to walk as you do - your terrain is so different from mine. And thank goodness I don't have to worry about bears and such. Moonlight ski-ing sounds wonderful.

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  16. Elaine

    A wonderful post about walking; living life in the slow lane and enjoying the detail.

    Ms Soup

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    1. Funny you should say that - I used to have a blog called Life in the Slow Lane - it's obviously in the genes!

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  17. LOVE that poster there at the end of your post! Boy would I like to recreate something like that for my hallway upstairs by the beans rooms!! And those shots of you on your walk are beautiful! The views on your walks are like heaven.....I wish I could take a stroll on those roads with you friend! Wishing you a joy filled weekend! Nicole xoxo

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    1. Hi Nicole
      I am sure that poster would be easy for you to recreate with your artistic talents. You can come along with me for a walk anytime - I'd be glad to have your company.

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  18. You can understand this is my post, I love walking in nature and goes every day as soon as it´s getting light. Except this week, I have not been out for 7 days now........I get withdrawal symptons. I´ll try to start again tomorrow afternoon.
    I really loved how you described walking and the pictures are wonderful, so nice to live in the country. The best thing is to walk on your own, or like me with Snarf who is always off leash and the best companion. Sometimes friends want to come with me, sounds strange, but I don´t like them to come, they always want to talk don´t see what I see and feel. I know I live on a great spot for walking only 150 meters from my gate but I also know there is nothing better than the English countryside for peaceful walks, that´s why we´re going there every year for holidays.
    Wish you a lovely weekend!
    Janneke

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    1. It must have been awful for you not to get out with Snarf while you have been ill - I enjoy going on your walks with you - and yes the English countryside is great for enjoying peaceful walks - we are both lucky to live where we do.

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  19. By the time I get ready it always seems to start to rain again lately - but once out there I don't mind the rain so much. I enjoyed the lovely quotes about walking that you found, and shared.

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    1. I always feel that hesitation is the enemy - I see morning sun and want to be out in it - then think I must get on with housework and by the time it is finished the sun has gone in - make hay while the sun shines should be my motto.

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  20. I can not fathom how green everything still is there. The horses are magnificent and that little robin so enchanting.
    Walking helps to soothe the soul, to brighten the spirit. I'm glad you have found the urge to partake of it...
    Susan x

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    1. If I didn't get out for part of the day in winter I would begin to feel like a caged animal - cabin fever isn't good for the soul I fear.

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  21. There was a time when I walked Wimsey (my cat) around the block, but it was definitely a distraction! Having the countryside so near as you do, those clear-the-mind walks must be relaxing indeed.

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    1. Yes, it is good to be surrounded with open countryside, but then I have always taken daily walks even when living in towns - I guess I just enjoy being out of doors.

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  22. A great post. You have really inspired me. Since my dog died a few months ago I have drastically reduced my walking. Those big brown eyes used to make me do it even when I didn' t feel like it. I certainly don' t feel as fit. I' ll start tomorrow.

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    1. When you have been used to walking a dog it does feel strange going out on your own - I know this from experience - and it did feel a little lonely at first - but I am quite happy with it now.

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  23. There's a kingfisher visiting the Priory at the moment but he's far too fast for me to photo. But I have been spending time watching the birds on the feeders. Surprised how much fighting was going on - robins fighting robins (and scaring off dunnocks) and even blue tits facing off to each other. Not at all as peaceful as one might imagine.

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    1. We once had a Kingfisher land on the greenhouse roof - not sure if he had been surveying the pond to see if could nab a fish or two - as usual I didn't have my camera to hand when it was needed most. The garden at the moment seems to be full of bird life all struggling to feed at the same time - if only they would queue up like we do it would save a lot of fighting.

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  24. Walking is a huge part of our lives here, having two doggies means I get out into the woods and fields most days, wouldn't be without it. You see so much you would miss otherwise. Thank you for the follow- I have reciprocated :o)

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    1. It looks like you have wonderful countryside around - walking your two dogs must be a delight.

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  25. Oh you are so fortunate to have such a beautiful neighbourhood to walk in Elaine. I know that I need to walk more but in a small town with busy and noisy roads there is less incentive to go out for a stroll. Still once we can stay at our new caravan in the Lake District I hope to be more active. Your top photo of the bowl of crocuses is fabulous :)

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    1. I am so looking forward to your Lake District posts - you will certainly get lots of walking in whilst you are there. I am really pleased with the crocus I haven't grown them indoors before - obviously now I know I can there will be lots of bowls of them next year.

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  26. What a lovely post, with wonderful quotes and gorgeous pictures....gosh, crocus on the windowsill out already????
    I love walking and would happily walk for hours, and how right you are about dogs being a distraction, I would love to walk more on my own for you certainly notice more, but then I get to feeling guilty! I would also love to walk at night but we have some rather strange folk around and about so would be too much of a scaredy cat.....a most inspiring post....almost anyone can walk!xxx

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    1. Thanks Snowbird - I am not a long distance walker unfortunately - a couple of miles is about my limit - for me though it isn't the length of the walk, it is the quality - sometimes it takes me ages just to get a hundred yards down the road when I am busy taking photographs and trying to find birds in the treetops to identify who is singing so beautifully.

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  27. You can't beat a good walk and your photos and quotes sum it all up wonderfully. I do walk but I'm afraid I'm a fine weather walker. Must change that - today! P x

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    1. I do have to force myself to go out sometimes I must admit but once I have made the effort I really enjoy it even when it is dismal and grey like today.

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  28. Dear Elaine - I sure enjoyed my walk with you. Your winter landscape looks much kinder than ours right now. We have several new inches of snow. Shelby and I walk every day and we often walk when it is dark. Truly it is not spooky - a great experience because we can hear the deer moving and see their shadows and when the moon is full even in winter it is lovely. Hope you have a beautiful week. Thanks for sharing your walk. Hugs

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    1. Yes our snow has disappeared but it is due to come back later in the week - I shall take your advice and maybe do a bit of night walking just for the experience - and who knows I may even enjoy it. Have a lovely week.

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  29. hello elaine,
    a wonderful post. I walk every day but my walk way is not so beautiful like yours.I love your crocus on the windowsill.
    thanks for the wonderful photos from your walk!!!
    have a wonderful week,
    regina

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  30. Hello Regina - thank you so much for visiting - the crocus have been a real bonus and cheer me up whilst I am washing the dishes.

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  31. There are few things more soul-cleansing than a peaceful walk :)

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    1. P.S. love the photo of those two horses!

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    2. Thanks Keith - I quite agree with you. We are surrounded by horses here and they always come up to the fence to see what I am doing, luckily I usually have my camera in my pocket and they seem to enjoy having their photograph taken.

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  32. That's a beautiful post, Elaine, thank you! Walking is a very fine way to stay fit, as you write - I walk almost every day 9 - 11 km, and miss it when I don't. In a beautiful book by Susan Hill - Through the Kitchen Window - she tells a wonderful method against winter-blues: "There is one certain way to cheer yourself up, on January days, when Christmas is quite over, and the spring still far ahead, when utside it is grey and cold, windy or wet or snow-bound - make marmelade."

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    1. Thank you Britta - I actually do own that book myself and only read it again the other day - I love her descriptive writing which draws you in to her world.

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  33. I love this! I try to get my (homeschooling) kids outside at least once a day--the walks really shift the energy when I feel we are less creative/productive. The kids even squabble less--fresh air does wonders! The grass is so green around you and the horses beautiful. I would love that stroll very much!!

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    1. I remember when I worked at the local school - when the children were let out at lunchtime (whatever the weather) they were like animals that had been let out of their cages. They loved the feeling of being free, even if they didn't do much walking, they ran around like crazy.

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  34. I love your post with those wonderful pictures and all the beautiful quotes. Walks have always been very important to me. As soon as daylight times allow it after work I go for a walk every single day. I love walking by myself, enjoying the things surrounding me, letting my thoughts wander everywhere. But I also love walking with my husband or friends, talking, finding new places I haven't been to yet. Walks out in nature always make me happy no matter how I felt before :)

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    1. I totally agree with you - it is a very important part of my day, and yours by the sound of it.

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  35. One of the great thing about having dogs is that they pretty much force you to get out and walk. Occasionally when it is really really cold we skip our evening walk, but it always feels odd like the evening is not complete when we do not go for that evening walk.

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    1. When we had dogs there was never a chance of missing a walk - once they get into a routine they seem to know it is walked time and sat their with big imploring eyes - how could you refuse!

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  36. I love to walk, and I used to clock up six miles most days, but not since this blimmin rheumatoid arthritis. That said I'm working back up to walking more so who knows I may yet get back to the full six. Not in the dark though, I'd be bound to fall over something!

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  37. Six miles is a bit more than I could manage especially round here where it is quite hillly - I'm more of a two miler on the flat.

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  38. This is a very wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your walking adventure. I agree, walking is good not only for our body, but for our mind and inner being as well. It helps us ponder on and appreciate the things around us (take time to smell the flowers, as they say).

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