Walking is an excellent form of exercise that not only burns calories (in fact a brisk walk burns the same amount of calories as a run over the same distance), but also builds stamina, helps beat stress, lowers your blood pressure, and can cut your risk of heart disease by up to 50%. It’s also good for bones and muscles and helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and the risk of some cancers… and it’s FREE!
If you’re new to walking, why not visit www.getwalking.org, where you’ll find loads of tips on how to get started and increase your fitness slowly and steadily. There’s even a personalised 12-week programme for you to get involved in.
We’re spoilt for choice on places to ramble in this country thanks to our variety of landscapes and environments. The Aspire region has many parks and national trails for you to explore – places such as Bradgate Park, Rutland Water, and Brixworth Country Park are all great places to enjoy a leisurely afternoon stroll, even in the cool, crisp winter air!
There are plenty of destinations a little further afield but still here in the UK that provide excellent walking opportunities, including:
The Cotswolds - this Area of Outstanding Beauty is littered with gentle hills and honey-coloured stone villages, and has some of the best walking in England. The footpaths are exceptionally well maintained, whilst the nature of the landscape means that the walking is within the capabilities of almost everyone. Aspire would like to highly recommend walking the 100 miles of The Cotswold Way, which starts in the quaint town of Chipping Campden.
Pembrokeshire – although the coastal path is 186 miles long, it’s the perfect way to see the best of Pembrokeshire. Luckily, if you’re not up to the challenge, but still want to discover Britain’s only coastal National Park, the Coastal Bus Services are perfect for one-day hikes or for linking multi-day walks together.
The Lake District – known as the walker’s favourite UK destination, the Lake District has an abundance of walking opportunities for all levels, whether you’re looking for a relaxing lakeside ramble, a classic mountain walk, or an exhilarating high-level traverse.
The Peak District – if you’re looking for a walk through ancient woodlands, a walk around the Chatsworth estate, or just a leisurely stroll taking in stunning scenery, the Peak District is the place for you.
If you’re interested in having a go, but don’t want to commit to a walking holiday, the National Forest Walking Festival takes place every May and offers something for everyone. With more than 80 varied walks, the Festival is the best way to discover rolling English countryside, dissected by meandering rivers and canals, dotted with picturesque historic villages; from a gentle stroll, walks for the whole family, walks suitable for wheelchair users, to longer more strenuous rambles for keen walkers, the packed programme has something to suit you! You can find out more by visiting www.thenationalforestwalkingfestival.org.uk
When planning a walk always remember to check the weather and choose your route carefully. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and if you’re planning to be out and about all day, remember to take plenty of spare layers as the weather can change quickly. You should also consider packing a small first aid kit and a torch in case of emergency.