Why you should choose a walking holiday.
Alice Morrison is a BBC2 presenter for the Morocco to Timbukti series. She has worked with all forms of media including press, TV, radio and online. She is currently writing and broadcasting about travel and adventure and is the author for two books; Dodging Elephants and Morocco to Timbuktu: An Arabian Adventure.
He most recent venture was a trip to Austria for a cycling trip around the Danube with Whereabouts Holidays. You can read more about Alice's trip with us here
Alice has been kind enough to share with us why walking holidays are her favourite and the benefits you gain from them.
Why you should choose a walking holiday...
I guess the title gives away that I am a big fan of the walking holiday. In many ways, walking is the purest of all adventures, it is just you and the road ahead. You don’t need to be supremely fit, or a superstar athlete. If you can walk, then you can take on one of these holidays.
The slower you travel, the more you learn,”is a saying that has always appealed to me, partly I think because I am not the speediest runner, hiker, biker in the world and it gives us slowbies validation. In the case of walking, I have definitely found this to be true. By choosing a walking holiday, you are making a choice to go slowly through a place and giving yourself the time and space to enjoy every inch of it.
I am sure we all share those experiences of being dragged out by our parents for a walk on a Sunday, or, equally, trying to drag out our kids.
Parent, “Come on, it’ll do you good.”
Child, “ Muuuuuumm, I don’t want to. It’s raining. It’s boring. I’m tired. I want to play Grand Theft Auto. I hate walking. I hate you.”
The fact is, though, that when you are out there, you can’t help but enjoy it. If the sun is shining and the sky is blue, you bless the weather. If it is raining, you romp in the mud and the tea and big cake at the end taste extra good.
Walking holidays with Whereabouts give you anything from a 2 Day Walk of Flanders to following in the footsteps of the pilgrims with 19 days along the Camino de Santiago Choose the walk which interests you most and which you have the time for, they are all fantastic and they all share one thing – they get you out there and they help you disconnect with the rush of everyday life and tune into the present.
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One of the walks that stays firmly in my mind, was walking along a river valley in the Atlas mountains in Morocco in August two years ago. It was hot and the sky was almost violently blue. We were walking along the river to take advantage of the trees and shade as well as the cool of the water. The river was low, with mud pools at the side. The oleanders were in bloom, showing off their large pink and white flowers. Orange and brown butterflies flitted from flower to flower. I could smell the mud and the trees and hear the plop, plop of massive toads as they jumped from pool to pool. A highlight was spotting a turtle, shyly peeking out from under a rock, which hurried into the river the moment it saw us. The sun felt hot on my skin but the breeze from the water cooled me as I walked. I felt at one with nature and everything around me.
That walk was two years ago but if I am ever stressed or sad or just feeling a bit down I can conjure it up and benefit from it all over again.
Life is very busy in the 2010s and walking forces you to slow down, to be aware and to focus on the present. It is a contradiction in terms but a walking holiday is actually a rest – a rest from the speed and noise of your daily life.
To quote one of my heroes, John Muir, who was born in the same small town as my Dad in Scotland, Dunbar, and went on to found the National Parks in the USA.
"Hiking – I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”
Time to sign up for a saunter! Happy Trails.
By Alice Morrison