Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Why I like walking

I like walking – particularly up hills and along coastal cliffs. It’s so invigorating to look at an amazing landscape stretching ahead of you and enjoy the wind blowing away your cares.

Walking not only makes us healthier, by increasing our heart rates, it also provides a time and space to think. To fully experience the world around us, we first have to free ourselves from the distractions that are constantly begging for our attention.

For Nietzsche, "All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking," (Twilight of the Idols). While Thomas Jefferson walked to clear his mind of thoughts. "The object of walking is to relax the mind," he wrote. "You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk. But divert your attention by the objects surrounding you."

Perhaps by taken out of our normal environment, we engage more fully with the world. In Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently, Gregory Berns writes that "new insights come from people and new environments – any circumstance in which the brain has a hard time predicting what will come next." 

According to the Latin aphorism, Solvitur ambulando, virtually anything can be solved by walking. That's why I'm keen to spend more time enjoying some of the wonderful walks in the world. Here are my top ten for starters:

Top ten walks
- Carsaig Arches, Mull, UK
- Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan province, China
- The Inca trails and Machu Picchu, Peru

- Jurassic Coast, UK
- Cairngorns, UK
- Haytor, Devon, UK


I’d also probably add these to the list once I’ve had a chance to experience them:
the Gower Peninsula, UK; Annapurna region, Nepal; Ard├Ęche, France; and Pennine Way, UK.