Linear versus circular walks
When we started regular walking 20 years ago, all we did was short circular walks near to home. More recently we completed the 630 mile South West Coast Path (see links below). What has happened?
Circular walks are practical and easy to do; they represent a great introduction to walking regularly. There are lots of books of walks available, so it is easy to find one of the length and character that suits you. One of the nicest things about circular walks is that you can often see a landmark - river, hill, castle - from a number of angles and gain a clearer idea of its relationship to the surrounding countryside. And a series of circular walks is an excellent way to get to know a new area: gradually the isolated bits link together and you feel a pleasing sense of familiarity. They can however sometimes feel a bit artificial, involving detailed directions and changes of path, or a tedious section of road to facilitate the return loop.
The key initial attraction of long distance walks is that they offer more of a project and a challenge: our first venture was simply to walk across Berkshire from west to east. There is a delightful sense of cumulative progress, a feeling of wholeness if the path has some sort of natural integrity, and gradually a feeling of achievement. We have been gradually pushing ourselves a bit harder and feeling good about being able to meet the new challenges. In combination, all these factors contribute to the realisation that long distance paths are addictive and we are now absolutely hooked.
It is obvious that the basic logistics of long-distance walking - whether done in a concentrated burst or a series of linear sections - are more complicated. You need to get to the start and back home from the end. If you came by car, this of course means getting back to the start. Maybe there is a bus or train, but our experience has principally been either using taxis or taking two cars. Every time we do this with friends, we find ourselves having to remind ourselves of the key rules: meet at the end of the walk, leave one car there and leave in it a change of footwear (to avoid muddy boots in the pub) and anything else you might need at that point (handbag, iPad), drive back to the start, walk, have pub lunch, drive back to the beginning. All obvious, but it seems to have to be rediscovered every time.
Paths we have completed
Each link takes you to our review of the Path which in turn contains links to the individual stages.
The South West Coast Path