Blog: Claire Allen

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Tell us a bit about yourself… 

I’m Claire, and I’m currently more than halfway through a year-long walk around the coast of Great Britain. I started at John O’Groats on 8th August 2023 and hope to finish by the end of August 2024. As well as doing this for me, for a change of scene and to shake things up a bit, I’m raising £25,000 for two homelessness charities: Shelter and Only A Pavement Away (I just hit halfway!). When I’m not walking around the coastline, I live in Bristol and have worked in the charity sector for the last 15 years.  

Tell us about your preferred Bristol walking route and why you love it so much. 

Claire is currently walking around the coast of Great Britain

At home in Bristol, I spend a lot of time on Purdown – it’s a five-minute walk from my house – where I walk with my dog Beano. We’ll circuit round the fields towards the big yellow Dower House, into the Stoke Park woods and back. At the weekends or in the summer, we’ll extend our walk under the M32 and into Snuff Mills, along the Frome Valley and up to Oldbury Court, or carry on into Fishponds and then out again along the river to Winterbourne. If we can stop for coffee at Kind Regards in Eastville Park, all the better. 

How long have you been walking there and when did you first discover it? 

I’ve covered every inch of Purdown and Stoke Park since I got Beano from the Animal Rescue Centre in St Phillips in 2016. It’s amazing how these big green spaces are all connected. You only really discover the networks of lanes and paths that exist when you’re on foot. 

Who normally accompanies you on your walks? 

When I’m at home, it’s always Beano, sometimes a friend or two, often a podcast or audiobook. My Great British Walk is a solo adventure – no support crew and sadly, no dog. I’ve had lots of visits from friends and family along the way though, which always boosts morale and makes the miles pass more quickly. 

How do you feel when you are out for a walk? Does it change your state of mind? 

It would be a lie to say I’m always raring to go, especially when it’s mid-January, raining and the mud is ankle-deep. But there isn’t a time when I don’t feel better for it. Sometimes I’ll run to get my heart rate up and endorphins circulating but mostly, we trot along together to give Beano time to sniff every blade of grass and for me to think, listen and breathe.  

Have you experienced any health benefits from walking? 

Beano enjoying a walk in Bristol

More noticeable is the way I feel if I don’t get out and walk or run. I feel tired, grumpy and like I can’t settle or concentrate. On my Great British Walk, I do take the occasional day off to rest and recover but I still try and spend a big part of that day outside, even if I’m not moving very far. 

Do you have any particular kit you take with you when you are walking? If so, what do you take and why? 

In the winter, I wear Sealskinz waterproof socks because if my feet are cold and wet, I feel miserable. If it’s raining, I wear a cap under my hood to keep the rain off my glasses and out of my face. I always have headphones. I don’t carry a bag unless it’s a really long day out. I try to travel lightweight and fit whatever I need in my pockets. 

What tips would you give to anyone thinking about getting into walking? 

Take it slowly. If you feel tired or like it’s too hard, just slow down. It’s better to finish a slow walk than to go too fast and give up halfway. 

Anything else you would like to mention? 

You can follow my walk on Instagram @clairesgreatbritishwalk and if you’d like to support either of the homelessness charities I’m walking for, you can donate via my Just Giving page.

Mon 27 May 2024
Last Updated
Tue 23 April 2024