What were your walking habits/levels pre-lockdowns?
I did a lot of walking before lockdown but much of it was further afield in the UK, specifically the Lake District, which is my favourite place in the world! As an organiser of the Bristol Hiker Girl group, I was also enjoying walking in increasingly bigger groups of women in the local Bristol area and South Wales. I miss that the most – the ability to go walking with a group and get to know new people. We are hoping we’ll be able to start up group walks again soon once lockdowns are lifted.
Have you increased the amount/distance you walk since lockdowns started?
To be honest I think the amount I walk has stayed pretty steady throughout lockdown – I have just had the opportunity to explore areas closer to home and come to appreciate how lucky we are to live in Bristol and its beautiful surroundings. I’ve found some hidden gems in the Mendips and North Devon including Ebbor Gorge and Woody Bay. I’ve also diversified my outdoor activities, taking up running around my local urban area, cycling and wild swimming. I’ve actually ended up getting much fitter over the last year!
What role has walking played in your lockdown?
Walking has always been a great source of relaxation and escape for me. I found not being able to leave the city for the wilds of Dartmoor or the Lake District a very difficult prospect at first, but my daily walks that may have been relatively mundane compared to what I was used to, really helped me appreciate the sheer variety of wildlife in my local area. Getting close to nature doesn’t have to mean climbing mountains – it can be monitoring the budding and blossoming of magnolia trees at the end of your street.
What’s your favourite route to walk? And why?
My favourite local walk has to be the Leigh Woods to Abbots Pool and Ashton Court loop. I can walk it from my door-step so it was our big ‘hike’ during the times when we were hardly allowed out at all. Early on a Sunday morning when no-one is around, you can easily forget that you live in a major city. The walk has a bit of everything too – woods, wide open spaces, a great pub (The George, Abbots Leigh), a pool and city views. During lockdown, my partner and I would take a flask of coffee and some pastries with us and have a breakfast picnic on our way round – but when the pub is open, I recommend their Sunday lunch!
Podcast, music or peace and quiet when walking?
I like to keep my ears open to nature when I’m walking – it’s the best soundtrack.
Will you maintain walking post-lockdown?
Of course! Walking is a huge part of my life and I look forward to the day when Bristol Hiker Girls can meet up again for more adventures.