Hello! I’m Ky, and this month marks almost two years since I’ve been walking with the Bristol Ramblers. Little makes me happier than having afternoon coffee on top of a hill somewhere, six miles from the nearest town, looking out at a beautiful vista, and whingeing about the rain.
This has not always been the case (well, apart from the rain part).
For most of my life I was actually morbidly obese; five years ago I weighed 27 stone. Walking half a mile down the road was tiring, walking fifteen miles with hills was unthinkable. But I was fortunate enough to work near attractively tree-shaded paths that ran alongside a river and canal, so when I decided to get serious about eating less, exploring those little paths seemed like a good way to distract myself for the rest of my lunch hour.
At first, let’s be honest, going for a walk seemed like a grim penance. But as I started to get fitter, I stopped being so focused on how bad I felt and started noticing the things around me. The sudden ‘gloop’ and ring of bright water in the shallow river where a fish had snapped up a fly. An unexpected flash of kingfisher blue in the trees by the pub on the other side. A fluffy fledgeling cheeping in terror as it scurried away into the undergrowth. One day I got to my turning-back point earlier than usual, feeling surprisingly good; and decided to go on and find out what was around the next bend…
(It was a very unscenic housing estate. But that’s not the point.)
By the time I came to Bristol, I was a very different person. And Bristol only encouraged me in that. It’s a walker’s city; full of paths and alleys and steps, with unexpected green spaces to emerge into, and surprise little cafes to discover right at the point where you’re despairing of ever finding your way back home. I’ve even started to like the hills.
Over the last couple of years I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the centre of the city near where I work (at this point I could probably plan out a pretty good cafe-themed walking route), and enjoying longer walks discovering the green spaces and secret treasures of the outskirts with the Ramblers (most of whom can still be easily heard at safe social distancing range!). I’ve made good friends and drunk a lot of good coffee.
It turns out it’s never too late to change your life.
(Although I’m still looking for a way to change the weather.)