With the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend coming up I’m sure many of you are dusting off your wellies and pulling on your parkas for a traditional wander around your local patch of countryside. Taking the time to explore your local footpaths is a great way to get fit whilst enjoying the countryside and (you know me by now…) is free! Well they do say the best things are! I love a good ramble and, with my parents based in Buckinghamshire, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a great choice of footpaths zig-zagging across rolling hills and dappled English woodland.
My parents have decided to attempt The Ridgeway Walk, a National Trail which snakes for 87 miles through central southern England, following footpaths used by travellers all the way back to prehistoric times. Whereas some hardy ramblers are brave enough to tackle the walk over a couple of days, my parents have decided to take it a little more leisurely, completing chunks of up to 10 miles a time. I joined them on the fourth leg of their walk, a pretty 6 mile stretch between Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire and Chinnor in Oxfordshire.
With our rucksacks stuffed with picnic goods and flasks filled with coffee, we set off. The weather was stunning, bright and clear offering endless views of panoramic countryside which became increasingly impressive as we began the brief ascent up the ridgeway itself. For the majority of the walk we had the paths all to ourselves, with scatterings of sheep and deer our only companions. The occasional walkers who did pass us did so with a smile, offering a chirpy ‘hello’ or quick conversation. That’s another thing I like about walking, everyone is always so polite, our traditional British manners at their best when passing at a kissing gate.
The walk passed in a breeze, the slight throbbing of my feet the only indication that I had exerted myself, testament to Buckinhamshire’s gentle slopes. When back at the car we consulted the guide book for points of interest in the area. The book led us to medieval churches, hidden gardens and even a steam train which we had seen puffing along when we were on top of the ridge. These are places we had never thought to visit before, despite living so near. On the previous section of the walk my parents had discovered an outpost of the Natural History Museum in Tring, where all the surplus pieces of taxidermy were displayed, a collection that rivaled that of the Museum itself (or so my Mum liked to claim…)
So this Easter weekend get yourself outside! You don’t need to live in the countryside, just ditch the expensive day trip and have a wander, explore somewhere you’ve never been before, you never know- you could be pleasantly surprised!
6 Top Tips for your Easter weekend ramble
1- Bring binoculars! This is a must if you’re out and about in the country (might look a bit creepy in the city…) Plonk yourself on top of a hill and zoom in on your surrounding view, a great way to catch the local wildlife.
2- Take a guide book. It’s amazing what you don’t know about your local area and if you’re exploring somewhere new then you don’t want to miss out on the area’s hidden gems.
3- Be prepared for all weathers, this is England after all… Even on a really nice day, if you’re walking in exposed areas then you’re likely to get a face-full of the chilly winds. We all know how awesome and stylish fleeces are, right?
4- Say hello. Just ’cause it’s nice!
5- Pack yourself a gourmet picnic and a flask, Perfect even on a shorter walk or make a day of it and spread your picnic blanket down in front of that amazing view. Cake and coffee stops are mandatory, obviously.
6- Don’t make it too hard or push yourself too far. You want to enjoy yourself not twist an ankle or get too out of breath. Slow down the pace and lap up the views.