What's your view on walking on your own ? Some people really enjoy it, and don't like to be slowed down by anyone, or distracted by chat. Personally I prefer to walk with a companion so that I can share the joys of the walk, even if it is just the dog.
It's rare that I don't see something memorable or interesting on a walk, and while it is wonderful to see a woodpecker or a dipper on your own, it's even more magical to point them out to someone else (Ralph prefers rabbits and squirrels).
But it isn't always that simple - many of us don't have friends who enjoy walking, or who have time to go walking when we want to ... but there is a solution ! There are lots of people who like to walk with others, and many of them set up local walking groups. There must be thousands of walking groups around the country, the only problem is finding the right one.
There are lots of Walking for Health schemes, running regular, short, led walks. Several of these have created groups on our site - click here to see sample, but there are others - search the groups page for your local groups, or check out the Walking for Health website to find a scheme near you - then ask them to add the group to this site so more people can find it ! We also have several Nordic Walking groups using the site, who will be happy to let you have a go at this different way of walking.
We have other groups onthe site - over 100 now. Not all of these run led walks though, some are 'virtual' groups of individuals with a shared interest, for example the Walking in Leeds group, or the Friends of the Capital Ring group. Members of these groups can add their miles to group challenges, and be part of a virtual community.
And then of course we have the big groups - the ones that are using their miles to really make a difference and raise money for charity. Dog owners can join the Pedigree Walkies group and add their walked miles to the national Pedigree Challenge, raising money for dog charities in the UK. Any group can sign up this challenge, and add their miles too - so why not suggest that your group joins, or set up a new group and start adding those miles. You can also send in a photo of your dog for 'dog of the month' ... fame, but sadly not fortune, for your beloved companion.
People working in the NHS have their own group, with another ambitious target - the NHS have set their staff the challenge of walking 305,824 miles by the start of London 2010 Games. It sounds a lot, but if only one third of the people working in our health service walk one mile we'll reach it. Staff can set up their own groups and compete with each other to see who can walk most ... do midwives in Essex walk more than physiotherapists in Newcastle ? ...
So whoever, or wherever you are, you don't have to walk alone ... why not search out a group and make some new friends, and maybe even see a dipper !
Photo of dipper on the River Teme taken by Jim Saunders – visit www.printsofwales.biz to see more of Jim’s wonderful photos