Going on a walk allows us to take a step back from our daily routine. You can feel the wind in your face, the changing of the seasons with the long autumnal shadows, the excitement of coming across a beautiful building or the buzz from immersing yourself in a rich social history.
This autumn the National Trust is celebrating this national love of walking and the way that a walk can peel back the layers of human and natural history. The Great British Walk is all about sharing a favourite walk, taking yourself on a journey of discovery through history or finding yourself among the wonder of nature.
As a nation we have a rich and important walking heritage. The network of footpaths that criss-cross these islands is second to none and the long struggle to have access the countryside and coast has its roots in this green and pleasant land. It’s fair to say that the walking revolution is made in Britain . You could say that walking is in our national DNA.
Getting ready for a walk is also part of the experience whether a seasoned rambler or someone who likes to go on an occasional stroll.
Laying out one of the wonderful Ordnance Survey maps and tracing your finger along a route and the contours of the landscape; picking up on interesting places to stop or the sense of history of a location. You get a real sense of anticipation about the places to stop for a break or a pub to call in for lunch and a pint.
I’m currently making my way with friends along the Cotswold Way, getting to know the topography and history of this wonderful long distance trail. Every time we walk the next leg of the route you feel that sense of shared experience and how the land has shaped who we are and how we have shaped the land.
But how do you define greatness when it comes to a walk? Surely this is something which is totally subjective though we can all agree on a breathtaking view or the importance of a particularly precious landscape. A great walk needs to be able to tell a story, have a narrative that keeps you hooked and builds momentum as your footsteps make their way through the countryside.
It’s going to be about how you make the case and evoke the spirit of a walk that puts it in the frame for this nationwide search. We want people to share their love of walking and why these walks matter and should earn the right to be in the cannon of walking greats.
Suggestions for the Greatest British Walks need to be submitted by the 4 November and there will be an opportunity to view the nominated walks online throughout the Great British Walk by clicking on www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greatbritishwalk. In a country with such a rich walking heritage and such a wonderful diversity of landscapes we should be in for a treat.
The Great British Walk runs until the 4 November. You can also tweet your walking experiences or recommend a favourite place on the website or by using the hashtag #GBwalk on twitter.