We’re spoilt in the United Kingdom. Within a relatively small group of islands we can experience a whole world of different landscapes, from the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands to the secluded covers of Cornwall. With so much variety, so many distinct regions, it beggars belief that all too often we take it for granted. Think what we have on our doorstep: the untamed expanse of the Yorkshire moors; the remote fells of the Lake District; the scarcely known peaks of Northern Ireland; the timeless beauty of the Cotswolds; the secret beaches of the Welsh coast; the winding waterways of Norfolk; the neat orchards of Kent. It seems a crime that so many of us fail to explore these four countries of ours and instead look beyond our shores for adventure and romance.
Eight per cent of the population of the UK now live in urban areas, so it’s vital that we keep in touch with our countryside. It isn’t simply that a walk in the country can keep you fit physically: connecting with open spaces can be as good for your mind and spirit. It can relax you one minute, then stimulate and challenge you the next. Some scientists claim that humans were never meant to live in a city environment, that we were hardwired to be surrounded by nature. A spell in the countryside therefore restores the balance, cuts down stress, and even improves our levels of concentration.
So , what are we waiting for ? Why aren’t we spilling out of our cities of sharp lines, escaping the noise and bustle and running for the hills and valleys? Well, actually, we are. Government figures suggest that seven million of us walk in the countryside every single weekend, and that figure is growing year on year.