Five Reasons to Walk This Winter

Three weeks into the New Year is a tricky time. Still-dark evenings, harsh weather and (perhaps) some resolutions that haven’t quite survived. But those aren’t reasons not to GetOutside and walk. They’re precisely why we should.

Start Point, Devon

Set Goals

Like cute dogs, resolutions are not just for Christmas (well, New Year). Why confine defining our aspirations to a week in early-January? Yes, it’s fabulous to start a new year with big, bold ambitions, and long may they last. But we can actually re-invent ourselves throughout the year. So this week you could chose to walk further than last week or discover somewhere new. Or, like GetOutside Champion Zoe Homes, it could be to spend an hour a day outside.

And there’s still time to join the stirring #walk1000miles campaign from Country Walking magazine. This challenges us to walk 1000 miles over a year. That it’s the same distance as hiking from Scotland to Poland might feel daunting. But see it as an average of 2.74 miles a day – around an hour, and it’s much more manageable. The magazine is full of testimonials of those who’ve done it – it’s transformational stuff.

Find out more at the Ordnance Survey’s #walk1000miles page.

For route inspiration, see my GetOutside article on Five Classic West Country Winter Walks, it features the places in these photos.

Grimspound, Dartmoor National Park


Here’s something more than a little startling. Six million UK adults don’t do a monthly brisk 10 minute walk. That means four out of 10 of those aged 40 to 60, are walking less each month than 10 minutes continuously at a fast rate – according to Government research.

Now you could head to the gym and jump on a treadmill to clock up the minutes, but that’d mean no fresh air and little natural light. Or you could head outside your door, wherever it is, and walk fast-ish for more than ten minutes a month. Or perhaps make that a day. An achievable goal?

Hartland Quay, Devon
 Lifts the Mood

We know its true. How often has your mood lifted within 10 minutes (even less) of getting outside? Skies arch overhead, the trail stretches in front, perspective returns. The official take on it is that physical activity can help people with mild depression, with many experts thinking it produces chemical changes in the brain that boost our mood. Add a cracking view and you’re onto a winner.

It’s no coincidence then that the mental health charity Mind is keen for people to pull on walking boots for their fundraising efforts – including the Mind Hike, a 24 hour trek through Cornwall. Other hikes for the charity include those in Wales, the Isle of Wight, the Peak District, south coast, London, Dorset and Iceland.

My friend Steph Powell is one of those who has very good reasons to be taking on the Mind Hike, her story and fundraising page are here.

Rame Head, Cornwall

Making Discoveries

We’re three weeks into the new year. Which means there are still around 340 days in which to discover somewhere new. Imagine! Even if we do it by week, there are still 49 chances to find somewhere incredible that’s new to you. Even if you only manage a discovery every other week, that’s still 24 (point five) fresh places to fall in love with. Head out with loved ones or friends, or make new ones – the wealth of walking groups nationwide means you can discover new people en route to new places.


The Weather

I’m writing this with rain showers spattering the window and gusty winds buffeting the roof. On the coast the sea is  bouncy. Which means I’m not about to do many of the GetOutside things I love – no sea-swimming, kayaking or climbing; in these conditions it simply wouldn’t be wise. But I can walk. I have waterproofs, there’s sunshine amid the rain showers and a quick blast of knifing wind and stinging rain can be a good thing. It takes your mind off your preoccupations, it makes you feel alive – see my post on my Three Great GetOutside Resolutions; to Live, Laugh, Love.

Of course, sometimes the weather means you can’t get out and walk. That’ll depend on conditions, equipment, skill and making the right decisions.  It’s important stuff – see GetOutside Champion Emily Thompson’s six Top Tips for Making The Most of Winter.

Time to GetOutside?

The Ordnance Survey’s Walking pages are packed with inspiration and advice, including this piece from GetOutside Champion David Love on your First Winter Walk.

For West Country discoveries, try my post on 10 Top Spots on the South West Coast Path

Start Point, Devon






Published by Belinda Dixon

I'm a travel & adventure writer (Lonely Planet), broadcaster (BBC Radio Devon & BBC Guernsey) and the British Exploring Society's media Leader on its 2016 Himalaya expedition. I write a blog that aims to inspire adventures; deliver inspiring training and record and edit powerful oral history archives.

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