I carefully place one foot in front of the other, my eyes not leaving the narrow path. Far beneath me I can hear the waves crashing against the cliff face. I daren’t look though. The drop to the swirling sea below is sheer and looking over the edge will just make my head feel dizzy and my stomach swim. Instead, I continue to focus on just moving slowly along the path.
Why I Walk
This has been the trickiest walk so far, but I don’t mind. I’m lucky to be here and I always remind myself of that when I feel I may start moaning. I’m doing this for all of those who don’t have the luxury of choice. I might be walking for the British Red Cross this month but there is no denying how much the challenge has helped me both physically and mentally. I’ve learnt that going for a big walk before I eat really helps my erratic bowel. I’ve also loved the solid graft of walking. The sheer joy of being outside and enjoying nature. I’ve found it soothing and healing. It’s brought me clarity and hope. No longer does it seem my day is dogged by fear. I feel like I’m now the one in control. I’m feeling stronger and more positive.
Before I would have dismissed a long walk as a form of exercise – “I don’t have time, it’s not intense enough”, would have been my reasoning. There is no doubt, however, that walking has improved my fitness. I spend my mornings climbing steps to the top of the cliffs, only to find the path then snakes all the way back down again, meaning yet more steps to climb back up. I’ve scrambled over rocks, I’ve marched through woods, I’ve plodded up hills and I’ve been dragged along by Bingley (our rather large Airedale Terrier puppy), and I have loved every single moment. Yes, even when my lungs are screaming after yet another brutal hill climb, when my thighs are crying after the punishing gradients, and despite my feet being covered in blisters after countless long walks. It’s been satisfying, rewarding and just all round lovely.
But now what? There is no denying the amazing impact the long walks have had on my health and so I need to try and keep it up. Plus, daily exercise has been shown to help reduce the recurrence of cancer, so do I really need a better reason? Walking may well become a new way of life for me. I suppose I may change my mind when autumn chooses to descend. Will I still love long walks when it’s pitch black and raining? I guess only time will tell, but walking has made me feel so good that I really need to try and maintain it. I need to prioritise it.
Perhaps walking is my distraction and antidote as 2019 and 2020 have both been lonely, tedious and frightening. Whereas everyone else is baking banana bread (might have done that too), writing books (raises hand again) or frantically decorating (okay, I’m just a 2020 cliche but I hasten to add that I am still clueless to what a sourdough starter is) walking has really been my saviour. Working my way along the Jersey coastline has brought me so much joy. Slowly weaving my way along the country lanes and listening to bird song has made me feel alive. There is just something incredibly satisfying about putting one foot in front of the other and going for a long walk. I’m not taking it for granted. I’ve seen people go from the prime of their youth to death’s door. Our life, our health and our ability to move is something we should never take for granted as we never know what lays around the corner, we never know when it may be whipped away from us.
We all moan about 2020 and don’t get me wrong it has been vile, but I think (perhaps rather naively) that there are some small pockets of hope and joy to be found. 2019 and 2020 have changed my outlook on life and made me reassess what is important. How I spend my day to day life has drastically changed and I don’t feel guilty for it. It might feel like we are trudging through the year; and the barrage of gloomy COVID headlines might make us want to weep into our coffee, and the COVID disbelievers might severely test our patience (try muttering FFS under your breath 10 times before you speak to them), but we can still find some comfort, can’t we? My comfort blanket is putting on my trainers and hitting the cliff paths. On the rainy days it’s a boxset and some chocolate. Balance people, I’m all about the balance 😉
If you would like to sponsor me you can do so here – https://miles-for-refugees-2020.everydayhero.com/uk/emma-54 At the time of publishing this article I had walked/jogged 137.35 miles for British Red Cross. Thank you for your support xx