Best Foot Forward


Where is your favourite walk? Across hills, dales, downs and moors; scaling the rocky peaks, or along one of Britain's windswept coastal footpaths, with the sound of the waves echoing in the distance while the sun glistens on the sea? I favour a coastal route, particularly the Cornish section of the South West Coast Path, because I find being beside the briny both invigorating and soothing. Here in Gloucestershire we are lucky to be surrounded by glorious countryside and, when it comes to putting your best foot forward, you have the choice between striding out across the rolling Cotswold landscape - even taking up the challenge of the 100-mile Cotswold Way - or the gentler option of a stroll through one of the many idyllic villages perhaps stopping en route at a local, welcoming hostelry (why not nominate it for inclusion in our regular feature "Raise a Glass"?) for refreshment.

The results of a survey, announced this week, and broadcast on television, revealed Britain's favourite walks and hikes. Organised by the National Trust, The Ramblers and Ordnance Survey, 8,000 ramblers participated and the top 20 routes are as follows:

1.   Helvellyn, Lake District
2.   Snowdon, Wales
3.   Malham and Gordale circular walk, Yorkshire
4.   Cat Bells, Lake District
5.   Scafell Pike, Lake District
6.   Tryfan, Wales
7.   Buttermere, Lake District
8.   Old Man of Coniston, Lake District
9.   Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland
10. Mam Tor, Peak District
11. Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons, Wales
12. Linn of Dee to Ben Macdui, Scotland
13. South Downs Way, Hampshire/Sussex
14. West Highland Way, Scotland
15. Ben Nevis, Scotland
16. Solva to St. Davids, Wales
17. Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire
18. Hadrian's Wall
19. Old Harry Rocks, Dorset
20. Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall

It is great to see the different areas across Britain that feature in the above list, and you realise how fortunate we are to be surrounded by such stunning and spectacular landscapes. However, the ITV programme, which highlighted the 100 favourite walks, revealed that among all the rural routes were ones including the Thames Path, which concludes its journey in the heart of the capital. Many of the walks mentioned, rather than being a gentle amble, were incredibly challenging in terms of terrrain, distance and duration. These were definitely ones that would require you to put on your stoutest hiking boots, reach for your OS map and pack up your rucksack with vital supplies - particularly copious quantities of the energy boosting Kendal Mint Cake!

The spring Evergreen (published on 7th March, click here to order) will take you on an enjoyable stroll down memory lane, and an enlightening exploration of places throughout Britain. Among these, we venture to the Wiltshire market town of Devizes, which is famous for its number of listed buildings and Victorian brewery. Shire horses still undertake local deliveries from here every week. Heading further north, we discover the scenic Scottish village of St. Monans on the Fife coast, with its church that is situated exceptionally close to the water's edge. Another coastal destination sees us set sail for the Channel Island of Guernsey to learn more about its folklore and legends. We also travel to north Wales to visit a new visitor attraction that tells the story of Mary Jones whose remarkable journey to buy a Bible in the 18th century inspired the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society. All this and there's much more on the itinerary too! Not long to wait now before the spring journey begins.

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