Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
If you have always walked with a friend or companion why not try walking on your own. There are many advantages to walking solo. You can concentrate more on your walking - quicken your pace or slow down depending on your mood. You can walk at a time of your own choosing and choose your own locations without having to consider the likes or dislikes of anyone else.
You will appreciate the rest from non-stop conversation and learn to value the gift of silence and solitude. There is more opportunity to admire nature and your surroundings, more time to stop and admire something you find interesting. Friends don’t always appreciate the same things.
Walking solo is a wonderful way to de –stress. As you ponder your problems, solutions sometimes become apparent or even more importantly the futility of worrying about something you cannot change becomes clearer. The time spent alone can be used to good advantage to learn a new language, record your thoughts with the help of a Dictaphone, develop the characters of your novel or learn a new poem. Creativity will blossom.
If you are walking alone in your own neighbourhood very few precautions need be taken. Be adequately dressed for the weather; carry water and a walking stick. If you walk in a built up area do not wear headphones as you should be alert to all the sounds around you to ensure your safety. However if you intend to travel further afield you need to take some basic steps. Tell someone of your plans, where you are going and what time you expect to return. Bring a large scale map with you and learn to use a compass. You may not need to use it but it is a useful security precaution. Now that GPS has become popular and affordable it too is an added help but not absolutely necessary. Keep to designated paths. If there are other walkers on the route keep them in sight, it inspires confidence and gives a sense of security.
Always carry a fully charged mobile phone and check the coverage occasionally. Carry a walking stick. It is useful for balance and for frightening animals. Be prepared for a change in weather and bring water and a enough food with you. A whistle too is a must because in the event of difficulty the sound will carry further and it is less tiring than shouting. If you are out for a day’s walk be sure you have enough daylight left to get to your destination or return to your departure point.