The UK magazine Country Walking runs a challenge to walk 1000 miles in a year. This year Steve and I decided to join in. 1000 miles works out to 2.73 miles per day or about 20 miles per week. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you miss a day or two those miles pile up.

Do you remember that episode of the 1950s TV show I Love Lucy where Lucy and Ethel start work in a chocolate factory? Those chocolates coming down the conveyor belt are the 3 miles I have to walk each day. Miss a day and I have 6 miles for the next day. Miss two days and I am walking 9 miles! I picture myself next November walking 24 hours a day to catch up!

But, so far, so good. We made our 20 miles for the first two weeks of 2017 and are on schedule for 20 this week. The photo below shows the long shadows of a late afternoon walk into town to make our 3 miles.

Trail into Bridport
Trail into Bridport

We moved to England because of the popularity of walking here. The policy of public access to private land means the United Kingdom is criss-crossed by footpaths. Some of these trails were walked by prehistoric man but most are from medieval times when workers walked for miles to get from their village to the seaside or mills or farms.

We chose to live in Bridport in Dorset (southwest England) for two reasons – the clean air off the English Channel and the footpaths. (Bridport is also a fantastic town.) From our house we can walk for miles. We can walk to the seaside village of West Bay in 30 minutes (4 miles if we walk to West Bay and along the sea front walkway and back) or we can walk into Bridport and do our shopping on foot (3 miles if we walk into town and then around town a bit).

Trail above Bridport
Trail above Bridport

Winter walking is difficult because of the mud. Once the cold and wet weather arrives in November, the ground becomes saturated and mud is everywhere. If you walk into a crop field it is like walking through cement – not possible. We try to find the less muddy trails and we walk on mud-free lanes, but I usually have to wash our walking clothes and scrub our walking shoes every day. We do some walks in wellies but they are not as comfortable and they need to be scrubbed too.

From May to October we will have no problem making our 20 miles per week. Most years we walk about 30 miles a week. The days are long, the weather is mild and the mud is gone. We frequently pack a lunch and head out for a three to four hour walk. This summer we are going to Switzerland for three weeks. Hiking there will get us our miles.

Brits have always been great walkers. There are 16 long distance National Trails. When we lived in the Cotswolds we walked the 104 mile Cotswold Way twice. The 640 mile South West Coast Path passes near where we live and we have already walked much of the stretch from Exmouth to Poole. We plan to walk this stretch again this summer.

A few of us on the Slow Europe forums are doing this challenge. I made a hidden forum so we can keep track of our miles and keep each other motivated. Send me a message on the forums if you want to join in. It isn’t too late – if you start now you have to walk 2.88 miles per day for the rest of the year.

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

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