The Pleasure of Walking

December 28th, 2008 by Richard Lord

Have some of us forgotten about the pleasure of walking? Are we too quick to jump in a car? Guernsey’s size is ideally suited for walking. And it has many picturesque locations and quiet country lanes. If we don’t have to rush along the shortest route to our destination we can discover more about the area we walk through. If we walk home or walk to work our journey can reveal new detail about our environment. And walking can produce a sense of well-being along the way.

Sometimes without thinking we jump into a car to get to a destination.  We don’t give time to consider the alternatives of walking or bicycling even if the journey is short. It is only if we contemplate the nuisance of trying to find a parking space at our destination or the frustration at getting stuck in traffic that we might hesitate.  But we should consider the pleasure and the beauty of the journey too and the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and the sights and sounds of our picturesque island.

Sunday 28 December 2008 was sunny and cold.  After saying good-bye to a Christmas visitor at Guernsey Airport I was offered a ride to my home on the outskirts of St. Peter Port but the crisp air and the winter sunshine made me want to walk.

I could have taken a direct route to the outskirts of St. Peter Port but I decided to avoid the main road.  I followed a sense of direction but decided at each intersection, which lane to follow.

I walked towards the south coast.  Soon I was surrounded by farmland and a scattering of farm cottages and glasshouses. A group of Lycra-clothed bicyclists flowed passed me.  Some foliaceous fungus grew on the grassy bank and near-by a cluster of pretty flowers sprang out of the bank.  These winter heliotrope flowers, Petasites fragrans, are native to the Mediterranean region but they are now common in the southern British Isles.

winter heliotrope, Petasites fragrans, growing on a roadside bank ©RLLord

As I walked along the lanes I didn’t know what view to expect around each corner. Mist hung in the coastal valleys and the golden sun faded and glowed as clouds blew by.  Much sooner than expected I spotted a familiar building in the distance and I realised how short the walk home would be.  To prolong my journey I visited the cliff path to breathe the invigorating sea air.

Two rocks puncture the silver sea outside Saints Bay

After a brief visit to the cliffs I walked through the narrow lanes of St. Martin parish past granite cottages and walled gardens.

Two blue doors in St. Martin parish ©RLLord

I walked into familiar territory as I approached St. Martin parish church.

St. Martin parish Church ©RLLord

Walking St. Martin lanes I saw colours evocative of the season – golden brown leaves and red rose hips.

Winter colours

Rose hips in winter sunlight ©RLLord

I arrived home thoroughly refreshed.  I had seen my environment in a new light and found new nooks, crannies and niches in my neighbourhood I wished to investigate further.  I realised how pleasurable walking was and how many views there were to see.  Because I didn’t rush and because I had only an end destination I was able to explore and see places I had never seen before even though I have lived in the same place for almost 14 years.  I returned home from the airport with the feeling that I had been away.  I wanted to share my discoveries with others.

So whether one walks alone or with a companion there are many new sights to discover in proximity to our home.  We can spend a lifetime in one place and still not know it well.  But at walking speed one can see so much more.  Go any faster and you’ll miss the treasures all around.  To truly appreciate it we should explore it regularly on foot and share our discoveries with our family and friends.

“It is such a beautiful island.  It is stunningly beautiful.  You

think to yourself why does anyone catch a plane to leave

Guernsey to go on holiday.  They must be mental.”

Lieutenant Governor for the Bailiwick of Guernsey Vice

Admiral Sir Fabian Malbon KBE commenting on his entry

in the round-the-island ITEX walk on BBC Radio Guernsey.

Moulin Huet Bay catching the last rays of the setting sun ©RLLord

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