Welcome to the online diary of the “London Ziegs,” as they journal their experiences relocating from the balmy climes of sunny Orlando, Florida to the more chaotically cosmopolitan environment of London, UK!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Walking clubs

Going for a walk in England has been surprisingly different from walking in the United States. Of course, you still have to pick up one foot, move it forward, set it down, pick up the other foot, move it forward, set it down, and repeat as often as needed to get to your destination. Some things don't change when you cross an ocean. The difference is where you walk. In the US, typically I would go walking along residential streets or on the bike/pedestrian path beside the main road. In the England, people typically go walking over public paths (such as the Green Way) that lead you over open fields and natural areas. Sometimes these paths cross private lands that have a public right of way, which means the public has a right to free passage across private land, provided the public doesn't damage the private land in any way. This means that, even though we live close to the center of town, we have wide open natural areas very close at hand.

I've recently been on organized walks with two different groups. The advantage to these groups is that someone usually knows where he/she is going, has a map, and has probably been over the territory before. For me, this avoids the possibility of having to call the emergency rescue people on my cell phone. With the Thames Valley American Women's Club, I enjoyed a hike that included Hellfire Caves, the family (I forget which one) mausoleum, a lovely old church, and green rolling hills as far as the eye could see. We traveled along several rights of way, one of which took us through a pasture past some rather puzzled horses. Our leader also goes geo-caching, so we searched for and found a cache near the mausoleum. The box of treasure was hidden under some fallen branches, so it really took some digging through leaves -- which I would never have done in Florida, the home of fire ants, poisonous snakes, cockroaches, and every other creepy creature imaginable.

The second trip out and about was with the Wesley Walkers from the Methodist church. On this trip, I was the distantly youngest person; most of my fellow hikers were old enough to be my parents! But this did not slow any of them down. We crossed stiles and trudged through muddy fields over a four or five mile trail. Sometimes the trail resembled a slightly shorter path through the grassy fields, so I was glad someone had a map on this trip. Happily, this walk ended at a nearby pub!


  1. That walking club sounds really fun! The best part of hillwalking for me is at the end of the walk-- like you said at a pub or a big Sunday lunch... yum. You don't get that in America!

  2. Hi - Another of the gals from She's not from Yorkshire here -

    I used to lead walks as part of my job. It was a completely unknown concept to me but I even got to be trained under a nationally recognized Walking the Way to Health scheme - so fun!

    My walks were short for people who can only do a mile or two but I went along to some of the longer walks and they were really great. I'd love to get involved with similar schemes back in the US. I also think it is great that people can volunteer to look after the walking/biking paths all over the countryside here. The closest thing I know of in the US (and my knowledge on this is only limited) is the Adopt-A-Highway program where local groups clean up roads.

    Great post!

  3. This post reminded me of when I told my husband I wanted us to join a rambling society. He isn't game for this idea as he feels we're too young...apparently. Sheesh...and I just wanted in for some healthy walking with a group.