Another New Year looms and the pressure to make that annual resolution hangs like a pall on the horizon. You may wake up on New Year’s Day with a tired and heavy head and the best of intentions but according to YouGov, the chances of your resolve making it through the year are depressingly small. Data from December 2017 shows that, of the 21% of Brits who make New Year resolutions, a quarter fail to keep any of them, one in five failing within the first week.
Probably unsurprisingly, the majority of our resolutions are of the new year, new me variety, fuelled by a determination to improve our health and wellbeing. But the very language we use when we make a resolution psychologically works against us. Resolving to lose weight, cut down on drinking, stop late night curries, all infer sacrifice or loss – lose, give up, stop. As soon as our brain registers that, it starts looking for get-out clauses, excuses not to go through with it because it’s something we’re not going to enjoy. Our resolve is doomed to failure unless we can find something whose fringe rewards outweigh any concept of sacrifice. So here’s an idea instead… book a walking holiday.
Find your feet in 2019
The myriad health benefits of walking are already well documented, but what’s just as beneficial are the psychological effects of lacing up the walking shoes and heading into the great outdoors. I’ve harped on about it enough here on Splodz Blogz; I don’t need a research report to tell me that walking improves my mood (although there are studies that will do that), I just need to get out of the house and onto a path to instantly give myself a lift. Nor do I need analysis and control groups to tell me that walking helps me to lose weight, I just have to try fastening my ‘bought when at the peak of thinness’ hiking trousers when I’ve been chained to the desk for a few weeks, and then try again when I’ve been out walking a few times. Then there are the extra, extra fringe benefits like lifting my head above the parapet of the daily grind so that I can think more clearly, breathe more easily and discover the beauty that lies, often unseen, around me.
You don’t have to travel far or splash out on flights to enjoy walking, Britain has some of Europe’s finest paths that amble through archetypal idylls of thatched cottages and village greens; along ruggedly handsome coastlines above which the crumbling walls of ancient castles stare silently out to sea; and across lonely moors where a dot-to-dot of country inns provide a warm fire, tasty lunches and a welcome to gladden a traveller’s heart. And if you choose to book a walking holiday with Inntravel, you’ll find yourself on one of the best in the UK. Not only do they find the most picturesque paths, gorgeous guest houses and stunning scenery, they also take your luggage from location to location for you, offer a range of routes to suit all abilities, and provide comprehensive directions so you can wander at your own pace, stopping to drink in the views, take selfies or simply breathe deeply and smile whenever the urge takes you – and it will.
And once you discover the joy of walking, you won’t want to give it up.
Here are a few of Inntravel’s tasty offerings to ponder…
The Charming Cotswolds
When it comes to choosing the right village for the lid of your imaginary chocolate box, you’ll be hard-pressed to better the Cotswolds. It’s just so beautiful here in the Cotswolds with its thatched roofs, honey-coloured stone cottages draped in wisteria, and dreamy spires reaching for the sky behind village greens. The walking is gentle and pastoral as you follow paths and bridleways through meadows of wildflowers, stopping to take in such quintessentially English silliness as the Olimpicks (no, I haven’t misspelt that) where you can watch grown men with straw stuffed down their socks trying to kick each other’s shins; and face the giddy prospect of dining at the famous Pudding Club which, after you’ve walked nine miles, you can afford to do guilt-free.
From its dry-stone walls and isolated hill farms to its heather-clad moors, Yorkshire’s landscape is as distinctive as its vernacular, and walking its myriad paths is the best way to enjoy its singular hospitality and charm. Stroll through villages whose very names conjure scenes from Tolkien’s Shire – Hutton-le-Hole, Applegarth and Helmsley – pausing to enjoy lunch in a country pub or visit one of the castles favoured by Richard III or used as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots, the spectres of their past seeping from their crumbling walls. You might even take in a culinary tour of some of Yorkshire’s lip-smackingly-good local produce, crafted by small producers and fresh from the farm.
There’s a distinct literary bent to Inntravel’s Wessex walking holidays, where you might find yourself following in the footsteps of Thomas Hardy’s hapless heroine, Tess of the D’Urbervilles as you amble sections of The Hardy Way; strolling meadows that provided the setting for Richard Adams’ heart-squeezing tales from Watership Down or treading the same boards as the cast of Julian Fellowes’ highly addictive period drama, Downton Abbey. With villages that have literally come straight out of the pages of an English novel, and ebullient hedgerows bordering pretty lanes that meander over velvet hills and through ancient woodlands alongside chalk escarpments, it doesn’t take long to understand why this part of the world has found its way into so many classic pages.
In truth, words on a page or screen can never really do justice to the glory of the British countryside, there’s only one way to do that – head out and immerse yourself in it. Make walking more your goal for 2019; whether it’s a full on long-distance hike, or a simple one hour outside every day.
With thanks to Inntravel for providing this guest post for Splodz Blogz.