One of the best things about being in Cornwall is the stunning selection of walking terrain that budding hikers can choose from. Top of the list in a coastal county is the South West Coast Path – all 258 miles of it. Alternatively, you could plump for the wilds of Bodmin Moor, any number of spring woodlands, rolling hills or lush river valleys.
I’ve been walking since a young age, when my mum decided we needed to get exercise and joined a rambling club, making many friends in the process. While I hated sport at school, a good walk was never a chore, and this enjoyment has stayed with me.
Just lately, though, I’ve wondered whether I should slow down a bit. After all, I’m expecting my first baby in July, and am getting bigger by the day. What used to be a walk in the park is now a slog up a hill. I was heartened to read, however, that walking is one of the safest exercise activities throughout pregnancy. It keeps you fit without jarring your knees and ankles; can help promote a fast and easy labour; and will speed up recovery from birth. Hurrah to that.
We’ve been walking the Cornish coast path in bits for years. My partner and his mother started at Prussia Cove in 1992; we’ve now completed the north coast and passed Land’s End, so we haven’t got far to go to complete the job. Our last stint was from Sennen Cove to Nanjizal and back inland, including a vertiginous stretch of footpath that made me wonder whether I was risking more than just my own life.
We also hopped over the Channel to attend Walk Scilly 2010 at the end of March. We discovered St Martin’s and Bryher for the first time, learned about flora and bird life, and explored the Garrison. The weather was changeable, the birds stayed largely at home, the plants were late due to the harsh winter and the inter-tidal walk was cancelled, to our disappointment. Yet Dunkirk spirit prevailed – we were all there to walk, and walk we did, buoyed along by knowledgable and entertaining guides who knew their shags from their cormorants, and could spot the tiniest rare plants with astonishing precision.
I still enjoy the countryside as much as ever, although my walks aren’t quite as long as they were (and will be again). I value the health benefits it gives me, for free, and I look forward to introducing my offspring to it at the earliest opportunity. And the icing on the cake: on a recent visit to the midwife, I was complimented on my “nice, tidy bump” which was attributed to my walking regime. Can’t say fairer than that.
• May 23, 2010 is Get Walking Day. For more information, and to find a walking group near you, visit www.ramblers.org.uk
• If you live in South East Cornwall, check out the Walk & Talk groups in Saltash and the Tamar Valley. Visit www.tamarvalley.org.uk