Sunday, 19 December 2010

Being a tourist

A few weeks ago Şencan and I found ourselves in Derbyshire. It was the first time that I had been there for some years outside of Christmas, weddings or funerals, and we had a couple of spare days to do some exploring.

You may have noticed that I love Kinder Scout, yet it has been years since I was last wading through the peat. I have longed to show Şencan the plateau for some time, so we arrived at the virtually empty car park at Edale on a beautifully clear day. Unfortunately it was blowing a gale, and it would only have been worse at altitude. If I had been on my own then I would have gone up, but I wanted to show her my favourite area in good weather.

So instead we wimped out and went to explore the Peak District. It is an area that I know like the back of my hand, and it was good to share my enthusiasm with someone else. We walked down to the viaduct from Monsal Head and visited Castleton, Buxton and Bakewell before eventually heading back to my parents' house.

I have strolled across many parts of the country over the past eleven years, and have enjoyed discovering much of what this wonderful country has to offer. Yet I am always aware that I see a small, linear picture of what lies within a short distance of my route. When walking I rarely stop to visit museums or local attractions, or even just wander down lanes to see where they end. I am focussed solely on the walking, on reaching my objective. In doing so, I miss a great deal. My impressions of a place can be rendered utterly false.

Which is where those few days opened my eyes. I study the maps before I visit an area of the country, seeing where the best walks are. In the past I have even fitted walks in amongst my working life, arranging off-site meetings so that I can go walking afterwards - a particularly easy task in summer. I could have spent the time exploring the area instead of going hell-bent on walks.

So perhaps I should forget about walking every day, and instead spend some time exploring. Take the car to a random town, park up and spend the day walking around. I could easily walk ten to fifteen miles in such a way, and also immerse myself much more in an area.

Or perhaps I shall just walk.

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