Walking is good for you – everyone knows that, don’t they? Well, they do, but the busy world we live in means many don’t have time stop to think about it.
It didn’t used to be like this when it came to walking.
Exploring the countryside used to be an everyday part of childhood but, in recent years, there has been a tendency not to let children “run wild”. I am as guilty of that as any parent, but still worry that future generations won’t appreciate the benefit of getting outdoors.
Now spring is here, I spend time helping build dens with my children in the woods near our home, encouraging them to enjoy nature.
There are many official initiatives in place to remind people of all ages of the benefits of going outside. May was even declared National Walking Month, encouraging everyone to think about going for a stroll.
A great place to rekindle a love of walking is Inchcailloch island on Loch Lomond, reached by a boat trip from Balmaha, something that increases the excitement and feeling that you are going on a mini adventure – especially for children.
Once on the island, there is the chance to savour the beauty of the outdoors. Magnificent carpets of bluebells grow among the woodland and there’s a little hill to climb for views over Loch Lomond – and a beach, which is ideal for picnics.
This is not a strenuous walk but it’s great to do with friends who wouldn’t normally venture far. And if it encourages them to start exploring Scotland’s superb landscapes then we’re getting somewhere. One day they may climb a Munro, or complete a long-distance route.
Hopefully, walking can become an everyday part of life again.
While walking as a recreational pastime has never been more popular – just look at the summits of some Munros on a sunny day – there is a danger that going on a walk is seen as a special occasion.
Only when walking becomes part of everyday life – maybe a Munro at a weekend or an evening stroll after work – can we truly say we have achieved the aim of getting everybody walking regularly.
Location: Inchcailloch island
Length: Two miles
Height gained: 295 feet
Time: 1 to 1½ hours
OS Landranger 56
Parking: You need to catch a boat from Balmaha. The village’s boatyard runs an on-demand service costing £5 for adults and £2.50 for under-16s
Top tip: Even as spring takes hold, it can be cold, especially on a windy day. Even if the sun is shining, take a hat in your rucksack as body heat can be lost through an exposed head.