Stay safe with a lockdown walk

Dalmatian on a country walk - Get away from the crowds in the country Now that lockdown is being eased and we have permission to drive to a place away from home to exercise and spend time outdoors, we’re seeing alarming scenes of overcrowding on beaches and in city parks.

Tempting as it is on a sunny day to head for the coast or other attractions, you may feel happier continuing to keep plenty of social distance. Or after weeks of lockdown the prospect of being in the company of lots of people may be distinctly unappealing.

How can you get out of the house, enjoy the fresh air and take some exercise away from the crowds? We have a few suggestions for ways to find quiet walks, runs and cycle rides:

Where to go for your quiet walks

Look at an Ordnance Survey (OS) map and disregard the places you know people are drawn to – parks, popular walks, beauty spots – and think of a less popular alternative.

Red telephone box in the morning sun Quiet walks in the city

Footpaths near towns are being used much more than usual, and there may be parts where the path is narrow and social distancing is impossible if you meet oncoming walkers. Check your map and see if you can plan a different route, for example around quiet lanes (always being aware of road safety).

Some areas and villages are well-known for their architecture, quaintness or natural features. Instead you might like to discover other less celebrated places. Who knows, you may just stumble on some gems you’ll want to return to repeatedly – and keep firmly to yourself!

Time of day

You may not want to emulate the marathon runners who have apparently been getting up to train at 3 am in order to maintain social distancing! But it’s easy to go out at times when the majority of people tend to be at home. It’s the right time of year for beautiful early morning and dusk walks when others are still getting up, or back at home cooking, eating supper, and putting children to bed.

Now that small social gatherings are allowed, the traditionally quiet times like Saturday evening and Sunday morning could also be a good time to hit the trail.

Weather

When the sun is shining people head out in droves. Choose a cloudy day – or even a rainy one if you have the right protective clothing and footwear – and you’ll be guaranteed a much quieter experience.

Where to start for your lockdown walkSingle man walking on the beach

  1. From your front door – pick your time and route carefully and you will be able to enjoy quiet walks or runs even if you live in a town. It’s the perfect opportunity to find out where that footpath sign you’ve whizzed past in the car actually leads to. Or to discover some new routes and shortcuts to add to your daily routes.
  2. If you’ve ever parked and begun a walk from a popular attraction like a National Trust property you’ll know how people tend to congregate close to their cars. You only need to walk a few hundred yards before leaving the crowds behind. So drive out to start your lockdown walks some distance from residential areas, being mindful of the Countryside Code when you park.

Inspiration

To find less-frequented green spaces away from the crowds, a useful tool is the free Greenspace layer in OS maps. It’s the most comprehensive guide to Britain’s accessible spaces and you can access it on your web browser or download the app free to your Apple or Android phone.

It’s so satisfying, and easier than you might think, to create your own quiet walks and keep off the beaten track, wherever you live. Plus you’ll find there’s a real sense of achievement in striking out on your own and enjoying some peace and quiet in the open air.

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