How long you take to walk a specific distance, or how far you walk in a given time, will depend on a number of factors from your fitness level and the length of your stride to the number of stops you take to rest or enjoy your surroundings and any weight you’re carrying on you in a rucksack or backpack.
Things can also vary at a moment’s notice. The weather might suddenly turn or children you’re walking with could tire. Circumstances at the time of your walk can also affect your speed – you’ll probably walk that bit faster if you’re late for an appointment than you would if you’re simply enjoying some fresh air on a Sunday afternoon!
Everyone walks at a different pace, but as a guide most adults can walk at around 2.5 miles (4km) an hour without accounting for stops. If you’re new to walking or recovering from an illness, allow yourself more time. Experienced walkers will often walk faster than this and walk further in an hour.
Whatever your walking ability though, the type of ground you’re covering will impact your walking pace. People walk faster on smoother surfaces such as roads, pavements and surfaced paths, while uneven ground and more difficult surfaces such as mud or boggy areas, gravel and sand will slow you down.
And then then there are hills to consider. ‘Naismith's Rule’ (devised by Scottsh mountaineer William Wilson Naismith in 1892) allows an hour for every three miles (5km), plus an extra half an hour for every 1000ft (330m) climbed, so you’ll need to factor in more time for a walk that includes ascents.
When calculating pace the most important thing is to know your limitations and those of the people you’re walking with. It’s no fun being left behind so if you’re walking with others the group should adjust its speed to the slowest member of the group and give them plenty of encouragement.
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