28 August 2020 by Helen Grover
My Mum and Dad were both brought up in urban areas, in Slough and North London. During World War Two, Dad had an auntie who lived on the South Downs and was evacuated here. When he met my Mum, they courted on the South Downs, near the Jack and Jill windmills – they absolutely loved the countryside. Then they moved down here, and both my brother and I were born here – they would always take us out on walks, which we both loved, with Mum teaching us about the different flowers and plants as we went.
That really developed my love for walking – I’ve always walked. Now my two children are both teenagers and although I work, I have a bit more time, so I searched online for walk routes to do with my Dad – he is in his eighties but still very fit and still loves walking, and we walk regularly together, often in the afternoon after I’ve finished work and before family dinner times.
Finding new places to walk
I used other apps, and our local Sussex Living magazine features a walk each month, but I was starting to run out of routes, so the Ramblers came to mind! I also saw a Ramblers ad on Facebook, so I went onto your website and found Ramblers Routes, and then the app version.
The list of walks available Ramblers Routes is amazing, so I joined the Ramblers to get full access to all the routes. I thought it was really great value – so cheap at just £3.05 a month! The great thing about following a Ramblers Route walk on the Ramblers app is that if you misunderstand the route directions, or get lost, you can tap on the map and pull up the OS map, so that you can find exactly where you are. I also like the fact that the app tells you how to get to the start of a walk, whether you are coming from north or south, and it also tells you where you can park.
One of our favourite walks so far has been across the South Downs from Small Dole village and up Truleigh Hill, taking in Woodsmill Nature Reserve. We climbed up to the top of the Downs to sit and have lunch, it was a bit of a climb but the views of Chanctonbury Ring and Wolstonbury Hill were amazing.
Enjoying walking locally and further afield
Now I’ve got my eye on some other Ramblers Routes near me to try. There is one from Burgess Hill to a local nature reserve, and another one from Balcombe to Wakehurst Place and back. Dad and I are also going to go and spend a few days in the New Forest – I’ve already started using the Ramblers app to look for walks around there – and as a family we also go to Norfolk, so I’ll use it to look for routes there too.
I’m also hoping, very soon, to be able to go on a group, led walk with a local Ramblers group – when I walk with Dad, it’s usually me who is in charge of the directions, so it will be nice to have someone else leading the walk so that I can just enjoy the scenery, and also chat with other people who love the countryside and walking.
For anyone who might be feeling a bit shy or nervous about getting into walking, I’d say give it go -- start by walking in a group near you and do a shorter walk. All the routes on Ramblers Routes, and all the Ramblers’ group walks, are graded -- so you can see how long they are, and whether they’re easy or hard, and you can do some walks for free before you join.
What do I get from walking? I’m not religious, but if anything calls me, it is nature and being in wildness with plants and animals. You never know what sort of wildlife you will get to see when you’re out walking, or the sun coming out from the clouds – there is no way I am ever going to stop.
Joining the Ramblers gives you access to Ramblers Routes, a growing collection of nearly 4,000 routes, developed by walkers for walkers of all levels of experience, across Great Britain The Ramblers, Great Britain’s largest walking community, is waiting to welcome you for just £3.05 a month. Find out more: www.ramblers.org.uk/get-involved/join-the-ramblers