Unlike many of today’s couch potato kids, I was always one of those children who lived for the outdoors. Give me some woodland to explore, wide open moors or the diverse wildlife and beauty of the river bank and I was always in my element.
We are constantly bombarded by the media telling us to get our kids (and ourselves) to be more active. Children never walk anywhere and, some as young as six who spend a lot of time in front of the TV or playing computer games, are already showing early signs of heart disease and high blood pressure, a study has claimed (telegraph.co.uk). In addition to the worrying health issues, our kids are also often clueless about their natural surroundings: children’s knowledge of nature is questionable (dailywhat.org.uk).
The commonly held belief that children are now usually ferried around in cars, unlike previous generations was contradicted in 2004 by the University of Lancaster study that found; 10 and 11-year-olds still make over 60% of their journeys on foot (bbc.co.uk). In addition and in the same year, many parents were unconcerned about the ‘couch potato’ label given to their kids; Four in five parents do not care whether their child gets enough exercise despite soaring childhood obesity rates (bbc.co.uk). And, back in 2001 half of British teenagers thought their parents are to blame for their couch potato lifestyle (bbc.co.uk).
The other day I was reading Trail Magazine and hankering after spending some quality time in the outdoors again. I’ve always had a love of being in the fresh air, being at one with the flora and fauna of this (mostly) green and pleasant land…
I’ve spent a large part of my life walking, climbing, camping, kayaking and have tried most types of outdoor activities at one time or another. In my youth I was heavily involved with Scouting and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) scheme and later, as an Army Cadet Force instructor and member of the Territorial Army, I participated in and instructed others about adventurous training activities and outdoor skills.
My part of the country is smack bang in the middle of two of the finest National Parks we have so a love of the outdoors is hardly surprising. In the east I have the North Yorkshire Moors and in the west I have the Yorkshire Dales. In addition, I’m only a couple of hours away from the magnificent Lake District and the immensely scenic Northumbrian fells and coastline…
Recently however I’ve become something of an armchair adventurer and I keep asking myself why? I suppose most of it is down to personal priorities, that and a good dose of bone idleness. 🙂 If I was tied to long working hours I could blame the availability of time but I’m not, I retired a couple of years ago. I could bemoan the difficulties presented by travel to and from areas of natural beauty if I was a city dweller but I’m not, I live in rural North Yorkshire. Therefore there really is no excuse!
But today it’s so easy to get an experience of what the The Great Outdoors has to offer, and all without even moving from the comfort of your armchair. You can read informative magazines on the subject, watch amusing films (see example here) or you might even have chuckled at the recent BBC 2 comedy show on the subject. However by doing so you’re actually missing out on so many of the benefits of getting out there, not least the health advantages gained from getting some exercise.
Whether you prefer to walk the coast, hills or mountains or just want to enjoy a bit of variety, the Ordnance Survey favourites lists (see here) is a good place to start looking for inspiration. Not surprisingly the most popular walking areas such as the Lake District, North Yorkshire and North Wales are well represented, but there are a few surprises as well.
Another popular destination, especially for those who are a little less adventurous (or a less fit) are the canal towpaths of Britain’s inland waterways network. Taking a stroll along the canal network was recently the subject of the BBC Canal Walks series with Julia Bradbury. The canals have a colourful history, from their use for irrigation and transport, through becoming the focus of the Industrial Revolution, to today’s role for recreational boating and leisure.
So, no more excuses think I’ll go for a walk… OK, maybe after it stops raining!
Outdoor Video Resources
- Cotswold Outdoor – Hill Walking Essentials… (open in new window)
- Mnt. Council (Scotland) – Top Tips on Mountain Safety… (open in new window)
- GO Outdoors – The clothing layering system… (open in new window)
- Ordnance Survey – How to use a compass… (open in new window)
- Ordnance Survey – Using grid references… (open in new window)