Middelagedmum.com: In praise of walking


When ever I visit friends and family outside of London I am surprised by how much they use their cars. They do it because they have to or because they can – a journey to the shops simply involves pulling the car out of the driveway and a short drive down some country roads until they reach the town square, where they swing into a free parking space and trot to the shops. Whereas in London, a trip to the shops involves all sorts of parking restrictions, expensive car parks and potential road rage situations.

Driving in London has been made so difficult that we have decided not to bother owning a car any more, as it’s easier to use one of the amazingly simple car sharing schemes if you need to drive for any reason.

But to be honest I am glad, really glad that I hardly ever need to use a car in my daily life, as over the last few years walking has become one of my very favourite things – and here’s why………..

Walking allows you to get somewhere while exercising – what’s not to like?

Walking allows you to check out new and interesting things in your neighbourhood – I am always discovering new shops, cafes and restaurants on my travels.

Walking enables you to get fresh air on a regular basis – even in a city – it’s good for your soul.

Walking in London is often actually faster than taking public transport if you know the short cuts and if you don’t you soon find out.

Walking means it’s perfectly ok to look in peoples windows at dusk.

Walking allows you to take your dog to work – which is better than taking public transport -particularly if you have a really large dog like me.

Walking your dog allows you to meet new people, London dog walkers are lovely friendly people who are always up for a chat.

Walking alone enables you to clear your head and think things through – the longer the walk the better if it’s a particularly tricky problem.

Walking removes you from technology – as it’s dangerous to use your phone when walking in London as you bump into things.

Walking enables you to experience street life and all of its eccentricities – particularly in Hackney where everything happens all the time to every type of person.

Walking enables you to experience nature – even in the city – there are amazing parks, marshes, cemeteries, birds, foxes, sun rises and sun sets to experience, but you need to be outside to see them.

In short I love walking, particularly with my dog and fully intend to carry on walking as much as I can, well into my old age.



  • Monix says:

    What a lovely hymn to walking Jane. I recently bought a pedometer and am amazed how self – competitive I am to walk the recommended 10,000 steps (and how hard it is to achieve that).

  • Katy says:

    Yes to walking, but not on tiny devon lanes!

  • Jane says:

    Monix – Think I might need to get one of those.


  • sarah says:

    I have to drive in order to walk my dogs because of giant beet lorries, tractor boys on their phones and blind corners. I agree wholeheartedly about the benefits, esp. making friends with other dog walkers and feeling ’embedded’ in the land. I would really miss the lack of proper weather in London but how lovely to have a choice about owning a car!

  • Amanda says:

    Walking also makes you appreciate beautifully designed and well made flat shoes. A

  • Jane says:

    I agree Sarah – I love the weather in the countryside, good and bad
    J x

  • claire says:

    yes, totally agree. I’ve never owned a car in London, it always seems so much hassle and walking is so much less stressful.

  • Nicola says:

    Walking everywhere is one of the advantages of city living. Living in the middle of Chester we walk everywhere. My husband walks to work. We walk to the shops and restaurants. I walk around the city walls for relaxation and to keep fit. We walk our dog on the city’s meadows. When we visit London we always say it’s part cultural trip part walking holiday.

  • Jan Chambers says:

    Do so agree with the sentiments in your article Jane. I live in a rural area which, sadly, is poorly served by public transport. As a result it’s pretty much a necessity to have the use of a car if you work outside the home and need to travel any kind of distance to get there. I guess what happens is that folks then make more use of the car than maybe they should. Also take Kate’s point about narrow country lanes. Ironically many city dwellers can have better access to open walking spaces than us country livers. Thanks for such an interesting and different focus in the article.

  • Susan says:

    I highly recommend buying a Fitbit or similar to measure your daily steps. It is really motivating me to walk more rather than jumping in the car – although I’m a town dweller so easier. And fun to compete with friends measuring on their devices!

  • Susan says:

    Totally agree with everything you say about the benefits of travelling on foot. Although I am very biased as walking has always been part of my everyday life. As a 5 year old I walked 20 minutes to and from school four times a day, often on my own as my mother didn’t/wouldn’t push a large pram up and down a hill…

    I would always choose to live in a city centre. I’ve lived in the centre of Edinburgh for over 25 years and it has been a great pleasure to bring up children in an environment where they got the chance to experience independence at an early age as they could walk to school on their own. I love the fact that I can walk out to the theatre, cinema, concerts, shops, parks, riverside walkways etc etc. Sometimes the car sits unused for days on end. When I visit friends in the suburbs and small towns in the country I am always struck by how few people you actually see on the street and it feels slightly soulless!

    I’m just back from a couple of days in London for work when I walked from Kings X to Whitehall and from theatreland back to the hotel. Much easier than taking a crowded Tube, much more interesting and often just as quick. However London is a lot flatter than Edinburgh – I am definitely fitter here as you can’t avoid all the hills!

  • Father Bob says:

    Walk, as long as you can, us “oldies” would love to be walking in our North Yorkshire country side.
    Mother Kay now restricted to “whizzing” around in her mobility scooter, while I am reduced to regular nine holes of golf . Article in todays Telegraph, “A Daily walk wards of an early death” under lines your thoughts.

  • Osnat says:

    Can’t agree more Jane, walking is the best form of excersice I know. While we did eventually cave in and buy a car after ten years without one only because of those very brutal and cold winter months that made it very hard to get around ,to work,and do the grocery shopping, I have continued routinely to walk around the city enjoying every minute of it. Doing it with a friend makes it also a fun way to socialize. Cities are meant for walking really not for cars, they should block the most busy routes and allow only pedestrians there. By the way the film Wiild with Reese Witherspoon is amongst other things an ode to walking as a form of therapy and overcoming grief. I have not seen it yet but planning to.

  • Jane says:

    Osnat – really want to see that film too and agree about walking and taking, no better way to catch up with friends

    j x

  • laurien says:

    everything corrispondes to why i enjoy walking whenever i can. in ticino sadly i often need my car. when i am back in the netherlands for a visit. i will walk hours on end thru the hague, my home town, and other cities.

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