‘Congratulations, it’s twins!’
I remember smiling enthusiastically back at the doctor, there was some nodding, more smiling, not many words and then I found myself walking through London. I remember Baker Street, it seemed so noisy.
As a career-minded 37 year old, twins weren’t in the plan at all. Maybe one well-behaved, clean-looking baby at some stage, but not two – not together.
I rang my husband. Moments later he stood up, silently left his office and also began to walk. He can’t remember where he went, but there was a need to be somewhere else. Away from people.
And this is the gift of walking. Time, space, beauty, a place to escape pressure and organise your thoughts. We all know the feeling when a sudden burst sunshine lights up the path ahead. Your shoulders relax, you smile and you feel lighter.
Having survived the shock of impending twins, I had read somewhere that it was essential for babies to get at least two hours fresh air a day. They would sleep better at night and the rich sensory experiences that they had simply because they were outdoors would build essential brain power.
Mum and Dad purchased a crazily expensive off-road pushchair for them and I invested in good clothes. Together we battled every kind of weather, every day, for at least two hours as instructed.
They often slept throughout and it gave me time to think, to plan and essentially to be quiet.
As they grew and the pushchair was abandoned, the walks got shorter, but we started to look in detail at everything around us. We laminated sheets of animal tracks and wild flowers and together we would search for signs of wildlife. I fell back in love with nature watching them discover everything for the first time and fill their pockets with precious finds.
In the blink of an eye, we suddenly have teenagers and a dog. The daily walks continue and provide vital time for important conversations. We notice that the space around them helps them reveal secret worries and exciting plans. They talk so much more when they have the privacy of the woods and our undivided attention.
Maybe that’s why when we plan family holidays we all choose mountains over the beach?
I feel very lucky now to talk to keen walkers every day at Celtic Trails. We hear so many personal stories of achievement and adventure, friendship and family, love and loss.
We know that the physical benefits of walking as we age are numerous, from heart and lung health, to bone strength and the reduced risk of major diseases.
2020 has been a tough year right across the globe. Walking reduces anxiety and depression, feelings of being overwhelmed and loneliness. By letting our minds wander freely, we focus less on aches and pains.
Making walking a daily habit re-wires our brains and the slow travel of walking holidays becomes magical – simply by putting one foot in front of the other.
By Sarah Jones: Celtic Trails Walking Holiday Coordinator