Spring is officially here and that means ever so slightly warmer weather, longer days and the joys of flowers in bloom and birds singing. It definitely encourages me to get outside, and I don’t mind the longer walks on the nicer evenings. In winter I just want to curl up with a blanket and cuppa, but no more!
I was thinking about how I can get outdoors and make the most out of my trainers and the new daylight hours, and I turned to my job for inspiration. I work on a countryside magazine and what better way to enjoy spring and get in the exercise than exploring nature when it is bursting with potential?
Go wildlife spotting! There are so many amazing birds, creepy crawlies and furry friends around that going on a general walk could tick the boxes, take a notebook and pen with you and jot down what you spot. This is a great one for the kids as well, getting their little feet moving and learning at the same time. If you’re unsure what you’ve seen, take a photo of your fab find and Google it when you get home, either by the description or using the Google image search which finds images similar to yours and brings up a whole lot of related images for you. If you don’t think you’ll find much on a typical walk, you could head to a local park, woodland or an RSPB nature reserve, and no doubt a nature reserve will have their own guide and activity books for you to find an abundance of wildlife. Take binoculars with you as well for those harder to see birds.
You also don’t need to just go wildlife spotting, you could go in search of spring flowers or even go geocaching, which is a completely different world of fun. You basically go on a massive treasure hunt and uncover some delights, replacing them with your own treats for someone else to find, it uses GPS and there are sites all over the country, you just need a smartphone. You can find out about geocaching by clicking here.
Get on your bike! If you’re lacking motivation to go for a walk, because lets face it you might not enjoy walking as much as I do, you can hop on your bike and find a cycle path nearby that you might not have uncovered if on foot. You cover more ground and enjoy spring from the seat, just make sure it’s a padded one as you don’t want the dreaded next day bum pain! Cycle routes are not only easy to find via websites such as Sustrans and Cycle-Route but they can lead you to hidden gems such as ruins, secrets woods and along coastal paths you wouldn’t have dared venture down before. Make sure you wear a helmet though – safety first!
While your out you could set your self a challenge, such as finding something unusual like a quirky shell or stopping to try a cafe you’ve never seen before. If you explore the area you may even find your new favourite pub or idyllic picnic spot, you may find a beach you’ve not noticed before or you could even go in search of history by looking for landmarks or locations of interest from the past. Being more active doesn’t need to be about doing it for the sake of doing it, it can be fun and get you out of the house without being a chore.
Go hiking! Now, I’m not one for incline, I can’t do steep ascent, I’m not at the fitness level where I can maintain that, however for those that enjoy the sweet smell of altitude and the adrenaline of a high peak, you might want to think about visiting the Ramblers or the National Trails websites. There are some great walks on there, covering England, Scotland and Wales – I’m sure if you Google ‘Hiking trails US’ or similar for your country you’ll find a similar site that can help you. Some sites allow you to pick a route based on difficulty, so if you fancy a steep climb, or a gentle stroll, you can decide what fits your mood best.
Why not challenge yourself to go higher every time you go out? Build up slowly, you don’t want to over do it. Leave a token or mark a memorable place on your map each time that will be easy for you to find the next time you go, and push yourself to go a little further on every trip, going in search of your marker like a treasure hunt. You might find that by Christmas you’re undertaking the Three Peaks Challenge (Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike) or travelling abroad to climb Machu Picchu or Mount Everest. Please don’t try too hard though, baby steps until you’re ready.