You don’t get much for free these days do you? A smile or a piece of advice if you’re lucky; both wonderful things, but unlikely to keep you entertained for the day. Thankfully there is still one great way to spend a day which is completely free, and as Winter retreats and Spring starts to ease towards us, it becomes even more enjoyable. A good walk is a sure-fire way of dusting off the cobwebs and getting some good fresh air deep into your lungs.
We’re spoilt for choice around Bristol: Within an easy walk of the city centre there’s the wonderful Ashton Court and Leigh Woods, both great places to explore and lose yourself for a bit, surrounded by a sea of greenery (and at this time of year, a fair bit of brown too, in the form of some really good mud!).
If you care to venture a little further afield and get in a car, we’ve got the stunning Chew Valley Lake, Priddy Forest, Blaise Castle, Cheddar Gorge and even the Cotswolds, all under an hours drive , and if you’re craving the sea then the beach at Brean and Weston-super-Mare are fantastic expanses of sand, ideal for over-energetic dogs to wear themselves out bounding around!
Of course, being England, and particularly in the South West, it’s likely to be wet, at least under-foot, and likely from above as well, but this shouldn’t put you off; you just need to be prepared for it, and then even if the worst does happen it won’t spoil your adventure.
For me a decent waterproof jacket, with a hood, is a must, and a good pair of walking trousers don’t go amiss either – something windproof which you don’t mind getting muddy. Gloves are handy at this time of year, particularly if your hands are out of your pockets holding a dog lead, but then if you’re a dog owner you’ll already appreciate that. A dog’s an optional extra; often amusing and occasionally handy on uphill stretches, if you have a less than perfectly trained one like ours who pulls when excited.
And perhaps the most important element of a good enjoyable walk, is a comfortable and waterproof walking boot! In our experience it’s a false economy buying cheaper boots, as their claims to be waterproof don’t hold water (sorry, couldn’t resist!) and you’ll quickly get damp toes. I’ve also been disappointed by more expensive boots from brands you’d expect to be able to trust, but who in fairness aren’t boot specialists – my North Face boots have been assigned to only light duties now, which is disappointing given their premium cost. We recently tried out some boots from Cotswold Shoes and were impressed both by the level of comfort from the off (no uncomfortable breaking in here) and at the level of waterproofing they offered, even in the most thorough of tests.
The build quality’s top notch and for me they easily outperformed boots sold at twice the price. Cotswold Shoes offer a great range of outdoor, casual & formal shoes and boots, as well as slippers, for ladies, gents and kids.
Here’s to more off-road adventures, whatever the weather!