As we near the twilight days of late summer, you may feel that countryside wanderlust calling – the lower temperatures and cooler ground make this a prime time to take full advantage of the last of the good weather. Wherever you are in the country, there’s nothing like a rambling pub walk, and it’s a fantastic way to get on top of your exercise after that particularly indulgent week, or some unwelcome cholesterol test results.
Step 1: Pick a Pub, or Two
The perfect pub will be picturesque, a welcoming sight, and home to a well-stocked kitchen. CAMRA hosts a tool to find pubs serving only real ale, and broader listings such as UK Pub Finder make this part a breeze.
So, what are you looking for in a pub? You’ll want to choose something special, not too far from civilisation and transport links, that you’ll look forward to reaching. Remember – you’re going to be hungry. Look for pubs that serve good, balanced meals, as an unhealthy meal can make you feel guilty after a virtuously active day. Plus, eating a balanced diet is also a good idea if you really are taking action in response to a cholesterol test.
Regional and local produce is another must, especially at this time of year. There are thousands of gastropubs to choose from, from gourmet to gastro. From seaside pubs serving up the catch of the day to countryside havens for fresh vegetables and game, there are so many options to choose from.
Step 2. Find a Route
Walks end in disappointment when we overstretch ourselves; be realistic about what you can manage in a day. Not all of us are seasoned ramblers, and it’s not worth hurting yourself over. If the walk seems daunting, why not try making the excursion into a game, such as Pub Golf?
That said, a brisk challenge is good for everyone. Exercise is good for your heart and mentally refreshing, allowing you to really earn that pub lunch and pint. Aim to arrive at your destination a little tired, and definitely a little hungry – there’s regional food to look forward to, after all.
Londoners are at no disadvantage either: there are plenty of perfect perambulations and public houses within shouting distance of network rail. Google Maps is just the start, with tools like Mapometer, Walkit, and many more offering excellent route planning from your home computer or smartphone.
Step 3: Get Ready
Hydration is an absolute must when walking at any time of year, but especially in summer. That pint on the horizon may go some way to quenching your thirst, but nothing beats water for keeping your body moving and feeling healthy, so take a bottle with you.
Comfy and practical shoes and clothing are just as important. You may not be orienteering, but a good countryside walk should meet its fair share of stiles, cowpats, and brambles, so dress prepared! If it’s really sunny, wear a hat – the cows won’t judge your fashion sense.
Lastly, make sure you don’t get lost. If you’re going somewhere really remote, you may need to be prepared to lose your phone signal – at which point a map and compass are a good idea. The Ordnance Survey maps are available from most high-street booksellers.
Step 4: Grab Your Friends
There are few activities in life that are less enjoyable with good company. Walking in the countryside then settling down to a light pint and hot lunch are no exception – invite your friends, colleagues, or family! You never know, maybe they’ve had undesirable cholesterol test results too. In any case, people of all ages can benefit from blowing away the cobwebs, taking in the views, and stretching their legs, and your friends might have great recommendations to share – you won’t know until you ask!