We love connecting people with the adventures they can have right on their own doorstep. It’s why some of our favourite (and most popular!) books are regional guides, helping cyclists, runners, climbers and walkers discover more in their local areas.
We’ve delved into 1001 Walking Tips to bring you these nuggets from Paul Besley, one of our most experienced guidebook writers, about having the best adventures close to home.
● Urban exploration is about a landscape of human interaction and direction. There will be parks and woodland, and those strange edgelands that sit between town and country, which we used to play in as children but forget about when we become adults.
● You can go from urban areas right out to the countryside. It might be a long way or take just a few minutes, but do it. You’ll notice how the environment changes and have a think about what effect that has on you.
● If you develop a route close to home, where you don’t have to use a car, try and do it each week, at the same time. Note how the landscape changes week by week. Take photos of the same spot, view or tree, to see how the year works out in nature. Use this period to immerse yourself in an environment that is far removed from your everyday - if not in distance. Many urban areas have woodlands that are full of birdlife, so take some binoculars!
● Explore new experiences. Camp out in the back garden one night. Spend a night on the hill and go to work the next morning. Swim in a river. Leave the tent and use a bivvy. Learn to cook meals outdoors. Count stars. Watch double sunsets. At least once a year, go somewhere new, try a new discipline, book the services of an expert. Place yourself outside your own daily world.
● Tourist information and national park visitor centres are to be found in larger communities. Here you can find lots of information about local routes, along with transport, and general points of interest. Visit your local library to get information about your area. Look at history, wildlife and any events that are taking place.
● Applicable to all adventures: Have a secret treat that you can share - some special chocolate or bit of baking that you can hand around as a surprise. This gives such a warm feeling to a group outing. It literally is worth its weight in food.
● At the end of an outing, nothing beats a chippy tea. Learn the closing times of any chip shops that are situated at the end of a route or on your way home as the crushing disappointment at arriving after they have closed is sure grounds for an argument … Same goes for opening days!
● Invite your neighbours to join you!
●Guidebooks are a good way to explore an area. Many books will have a series of routes ranging from a few miles up to a full day’s distance and offer a variety of experiences.
Paul Besley is a writer who began exploring the British landscape while at school in the 1970s. His focus of work is the interaction between humans and the land. His work has evolved into the study of how the physical environment imprints itself on humans and how we as a race respond. His belief that walking is a simple activity has led him to support the effort of many just starting out on a lifetime of pleasure. He has a desire to show people that walking does not just have to be in the hills and mountains of national parks or rely on expensive equipment but can be enjoyed from the front door of home through our urban landscape and out in our local countryside. His books, Day Walks in the South Pennines and 1001 Walking Tips for Vertebrate Publishing, and the three Peak District guidebooks for Cicerone Press, are well respected by walkers and explorers of all ages. He lives close to the Peak District in The Outdoor City of Sheffield with his partner, metalsmith Alison Counsell, and their three dogs Monty, Olly, and Scout.