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2020 has been a year of walking, 2021 will be a year of walking further

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Covid has undoubtedly forced many of us to seek alternatives to our normal, whatever that is. From WFH, to zoom, and of course exercise. Perhaps Joe Wicks PE lessons didn’t do it for you, after all, we continue to spend a lot more time in front of screens. But for those of us who use walking as a form of regular exercise it may have been easier to adapt to the changes imposed on our lives. However for others who exercise in gyms or other indoor facilities, walking has become a viable alternative.

Sport England reported that 63% of people in the first lockdown took up walking and cycling, and I would not be surprised if that figure is higher.

This number is also backed up by a Mintel survey, of almost 2,000 UK residents, which suggested that 1/4th of the British public are now ‘ramblers’, up from 16% in 2018.

Ok, so we get the picture, hiking is on the up. More of us are taking to our local trails, and making the best use possible of our daily exercise, whether taken alone or with a friend or family member.

But what will this look like in 2021? It’s hard to say at this point to be sure, but I feel that many new hikers will look to hike further when restrictions allow.

For a floundering hospitality industry, which has such a strong foothold in many of the UK’s National Parks, and countryside spots, this will be a welcome boost, which I feel will become the new normal.

Change is created after a period of new becoming normal, which is why WFH is becoming something many employers are embracing and buying online feels natural to most of us now.

For new hikers, this will be no different, with few people deciding that the feeling you get at the top of the hill, enjoying the view, alone or with friends, is perhaps not for them. Most will continue down this path of connecting to nature, one step at a time, literally, and figuratively.

What excites me more is how new hikers have a whole new world to explore. For example, getting into hiking gives one permission to step beyond the beauty spots, and explore places, which do not garner the same level of visitors but are stunning nonetheless. Perhaps our new hiking friends will look to walk long distance trails, visit new National Parks or take holidays in the UK and further afield. All of which will help our shattered hospitality and tourism economy to grow – an economy which is run by people, for people and is currently hurting and in such need of visitors.

It will allow people to enjoy that delightful feeling of being sat by a warm fire in a pub, pint in hand, drying off wet socks and boots while discussing the day, and contemplating future adventures over a napkin.

It will also open up a love of new literature, guidebooks, films, and documentaries which inspire many seasoned hikers.

But most importantly, It will prolong the life and health of our country, as we move into a happier place than from where we came.

If the Facebook group I am proud to admin has taught me one thing, it’s that hiking unites us.

Political viewpoints are superseded by a mutual love of the landscapes where we all come together. Our differences are left at home, where they belong.

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