You may or may not know – May is National Walking Month. Due to the lighter evenings, it is a good time to get out and start walking if you don’t already.

People walk for different reasons. Some walk for their health, which is a good reason, as it is excellent for your heart & gives you vitamin D and makes you happy. People often walk to help their mind think and have time to create in a different environment, compared to sitting in an office. They find nature helps them to relax and dream, or at least, create.

Others walk to meet up with friends, which is good if they don’t often get out of the house – it is a reason to go out. And of course, pet owners, walk their dogs – some walk cats, and sheep have even been seen out on a lead!

I walk early each morning and most evenings with our rescue dog, a lurcher cross called Jess. Often in the mornings I walk with our son David and in the evenings with my husband Steve.  

My Five Favourite Walks: 

  1. We are extremely lucky where we live, because literally, just a little walk from our front door, we reach the Wilts & Berks Canal which runs for a short span of a couple of kilometres through Swindon. I get up early, get out of the house and I always take my phone and capture lots of photos. I started sharing these daily on my social media during lockdown and it’s been one of the most commented on things I’ve ever done. Family members, friends and strangers talk about my ‘canal’ stories. I seem to be incredibly lucky to capture some wonderful wildlife, including deer, squirrels, foxes, swans, herons, ducks and recently I’ve had a lovely robin be-friend me. And last month I captured a short video of a jay with my phone. This is all while I’m keeping an eye on Jess who is now quite used to me stopping to take pictures.
  1. Crossing over the canal is a beautiful cycle path that leads towards Old Town in Swindon. This is also a beautiful walk in terms of nature. There is a little stream that runs alongside the path, and at one point some rocks that contain fossils including the impression of a mammoth’s tooth, if you know where to look.  And, from the raised height of the path, there are wonderful views across Wichelstowe and countryside further afield.
  1. Barbury Castle, outside Wroughton is another walking favourite though it gets really, really busy in the middle of the day and as a picnic area. It’s a wonderful example of an Iron Age hillfort, and has views for miles around.
    It has chalk grassland and associated wildlife, and because of the thin soil having good drainage, it allows specialist plants to grow there.  The perfect place for a good walk to get the wind through your hair, and clear your mind. It’s not always safe to let your dog offlead however if you cross over the hillfort and then take the Ridgeway path beyond, it’s a lot less busy and your dog can run wild and safely – though you do spot the occasional horse-rider.
  1. Savernake Forest is just the other side of Marlborough, so a walk with a drive, but the most beautiful forest to wander around with a picnic area too.  It is a Special Site of Scientific Interest, and also a registered important historic park. The history of the forest goes back for 1000s of years and more.  One of the country’s oldest trees, the Big Bellied Oak is on the side of the A346. Trails aren’t marked, but there are avenues of trees you can walk between for miles. It’s perfect for Jess, who we keep on her lead most of the time, especially when other people and dogs are around, but we can let her lead out to 5 metres, so she can sniff around happily.
  1. For dog walkers or would be dog owners, there are also Secure Dog Walking Fields in areas around the country for pets where it’s not safe to let them off lead in normal circumstances or their recall is very poor. They are a secure dog walking facility, sometimes called dog parks and they are surrounded by fencing to create a secure space to walk your dog. Most of the owners of secure dog fields will make a charge for an hour’s use to ensure you can walk your dog alone, or go with a friend and their dog. They’re also great if you need a large space to train a dog. Expect to spend maybe £10 for the hour.

For Jess, because she is a rescue dog, and because she runs incredibly fast and just bolts – this is a good alternative to countryside walks.  Because we don’t know what will trigger her, being unaware of her past experiences, we are very careful when and if we let her off lead.

An example of one of these fields is here – – though a search online will show many others.