When rain falls, it can be tempting to stay snuggled up inside. But Ernie Richardson reckons a bit of fresh air is just the ticket
By Ernie Richardson
It’s fair to say there’s been a consistent theme to this winter in the UK: water.
|...even when the wind is howling and the rain is plummeting down, my mental wellbeing is aided more by taking a walk...|
Some meteorologists claim 2019 overall was the fifth wettest year since data has been collected, and 2020 is shaping up to be even damper.
If you have a dog or horse, or any animal that requires its owner to make frequent excursions into the outdoors, you’ll have been more aware than most of the conditions. It feels like every time I’ve set foot outside the house with the dog, I’ve had to get togged up in waterproofs and hunker down against icy rain.
And while it’s easy to feel disconsolate about the weather, these soaking walks have taught me a valuable lesson: even when the wind is howling and the rain is plummeting down, my mental wellbeing is aided more by taking a walk than by staying inside and dodging the showers.
In other words, and at the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious: walking is good for you, whatever the weather.
Not only does a brisk walk expand your lungs and give your muscles a workout, it’s also a great way to stave off depression. There’s something about communing with nature, even in the driving rain, that is good for the soul.
Allow me to share an example. This morning I set off for my usual dog walk. It was astonishingly wet: so much rain that my walking trousers were soaked through before I’d even dropped my kids at the school gate.
Not a great way to start what I planned to be a half-hour stroll around our local woods. But, I figured as I stepped out on the footpath, I’m already drenched. May as well keep walking now or I’ll only have to get wet again later.
As it happens, that positive attitude resulted in a walk that was far longer than I intended. By the time I’d clambered to the highest point in the woods – a good two-mile climb of unrelenting gradient – I was pleasantly warm. I loosened my scarf and am sure I saw steam rising off my quick-dry trousers.
So I reasoned that there’d be no harm in extending my mileage even further. The sun looked as if it was trying to break through the clouds, and there was a certain satisfaction to be derived from my status as the only person silly enough to venture out in these conditions. It was as if I had the whole world all to myself.
I carried on walking, keeping up my pace so as not to get chilly. I covered another few miles around a further stretch of forestry, stopping at a viewpoint to see birds scooting around the sky in search of shelter from the wind.
|...battling the elements and making a conscious decision to stay out for longer, I realised how lucky I was to be outside. I lived every moment.|
As I turned reluctantly towards home, a rustling in the bushes revealed the briefest glimpse of a litter of fox cubs, snuggled together in the bracken like something from a Jackie Lawson Ecard. And out in the fields I was fascinated by the way sheep and cows alike congregated in the same piece of sward, using each other’s body heat to keep warm.
All these things would have passed unnoticed had I not been out on foot in the storm. They’d have been flashes outside the car window as I careered around the lanes, or distant specks on the horizon of my imagination, visible only in my mind’s eye as I slurped tea in my office and did battle with my keyboard.
But out here, in the hammering wind and rain, they were real. They were feeding my senses and making me relish the great outdoors.
And I couldn’t help but think how much richer the experience had been made by the inclement conditions. On an average day – broadly dry with a gentle breeze – I’d have taken my morning walk for granted, most probably allowing my head to be filled with work stuff.
But today, battling the elements and making a conscious decision to stay out for longer, I realised how lucky I was to be outside. I lived every moment.
So there you have it. When the next downpour hits, don’t view it as a reason to stay tucked up indoors. Provided it’s safe to do so (look to the Met Office for advice), get out in the fresh air. You may just find it to be the most memorable walk you’ve had.
Three essential items for walking in the rain
Don’t skimp when it comes to buying a waterproof. Choose one that’s breathable and watertight and keep it clean. Look for cuffs that tighten and a high collar, as well as a well-fitting hood. I’ve always found Berghaus to be a reliable supplier.
2. A hat
I’ve never been keen on wearing hoods, so only use mine if the weather’s really grim. For the rest of the time, I rely on a Barbour wax cap to keep my head warm and dry.
My trusty Craghoppers have always done the business. They’re comfortable even when drenched, quick to dry, and dead easy to wash. Wear them for anything from a quick stroll around the fields to a weekend hike in the mountains. You’ll wonder why you ever thought it was acceptable to walk in jeans.
© 2020 Just Recruitment Group Ltd
Published: 18 February 2020
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