Newsletter > Newsletter archive > April 2020

April 2020

Latest walking guidance
We hope you are keeping well during this difficult time and enjoying your brief periods in the outdoors. There have been a few small compensations; wherever you go the absence of traffic and aircraft noise means that birdsong is often the loudest sound.

The main rules for physical distancing and taking exercise remain the same, although there have been a few clarifications on how they are applied. The guidance varies across the different nations of the UK, with both Scotland and Wales applying a slightly tougher stance.

In England guidelines have been issued to police forces suggesting that you can drive to a walk providing the time spent driving is significantly less than the time spent walking. It's a rule that can be misconstrued. The wider stipulation to 'stay local' means that a two hour drive to a day-long walk is clearly out of order. But it does suggest that driving a few miles to a quiet spot is acceptable.

A recent Scottish government statement refers to guidance points arising from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. One of these does say that driving to a walk should be avoided. The Welsh government has used its powers to demand the closure of car parks which might otherwise be crowded. In many cases such closures seem quite sensible and car parks for popular beauty spots across the UK may be closed for good reason, so it's worth checking in advance.

The Scottish statement has some further advice worth applying wherever you are walking in the UK. It points out that farmers are a vital part of our food supply chain and have a responsibility for the welfare of animals, so reasonable diversions to avoid farmyards and fields with pregnant or young livestock should be followed. Likewise dogs should be kept on a lead or under close control (unfortunately it's not possible to explain the notion of social distancing to them). The code also suggests trying to avoid walks with gates and other 'furniture' that you have to touch.

The overall request is that we put some thought and preparation into how we keep from close contact with others while exercising. There's no great loss, in the circumstances, if a walk you hoped to do doesn't seem right and you have to curtail it. Hopefully as the weeks go by things will start to get better.

More time on our hands
Walking the same ground again and again, or just sitting in the garden if you're lucky enough to have one, can bring its own special pleasures. We don't have many garden birds where we live but we have enjoyed observing, more carefully than ever before, the behaviour of the curlews, oystercatchers and lapwing in the surrounding fields. We have even managed to take some pictures of them. More recently a wren and some wagtails have turned up. If you want to take garden birdwatching a little more seriously, the British Trust for Ornithology have made their Garden Birdwatch Scheme free to join.

In the hope of attracting more insects, bees and butterflies we have decided to dedicate one small vegetable patch to wildflowers. It's possible to order a pack of bee-friendly or butterfly-friendly seeds for a few pounds (for instance from Suttons Seeds) and they can be sowed until the end of May. With a bit of luck you'll have more wildlife of the tiny kind to watch through the summer.

It seems likely that recommendations to wear non-surgical masks in confined spaces, like shops, will grow stronger. Chris has been co-ordinating a team of amateur 'stitchers' making scrubs and headgear for NHS staff and care workers in Cumbria. Now we're moving on to a design of personal mask that doesn't require any specialist materials but still offers a good degree of protection, to the wearer and to others. The Olson Mask design is by a medical facility in America and is being shared for worldwide use. If you're a dab hand with a sewing machine you might like to have a go.

New Walkingworld dog
We'd like to introduce our new walking companion, Theo, who is a seven year old Cockerpoo (actually a Cockerpoo crossed with another Miniature Poodle, which might make him a Cockerpoodlepoo). Theo came into our household just as 'lockdown' was starting but he seems to have settled in and is enjoying the fairly limited repertoire of walks immediately around our house. It may come as a surprise to him when we restart our travels to walks around Britain and even abroad. He has got his pet passport so he's ready.

Thank you!
We are so grateful to the many Walkingworld members who are re-subscribing and even taking out new subscriptions at a time when use of the walks library is inevitably severely restricted. We really appreciate it. We're all still at work, we're not asking for any Government support, and we just hope that we'll all be able to get out into the wider countryside before too long.