Hiking up snow-capped mountains, or powering among rolling hills, may give you the most dramatic views and trickier, more challenging terrain, but there is a lot to be said for taking a stroll around your local area.
Unless you are lucky enough to live in an area such as Cumbria, or can count Pyg Track as one of your regular hikes, chances are that you have to make do with the public footpaths and tracks located near your home. These footpaths and walks are not to be sniffed at, as many of them offer interesting and fun routes that can be easily accessed by anyone.
I hail from Bedford originally, so when I visited my parents last summer, we set off on a walk round Oakley, Pavenham and Stevington. We managed to hit upon a day where it wasn’t raining or windy, so we got the perfect conditions to go and do a bit of gentle rambling.
My dad grew up in Clapham and was born in a house in Stevington, so he is very familiar with these North-Bedford villages, and it meant that we got to see a few of his favourite places. I’ve been to all of the villages at some point in my life, but I had never done a walk around all three, so it was good to finally tick that box and take a peek at the cottages and churches that litter the route.
Oakley is a beautiful, leafy village with an exclusive feel and some quaint bridges. The route we took gives you a great peek at Oakley House where one of my family originally worked as a servant. Sadly the house is now privately owned, but you can still get a good idea of its stately setting and beautiful grounds.
In Pavenham you stroll past the lovely St Peter’s Church, which is a 13th Century building and well worth taking a longer look at. The trail then takes you down past the old school house before leading you towards the river. Rain had made sections of the route near the Great Ouse a bit boggy (my mum does not ‘do’ mud, so we had a bit of squealing going on), and there were also some curious young bullocks watching us pass by. Apart from that, the route was clear and easy.
Stevington had two of my favourite attractions; St Mary’s Church and the old windmill. Apparently, the windmill is the only complete windmill left in Bedfordshire, which is a shame when you consider how many there must have been. If you’re interested in mills, or want to see the Stevington windmill yourself, you can do a really nice walk from Stevington windmill to Bromham mill, which is a gorgeous building sitting over the river.
So, why not check out some of your local public foothpaths? You can find routes near you here.