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How to turn a simple walk into an epic walk!

You're strolling through the park, enjoying the sunshine and the exercise, and the thought occurs to you….I could just keep walking. Leave it all behind. Just me, the long and winding road. Then the blisters kick in and you start needing a wee, so you turn round and go home.

In Ramblings Clare Balding meets extreme walkers that make marathon courses look like a Sunday morning trip to the local shop, so here’s our guide to help you stride off into the unknown.

1. Enjoy the kindness of strangers

Many of the epic walkers were hugely cheered by the kindness and generosity of people they met on their epic walks. One epic walker Clare meets called Ursula was offered beds, board, food, provisions and company. “The majority of people in the world are lovely,” she says firmly.

2. Feel the flow

If you can’t plan one long epic walk and camp out, you can at least start each walk from where you last stopped. The satisfaction of a lengthening line marked on a map is enough to keep your enthusiasm up.

3. One foot in front of the other

Walking, like swimming, can induce a hypnotic state which is incredibly relaxing. Obviously you don’t want to be so relaxed you forget where you’re going, but step-counting and immersing yourself in the physical activity can help you forget your sore feet. A bit of mindfulness doesn’t hurt, either - taking a moment to stand, breathe, look, and just be.

4. Trust

Taking yourself into the wilderness involves trust, of yourself, and of others. Trust that you’ve erected your camp well enough that it won’t blow away at 3am, that a sheep won’t eat your rucksack, that there aren’t bears in the wood and that if you ask a total stranger for help, they will.

5. Don’t get overwhelmed

Planning a 3,000 mile route can feel terrifying. What if I change my mind? What if I injure myself? Take every step as it comes and mentally separate the journey into manageable segments.

6. Welcome company

Although you may be in pain, out of breath or a little grumpy, don’t begrudge others who want to walk with you, or ask you about your walk. It’s all part of the comradeship of the road. Sharing the experience with others can lead to friendship, help and a more satisfying experience. Don’t walk just to find yourself, walk to find other people too.

7. Be prepared

Make sure you have the equipment to allow you to sleep in safety and relative comfort, wherever you are. Then whatever befalls you, you’ve got some thinking time.

So go forward, stride off into the unknown, and remember every epic walk starts with a single step.