Rathmullan, situated in County Donegal, Ireland is the perfect location to ‘get away from it all’. While driving along the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland we spent the night in Rathmullan and the next morning walked along the Milford Sli na Slainte (path to health). With it’s wonderful beach and wooded hillsides we could relax and enjoy the quieter pace of life that is characteristic of smaller Irish villages.
The Milford Sli na Slainte is a path that started at the pier and took us all along the beautiful beach to a rocky outcrop at the mouth of a small river. After crossing the bridge over Maggie’s Burn we turned left onto the Fanad by-pass road. This road took us through the countryside, along pastures and woodland until we once again got back to the town centre.
Here are ten reasons why you should sling on your best walking shoes and explore the countryside:
- Walking is free exercise. Walking is as close to free as it gets. You don’t need fancy shoes, or clothes, or equipment. If you head straight out your front door, a walk will only cost you some time and a little rubber off the bottom of your shoes. Many people are surprised to learn that walking is actually a serious form of exercise. Although you may not feel like you are working too hard, in just one mile you can burn off over 100 calories.
- Walking connects me with my surroundings. One can’t possibly notice the many small details of buildings and woodlands while driving. When you’re on foot, you notice all kinds of things you’d never notice in a car. I always thing of a walk as an opportunity to explore the area and to admire the scenery. I usually try to do some research beforehand and find out a bit about the area and always take my camera with.
- Walking changes your perspective. You start to see where the environment is built for people, and where it’s built for cars. Cosy shops lining the street become more inviting. It’s while I’m walking that I notice the frost on the grass, or a rabbit hiding behind a tree, or the moon peeking out from behind the clouds.
- Walking inspires curiosity. Who built that building? What was it like then? Who uses it now? What is over that hill? Are those berries edible? Wouldn’t it be cool to have a coffee shop on that corner? You might not know where you’re headed, and that’s ok. Getting lost in nature is the bes thing ever!
- Reduce your carbon footprint. Many of us would like to make a personal contribution to climate change, and here is a simple way that you can… ditch those car keys in favour of walking shoes and avoid carbon emissions completely. Every trip (however short) you take on foot is one you aren’t taking in your car. That’s good for you, and it’s good for the environment.
- Free your brain. Anxiety, stress, and mental health issues are common issues that people face in today’s society. Walking is a perfect way to zone-out, de-stress and rid yourself of all the negative thoughts in your mind from the day. A brief walk can melt mental fatigue, improve memory, and even help stave off the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. Taking a walk is a great way to leave all the worry of the day behind.
- It’s a Great Way to Enjoy the Weather. Summers are short and oh so sweet. I just can’t wait to get outside, and while I haven’t figured out how to be able to spend all day on a blanket at the park, walking somewhere gives me a great excuse to savor a few sweet moments of sunshine. I have nothing against the other seasons. I love rainy spring walks, and crisp fall walks. I even love bundling up for an icy winter walk, especially late at night. Every season (and day, for that matter) has its moments. Walking gives you a chance to soak them up.
- Its Great for Your Creativity. English wordsmith William Wordsworth is said to have spent much of his life on foot, walking. Henry David Thoreau often walked up to 20 miles at a time before he put pen to paper. Virginia Woolf was a regular walker. In fact, there’s a very long list of writers who considered walking part of their craft. If you’re a creative type, the walking path might just lead to enlightenment.
- It’s an Excuse to Get Some Ice Coffee. Walking is a great excuse to pick up a cup of ice coffee to enjoy along the way. At least you’re burning some of those calories, right?
- It’s the Perfect Time do do Some Reflecting. We often think of meditation as something that happens when you’re sitting still, but in reality, that’s very hard to do. The washing machine will chime. The phone will ring. Your neighbours will make noise. If you walk, your brain will be able to do its quiet wandering with less distraction.