My Rules

I started in Kings Lynn, on the Lincolnshire/Norfolk border, on April 18th 2010. I have been walking clockwise round the coast of mainland Britain, in stages, since then.

My Rules for Walking the Coast

Breakwater, Ruth Livingstone's Coastal walk1. Enjoy each and every walk.
2. Keep as close to the coast as is safe, legal and reasonable.
3. Start each walk at the point where I stopped the coastal section of my previous walk.
4. I don’t have to walk around islands (but I can if I want to).
5. I don’t have to walk around peninsulas where the only link to the mainland is a narrow isthmus or causeway (unless I want to).
6. When encountering a river or estuary, cross at the nearest public crossing point; stepping stones, bridge or ferry.

And now not a rule, but a philosophical statement. I concentrate on being present in the place I am walking through.
This means:

  • I don’t listen to music or the radio while I walk,
  • I don’t read up on history or check which sights  I should view in advance of my walk,
  • and I avoid looking beyond my current OS map, except for planning my start and end points.

People sometimes ask me how I am going to cope with Scotland, where the weather is inclement, the countryside is wild and the footpaths are few. I refuse to think about this until I get there.

11 Responses to My Rules

  1. melitat says:

    Our rules are very similar! Everyone has asked me about Scotland but it is a long way off!
    Completely agree on not listening to music or the radio. I love hearing the sound of the sea and the wildlife.

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  4. Great walking philosophy, especially remaining present. You must be making some wonderful discoveries Ruth.

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  9. Mike Taylor says:

    I don’t really get ‘not reading up on history’ in advance of a walk…. For instance you walked over the Slag Heaps in Barrow without knowing they were entirely man-made hills hot-poured from a train at the summit, and you were unaware that you were walking over a [closed] tunnel which once-upon-a-time allowed fishermen to walk under these hills to reach the shore. Personally I think a bit of background history adds to the walk and the moment.

    • Hi Mike.
      There is no right or wrong way of approaching a long-distance walk and I know some people buy detailed guide books for each trail they do. But I soon realised I prefer planning my walks from scratch – with the aid of only OS maps and bus/train timetables! I was still working a full time job when I set out, and spending hours of my time reading, researching, analysing, planning – so I wanted to break away from all that and just do some ‘being in the moment’, if you see what I’m getting at.
      During my walks I try to leave myself open to surprise, to puzzlement and to discoveries. For example, I realised that series of hills near Barrow were probably man-made, because they seemed ‘wrong’ in the landscape- and then the women I met confirmed they were slag heaps. Later, when I write up each walk for this blog, I often research things that perplexed or that interested me and I guess you could say I do my research back-to-front!
      It’s an interesting debate, of course, and thank you for making me think about it.
      Best wishes, Ruth

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