Healthy habits are important. This became even clearer during the lockdown. 10 thousand steps a day, healthy food. For me it was more biking (no, not an electric bike but just old-fashioned pedaling). I cycle to another town to do groceries just to add more miles. What was your choice?
If I want to take the next step, it starts with setting a goal. A few years ago, that was walking a long-distance path (in the Netherlands that means at least 150 kilometers. It ended up in walking “het Pieterpad.” I am just starting to think about doing something similar.
And you, do you want to take the next step? Let me tell you more about “long distance walking”
Already about 15 years ago we walked the Pieterpad trail, a long-distance walking route from the north (Pieterburen) to the south (St Pietersberg) in the Netherlands. 498 kilometers in total (about the length of New York State) but the length of a day-trail varies from 12 km (first day if you start in Pieterburen) to 25 km, the longest trail. We did it in 26 days with some weeks in-between every walking day. There is an official guidebook and website with all the information. We walked every few weeks on a Sunday. Drove to the endpoint of the trail with two cars. Joined in one car to the beginning of the trail, walked all the way to the endpoint. And drove again to the starting point to get the other car. (Every trail starts at a public transport location.) Beautiful walks as well in summertime as in wintertime. Another possibility is to do the trail during the holidays or if you are retired all in your own time.
Most days were perfect and to be honest, 25 kilometers a day was for me the limit. Only one day we took a bus for the last few kilometers because it was a sweltering summer day and we almost passed out. You will find on the site of the Pieterpad an overview of the route in 26 trails and the alternatives in 16 big steps (25 – 35 km) or 38 small steps (10 – 15 km.)
- Walking is free and does not require any special training. If you do not walk at all start slow and increase the distance gradually.
- Walking is a sport that is not prone to injury.
- Walking is a sport that you can practice into old age.
- Walking can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance.
- Walking shows you so much more nature, villages, areas.
- Walking is a very social sport. Walking gives us the opportunity to talk to each other during the activity.
- Walking is an excellent way to photograph nature.
How to start
- As mentioned before: start simple. Think about a one-day hike.
- Walk in a loop, look for walks by googling “walk” and the surrounding where you want to walk.
- Multi day hike, camping or a hotel at night. There are companies
- Thru hike, is the act of hiking an established end-to-end trail or long-distance trail with continuous footsteps in one direction.
“The idea of following a path or track for exercise or pleasure developed during the 18th century in Europe and arose because of changing attitudes to the landscape and nature associated with the Romantic movement. In earlier times, walking generally indicated poverty and was associated with vagrancy. In previous centuries long walks were undertaken as part of religious pilgrimages and this tradition continues throughout the world” Wikipedia
But a thru-hike also happens to reflect and mark an event, such as quitting your job, the last child leaving home, dealing with a divorce or farewell to a loved one.
What to take on
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and hiking boots.
- Socks, without seems, to avoid blisters.
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, long sleeves, and a hat to avoid sunburn.
- Take waterproof clothing (hooded raincoat) to avoid getting wet if it rains.
- Take water with you, coffee, and food (restaurants can be closed).
- Pedometer, of course not required but stimulating.
Pieterpad is interesting for our Dutch followers. There are about 20 other long-distance trails in the Netherlands. You can find an overview here
Camino de Santiago de Compostella, a lot of routes lead to this Spanish town. You can start in St Pied de Port in the Pyrenees. but from almost every European country there is a route.
Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, ranging from Maine to Georgia.
Look at my Pinterest board about Long-Distance walking to get inspired.
Movies, An overview of 32 best hiking movies, Wild, with Reese Witherspoon is one of my favorites.
Videos about a Camino experience.
Books about long distance walking
When I am writing about it I’ll think of going for another trail. I will keep you posted. How about you? let us know in the comments
On the next page some pictures walking from North to the South of the Netherlands.