I won’t lie. I’m a summer person. Despite decades of suffering through some of the coldest UK winters, I never get used to the chill factor. I’m Nigerian born and my blood craves African sunshine (although in Naija, I’m mostly indoors with air conditioning).
Nonetheless, there’s something about the autumn/winter season that gives me a special glow. Maybe it’s the promise of Christmas around the corner. Maybe it’s hibernating with my cubs on the sofa with a blanket, treats and a family movie. Or maybe it’s the feeling of satisfaction when you come in after a morning stroll.
The Joy of Autumn Strolls
Late autumn strolls are some of the best ways to explore the changing season, as the leaves turn golden, the air gets crisper, and you anticipate the coming of snow. We’re lucky to live in Islington, north London, which offers so many wonderful walking paths. My youngest goes to school down the road and we walk together to and from school every day.
Granted, the school run is manic. But after drop-off, sometimes I’ll take the scenic route back home. Our area is dotted with pretty garden squares, with Georgian and Victorian houses, boasting large front windows you can peek through. Local stomping grounds include sprawling Highbury Fields and the slightly quirkier park, Spa Fields, just by Exmouth Market (a great place to stop for coffee or lunch after your stroll).
Probably my favourite place to walk in our ‘hood is along the Regent’s Canal. Stroll to buzzy Granary Square in Kings Cross, past boats, ducks and a floating bookshop. Or head the other direction to world famous Camden Market and London Zoo.
This November, we visited the New Forest for the first time. It’s a glorious part of the country to go hiking, especially for autumn strolls. Even when the fields are super boggy!
9 Wonderful Reasons You should Go Walking in Autumn and Winter
1. A brisk 30 minute stroll is the perfect way to warm yourself up. If it’s hard at first, use the power of visualisation. I like to imagine I’m walking towards a delicious bowl of soup or a friendly cup of tea waiting for me!
2. From autumn until spring, the streets and parks are less crowded. So it’s a wonderful chance to explore more of your neighbourhood or the city at large. London has some fantastic walking tours all year round, whether you’re into Dickens or Harry Potter!
3. If you’re affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder), the mere act of going outdoors and experiencing some daylight is a massive mood booster. So get out there and grab your dose of Vitamin D!
4. Walking is a super simple way to enhance your wellbeing. Setting a target of 10,000 steps a day (or even 5k) is a good way to build up stamina and maintain a healthier weight, without much effort.
5. You can start walking today, no matter your fitness level, and you don’t need any special kit. Do wear sturdy shoes though, especially when the weather’s patchy.
6. You won’t look crazy walking in winter. Unlike those joggers in teeny vests and shorts, who start to look a bit barmy when the cold months hit (personal opinion, don’t spam me with hate mail)!
7. Walking is the ideal family activity. Sometimes when we’re stuck for what to do at the weekend, we’ll bundle the babes up and head out for an autumn or winter stroll. Fortunately, we have amazing green spaces like Hampstead Heath and Highgate Woods within easy reach. Of course, the boys do a lot more running, climbing and tumbling than actual walking!
8. Going for a stroll is a brilliant bonding opportunity for couples. You can enjoy grown-up conversation and reflection, and discover new local spots together.
9. Walking can boost your creativity. In the colder months, I’m more likely to get brain freeze. A short neighbourhood stroll, often listening to music or an inspirational podcast, is guaranteed to get my creative juices flowing.
Your Autumn Strolls Checklist
Outerwear: Anyone living or visiting London should invest in proper outerwear. those cute little gilets won’t cut it! For autumn and winter, you’ll need extra padding and layers (I my love Uniqlo down coat and thermals), windbreakers and rainproof jackets. The boys still get plenty of use out of their Muddy Puddles gear.
Walking Shoes or Boots: I’ve worn the same Crocs wellies for the past 5 years, from festival season through to spring. I think we’re all due some new wellies! I’ve also got my eye on some proper hiking boots.
Mobility Aids: If you need a little help to get about, check out Fenetic Wellbeing*, who provide a variety of mobility products tailored to individual needs. Like their rollators, perfect for #AutumnStrolls.
Do you like walking in autumn and winter? What are your favourite routes?
*In collaboration with Fenetic Wellbeing