I have just returned from a trip to France during which I succeeded in climbing Europe’s largest sand dune which is called Dune de Pyla.
The sand was so hot it almost burnt my feet and only the Sauterelles (a type of large jumping insect like a cricket) seemed totally comfortable with the heat.
I am a self confessed francophile (and mutli-lingual) however there is nothing like a trip overseas to successfully highlight what is so wonderful about one’s own country. And it’s this I’ll chat about in this blog post. At least as far as walking is concerned.
England’s weather may be somewhat less predictable and more varied than South France but it is in my view anyway, much easier to walk in. Especially during summer. Temperatures never reach as high as they do in the South of France or other hot countries of the world. And cooler weather or even rain showers are more easily dressed against and balanced out with a warm fleece or rain coat. The heat is a different matter entirely.
In my twenties I walked over 600 miles across France through the summer on days when temperatures reached 40 degrees+ The only way to do it was to wake early (stars still out early) and set off before the sun rise so as to arrive at our destination late morning in time to rest in the shade. It was wonderful, but to walk from 11 am onwards would have been hot. Very, very hot.
Variety is the other element for which I think it’s hard to beat walking in England. In very small geographical spaces the landscapes and architecture completely change and this makes for fascinating and hugely interesting walking. There’s always a new village or hamlet to walk through, a church or historical site to visit and explore and a change of scene or view every few miles. Variety is after all the spice of life.
The pub is another great institution of England and provides a welcome and comfortable rest stop on an English walk. With the lure of a real ale for those who fancy it. Having them on our walks means there is always somewhere to eat on route and a place to either shelter from the rain or cool or heat depending on what time you walk and the time of year you come. It’s fun. It’s enjoyable. It’s like walking into a little piece of history and it’s something immensely British that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Am I still a self confessed francophile – yes.
There are many things I love about France and always will. But I’m still in love with walking in Britain.