We love walking & hiking; exploring, discovering and the sense of space and freedom. But what makes a good walk? And how do we at Foot Trails create our walks?
At our heart is to create walks on local footpaths, giving authentic adventures off the beaten tourist path. All of our walking trails have been created by David Howell so there’s no better person to ask!
Q; What makes a Foot Trails walk?
David – “We treat each individual walk as the perfect day out in the English countryside. For us that means varied scenery; woods, views, villages, water. A place to pause along the way like a village pub, cafe or shop, it’s an opportunity to sample village life and chat to people. And lastly a story, we love a story! It’s one of the things that’s great about walking in South West England, there’s over 6000 years of human history entwined with the landscape. Lastly a Foot Trails walk should be welcoming, and the terrain & distance achievable with average fitness.”
Q; Where do you start when deciding where and what route?
David – “We start with our local knowledge; where, or what story, would we love to share with others. Together with Alison I’ve wandered around South West England for 30 years and often we’ll say that village is gorgeous! how do we include that pub in our trails?, or to stand on that hill and admire the view would be just wonderful. From the idea it is all about the map, plotting a route and thinking about the variety and difficulty of the walk”.
Q; Once you know ‘where’ what happens next?
David – “The only way to finalise the walk is to get out into the landscape and walk. The trails rarely stay as the route I plotted on the map, unsuitable paths or unwelcoming landscapes will be rejected as we go. We’ll keep changing direction until I have a walk I’m happy with. We often walk a trail 3 or 4 times until we find the right route and clock up 10’s of extra miles.
Q; Where do all the stories come from?
David – “I’m curious and generally quite nosy, and yes I love history. The maps, the land and the local buildings all show the story of life in the area. I’ll seek out places of interest that I identified on the map, look at features on the land and spend time in the local churches. Many are over 900 years old and are wonderful time capsules for a community, revealing interesting stories. Ultimately it’s the story of people and our ancestors, it’s just fascinating!”
Q; How does a walk become a trail card?
David – “We aim to create simple, step by step, instructions that will act as a guide to your day. Alison and the Foot Trails team are involved in writing and creating our cards. We’re your guides for the day, chatting to you through the guides as you walk. We don’t want to take the sense of exploring and adventure from our guests, our trails are often described as being like a treasure hunt.”
It´s almost impossible to estimate the thousands of miles David´s walked over the years when creating Foot Trails unique walks, but you can be sure there are many more to come!