Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Delights of Walking Everywhere

by Karen McCullough

(I didn’t know today was Grandparents’ Day when I wrote the post a week or so ago, but it seems appropriate!)

Roses and other flowers blooming along
their driveway
My husband and I have just returned from a visit to our son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren in England. It was a wonderful trip, filled with good times with all of the family and a bit of sight-seeing in their area. We did a lot of walking and it enhanced the trip in so many ways.

They live in Hythe, Kent, an area known as England’s Garden, and with good reason. Nearly every house has extensive gardens filled with profusions of blooming roses, dahlias, fuchsia, butterfly bush, hollyhocks, hydrangeas, and many others. The picture shows the gorgeous row of flowers beside my son’s driveway.  Given how hard it is to keep anything alive, much less blooming, through the hot summer in our central North Carolina home, it’s safe to say I have garden envy.

Of course that’s mostly the result of a climate that stays moderate and rather rainy most of the time. Daytime temperatures over eighty are considered hot and several days in a row of those highs are a heat wave. We were there in August and day-time highs hovered in the upper sixties to low seventies, which they agreed was pretty much normal. We agreed it was pretty delightful. We were fortunate that it only rained on us a couple of times.

Looking out over Hythe from the hill. The English Channel is
 in the distance.
Hythe is just southeast of Dover and Folkestone along the Channel coast and it’s a lovely old town. The High Street is lined with an assortment of shops that cover most necessities and a lot of fun things. “Charity Shops” abound. (Think small versions of the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores.) There’s even a charity bookshop, where I found several interesting tomes I’d never seen in the U.S. There are a couple of restaurants and quite a few coffee shops. Sidewalks are narrow and crowded but for part of the day the road itself is closed off and turned into a pedestrian walkway.

One of the great benefits of this part of England is that you can walk almost everywhere, a great feature for us since we couldn’t all squeeze in my son’s car at one time. And walk, we did. We spent a couple of happy mornings wandering around the old town of Hythe, but we also walked with the family from their house, situated on a hill well above the town, down to the seashore, a distance of about a mile and a half. We also traveled on foot to shops, coffee houses, and even the grounds of the Hythe festival.

When we made treks to other places, like Rochester Castle, and Dungeness, we took the train, and then walked from the station to wherever we wanted to be. Generally it wasn’t a very long journey.

Because of the small children, we didn’t eat out as often as we might have. But there was a Sainsbury’s grocery store on the route from the town center of Hythe to my son’s house, so we frequently stopped there to get ready-made meals or ingredients for putting something together and schlepped them up the hill to their home.

We walked and talked and gazed and walked and talked some more. The pedometer app on my phone said I did about 14,000 steps most days, which added up to about 5 miles of walking per day.
Long strolls gave us plenty of opportunity to interact with each other, share stories, and compare notes on a wide variety of subjects. Walking let me stop to admire gorgeous views from the hillsides, glorious flowers everywhere, interesting and different birds, and the neatly compact houses that are hallmarks of English homes. We stopped frequently to pluck the blackberries growing in abundance all over and pop them in our mouths.

The scenery is beautiful and because the area is new to us, every corner and turn seemed to present something new and interesting. I blessed the new pair of sturdy walking shoes I’d bought shortly before we left because they supported me well through the many miles I put on them.

Back at home my husband and I walk most days, long marches through our neighborhood early in the morning in summer, to avoid the heat. It’s good for us and feels good, but it isn’t as pleasant as being able to walk to so many interesting and different places in Hythe, Kent.

And I miss the company and chatter of my son, daughter-in-law, and especially their two children, Freya (4), and James (2). 


  1. It sounds like a perfect trip, Karen. I'm happy for you that you got to spend such a pleasant time with your family. I love walking too. Now that so many of our neighbors are two-career families, taking long walks through the neighborhood is when we do most of our socializing with the people who live nearest to us. The health benefits are a nice perk too.

  2. I have walk envy. I've been to Kent and have walked there but it has to be almost 20 years ago. It is a beautiful part of the world and a wonderful place to walk. Thank you for sharing your experience and reminding me of my own.

  3. Your trip must've been wonderful. I've never been to England but would've loved to visit when we were younger. We lived in Germany for two years, and there, too, everyone walked. Great way to keep healthy and to slow down and enjoy the world around you.

  4. Hi Karen--
    Hythe sounds gorgeous. How wonderful you and your husband spent such quality time with your son and his family. I bet the little ones were thrilled to walk everywhere with the adults. And ready-made meals--that's my knid of store!