I like to walk alone. It’s my preferred ‘method’ for walking. Either from the front door or, before lockdown, farther afield. I like to cover the miles and this is easier done alone. Companions can be distracting. Add just one like-minded wanderer to the mix and mph drops by around 25%. If that like minded wanderer is interesting and enlightening I find I use up most of my limited brain-power on conversation, leaving very little left for the walking, looking, seeing (slightly different from looking) and thinking.
There’s a real sense of adventure, no matter how small, in going it alone. The beguilingly big hill, the unfamiliar sector of suburbia, the mosaic of moorland, the wild wood all create a sense of completion when you open the front door at journey’s end. The feeling of ‘I’ve done that’ is valuable to me. To steal a word often used by the excellent John Rogers, a really great local-explorer, the walks I take are ‘restorative’.
There is a contemplation, a sense of wonder and oneness to solitary walking that I don’t get in the company of others. I have find a comforting insignificance in sitting alone on a hillside watching the day wheel by.
To quote some oft used lines from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by Lord Byron –
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
Like young Harold it is not that I do not like my fellow humans, some of them are quite pleasant, it’s just that I can enjoy the world with out them. In fact it’s more acute than that, sometimes I need to enjoy the world without them.
This is not unique to me, of course. Most of us at some point will desire solitude of one sort or another. Perhaps it is more important now when solitude, or at least a lack of socialising, is a necessity. Some of us will be holed up with loved ones or house mates who we might not be used to spending so much time with. That personal space, a chance to turn off and on again, is important so take it if you get the chance. (In case you were wondering it's entirely acceptable to say to your fellow lockdown-ees 'I am going for my daily walk and no, you can't come.')
I prefer to walk alone. I encourage you to do the same.