I put my boots on. My backpack has water, a little picnic lunch, a map. I start to walk. If I'm lucky, there is no-one there except me. The crunching of my boots, the sound of birdsong, the steady crash of waves or the gentle baa-ing of lambs are my soundtrack. My muscles start to warm up and my shoulders relax. I feel the sun on my face or the wind in my hair or the gentle tickle of drizzle or the sharp bite of cold. The weather works its deft fingers into the tight knots of my soul and frees them. I breathe deep. I am alone but I am not lonely.
Walking solo is one of the finest gifts you can give yourself, whether you're a man or a woman. But many women shy away from it. Some think they will get lost. Others worry that something might happen to them. And others are simply so used to company that the concept of being entirely alone makes them uncomfortable.
That's not to say that walking with others is bad. On the contrary, walking with others helps you connect at a far deeper level than our instant society normally allows and the joy of an experience shared is joy doubled. But as the Byron quote says, 'I love not Man the less, but Nature more.' And it's true. As wonderful as it is to walk with someone, there is a healing power to solitude that is unrivalled.
Without human company, you get time to simply be. Your thoughts are free to fly in and out of your mind with gay abandon. There's no need for conversation, although talking out loud to yourself can be liberating. As is singing loudly without a care about being off key. You have the time to absorb the beauty of the world and marvel in it. And being witness to the magnificence of nature feels like a secret gift that is yours entirely. Your time is yours, the pace your own. You choose when to stop, when to move on. Added to all of it is a slight frisson of fortitude. You are alone and that in itself is a brave thing in an overcrowded world. Your inner spirit of adventure will raise its head and you will want to yell, 'I am woman, I am fearless. Hear me roar!'
And when you're on your own, you can literally roar. Stand on a hilltop and bellow into the wind. Let your pent up tension be carried off on the thermals. Rediscover that person you are underneath the layers of labels given to us by human life. Simply be.
There are no words that quite capture the rare combination of freedom, tranquility, excitement, sadness and joy that comes from complete solitude in nature. But words aren't really needed. You simply need to feel it. Once you do, you will hold it inside you like a balm for your soul.
Tips on walking solo
Share your solo walking experiences with me below. And feel free to join the Glamoraks group over on Facebook so that on the days you do want walking company, you can find someone to walk with. Also be sure to sign up to the newsletter to be kept abreast of walking ideas, events and initiatives.