In current western society, it would seem the concept of walking is falling by the wayside. With cars becoming increasingly widespread and affordable and most places in the world boasting at least adequate public transportation systems, it seems using one’s own two feet is a more and more antiquated ideal.
The rise of walking holidays in recent years, however, would perhaps disprove that theory, or at the very least indicate that the modern Western citizen is not entirely averse to the idea of a ramble or hike. No matter how technologically inclined society gets, there will always be fans of this particular activity – a trend which may very well have historic roots. Proof of this is the fact that May has been nominated National Walking Month in the UK, prompting large numbers of people to finally try their hand at this activity!
Long before the concept of walking holidays was ever invented, however, a number of more or less prominent figures in Western society were already vocal advocates of the exercise of walking. It may surprise no one to discover that the most likely class to get ‘happy feet’ were artists, with writers and poets such as Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and Henry David Thoreau advocating the merits of a good ramble as a source of exercise, inspiration and mental well-being. However, the trend also extended to physicians, with names like Otto Frisch and Werner Heisenberg being fond of a good stroll.
Such was the appetite for walking in those classic times that the Oxford dictionary even includes a word, flaneur, to describe ‘a lounger or saunterer’. The archetype for this term was another poet, Frenchman Charles Baudelaire.
Either of these names would undoubtedly be delighted to learn of modern Western society’s penchant for walking holidays – and there is a very good possibility they would enthusiastically take part in them if they were alive today. In this National Walking Month of May, why not follow their example and embark in your own adventure?