The “new normal” are two words that most people associate with the pandemic, and rightly so. I read an article this morning from the guardian that claims more and more people are walking to work rather than using public transport and large walking organisations such as The Ramblers and The Pilgrimage Trust have seen a significant increase in new members. Is it just hype and media propaganda or is it true? Are people now walking as part of their daily routine?

Having seen the rise in our new members since the pandemic hit, then I would probably say yes, many people now have “walking” as part of their daily routine. Saying that, as time goes by, we are slowly returning to our old way of life as clubs reopened and the pub seems more appealing than going out for a walk in the cold, wet UK weather.

Weather warnings – the new normal?

Since the pandemic hit, we have also seen a dramatic change in weather forecasting. I have lost count of how many organised group walks have been cancelled due to the Met Office issuing a “yellow weather warning”. Then, on the day the weather was totally fine. We have had weather warnings in the past, but nothing like the volume received in the last 18 months. I started to wonder if this is something to do with the pandemic, or am I just getting paranoid now? Is strange weather the “new normal”?

Walking Club “new normal” – what has changed?

Walking with big groups of people continues to feel very uncomfortable so we decided to cap our limit to x 15. If more than 15 registers on to a walk, then we split the groups into two. One group will walk clockwise (with one leader) and the other group will walk anti-clockwise with a second walk leader. This new little system works like a dream and is now the “new normal” for the club. No longer will we have large groups of people on the same walk. Smaller groups are easier to manage, there is not a lot of waiting around to regroup and most people will have the opportunity to chat with everyone else. This means that “cliques” rarely form which is brings good harmony to the club.

Our second change in the walking club is warmly known as “squidge and dip”. At the halfway stage of all of our walks, the leader will present a bag of free sweets. First, everyone will “squidge” ie: use hand sanitiser. Then they will “dip” for a free sweet. Squidge and dip is now the new normal and we won't be returning to the old “dive in at will” process!

Ellie handing out sweets after everyone has “squidged”

Summary

Walking is not just good for the heart, it is also great for the mind and the soul. During these challenging times, it is good to get those walking boots on and either venture off on your own or join a walking club. Is “walking” a new normal for you?