All too often around this time of year I hear (and read!) about people ‘unable to get out because it is dark’. It really irks me as there are plenty of ways to get out when it isn’t as light. One of those ways is by playing with your winter walk. Gamifying it, if you like. And no, before you ask, you don’t need to do anything particularly special to turn any local winter walk into a fun and enjoyable game. Or at least, I don’t think so.
Play in general is a very underutilised activity in adult life. For the most part we believe that once we hit a certain age, we need to settle down and do serious stuff. ‘Play is for children’ we think to ourselves as we plod on with our daily drudgery. If you have heard the term ‘adulting’ you know someone is trying to put themselves on the naughty step for wanting to be a bit playful, creative or active instead of doing chores or something equally as boring.
I am not saying that you need to shirk off all your responsibilities. What I am saying is that you need to make room for the creative stuff. For play! Playfulness is what helps you through tougher times, through the winter months when you find yourself indoors a little more that you would like and for when there is a shed load of laundry which needs sorting. It is a way of making the doldrum stuff exciting. And here’s the best bit. You make up the game and the rules, so it works just for you.
Getting out in the dark
I have been on the Wirral for the last two weeks and we have managed to get out for a walk in the dark countryside every single day. Even when we have passed sun down and many of the country roads and paths are submerged into pitch black darkness. To do it, I concocted a way of playing with my walks. A way of making walking in the lighter areas that little bit more fun and challenging.
Playing with your winter walks
As you can see from the photographs, we have been faced with some very dark streets this past few weeks. The fun of staying in a countryside village. It does mean that without some good high vis and some lighting, we can easily disappear into the darkness. Especially when we are walking in the single carriageway.
So. Rather than sitting on our bums indoors, I got us out with an adventure in mind. A game to get us walking for even more miles than we usually would when we did our daylight walk. I decided that we would walk every pavement and explore every housing estate in the village.
I will admit that it was that little bit more exciting for me as the Christmas lights were out and I enjoy nothing more than admiring the lighting on houses. I’m a proper Christmas light geek and proud of it too!
Spotting new ways
The method behind playing with your winter walking is pretty similar to my regular wandering in that you go where your curiosity takes you (and in this case, where there are also some street or house lights to guide the way)
I took Jit around the village church, introduced him to the houses of my friends growing up and shared some stories of the places we would play. It was fun to remember as well as to discover hidden paths and alleys I never even knew about. Even after living there for nineteen years! We also discovered that I would wander the streets back then too – dragging my friend Nicci along with me.
Walking in the light
By staying in the light and populated areas, I was visible to traffic and safe on (mostly) curbed areas. But this was not the only benefit. I met local people walking their dogs, chatted with neighbours and even got to meet a few friendly cats in the area. Even through we were wandering around each and every cul-de-sac, literally to the corners, we met some lovely people to boot.
Getting your winter miles in
You might think that walking around estates wouldn’t really give you all that much of a mileage to brag about, but you would be surprised. Our usual walk around the country lane gives us a solid 3.5 miles. The ‘playing with your winter walk’ game way gave us a minimum of 4.58 miles and a fun map of our adventure!
Shaking it up a bit
I can hear you thinking ‘but won’t it get boring doing the same thing every day?’ and the anser is a unequivocable no! It only becomes boring when you stop playing. The gae takes form from going on an adventure, changing your route and changing things to make it interesting. You can employ the same kind of gaming and play to your morning and evening commute too.
Playing with your winter walks
So before you bin winter off as the time of year you can get outside for a walk, think about reintroducing play into your life and start playing with your winter walks. Choose some routes, get out there with your game in mind and see how they develop.
Some other ideas for making your winter walks more playful:
- Choose a theme and go out to hunt down and photograph things in that theme
- Walk only on the left-hand pavement and see where you get to
- Decide on the number of miles you want to walk and weave your way through the streets to clock them up
- Try to make a picture with your tracking app lines
The world seriously is your oyster when you are playing. The whole thing is only limited by your imagination and creativity! Get out there, follow the light and play with your winter walks. You will thank yourself for it.
Have you been enjoying some different walks while it’s been dark?
Have you been playing with your winter walks?
Let me know how you shake yours up at this time of year.