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 Walker: James

"Walking gives you the freedom to nip here and there, you’re in control and it’s stress-free."
 
James Johnson, Charities Compliance Officer, Civil Service
Where do you walk?
I walk from Tuebrook to Bootle.
 
How long have you been doing this journey by foot?
I’ve been walking for around three years, before that I was in a different job and I used to get the train.
 
How long is your journey?
My walk is 3-4 miles. To start with it took me 55 minutes but over time I’ve got quicker and it now takes me 45 minutes.
 
Why did you decide to walk?
I’d taken up walking after work. I’d walk to the supermarket and carry the shopping home, things like that.
I moved house and realised to get the bus would take me 10 minutes walk to the stop and anything from 25 minutes to an hour on the bus. I weighed this up and decided to try walking. It’s really worked for me.
Plus there’s the money saving side of things. My walking shoes cost £35 and last around six months, before that I was spending £60 per month on travel so it adds up for me.
 
What are the best bits of your journey?
This is when the proud Scouser comes out! Ten minutes from my house there’s a playing field. I see the same dogs with their walkers – the dogs come over and wag their tail and say ‘hi’. A bit further on I see the Anfield Stadium and later on Goodison Park; I like seeing our world famous landmarks in touching distance!
Near work there’s a park and if there’s time I cut through here. It’s unexpected and lovely – peace and quiet before starting work.
Walking is like being on a ‘mini adventure’. If you are on a bus or whatever your mindset is ‘I’m going from point A to point B’. Walking gives you the freedom to nip here and there, you’re in control and it’s stress-free.
 
Has anything interesting happened on your walk?
I took a different route home one day and a lovely older lady asked for some help with the bin outside her house. I ended up talking to her for nearly an hour about her life, the universe and everything! If I was travelling any other way I would never have had that experience.
 
When is your favourite time of year to walk?
I like variety so I love every season! You have the same scenery but it’s constantly changing. I enjoy the crisp air in winter but when the weather is bad and you’ve been through it you get a massive rush like ‘I did this!’
I have a pack-away waterproof in my bag for rainier days, it weighs nothing and doesn’t take up any room.
 
Have you noticed any benefits to walking?
Yes! There’s lots of drive from our employer to think about mindfulness. Walking is time for my mind to process the day so when I get home I can just relax with my partner. I’m much less stressed in general really.
Before walking to work I’d have to find excuses to walk – now I don’t sit down, I’m energised! There’s a great sense of freedom, it’s the ultimate freedom – you are in control of where you are going.
My legs, back, heart and mental health are all great. I put that down to walking. Walking is also ‘me time’ it’s like a meditation for me – a time to think, process, for things to become clear.
My next challenge is taking up running, if someone had said that to me ten years ago I would have said they were mad! I took part in the Santa Dash 5K in December and I’m now gearing up to my first half marathon later in the year. I’m never going be Mo Farrah but this is just the start.
 
What would you say to anyone who's thinking of commuting on foot to encourage them to get started?
Just give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen? Build up slowly. If your journey is 20 minutes by bus do half by bus and half walking. Don’t give up if it doesn’t work first time, adapt it a bit and build it up over time.