Hiking Adventure at Any Age: Taking up Long Distance Walking in Your 60's
Increasingly more and more walkers are finding the time to get into hiking in their retirement, and discover that there's no better time to get back to nature and living out travel goals and adventure dreams. Graeme Fisher is one such walker. Graeme took on his first long distance trail in his late 60s and hasn't looked back:
"John and I have been walking pals for many years, walking most Fridays mainly in the Peak District, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire & Rutland countryside. John is 68, and me, I'm 71. We are reasonably fit and usually walk about seven to ten miles then afterwards relax with a pint of real ale in the pub. We completed the Hadrian’s Wall walk in September 2014 and the shorter Saints Way walk in May 2016, after which we decided to do a longer walk. We settled on 79 mile The Great Glen walk from Fort William to Inverness.
Graeme (right) and John (left).
We like our comforts (a bed and shower) so we contacted Macs Adventure who confirmed they could meet our dates and sourced accommodation to suit our needs, so we went ahead and booked. The Great Glen Way was our second long distance walk and I felt pretty good throughout. Whilst I felt tired at times I never felt exhausted, I think taking 8 night itinerary with 7 days of walking made it enjoyable. You can read my full day-to-day diary here. I enjoyed our walk immensely, the weather was unbelievable, the Scottish Highlands scenery spectacular, the people we met along the way were friendly and engaging, and last but not least John providing the finest company (and helping me resist that extra pint!)
At the high point of the "High Route" on the Great Glen Way
As for taking up long distance walking at my age, it has been a surprise and delight how much I have enjoyed it. The key is to not take on long tiring walking days, but to pace yourself so you can have time to stop and take in the views, speak to people, and that way the walk is a joy not an ordeal! Before our walk, John came up with the suggestion of nominating a charity to raise some money (when we did the Hadrian’s Wall walk we nominated Macmillan Cancer Support). He suggested ‘Mesothelioma UK Charitable Trust’ for our Great Glen Way walk, his friend and mother had died from this awful disease, so I set up a Just Giving page for our Great Glen Way (any further donations are of course welcome).
John admires Loch Ness
Since finishing the walk and sitting back and thinking about it, my overriding thoughts are that I have had an “adventure”, and at 71 I want more adventures!"
Hiking is one of the easiest sporting hobbies to get into as a novice. You can start building your fitness anywhere (the park, the high street, your stairs!), there are no complicated rules, and assuming you're mindful of the conditions, your fitness, and your experience (don't make your first walk a rocky ridge at 3000 ft above sea level), then you don't need specialist training or equipment (over and above using your common sense to select appropriate clothes and shoes). Making one of these classic long distance trails your goal is the perfect reason to start training, at any age.