Night walks in Sussex. I suspect you either get it or you don’t. When I suggested to a friend that he might want to join me for a 10 km night walk on a Friday night, frankly, he looked bewildered. “Why would I?” he asked. But honestly, it’s a really wonderful way to end the week. Although that said, I didn’t go walking alone.
WALX Coast and Country
WALX Coast and Country is a walking group that runs a regular programme of walks and other outdoor activities in the South East and not just at night. They offer a whole host of physical activities from beach sessions to walking the South Downs. You can learn how to walk with Nordic walking poles or take part in non-pole walking sessions such as Explorer WALX, TBW (Total Body Workouts), YOGA WALX as well as Couch to 5k running and Smovey classes. The WALX walks are suitable for everyone, whatever your level of fitness, and they are run by a mixture of WALX masters, coaches and guides who are all qualified and professional. And who love the outdoors.
If you haven’t tried Nordic walking before, it’s a great way to improve your overall fitness and provides a whole host of other benefits such as toning the upper and lower body, burning up to 46% more calories than ordinary walking, reducing the pressure on knees and joints, making it easier to walk faster without feeling the effort and it’s good for those with neck, shoulder and back problems too.
The Angmering Park Estate is a private estate set in the heart of the South Downs National Park, south of Arundel, and north of Littlehampton in West Sussex. It covers some 6,750 acres and is owned by the Trustees of the late 16th Duke of Norfolk for the benefit of his daughters and other wider members of his family although the estate’s origins go back to the Norman Conquest. There are plenty of public footpaths across the estate and some wonderful woods, and this is where I joined the WALX group for a couple of night walks.
Night walking to the weekend
On the first walk I joined, I didn’t take my poles. It had been a burning hot day and I was just keen to get the chance for some fresh air and exercise in the cool of the trees. I haven’t walked with many groups before and I have to confess, I thought it would be more of a plod than a canter. But I was wrong. Our group kept up a cracking pace, although we stopped often for water and rest. The sun was just lowering itself over the horizon as we entered the trees, and it wasn’t long before it felt pretty dark. Winding our way through the woods, catching occasional glimpses across the fields, it was wonderful. By end of the walk, I felt like I’d had a good workout (but not such as to be sweaty and exhausted), a jolly good chat with some new people, and a chance to absorb a little bit of nature. The week’s stresses and tensions had slipped away and I felt healthy for the start of the weekend.
As one of my fellow walkers pointed out, the countryside we walked through is quintessentially English, with the roll of the South Downs, church spires and flint stone cottages as a backdrop. There was no pressure on anyone to walk faster or slower and it’s rather nice not being responsible for map navigation for a change. Of course, you don’t have to join a night walk as the WALX team walk during the day too, and I can see night walking might not be so appealing in winter. But for something a little different, that offers a new perspective on our Sussex landscape and a chance to get out in the wild after dark, it’s a great way to explore.
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You can find out more about nordic walking and WALX Coast and Country here: https://walx.co.uk/groups/walx-coast-and-country/