Spring is upon us which means you have no excuse not to make full use of the great British countryside and go and stretch your legs.
Whether you’re just looking to walk off that Sunday lunch or enjoy a full weekend away from the city, apps and websites can help you find the best routes and even help direct you while you’re on them.
If you’re not a seasoned rambler and are feeling a bit lost, don’t panic, here are five easy steps to get started.
1. Get some inspiration
If you don’t know where to start, finding inspiration to get out and start exploring can be daunting, which is why Instagram can come to the rescue.
There's more to Instagram than shots of latte art and poached eggs precariously placed on top of mashed avocados. By following the right hashtag, you can be fed daily doses of inspiration from the wider community.
Whether they’re filled with treasured family memories, uplifting sights or sweet scents, there’s a reason places motivate us to return again and again. With this week’s #NTchallenge we were spoiled with all your entries showcasing the *places you keep coming back to* but, alas, there can only be one winner. Congratulations to @farsawrey.landscape for this rainbow over Wasdale which we could sit and look at all day. Come back on Friday when we’ll be announcing another #NTchallenge. #nationaltrust #PlacesMatter
2. Find a nearby walk and plan your route
Once you’ve been suitably inspired by either a specific part of the country or found something just on your doorstep the next thing to do is find a walk.
The Ordnance Survey’s ‘Get Outside’ website has a fantastic tool for finding pre-planned routes near you.
Once you’ve found a route, download the Ordnance Survey app, sign up and access all the routes direct on your phone. While the routes are free to download, there’s a premium upgrade within the app that lets you download high-resolution OS maps straight to your phone along with the routes you’ve chosen so you’ll never get lost.
Of course if you're just after a gentle ramble there's apps for that too. The Pub Walks app shows 100s of curated walks all over the UK that include stops at some of the best pubs in the country.
Finally, the GoJauntly app is a free to download walking app that contains both free and premium walks that have been uploaded either by other GoJauntly users or by the GoJauntly team themselves. What stands this app apart is that it also lets you find walks specifically designed for dogs.
3. Make those steps count
Walking is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to stay fit and healthy. Not only are you taking in the clean country air, you’re also getting the blood pumping and the muscles moving.
To see just how much of a difference it can make - and then boast about it to your family - why not invest in a fitness tracker to get accurate data on how far you’ve actually walked, how many steps you’ve taken and how many calories you’ve burned doing it.
Popular brands like Fitbit, Garmin and Withings offer fitness trackers for under £70 that can help you learn more about the positive health implications of going for a walk.
Fitness trackers can also add a fun level of competition between you and the family with a target being set each week and the family competing to see who walks the most.
If you don't want to spend money on a fitness tracker there are plenty of free apps that can specifically log your activities using the sensors on your smartphone. Map My Walk and Runkeeper are both free and will track all the essentials including distance, steps and calories burned along with showing where you've gone on a map.
4. Go on a treasure hunt
Speaking of having fun, technology has another way of turning a simple walk into an adventure. Geocaching is an activity where you go on high-tech treasure hunts to find trinkets, objects and clues dotted all over the globe.
It works by downloading an app and then as you walk along some of the UK’s most popular routes you can see on a map on your phone little caches hidden along the way. There are some two million geocaches in the world and in the UK they’re found on all 15 of the UK’s National Trails.
To go geocaching along one of them simply head to NationalTrail.co.uk, or download the official Geocaching app onto your phone and just explore for yourself.
5. Walk with others
If you’re feeling social why not join a walking group, you’ll get the opportunity to meet new people and depending on the type of walk you might even learn a bit about the surrounding area.
One of the easiest ways to find a walking group is to head over to Ramblers.org.uk where you’ll be able to enter your postcode to see a list of walking groups near you.
The website even lets you filter the groups between age bands and the kinds of walks they offer, whether you have family in tow or a dog.
Finally try searching for local walking groups on Facebook like 'Colchester Walking Groups', for instance, and you’ll find a list of groups that have been set up either by members of the public or organisations where members share advice and plan walks.