Generally, walking in the UK is pretty safe. You’re not likely to get kidnapped, blasted in a hurricane, or attacked by bears.
But I’ve come across plenty of lesser hazards on my various walks in this country over the years. Probably top of my list of things I don’t like encountering are uncontrolled dogs. Most dog-owners are responsible but they do seem to escape from control sometimes and in one practice hike before I set off, I was attacked no less than four times by different sets of loose dogs in the space of an hour. So I think this was my number 1 worry on my walk. As it happened, I never once had any problems with dogs over the whole 79 days of the walk – much to my relief.
My next worry was about landowners who for various reasons didn’t want me on their land. This occasionally happens even if you’re on a right of way. But, again, it was never a problem on LEJOG. Possibly because I was nearly always on rights of way or by-roads, and in Scotland the “right to roam” allows free access.
And third on my list are cows. They are normally pretty peaceable but I’ve found they can become excitable when in large groups or at dusk.
And because they are much bigger than me, I usually try and avoid walking through large groups of them if I can. On a couple of occasions on LEJOG, I couldn’t avoid them and I did get nuzzled by ferocious Friesians which was a bit alarming. Especially as my escape route – over the nearest fence – was a long way off. Anyway, I escaped unscathed and no harm was done.
The path itself was extremely varied – ranging from trackless upland wasteland, to well made up gravel tracks on only railway lines. I didn’t encounter too many hazards from the path – although river crossings were a bit tricky and I learned the hard way that the best way to get across is just to keep your boots on and plunge in – accepting that you will get wet feet. And in the far north of Scotland, i was acutely aware that I was in a remote pathless area and if I’d slipped over a boulder or got stuck in a bog, I cold have been in a very tricky position indeed.
As it turned out, it was an unexpected hazard – giant hogweed – that caused me the most problems. You can read about it in the “health” page.
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