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"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything". - George Bernard Shaw

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Thanks again for taking us to such beautiful parts of Cornwall. The journey was really great with you.

- Rose Marie D, Germany


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Walking blog: The philosophy of walking

Sensory trails. Using touch to enhance your walk.

walk in cornwall holiday tree mallow at porthleven

I read that we take in 85% of our information about our immediate surroundings through our eyes. That leaves 15% to be divided by touch, taste, smell and hearing. I’m surprised. In this world dominated by the flat screen I would’ve bet on it being higher. But then again TV isn’t TV without surround sound, which would in my opinion count for the majority of the remaining 15%.

On a walk and indeed to entice people on a walk the honey trap is the immediacy of the photo showing the best views to be encountered. As the purveyor of the ideal walk I am not immune to the dominance of 20/20 persuasion. How else do I sell my walks onscreen via my website, blog or poster?

But once the magic works and I have ensnared my captive audience I make damn sure that not only are all senses engaged on the walk but also we are visually aware on the macro and micro levels.

Taking the second part first. I bet most people would think of taking binoculars on a walk but not a hand lens let alone a pocket microscope which are now unbelievably compact, light and relatively inexpensive. Whilst we like looking at nesting birds close up a whole world awaits at the other end of a hand lens.

As for the much maligned but overlooked world of lichens, a rock full of diverse coloured and shaped lichen, barely given a second glance along the trail becomes an amazing variety of interconnecting organisms. With a hand lens, think of it as a view from a plane, over an ever changing landscape of another world with the bushy forest of the fruticose lichens or drought-like plains of a parched desert of the crustose lichens.

Do take a 10x lens next time. Pick them up for up to ten pounds. A 20x is, well, twice as good. As for a pocket microscope, just look at a butterfly’s wings through that or a rock sample slither. It’s a whole new world out there.

As for ones other senses, touch the tall grasses as you walk through the fields. Find a tree mallow (pictured) and tell me that the leaves don’t remind you of chamois leather. Should Body Shop ever make swimming trunks out of tree mallow leaves, I’ll be first in the queue. Oooh, tactile walks.

Also, do let the spiders, ladybirds, caterpillars et al have roam around your hand. Engage with touch.

Oh and I haven’t mentioned taste. Well, health and safety and all that jazz. When it comes to mushrooms, I know some very clever but dead mycologists who were clever up until the last ‘shroom they picked. You know it makes sense. Sensory overload is advisable.