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Walking etiquette 101

Getting outdoors for some fresh air is one thing but knowing how to interact with others doing the same thing can be quite another.

Somerset has an abundance of beautiful areas to walk in – from hills, woodlands and beaches to canal paths, market towns and lakes. It’s no surprise that during the summer months these areas can become busier than usual.

With the relaxation of social distancing, it’s understandable to be feeling apprehensive about venturing back outside, especially when heading to popular spots where the chances of meeting other people will be high.

Even if you are feeling safe and confident, don’t assume that other people you encounter will feel the same.

If in doubt, check out our walking etiquette guidelines:

  1. Be patient with yourself and others:

Everyone has taken their own experiences from the Covid-19 pandemic and it’s more important than ever to be mindful of other people’s experiences, feelings and space without judgement.

Remember that it is perfectly natural to feel apprehensive about interacting with others. If you want to wear a mask, you can. If you want to keep your distance from others, that’s ok too. Now is not the time to feel pressured into doing something you aren’t ready to do.

  1. Keep children and dogs close to you:

During the summer, it is not uncommon for outdoor spaces to become busier than usual with families, walkers, cyclists and joggers making the most of the great outdoors. There’s nothing better than letting children and dogs burn off excess energy in the open air but be mindful that others may not be ready for a deluge of free-range children and pets!

If you have children with you, make sure they know to keep a safe distance from others and remind them not to run too far ahead of you. Equally, If you know your dog is partial to attention from strangers, ensure you keep it under close control or on a lead.

  1. Avoid peak times:

If the thought of crowds fills you with dread, try to avoid the busiest times of the day and the weekends (if possible).

If you’re an early riser, there’s nothing better than starting the day with a brisk walk in the peace and quiet. Alternatively, heading out for an early evening picnic or sunset stroll is a great way to avoid the crowds and will almost certainly guarantee you a parking space!

  1. Keep your distance from others:

We may not be restricted by official rules anymore, but that doesn’t mean we should stop taking sensible precautions. Always carry hand sanitiser with you and try to maintain a good distance (at least 6ft) from anyone outside of your household.

This can be tricky on narrow paths and walkways. Try to look ahead as much as possible and keep your eyes peeled for other people and suitable passing places.

  1. Communicate clearly:

Somerset is a friendly place and it’s more than likely that you’ll be met with greetings from strangers. If you aren’t comfortable with this or feel that your personal space is being invaded, don’t be afraid to politely ask others to take a step or two back.

  1. Enjoy yourself!

The fact remains that the chances of contracting Covid-19 are massively reduced when spending time outdoors. Fresh air is known to disperse and dilute the virus, and ultraviolet light from the sun should kill any virus that’s out in the sun.

Remain cautious, keep yourself and others safe and enjoy everything Somerset has to offer for a healthy, outdoor lifestyle.