In praise of rural group walks: why crowds are good company

Walking can bring relaxation, beauty and happiness – even on a group stroll. Though, as Alan Franks knows, it’s useful to have a few ground rules before hitting your stride. Plus: 5 great walks to try

If you’re thinking about organising a walk in the countryside for a group of friends or colleagues, a frequently offered word of advice is … don’t. What’s the problem? It – or, rather, they – are staring you in the face: your would-be companions. Never was a more popular observation made on the perils of company than Jean-Paul Sartre’s dictum about hell being other people.

The competitive ones are going to want to lead; the nerds are going to demonstrate their map-reading prowess; the narcissi are going to flaunt the Rohan gear; the wimps are going to want to hit the inn at noon. And so on, as character traits that are manageable in the course of the working week bloom into monstrosities in the heady liberty of the South Downs, the Yorkshire Dales or (not a good idea) the Cairngorms. It’s going to be a disaster.

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