My dream day begins like this: wake up early, but not too early, in a small hotel beside the sea. My body is sore (but not too sore) from walking from dawn until dusk the day before to get here.
I pack my bag and take it to the lobby, where the luggage fairies will magically transport it to my next lodging. I have a hearty breakfast and a strong coffee, fill my water bottle and tighten my boots. Today’s sun-kissed route hugs the coastline: cliffs, beaches, cozy pubs and fields of golden wheat rippling in the breeze.
This idyllic scenario is no fantasy. It’s what you do if you love to walk and want to experience the fine-grain textures of the places where you holiday. Hiking from town to town, preferably with somebody else schlepping your gear, is an invigorating immersion into the human and natural ecosystem you’re travelling through—“A state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned,” American author Rebecca Solnit writes in Wanderlust: A History of Walking. “As though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord.”