I was reading a review over at Books and Culture of "The Old Ways:A Journey on Foot" by Robert Macfarlane, and one phrase caught my attention. "Macfarlane", says the reviewer, "has walked about seven or eight thousand miles in his life."
That's all? Hard to believe.
The odometer on Shanks' pony can clock up a lot of miles. I have been privileged to live nearly all my life within walking distance of my workplace. I've walked maybe four miles a day, five days a week, for the best part of the last twenty-five years - not to mention the hiking and backpacking and running (does that count?) and climbing (ditto?) that have punctuated that twenty-five years and indeed the twenty-five years before that.
I reckon I'm at 25,000 miles. Time for an oil change.
But that's not much really. The miners' path from the Ogwen to Llanberis valleys in North Wales is four miles (one way) and a thousand feet of elevation change. Modern guides list it as a recreational dayhike, but it was nineteenth-century miners' daily commute.
In many parts of Africa and Asia, collecting the daily water supply is "women's work". According to a Loughborough University web site, the average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water each day is six kilometers (about four miles) and the weight of water they carry on their heads is about 20kgs (about forty pounds) - equivalent to the average airport luggage allowance.
Something to think about.