The surface we walk on, the ground beneath our feet, will have an effect on our walking. In some cases it will affect the footwear we choose to wear and we may have preferred surfaces.

I love an earthen path, especially along a track that is in the trees. Then it’s not just about the path surface but the whole package, but I digress. Back to the ground I am walking on.

The earthen path is gentler on my feet. Depending on the time of year it may be harder or softer and in the middle of winter it can be rock hard if the frosts have been and then, a little later, a river of mud.

My least favourite ground to walk on are pavements or tarmac roads. If you have walked for a long time on these, you will know what I mean. I trained a couple of ladies once to get fit for the Moonwalk and we trained mainly on a mix of surfaces. A few weeks before the event they told me I had trained them wrong and that I should have trained them on footpaths. My answer was that if I’d done that over the months that we trained then their joints would have suffered badly. So even if you are doing a walk like this, do train on a mix of surfaces especially as much of your time will be increasing mileage and building stamina.


Some ground surfaces require more concentration than others. A rocky terrain will be uneven, and you really have to watch where you are putting your feet. If you have the added dimension of the path being narrow and/or you are on the side of a hill or mountain, being wrong footed or going over on your ankle could mean a fall on and/or off the path with consequences. If you have weak ankles, then boots are your best bet when walking on ground like this.

Scree is also very challenging, gravel paths can be monotonous and I tend to feel them under my feet after a time. On both these surfaces the chances of slipping on a stone, especially when going downhill, is a possibility.

So many types of ground, surface and terrain. The softer ones like grass and sand might encourage you to do some barefoot walking as they are soft. Sand is so much easier to walk on when closer to the water’s edge and easier than ploughing your way along the sand dunes.

Then there is boggy and swampy ground – you are going to want to make sure that your footwear is waterproof for that, as it’s not pleasant to have wet feet as a result for the rest of the walk. Stoney, rather like rocky but not always a great problem; generally uneven ground again depends to what extent; icy paths and you have to be careful of slipping again on the downs more than ups and of course snow. Ground covered in nice soft snow can look very pretty but can hide a multitude below its blanket and you will not know what that is so tread carefully.

Who would have thought that there were so many different types and I could easily have missed one or two. I know that you will kindly let me know if I have.

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