And it seems possible to categorise the people walking , as opposed to those running or cycling or, indeed , on horses, into a few discreet groups. There's family groups, often with a family dog in tow. There's Dads out with a sprog or two and, maybe a dog. There's couples. And their dogs. There's pairs of friends and, maybe a dog. There's people out on their own, except for the company of several dogs. And there's just the one old chap in an electric buggy thingy and his three dogs. Most of these don't look like "walkers" - that is to say, there's no boots or packs or bobble hats or anything that makes them look like they've done this kind of thing before. And they're all very friendly although some of their dogs have a bit of an issue with Lucky The Dog and there might be the odd barking frenzy. (The universal willingness to say hello and chat briefly - sometimes not all that briefly, might just be a North-East England thing, though)
I think this is great. It's fabulous. Lots of people out doing exactly what The Ramblers want people to do. They're out getting exercise, burning calories, hearing birdsong and seeing the spring flowers emerging, and new lambs in the fields and great views and , well, just green stuff and, maybe forgetting the "other" stuff just for a while. And, sometimes, there's a blue sky after a rotten soggy and dark winter.
And the roads are quiet as are the streets. It all reminds me of my Sunday childhood : empty streets, closed shops, quietness and people wandering about in the fields and woods. Every day, it would seem, is a Sunday just now. (I have to admit that since I ran off giggling with my NHS pension in 2006, I can hardly remember which day "today" is. Apart from Christmas. You can't miss Christmas... and, maybe solstices and equinoxes have gained more importance.)
The Ramblers HQ peeps say that they've gone home. All Ramblers activities involving meeting people are cancelled, or, at least, suspended pro-tem. This means all Crook and Weardale's lovely Spring walking programme, the footpath work, some bus trips and, probably our May committee meeting. Trips farther ahead are wobbling and only need a push. So, we're not really doing anything, We can't do anything. Or can we?
Ramblers generally seem to be keen to fill the time by keeping in touch with each other - keep up the interest and the morale - we have an informal support network if anybody needs anything. This is positive stuff.
But we might be missing a trick here. Isn't this perhaps the time to start to nurture this sudden and, perhaps temporary interest in the simple stravaig and make some of it permanent? Isn't this what The Ramblers do? Is it time to raise the profile somehow? Could we not put our brains to this instead of scoffing hoy cross buns whilst watching Homes Under The Hammer until the dog demands his daily trundle. (We've been managing 5 or 6 miles). Inevitably (we hope) that all this will soon be over and children will go back to school and mums and dads will return to work and whatever routines they had before. And, maybe, they'll not find time to wander about any more.
One day soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow.
(Apols to Have yourself a merry little Christmas)