Having been brought up with horses and ended up working with them Clare Balding spent a lot of her time on the back of one or heading to the next racecourse to watch more. But in 1999 she took a call from a radio producer asking if she ever walked anywhere. ‘Well, I walk the dog…’ was her reply. From that call, the Radio 4 series Ramblings came about.
It is still going strong all these years later and has clocked up a huge 36 series so far. She has managed to walk 1500 miles along footpaths that are well-known paths like the Pennine Way to ones that are local and special to the people that accompany her on the perambulations. There have been blisters, soakings, minor injuries and one moment when walking with a ranger who walked at twice her pace though she was going to die!
Whilst her walks have taken her all over the country, in all weathers, the thing that makes this series work so well is the people that she meets on the walks. There have been choirs, novelists, poets, couples, small groups who are using the medical elements of walking to cope with all sorts of issues from bereavement to those recovering from mental health issues. She has collected litter with David Sedaris and walked backwards and barefoot, but never naked. Clare is accompanied by Lucy and her furry microphone
Woven into the tales of other places, are stories of family life and her partnership with Alice and her time spent presenting the Olympics and other sporting events. Clare and her brother’s intention to finally tackle the Wayfarer’s Walk that is close to the place she grew up. This is not a taxing read, rather an entertaining and in parts a very very funny stroll through some beautiful countryside and a passing glimpse into people’s lives and how and why they walk.