Afew years ago, we had a visitor staying from the Czech Republic. Her first question was: Where are all the people? She’d been amazed to find, driving back from the airport, that the country lanes were empty of walkers. How did people get to work? To school? Simple, we explained, most of us who live in the country, now get around by car and public transport. These days, walking has been relegated to recreation.

And at what cost? Because, whatever our age or fitness, walking is one of the simplest, most enjoyable and versatile forms of exercise there is, and it’s free. To quote the NHS website, regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. However, to reap the full health benefits, you need to walk with moderate intensity, in other words, faster than a stroll. A good guide is to be able to hold a conversation as you walk but to feel that your heart rate is up and that you’re working up a gentle sweat. A pedometer – or one of the many free health apps – will tell you how many steps you’ve walked and keep a track of distance. The recommended goal for optimal health benefits is 10,000 steps or about five miles a day. This may sound steep, but start small, say 1,000 steps a day and build up.

In Kent and Sussex we’re lucky to have fabulous walks with hills, nature reserves and miles of coastline to explore. Here’s one of my favourites, it’s a very easy five miles and perfect for beginners as it’s on the level throughout. Better still, you won’t get muddy, it’s peppered with great watering holes and eateries and, best of all, you’re always walking next to the sea.

Along the way…

Hythe Bay Fish Restaurant

Near the start of your walk, right on the beach this has good coffee and excellent food

The Ship Inn, Sandgate

At just over half way, this pub is perfect for a pint and food’s good too.

Loaf, Sandgate High Street

Take a 2 min detour through the village to this fun café – good for coffee, breakfast or a light lunch

Rocksalt, 4-5 Fishmarket, Folkestone

Reward yourself with a real treat – lunch or dinner at Mark Sargeant’s stylish restaurant and bar with panoramic views over the harbour

Coastal Walk

Hythe to Folkestone Harbour

Beginning at Fisherman’s Beach, Hythe, at the top of St Leonard’s Road, head east along West Parade following the promenade past the golf course and along the Sandgate Esplanade for 3 miles until you reach Sandgate village. Continue to follow the path as it ducks behind the coastguards cottages and shops, snakes around Radnor Cliff and the Lower Leas Coastal Park and eventually brings you to your destination, Folkestone Harbour.

It’s worth visiting The Old High Street, now Folkestone’s Creative Quarter, which is full of interesting shops and cafés. It weaves up the hill from the harbour into the town centre from where there’s a regular bus service back to Hythe from Folkestone Bus Station.

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