I find myself walking on all sorts of paths, lanes and other routes when I am on my pilgrimages. The first priority has, of course, to be safety so I always have a torch and lightweight reflective jacket in case I find myself having to walk along a road, especially at dusk. However I do try to follow the many off road routes with which we are blessed in Wales and further afield in Britain. I also always carry a small first aid kit and emergency pack. In rural areas even in warm weather this always includes a lightweight insulating foil blanket. It is perhaps important to realise that you carry these things for other people whom you might meet as well as for yourself. The only time I have used my emergency pack is when I came across a cyclist who had badly grazed herself falling off her bike. In upland areas over 500 metres or so, it’s especially important to be aware of the demands and hazards of a more mountainous environment.
In Wales and further afield in the UK we have some of the best laws in the world as regards access to private land and open spaces. However, it’s always essential to follow the country code and remember that the great outdoors is also a working environment.
When I’m walking PilgrimStreet- style I am generally on my own. This means I have to be able to safely navigate my way around all sorts of landscapes. I always use 1:25000 Ordnance Survey maps (or their French, Irish or Manx equivalents) in their paper form. I would strongly suggest that if you wish to walk significant distances on your own in the countryside that you have sufficient confidence and skill in map-reading to know just where you are on a 1:25000 OS map at any time.
Urban environments bring their own challenges as regards navigation and safety. However the many walking routes that make use of former railway lines can be very useful as are canal tow-paths.
For me though, walking often long distances and looking for safe and interesting routes is perhaps the best way to begin to observe the old roads and lanes that pre-date the internal combustion engine and the modern road network.