THE hills, the high places, the clifftops and the long, sandy beaches – these are what many of us are longing for. This is National Walking Month, a celebration of how satisfying it is to put one foot in front of the other. So it’s a good thing that it’s one of the things that most of us can still do, even before restrictions are lifted – as long as we stick to the local.

For many, these past few weeks have been a journey of discovery of local walks – of golf courses we barely knew were there or backstreets emptied by lockdown. It’s also been a good time for planning, for reading about walking, for even re-formulating what it really means to walk.

While it’s unlikely that we’re going to be given a full permit to walk the West Highland Way any time soon, we can still dream. What are the paths we would really most love to take? What views would we most like to be now looking down on? It’s been about appreciating the city, the local, the routes outside our own backyards, but also pining for the big, wilder spaces.

Where: for local streets and byways inspiration

Ramblers Scotland have, throughout the lockdown, run a campaign called #RoamSweetHome to inspire people to keep active. One of the best ways to do it, is to allow you feet to do the walking, and roam where your mind takes you, but if you’re in need of inspiration and intent, they have published on their website over 700 walking routes, of 15, 30 or 60 minutes, from all over Scotland, with many in the cities. Maps are downloadable or available through an app.

Where: for ultra-distance encouragement after lockdown

Read Along The Divide: Walking The Wild Spine Of Scotland, an account by long-distance walking hero Chris Townsend of his walk of over 1200km along the watershed, a path that follows the line dividing river systems that flow west to the Atlantic from those that end up in the North Sea.

You can also read on Townsend’s blog an occasional series about mountains he has been thinking about during lockdown. For instance, An Teallach: “A wonderful, tremendous mountain – complex, rugged, spectacular, really a mini-mountain range with many summits including two Munros and a superb line of pinnacles, the Corrag Buidhe. For me, An Teallach is also a frustrating mountain as whenever I go near it the heavens open. As well as my three ascents, all in dense mist and rain, I’ve camped on its flanks several times and gone no further due to the weather. I once spent a whole day sitting in Shenavall bothy whilst the rain and wind hammered down hoping the weather would clear. It didn’t.”

Where: to count steps

A friend summited Everest by climbing up and down her stairs. Another walked a marathon in a day. There are people backyard walking the West Highland Way. Others doing the spring Step Count Challenge at It’s all about the apps and after that it’s your imagination that does the work. Now could be the time to train for that big walk, to know it’s possible because you’ve done it. The Map My Walk app is great for walks where you’re interested in routes and distance, or try Google Fit for counting steps and calories.

The stuck inside guide: The Cairngorms

Where: to walk a lockdown island

President of Ramblers Scotland, Lucy Wallace, has been writing about her lockdown at home in Arran. Even for her, though, the hills have been not quite reachable in lockdown. Goatfell, which looms over her, is seven miles away. Still as she describes a local walk, to Lamlash beach and along boardwalks, “Bees drone, wrens trill, and the tseep tseep tseep of tiny blue tits fills the air. Everything is alive; curling, creeping, humming, almost too much; like some modern day Tír na nÓg, it is captivating, overwhelming, mythical.”

Where: to climb a movie mountain

The film Edie, in which Sheila Hancock stars as the titular character, an 83-year-old widow who decides to climb the 731-metre Suilven, in Sutherland. Worth watching partly because Hancock walked the whole thing. In an interview I did with her, she said, “I’ve never in my life felt so immersed in nature as I did in that landscape. What’s wonderful is that I didn’t feel diminished. You’d think standing in a landscape like that you would think, ‘Oh I’m a mere human being, tiny .’ I didn’t, I felt part of something huge.”

Where: to go on a geologist’s walk

“There’s always something invigorating about walking along the seashore,” says geologist Iain Stewart on the BBC Walking Through Landscape radio podcast series, and you can hear all the sounds of the ocean in the background, sense the wetness he describes. The professor takes the listener on hikes in the Culbin forest and sands, the Fife coastal path, Glen Lui, Ariundle Oakwoods, complete with chats with local experts. Great for prompting recollections if you’ve done those walks before, or for inspiration for what you might do once lockdown is over.

Where: to hear a walk

Close your eyes and be right there in Flow Country. The wildlife sound recorder Chris Watson, who has worked on many David Attenborough documentaries, has uploaded two audio walks for people to listen to while self-isolating during the coronavirus crisis. At you can listen to a walk through the Caledonian forest in summer or a walk through the Flow Country in spring. Tracks alive and busy with the sounds of birds and other animals.

Where: for mindful walking

The Paths For All website is a walker’s treasure trove. Not only does it deliver the work of Alec Finlay, as artist in residence, including his podcast The Art Of Going For A Walk, but it also offers a free mood-boosting podcast, titled Mind To Walk. Presented by Edith Bowman, this is a 20-minute walking meditation to help you unwind while you walk, focussing on thinking about your movement, noticing things about your body and the world around you.

Where: for determination

Want to know about Munros? Well, Sarah Jane Douglas has bagged them all – not to mention Kilimanjaro and the Himalayas – in a personal journey that she did in the wake of losing her mother to cancer, and which she continued on even when she too had a diagnosis of breast cancer. She writes about all this in Just Another Mountain, an extraordinary story, in which she even describes how she took her mother’s ashes to the Himalayan peak where her one true love had been killed six weeks before they were due to marry.

WHERE: to walk the living anywhere

Read Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain, a cult classic about the Cairngorms. Absorb it in short shots, breaking for contemplation, or scribbling notes, while you make your own ventures out into the living streets, the living cycle paths or even the living local wastelands wherever you are. Shepherd can help you see almost any environment differently.

Where for daily encouragement

Living Streets have a Walk This May campaign that encourages people to walk for 20 minutes every day, as a way of maintaining their physical and mental health and wellbeing during lockdown. Their #try20 motivational poster has tips like “let the kids lead the way” and “let nature guide you”.