Stories from the Barn

A hive of activity in the Hampshire downlands

Walking in the Rain. Why it is so good for us.

Walking in the rain

Why it’s good to walk in the rain.

Walking in the rain is one of life’s positive activities. For every hot and sun drenched walk in the baking days of July give me two in soft Autumn rain. So although we all look out of the window on a drizzly wet day and feel gloomy, learning to turn that around into a positive can be amazingly uplifting.

First thing though – invest in a good pair of walking shoes and wet weather gear. There is no point in getting soaked through and cold, it just won’t be fun. Having said that be prepared to get wet. It’s like that moment before plunging into the sea, the thought of a chilly dip is arghhhh but once in, it’s wonderful. Walking in the rain is the same.

Dog walkers know all this already, we don’t have a choice, we have to walk in the rain and despite all the grumbling, it’s all rather enjoyable in the end.

Walking in the rain, in a way, separates the walker from all the everyday swarm of agitated thoughts because it is such an assault on all the senses that it calls for reaction to the here and now. It becomes an absorbing walk, a wakening walk, a mindful walk.

Stepping into the rain.

We have become used to being dry, to having our water on demand, as we like it when we like it but without water we would be unable to experience nature and our landscape as we know it.

Being in the rain at leisure, instead of dashing through it can be a restful and calming exercise. Take time to feel the rain falling on your skin, some soft gentle strokes. Be incredulous at pounding rain that gives you a massage as it falls, as good as any power shower.

Rain changes all our responses, we have to think about where we place our feet and how we balance, it makes us physically more in tune with our environment. Walking in the rain connects us directly with our environment.

Rain acts as a buffer to other noise, it creates it’s own music as it strikes the tree canopy or strikes the ground. Running water on a slope gurgles and water moving through the soil pops as it displaces air.

Rain mixes up all the scents, things smell different, in some instances fresher in other it sends the smells of the woodland floor spiraling upwards and the age old smells of soil, vegetation and decay hit our limbic systems and memories come rushing in , memories of childhood days when being in the rain was an adventure, when splashing in puddles was the best fun.

Rain can also clear the pollutants out of the air leaving a sharp focus to all things, polishing the greens as my dad used to say.

Walking in the rain

The smell of wet leaves

Finding shelter.

So the sandwiches and flask beckon but the need to find a place to shelter is paramount. The joy of finding the trunk of a tree to rest against or a rock to sit on, out of the way of the rain can feel like the most wonderful achievement and being out in the elements drinking a cuppa makes you feel so alive, no doubt about it.

Chaucer’s pilgrims set off in the rain.

In the General Prologue for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the narrator introduces the characters as they prepare to set out on their pilgrimage, possibly intended to be the most mindful of walks but gets rather overtaken by the stories of each along the way. The first twelve lines open with a line in praise of rain.

When in April the sweet showers fall

And pierce the drought of March to the root and all

The veins are bathed in liquor of such power

As brings about the engendering of the flower

When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath

Exhales an air in every grove and heath

Upon the tender shoots and the young sun

His half course in the sign of the Ram has run

And the small fowl are making melody

That sleep away the night with open eye

So nature pricks them and their heart engages

Then folks long to go on pilgrimages.