If you had told me five years ago that I would own hiking boots before I owned a house I would have laughed you out of the room. I did the Duke of Edinburgh award, an overnight orienteering challenge, and I hated it. The idea of me doing adventure sports or serious outdoor activities has people in hysterics (it’s kind of offensive. But true). I love to walk. I love certain sports. I love being outside. But I like pretty things. I like meandering, I like riding a horse gently through a forest, or playing in the park, or walking by the river. I don’t like walking uphill for a 500 metre elevation.
That’s why it took several trips to several shops to find the right boots. That matched the jacket. That matched the wind shell jacket. But now I have them. And more to the point, I have used them.
Hiking in Switzerland isn’t a big deal. Not because it’s not popular, but because everyone does it. All of the time. Old, young, serious walkers and weekend dabblers – from the grandparents to the hip young things, everyone is donning their Goretex jackets and joining the march. Pretty much everywhere has somewhere to hike. Some are more challenging than others – some have cable cars up and walks down, others the other way around (why? Who does that?). Most have a hut en route and at the top for much-welcomed cheese-based snacks and liquid refreshments. Sometimes, you can even stay overnight in the hut.
It’s an easy weekend activity, a social excursion with friends or family to add some exercise to an indulgent lunch. There are spectacular views, beautiful winding mountain pathways, traditional farmhouses and an insight into a rural Switzerland that isn’t just a flash as you fly by on skis. And secretly, I kind of like it. But don’t tell anyone.