Yesterday for the third year I took part in the Big Fun Walk through some of London’s most beautiful parks, in aid of North London Hospice. The sun shone, the daffodils were blooming, it was altogether a great day on several counts – good exercise, a chance to catch up with friends, a lovely route and a very deserving cause.
This year my daughter Tanya and I were joined by some of her friends, including one with her mother who was visiting from Australia. Linda (the mum) was pleased to find some ‘older’ walkers like myself and friend, Joan, but this is not a particularly difficult walk and we all kept up with our 30 something kids! Linda had been to London a few times before but was delighted with the different views she had of the city from the unique perspective of our lengthy walk together (our route maps included interesting facts and useful information – locations of all the public toilets and refreshment stops! – en route).
Most cities and towns of note will have guided tours for visitors and a tour with commentary is a great way to learn more about the area and see things you might otherwise miss. But do also look out for any charity walks or other activities that may be taking place while you are on a home exchange. Your exchange hosts will often know about such events or will be able to research this for you (you usually need to register for a charity event in advance, sometimes paying an entry fee, with others like the Big Fun Walk only requiring that you agree to raise a minimum amount in sponsorship money).
The most cited reason for taking part in a home exchange is not, as you might think, the cost savings on accommodation, but rather the opportunity a home swap gives to live in a home (that may be very different from your own) and experience a ‘real’ neighbourhood. What better way to meet local people and see more of the area than to support a good cause by joining in an organised walk or charity fund raiser.
The walk follows a 7½ mile route from the forecourt of East Finchley underground station through Cherry Tree Wood, Highgate Woods, Primrose Hill, Regents Park, Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’ Park and finishes at Storeys Gate SW1 not far from the Houses of Parliament.