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WITT: There are plenty of places for a good walk in Winchester

A short while ago, someone posted on one of the social networks a question about local walking trails.

Some of the responses to the question pointed out the walking trails at Legacy Park and at the corner of Colby Road and Bypass Road.

While someone might have pointed out the possibility of the walking track available at College Park Gym, it appeared more likely that the questioner was more interested in walking in the open air and perhaps over a longer distance than simply walking the circuit of the gym track.

Even though the gym track offers desirable accessibility especially on inclement days — extreme heat or cold, or snow, sleet or rain — walking outside offers much greater possibilities in many respects.

First, there is the availability of clean fresh air, at least on most days, and the air is certainly cleaner now that it has been in months past because fewer vehicles on the road and fewer miles being driven.

Recent satellite pictures show many of the world’s cities with air noticeably cleaner than in many years past.

Perhaps too many of us have grown overly accustomed to the filtered air of carefully calibrated indoor settings and more exposure to outside air would be beneficial.

Second, walking outside exposes one to the sounds of nature, which are, of themselves, calmative.

Of course, one frequently has to deal with the more intrusive sounds of noisy vehicles and the like, but the trade-off may be worth it, especially if one is walking areas where such cacophony is not prevalent.

One of the greatest pleasures of outside walking is to hear the distant “honk” of geese, pausing to wait for them to come into view and to marvel at their graceful formations.

Walking on designated trails will expose one to the pleasures of nature, but the constant traverse of such defined areas limits the experience of walking.

Third, and as a contravention to the monotony of walking designated paths, exploring a neighborhood is a wonderful way to pass the time, meet neighbors and discover sights that evade us all too often when driving.

There is a certain absurdity in driving somewhere to walk, although, as noted above, doing so may be desirable if the only way to get in a walk is to do so indoors because of weather concerns.

But if a person is going to drive to some location to walk, why not drive to an unfamiliar neighborhood and walk there?  Chances are a person will meet someone new.  There is an even greater possibility that walking in a new neighborhood will reveal sights never before contemplated or appreciated.

All the neighborhoods that border the downtown area have ample sidewalks and provide great shade from summer heat with mature, majestic trees and the variety of styles of homes is a wonder in itself.

Some of the neighborhoods that were developed in the 50s, 60s and early 70s may have inadequate sidewalks for pedestrians, but the downtown area and its surrounds are generously paved and suited for walkers.

Even walking the streets of downtown offer numerous pleasures, finding the new businesses, appreciating the older ones and noting the varied and notable architecture that resides there.

So, the answer to the question about local walking paths might simply be:  there are scores of walking paths in Winchester; just step out your door and begin walking.

And try not to be surprised at what you find if you just look around you on the trip.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.