The US trend for local exploration is now being championed over here by professional walker Anja Phoenix. Anja, who designs urban trails for outdoor clothing brand Regatta, tells us what makes urban hiking great.

Urban hiking is not just about the environment itself but the mindset with which we explore it. The vast majority of the UK population lives with an urban environment on their doorstep so it’s easy to access. If you explore it with a different mindset to which you usually have e.g. shopping or going to work, and view it as an opportunity for discovery, you might be surprised by how much you discover!

It’s about taking advantage of the environment on our doorstep and about getting out there, no matter where you live. That’s part of the reason why Regatta has championed the UK urban hike series. Urban hikes are great for folks in their lunch break, first timers in a city or residents wanting to find out more about their city and get fit in the process!

You can still do all the traditional things associated with country hiking, from navigation to hill reps! It’s amazing what you can do with a set of stairs and natural features in a city park! All the usual decisions still exist, from route choice to safety, but the main trait for me is changing pace so I can really take everything in.

We use different kit depending on the weather, the length of time we are out and how fast we are moving. The great advantage of an urban hike is that often everything we need is on route. There is usually a loo nearby, shops and benches to rest on etc. Comfy footwear and versatile clothing is a must for me, as I like to travel light when it comes to kit.

Regatta’s range is really wearable. The new ranges look great with jeans as well as running leggings. I use Regatta clothing when I am guiding in the mountains as well as exploring cities as I know I will be warm, dry and comfortable.

Rome’s environment really stands out to me. The layers of history and culture there are incredible and the city takes on a different personality at night. Cities with different quarters and districts are also fascinating as each one has its own ambiance that can evoke different feelings. Covent Garden is a great part of London if you want to discover hidden courtyards and secret secluded spots within the hustle and bustle.

UK cities make amazing urban hikes, so this series I am making with Regatta is very exciting. Taking 30 minutes to hike through your city can leave you with a healthy and happy feeling for the whole day. It’s not just a physical workout but a mentally stimulating one as well. Creating the maps has certainly left me with a real sense of pride and urban adventure. Do an urban hike with the right mindset and it can really spark your imagination!

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