It probably comes as no suprise to learn I have been walking many a mile of late. I've roamed canal tow paths, fields, footpaths, lanes, woods, lakes, former railway lines and even skirted working quarries. Most of the time I've followed recommended routes, circular walks which have taken me well over 500 miles in the last six months.
For much of the time I find myself completely alone and I am able to enjoy the peace and quiet, seeing only an occasional dog walker, cyclist or fisherman. However, being recommended routes, there are also times when the walk attracts groups. Walking in a group is rather different for either there is an increasing distance between first and last, in which case there is no actual 'group' but a 'string', or everyone keeps the pace of the slowest of their number.
Personally I cannot see the attraction of walking in a pack. Aside from having to wait for the slowest, they lose any chance of enjoying peace and quiet, the freedom, the opportunity to throw off daily routines and pressures, and the chance to think. If the pack is walking in the opposite direction you become aware of them from afar for their chattering can be heard from quite some distance. However if the pack is treading the same route, I endeavour to put as much distance between us as humanly possible, for I do not want any intrusion upon my solitude.
I concede there are those for whom solitude is sadly not safe. However if the idea is simply to wander and enjoy a sandwich, flask of tea, and a natter, wouldn't it be more sensible to walk around the local park or even the shopping centre?