Last week I mentioned we’d be road-testing how it feels to have a car-free week, to see if we can cope without wheels. We kicked off our test at the weekend. Here’s how we managed for the first two days.
Like most cities and towns, Brighton & Hove wasn’t designed for cars. It was built when the horse and cart ruled and most people walked. And because it’s packed with weekend visitors, parking on Saturdays is often a challenge.
We often nip into the town centre on Saturdays for a wander around. It’s usually a ten minute drive followed by another fifteen minutes or so finding somewhere to park that doesn’t cost a million pounds. This Saturday we decided to walk in from our suburb, which is about two miles out.
Luckily the weather was gorgeous. We took a rucksack each, which is the most comfortable / least painful way to carry stuff while leaving your arms free. The walk into town, which is roughly 50/50 uphill and downhill, took forty minutes, not much longer than the time it takes to drive in and park. And we had a really enjoyable time strolling along together, talking and discovering our surroundings at a human level instead of being stuck in a car.
It also reminded us how little time we spend together just chatting, without distractions. We could feel the healthy pull of stretched muscles in our calves, thighs and bums. And we both felt brighter, fresher and more cheerful.
In town we enjoyed our usual wander, picking up a few household essentials and putting a couple of cheques in the bank before heading home. We decided to go the whole hog and walk back, again taking in a mixture of city centre, suburban and Downland environments on our way and dreaming up a slightly different route to keep things interesting.
By the time we got home our pedometers showed we’d walked about six miles in total without noticing it, and without spending a penny on petrol or parking. We’ve decided it’s a definite win-win, so in future we won’t be using the car to go into town unless we absolutely have to.
On Sunday we often go on a roast hunt. This time we did it on foot. We picked a direction and decided to stop at the first place we came across for Sunday lunch, which turned out to be a pub on top of the cliffs at Peacehaven, three miles over the South Downs from our suburb.
As it turns out there’s more than one route so instead of walking back the same way, we meandered along the coastal path to Rottingdean, giving in and catching the bus home from there, for £2.20 each, too hot and bothered to walk the rest of the way. We’ll definitely be doing that again too, it was excellent fun and lent a whole different dimension to our usual car-led Sunday lunch expeditions.
So far we’ve walked ten miles in two days, had a lovely time and saved:
- £5 or so on petrol
- around £10 on parking
On Wednesday this week I’ll take another look at how we fare without a car. Wish us luck!