Some march. Some malinger. A few make it all too obvious how long it’s been since they put one purposeful foot in front of the other

I can’t help wondering just how many new year resolutions banked on “a good walk" as a short cut to the paths of redemption.

Our festive season tends to be the last major blow-out before the lantern of new hope is lit.

Jogging suits and exercise bikes take over from party hats and groaning tables. A frantic search for twinkling toes and determined jaws starts all over again.

Sadly, it’s not long before most of those good intentions  are lost on the next lap of the rat-race.

Even a “good walk” becomes about as common as an empty parking space when the new year sales balloon goes up.

Yet it seems to me like only yesterday when walking and biking some distance were integral parts of daily life. 

Of course, much of it was born out of necessity before the car ruled our roads  but much off it could be called a simple pleasure because traffic was not there to clutter up the system.

Youngsters walked to school and back, especially in the villages. Men strolled to the fields and spent most of their day outside on the move. Mothers walked to the shop for a bag of sugar, to the chapel to dust pews, to church to change flowers, to neighbours to chew over news.

Paint any Norfolk picture of some 60 years ago and you find folk walking, chatting to each other, soaking up the gossip and keeping cobblers in business by wearing out their boots and shoes.

The contrast with current trends is all too plain.

Children mostly travel to school by car or bus rather than take the air. In some cases, this makes good sense, especially with a need to safeguard the very young against twin perils of congestion and pollution.

However, older pupils could make more of an effort to get there and back under their own steam, particularly when you tot up numbers of vehicles used for the school run.

The sheer habit of driving or being driven anywhere and everywhere leads eventually to the sort of chaos we see regularly in Norwich with useful impressions cropping up in many towns and parishes.

What chance, then of the good old walking habit catching on again? I fear only harsh legislation will cut mechanised mayhem in many quarters.

Left with a choice, a clear majority would still take a chance while complaining long and loud that something really ought to be done about this mess.

Still, it must be worth offering vibrant examples from Norfolk’s past in hope of inspiring a resurgence of working wonders to stride in harmony with our much-vaunted passion for treating ourselves and our precious environment with a dash more respect.

Walter Rye was the last Mayor of Norwich in 1908-09 before the office was elevated to a Lord Mayoralty. From the age of 21, all his holidays were taken up by walking and cycling excursions into darkest Norfolk or sailing on the Broads before they became a brazen tourism playground.

He was a big chap, standing just under six feet and he weighed 14 stone in middle age.

He became a champion walker  and rowed, sparred and took up pistol shooting and archery.

Walter became a pioneer cyclist at 43 and rode a tricycle well into old age.

Another prime pedestrian from well over a century ago, Ben Bray was a late developer.

He first put on his racing shoes at 38 and soon tasted success when he came first from virtual scratch in a two-mile walking handicap at King’s Lynn.

Founder of West Norfolk Harriers, he improved with age, his most successful season coming when he was 43. He finished second to world champion Butler in the prestige London to Brighton Walk, covering over 52 miles in nine hours, six minutes.

Let me suggest that when they do get round to banishing all cars from the centre of Norwich and a few suffering towns, the Brayvadoes will stroll in from north and south and the Ryesanshines from east and west.

When that lead-free gun is fired to signal the start of car-free streets, will you be there to breathe new meaning into that ole line about enthusiasts from all walks of life? 

It must be significant to find so many popular songs and inspirational quotes  on this subject. I often warble along with Walking Back to Happiness, Walk on By and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

JRR Tolkien mused: “Not all those who wander are lost” while Jack Kerouac hit the road with: “There was nowhere to go but everywhere”.

An old Norfolk friend with thousands of local miles on the clock reassures me: “Walking can bring you back to yourself.”