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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Thursday 19 May 2016

You'll never walk alone? Women and safety.

I've got a confession to make.

I'm just back from a fabulous couple of miles to kickstart my day. It's gloriously sunny, and my route took me across a little common, through a quiet, wooded area, along a tranquil path by a river, and back up through another hilly woodland track.

There were plenty of other twists and turns I could have taken. Higher up into the woods, alive with morning birdsong. Through `verdant pastures`with not a soul in sight.

But I was too scared.

I'd chosen to go out slightly later in the morning, when I knew there would be runners, dog walkers, local people enjoying the morning sun. Even then, I checked back over my shoulder three times because there was a bloke I'd noticed out alone, on the same path as me, not too far behind. Why? He was enjoying the countryside, too.

I've always loved walking or running, and my favourite time of day has always been early in the morning, when there's still dew on the grass and the birds still aren't quite sure what day it is. I love being alone with my own thoughts, or quite often, my earphones and some classic Aretha Franklin. But I'm always looking over my shoulder. And I feel resentful about that.

I have plenty of friends who clock up mile after mile on their own, especially before a big race.Trainers laced, music on; no looking back. Maybe they're fit enough to run themselves out of a
worrying situation. I'm not. I've been a member of two running clubs, and have also run with one or two friends. It's  fun,and companionable, but I'd like to yomp across a country field on my own sometimes too, without feeling scared. You six on a summer's morning, when everyone else is still asleep.

I can hear my own voice, reminding me I've travelled happily alone in European cities. I've even had stuff  published about being a lone female traveller . I've strolled around New York side streets, dined in Rome with a bunch of total strangers, negotiated narrow Parisian walkways after dark....marched through London late at night as a young reporter, slightly squiffy after a hard day's writing....and a couple of hours in the pub. All of which were probably far riskier.

And now I'm away from the city, in glorious Shropshire, I can hear my sensible side reminding me that the countryside's for everyone, male or female. Run or walk through it and you feel great and lose weight. You just need to know where you are. Use a tracker on your phone. Take your earphones out in lonely areas to heighten your awareness. Pretend you're on the phone if someone's worrying you. And study the stats, for goodness' sake... it's pretty safe out there.

Trouble is.....I'm not listening to my own advice. I play it safe, and go where I know, where I'll see other people .Am I stupid? Do you feel the same, because you're female--or are you happy to roam pretty much anywhere? Maybe you could help talk some sense into me; share your tips. I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for your comments today... most of them below. But there have been views of the blog so far from (in order...) USA, UK, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Bulgaria and Poland...that's great....but if you have a moment....say hello? :)

Important blog by Being active often means being alone (through choice or necessity).

btw thanks for intro to these ladies. I've followed ... they had me on 'cake'!
I was scared walking for so long. Somehow I don't get that fear running. Yes once or twice I've thought what would I do?
but usually I just go out and enjoy it for the pure love of it the freedom, the escapism, my time etc...

Use a tracking app. My daughter used one called ecrumb-but I think there are better(newer)

wouldn't sthg like Find My IPhone work? And I think Garmin has live tracking?

I'm not an expert, but some phone your contact if you are stationary-much safer

ah fair dos. Could backfire if you get a cramp/stop to stretch I guess!

I vaguely recall this, but not what the app was. might know?

very sad reflection on Society that you feel that way, Especially so in rural county like Shropshire

I know. I'm cross with myself! But I've always felt that way, even years ago, walking with our dog.

better to be safe than sorry. Just sad.


  1. Funny that Jane, I was out this morning on a well used cycle path where I usually feel comfortable.Today though, a chap who was just out enjoying the day too, made me feel uncomfortable (for no good reason) and my slow run turned into a sprint session. It's horrid to feel vulnerable and sad that we should do so. As you say, the stats show that logically the chance of something happening to us (male or female) is low. I never share my routes on social media or post my plans. I never wear headphones. I mostly run with my dog, I hope she would sense danger and protect me. I know lots of runners carry alarms or even pepper sprays. Most of the time I feel fine but every now and then I get spooked, usually by my own imagination. I don't think you're stupid. I think it's a natural fear and taking steps to ensure your safety makes sense.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Juliet, and I'm sorry to hear about your slightly unnerving experience today. No easy answers ...but hopefully a useful debate. Have a good day!

  3. Many folks at work use a tracking app. I'm sure they will be available via the app store