The Top Choices for Country Walking Sticks

Some people like to walk with them, some without them. But walking sticks are not just mobility aids. If you enjoy walking in the countryside in Britain, you may find you enjoy taking a stick with you. A stick is a constant companion and provides many useful benefits, such as: 1. Helping you to keep your balance 2. Providing excellent support when descending steep hills or traversing a steep hill 3. Increasing your stride and hiking speed with arm power 4. Reducing stress on your knee and hip joints 5. Offering a support if you get injured 6. Clearing up the path up ahead 7. Reaching up high to knock fruit out of trees for example 8. Use as a monopod to stabilize your camera or binoculars 9. Helping companions to cross difficult areas (a "lend a hand stick") 10. Retrieving things out of reach or in the water 11. Something to lean on when you stop for a breather 12.Testing water or mud for depth.

 Ramshorn cane for walking

There is a lot of choice on the market today and it's easy to find something suitable for both men and women, young and old. Adjustable aluminium hiking poles, for example, are usually purchased in pairs and have either crutch or grip style handles. They are lightweight and practical and can telescope down to a small size for easy stowage. Hiking poles are good for ascending or traversing steep hills as the height of each pole can be adjusted quickly and easily, meaning you can have your sticks at different lengths. These are the most popular choice for walkers. Wooden hiking sticks have more of a "good companion" feel to them. There a lots of variations to these sticks but they all have a lanyard (or strap) that wraps around the arm to free up your hand when needed, as well as a metal spiked tip with a detachable rubber ferrule for use on hard ground. Variations of these sticks can also be purchased, such as a camera mount in the top of the stick to turn it into a monopod or embedded magnets on the handle tops to pick up dropped keys or other metal objects.

Antler thumbstick walking cane

Thumbsticks and wading sticks are other popular choices. Thumbsticks are similar to wooden hiking sticks but with Y shaped handles that are held with the thumb hooked over the V, or leaned on with the forearm leaning in the V. Wading sticks are the same as thumbsticks but have a weighted end and a long lanyard that wraps around the upper body. They are often used by fishermen for keeping their balance in rivers and testing the depth of the water. The weighted end keeps the stick from floating off downstream, as does the lanyard. Cross-head and knob-sticks are both one-piece sticks that are strong and reliable and so useful on a walk. They are far superior to a stick just picked from out of the bush - these sticks are dried for 2 years, straightened and grown in such a way that they do not require a join from the handle to the shaft. This means they are both lightweight and strong.

Twisted hazel walking cane

The Walking Stick - "A Gentleman's Accessory"

Since replacing the sword as the must-have gentleman's accessory in the 17th Century, the humble walking stick has come a long way. From traditional wooden crook canes to silver plated dress canes, there's a stick to suit all tastes and budgets. Walking sticks are not just mobility aids, but have lots of other uses. Country walkers and hikers use adjustable metal poles or wooden poles for their outdoor pursuits. Actors use all kinds of sticks in their productions - for example, Hercule Poirot's smart gentleman's cane. Fishermen use wading sticks to test water depth and to keep their balance in fast moving water. Thumbsticks and market sticks are chosen by those who work outdoors as something to lean on while having a rest, and shepherd's crooks are still used by people who look after live stock.

Chrome topped walking cane

Collectors of sticks (and there are a great many of you!) often choose animal-topped sticks, famous characters, system sticks and the wonderful choice of handmade sticks that out there. But it is the formal occasions and special events which provide the best opportunities for carrying a cane. Silver, chrome and brass handled sticks tend to be the top choices for weddings, funerals and evenings out, as well as canes adorned with crystals. At Walking Sticks Online, we have more choice than you can shake a stick at! For a variety of handmade and machine-made walking sticks of every kind, visit www.walkingsticksonline.co.uk to find something for you. Guest post by Emily Hannah