Where and why does Albert Owen MP walk?
This article is from the August 2013 issue of Total Politics
Few MPs can say they have circumnavigated their own constituency and even fewer can say they enjoy it. That is the benefit of representing the beautiful island of Anglesey. Its 125-mile coastal footpath is a majestic asset for locals and visitors alike. To me it is a form of exercise and relaxation second to none.
I have always had a passion for coastal walking. As a young boy between breakfast and Sunday dinner and then Sunday school, my father, brothers, neighbours and I went for long walks up hills along the coastline. It kept us fit and healthy in body and mind.
My love for the great outdoors is in my DNA. I live in the village where I was born and raised; on the outskirts of the port town of Holyhead. It has wildlife and cliff edges that harbour adventure. That adventure has never left me. Now I am older, football is restricted to the sidelines of the local league and watching Everton on Match of the Day, cross-country running limited to occasional fun runs, along with charity walks up Snowdon, but coastal walking continues to play a big part in my life. No weekend is complete without a hike.
London has its attractions, but the idyllic coast of Anglesey is a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Since the opening of the official Anglesey coastal path many people have been drawn by its beauty. I meet people from far and wide (you might even bump into our famous royal residents), and I talk to locals in all parts of the island; I chat with, and also take advice from, constituents – it quite literally keeps my feet on the ground.
To promote the coastal path in the 2005 summer recess, I walked every stage accompanied by the fantastic coastal path guide book. Each day consisted of a morning in the office and a 12.5 mile walk. Each day was different. The lush greens that surround the Menai Straits. The rugged north where the Isle of Man can be seen on a good day. Quaint coast and rural villages have tales of shipwrecks and industrial heritage. Walking is a good social pastime, but to me there is nothing like an early morning walk on my own: no phones, no emails or party whips, just the great outdoors, fresh air, diverse wildlife and the heart beating as I make my way up hills to the next great view. The sea all around provides a sense of belonging. It refreshes me for the day and week ahead like no other stimulant. Walking my patch is never a chore, and I never tire of rambling on about it. In fact most of my family holidays, when not on Anglesey, are now spent in North Yorkshire where walking is a core pastime.
Talking up my constituency is so easy, but don’t take my word for it; join the growing band of MPs who visit for their holidays, give it a go and make Anglesey your island of choice.