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Go take a walk!

That’s the message from Switzerland as the country tries to promote hiking. It’s healthy, fun and free though it does come with certain dangers. More people are injured in the mountains in the summer than in the winter.

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Switzerland Tourism has declared 2010 the ‘Year of Walking’ and is promoting 60,000 km of clearly signposted paths. 

It is trying to shed its image of thermos flasks and people with their head down just trying to get to the top of a mountain or reach the end of the trail.

Instead the organisation is promoting it as a healthy lifestyle option where people should enjoy the scenery, fresh air and mountain restaurants along the way. And have fun.

They are also emphasizing that it costs nothing to put one foot in front of the other and go walking.

It is an inexpensive form of recreational entertainment in a world where everything seems to come at a price.

Fresh, fun and free

Fresh, fun and free

Switzerland Tourism believes that in the past people have been spoilt for choice about the number of hiking trails and the huge number actually puts people off as they can’t decide where to go.

So it has selected just 32 to promote.

It has also developed an i-phone app to help people along the way.

However hiking is also dangerous and, like ski runs, the paths have varying degrees of difficulty and the trails are graded accordingly.

People should only attempt what they are capable of.

Some get lost or suffer injuries through falling or spraining an ankle.

Others have heart and breathing problems in the thin air or perhaps because they are not as fit as they thought.

Last year in the Valais canton 16 people died during the winter period while skiing in the mountains.

In the summer months it was more than double that figure.

Hiking and walking is becoming increasingly popular.

In 2009 the number of overnight stays in hotels in Switzerland was down by 4.7%.  

According to the Swiss Alpine Club the number of stays in its mountain huts was up 11% to 359,000.

See here for more information about the campaign.

Now the skiing and snowboarding season is pretty much over in Europe we are turning our attention to summer in the mountains here at PlanetSKI so keep an eye open for a series of news articles and features about the summer months.

The French resort of Chamonix is actively promoting the summer and we hope to bring you a special feature on what is on offer shortly.

We love summer in the mountains and want to share our passionCool

See below for a selection of pictures taken while walking in and around our base resort of Verbier in the Swiss Alps during the summer.

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