You know, the Internet may be the greatest information resource ever constructed by the human species, but it could sure use some organisation. I spent a good two hours yesterday trying to find out how far an average person could travel in a day on foot and on horseback (why? you’re not cleared for that! 😉
I found plenty of information about how villages in northern England are spaced based on how far a person could walk in a day, and how traffic in central London today is apparently slower than horses and carts in Victorian times, but precious little on the actual distances and speeds involved. I was at the point of tearing my hair out when Wikipedia (the font of all human knowledge 😉 came to my partial rescue with articles on the various gaits of horses, and the Pony Express. Some more poking around on the subject of “walk” finally allowed me to come up with some semi-reliable figures which I shall present here to make life easier for anyone else seeking the same information
An average, healthy, human adult can walk or march at about 5km per hour, or 3.1 miles per hour. Running speed is around 13km per hour, or 8 miles per hour. A horse can comfortably trot at the same speed (13kmph/8mph) more or less indefinitely. A horse can gallop at about 40-50km per hour (25-30 miles per hour) but can only keep it up for about 15 minutes before having to stop and rest.
So if we assume that a day’s travel is seven hours, a person on foot can travel about 35km (22 miles) a day. On horseback they could travel about 90km (56 miles).
I suppose I should now prove my calculations by getting a map of northern England and checking if the villages are 22 miles apart. If they’re closer I’ll just have to blame lazy peasants. If they’re further I’ll pin it on long summer evenings 😀
(Oh, and for the record if you wanted to do it Pony Express style you could conceivably cover about 350km or 220 miles in a day – but you’d need 30 or so horses lined up across the landscape waiting for you and a very tough backside 🙂