For many people one of the attractions of walking is the solitude, peace and quiet that comes from walking alone. I, for example, prefer to walk alone and it helps clear my mind of the detritus of daily life. It also allows me to walk at my pace and go where I want to go.
However, for many this would be nothing short of HELL!. The thought of the loneliness, having to plan and navigate, the lack of interaction with others and conversation. These are just some of the reasons that the majority of people prefer walking in groups, either with family, friends or local organised walking groups.
Once all restrictions are lifted and we can go back to a more communal way of life then the potential for joining a walking group is increased.
So why would you want to join a walking group?
Reasons to Join a Walking Group
- Joining a walking group can be the stimulus that you need following the months of isolation and restrictions that we have been through
- They can improve the health of people with chronic health conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, depression and Parkinson’s disease.
- Walking groups also help promote physical activity among older adults.
- You don’t have to learn to navigate your way around a route when there is someone there to do it for you.
- There could be people in the group with similar interests to you, whether it’s just walking more often, meet new people or getting fitter.
- Group walking can help motivation. The thought of walking long distances could be off putting, however, when you are with a group of like minded people you are more likely to stick with it.
- It can encourage you to go to places that you would never attempt on your own.
- The companionship and conversation that you get from a group means that it is easier to cover more ground than you normally would.
- Sometimes an obstacle such as a hill puts up a mental block making you more likely to quit and turn back. However, being part of a group means you have that encouragement and support to keep going, even if only to save face!
What Walking Groups Are Available?
There is a whole plethora of walking groups available to choose from. Usually, a look on the internet or a visit to the local library (when allowed) will come up with a list of your local groups. In some cases, these will be local branches of national organisations such as The Ramblers. However, there may also be groups in your local area with no affiliation such as the Bedwyn Footpaths Group for example.
It would be impossible to mention every single local group here, so I am going to focus on a couple of the national groups, both of which have local branches or associations.
The Ramblers is a charity whose goal is to protect the ability of people to enjoy the sense of freedom and benefits that come from being outdoors on foot. Created out of the National Council of Ramblers Federations and the infamous Kinder Scout Trespass.
They are an association of people and groups who come together to both enjoy walking and other outdoor pursuits and also to ensure that we protect and expand the infrastructure and places people go walking.
The Ramblers however, are more than just a walking organisation. Since their formation they have been instrumental in in helping to secure the network of footpaths across England and Wales. They have been at the forefront of the campaigns to protect our rights of way and the creation of the National Trails.
However, they are not just about walking in groups. If you love solo walking, then you can still join and gain access to their amazing App or routes and walks across the whole of England and Wales. Your membership fee with also help fund much of the repair and maintenance work carried out annually by volunteers.
For further details visit their website.
Walking For Health
Given that half of all adults, in England, are not active enough to benefit their health and at risk of developing serious illnesses. To help overcome this issue, Walking for Health has become England’s largest network of health walks. Operating for over 14 years, they have over 360 active walking schemes, helping people across the country lead a more active lifestyle.
Across the country there are approximately 5,000 specially trained volunteers leads these walks, providing support and encouragement. Before ‘lockdown and the additional restrictions, there were over 70,000 walkers taking advantage of this organisation and helping to improve their own health.
For further details and to find your local branch, visit their website.
Local & Specialist Walking Groups
In addition to the groups mentioned above, there are also many local and specialist groups out there and many of these can be accessed from these very good portal websites.