I love being a walk leader with Walking for Health. It’s lovely to meet and greet my walk friends, to welcome newcomers, and to see new friendships developing. We have our weekly commitment to get-together and explore the great outdoors. Everyone looks happy and smiley on our return. Amazing how full of energy we feel after a walk!
Guildford Walking for Health currently has weekly walks from three locations. Walks are free of charge, and we have teams of trained volunteer walk leaders, back markers and helpers leading the walks.
1. The Whitmoor Walk Group offers walks on Friday mornings from the Jolly Farmer car-park on Burdenshott Road (GU3 3RN). Meet at 10.45am for both an hour and a 30 minute walk, starting at 11am, with optional coffee afterwards at the Jolly Farmer.
2. The Fairlands Walk Group offers walks from the Farmhouse Café at Rokers (GU3 3PB) every Wednesday morning. Meet at 9.45am for both an hour walk and 30-minute walk, with optional coffee afterwards at the Rokers Farmhouse Café.
3. The Boxgrove Walk Group offers more challenging walks, an hour plus, from the car park at the Boxgrove Park shops, Cunningham Avenue (GU1 2PF) at 10am every Monday morning. Meet at 9.45am.
I so wish we had more walk groups. We would love to start weekly walks from the Watts Gallery tea shop in Compton, and from The Snooty Fox in Shalford. But to do that, we need about eight new volunteer walk leaders and backmarkers per walk, with every team volunteering about 1½ hours of their time once a month. This is easy to achieve.
Volunteering makes you feel happy and useful, and you get to make lots of friends. Maybe you are a plant or bushcraft expert, or maybe a keen bird-watcher – you could share your skills with other walkers. I wish more people would experience the thrill of the walks and making other people happy.
The walks are aimed at people recovering from illness, or people wanting to get a bit more active, or people needing social contact, especially in the gloom of winter. The walk leaders’ role is to support people and to help them lead a more active life-style.
Walking can play a big role in creating a healthier society. Described by health experts as ‘almost perfect exercise’, walking requires no equipment or expense and is the ideal way for most people to become more active. Stepping out can improve cardiovascular fitness, increase muscle tone and, as it is a weight-bearing exercise, it can also help improve bone density to help stave off osteoporosis. Organised walks (brisk or not) can have a health impact on individuals by providing an opportunity to socialise (good social networks enhance health) and they are a distraction from everyday stresses (stress contributes to poor health).
Macmillan and the Ramblers run Walking for Health, and they currently have walk groups nationwide, run by coordinators, trained volunteer walk leaders, backmarkers and helpers, catering to over 70,000 walkers, doing from half hour up to 90 minute walks.
If you are outgoing and like to help others, leading a health walk might just be the role you are looking for. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01483 574748. www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/walkfinder/south-east/guildford-walking-for-health