Celebrating the Park’s Health Walks Volunteers
9th February 2023
Today, we take a moment to thank all the amazing Health Walk leaders in the Cairngorms National Park!
All year round, and sometimes in unpleasant weather, these steadfast volunteers lead their local Health Walk, providing a much needed service to fellow members of their community.
There are 14 Health Walks running in the Cairngorms National Park with a team of fully trained walk leaders on hand to plan or lead walks, welcome walkers to the group and simply to offer a friendly face and some good conversation!
Becky Wilson, Volunteering Manager at the Cairngorms National Park Authority said: “Without these amazing volunteers we would not have such a fantastic array of Health Walks in the Park, for people to enjoy. These regular walks are extremely important for people, not just for their physical health but for their mental health too. These weekly gatherings are adaptable, safe and social and the trained volunteer walk leaders are to be celebrated and thanked for giving their time freely and offering such an important service.”
Around 20 Health Walk leaders gathered today (Thursday 9 February) at the Cairngorms National Park Authority offices in Grantown-n-Spey to celebrate their voluntary efforts as well as take part in some training sessions focussed on nature and health, as well as simple ways of identifying wildlife. This was followed by a group walk in Anagach Woods.
For the volunteers walk leaders, there are many reasons why they became involved but all agree that it is a very worthwhile and social activity to be a part of.
Anne Goodall has led the Health Walk in Boat of Garten for 13 years. “It is a lovely group to be out with and I enjoy leading the walks because I can see the benefits that it offers other people,” she said.
Alan Grant from Newtonmore has been leading his local health walk since 2016, after looking for something to do in his retirement. He said: “For me it’s about meeting new people and hearing their stories, having moved to Newtonmore. I like to hear about peoples’ local knowledge of the area.”
Carr-Bridge and Grantown Health Walk Leader Peter Evans said he would encourage anyone to give a Health Walk a try: “I was looking for some volunteering opportunities and I discovered that the Cairngorms National Park Authority organised Health Walks and I thought I would give it a try. The walks are very sociable and everyone is really friendly and we welcome anyone to the group.”
Studies show that walking is an effective form of exercise – just 30 minutes a day is enough to make a significant difference to your health. It reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and type two diabetes as well as keeping the musculoskeletal system healthy. Moreover, it promotes good mental health and wellbeing and can help tackle issues around social isolation.