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Park Talk: Walk the Walk

28th October 2021

By CNPA Board Member, Cllr Derek Ross

Autumn woodland walks are the best walks. It might be a bit colder and it might sometimes be wet but with all those vibrant autumn colours around, it is a real tonic for the senses. Getting out for a bracing October walk is good for the body, mind and soul – and therefore the ideal time of year for Wee Walks Week.

Wee Walks Week (25th-31st October) is a celebration of the best short local walks in the Cairngorms National Park and aims to encourage as many people as possible to get out there and enjoy a walk with family, friends and colleagues. 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.

And getting out for a wee walk has just become even easier. At the Cairngorms National Park Authority, staff have been working hard to digitise all the information contained within the Community Paths & Trails leaflets that are currently available for every community in the Park. So now you can plan your wee walk using your phone (or other device) to access all the information you need, with route descriptions and easy to follow maps. Please do have a look and road test it for us, as the team continue to develop this very useful tool.

Of course, leaving the car at home and opting to walk or cycle to the shop or to visit friends is not just good for our own wellbeing – every journey we can make without a vehicle is good for the wellbeing of the planet.

As we approach COP26 in Glasgow, everyone’s attention is very much focused on the climate emergency and what can be down to tackle it. There is little argument that action is required. The world is warming because of fossil fuel emissions. Extreme weather events linked to climate change – including heatwaves, floods and forest fires – are intensifying. The past decade was the warmest on record, and governments agree that urgent collective action is needed.

At COP26, the political leaders will rightly be focusing on what can be done on a large, united scale – and many of the actions agreed may seem unachievable or overwhelming to some of us.

But we can all play our part.  My advice is to think small – what can you as an individual or family do? If an electric vehicle is financially out of reach, could you walk more or take the bus sometimes instead of the car? Wee Walks Week isn’t just for October, it’s for all the year, and by walking more we’re helping ourselves and helping the planet.

The next Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan is currently out for consultation and proposals within it directly aim to tackle the climate emergency from ensuring that the Park reaches net zero by 2045 and that we encourage a transformative change in the way people get to and move around the National Park. Do please get involved.

Cllr Derek Ross is the Moray Council member for Speyside & Glenlivet