Skip to content

Walking to Health in the Cairngorms National Park … paths to a lifestyle change

10th September 2010

More health walks than ever before are available in the Cairngorms National Park with the news that the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT) is expanding its health walks programme.

Health walks are designed to promote and encourage people to take a little more physical activity in a safe, social way, and get walking more as a step to increasing activity levels. The weekly walks last 30-60 minutes and are led by trained volunteers from the local community. Health walks are adapted to suit the pace of the walkers and are always followed by refreshments and a chat. All participants have to do is turn up at the designated meeting points and enjoy.

Over the last few months volunteers have been recruited and trained –  they are the cornerstone of the project, leading walks and encouraging a welcoming, safe and supportive environment for the walkers. Walk leaders attend an initial Walk Leader Training day and receive ongoing training and support including a first aid course and walk leader walk meetings.

Alan Melrose who manages the project said: “Walking is an ideal way for people to start or increase physical activity because it’s easier to sustain than other activities; it’s free; it’s accessible; low risk and provides an opportunity for social contact and support.

“The impact on the participants who are already enjoying health walks has been exceptional with many reporting significant positive health changes. The project is helping the Cairngorms National Park area become Scotland’s natural centre for healthy living!”

Dougie Baird, COAT’s Trust Manager said: “Our aim is to generate investment not only in the infrastructure of access, such as paths and signposting, but also in facilitating use of that access by the members of local communities who would most benefit from it. The commitment of our volunteer leaders in delivering on key Scottish Government objectives in public health should be an inspiration to communities throughout the country.”

COAT is supported by the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Park Authority board member David Fallows added: “Promoting healthy lifestyles is a key area of work in the Cairngorms National Park Plan and the provision of health walks in our communities is central to this. We are delighted to see the suite of health walks, provided by COAT and their excellent volunteers, expanded and hope that many people will take advantage of them.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the Cairngorms Health walks, attending a walk or becoming a volunteer please contact:

  • Badenoch and Strathspey  – Mandy Way Health Walk Coordinator [email protected]
  • Deeside and Donside –  Alan Melrose Health Walk Coordinator [email protected] or phone COAT:01339887777

Alternatively to find out more about the work of COAT, please go along to COAT’s Annual Public Meeting, which takes place on Thursday 16 September at 7pm in the Lonach Hall Strathdon.