Free guided walks in Uttlesford
In 2017, Ali’s Walking Group was started, giving individuals the opportunity to attend guided, weekly walks three times a week (mornings and one evening), helping to increase physical and mental wellbeing, as well as reduce social isolation and utilise local green spaces.
Covering many locations around the Saffron Walden area including the surrounding villages and countryside, residents focused on encompassing points of interest along the route, as well as forming friendships and enjoying local nature.
Through the Find Your Active Small grants fund, an additional walk has been added to the weekly timetable at Ali’s Walking Groups. This specifically designed shorter walk has been developed to be led at a steadier pace supporting those less active. This new walking session started 3 months ago and ten people have participated in one or more walks.
The funding has facilitated and encouraged new participants to attend who were faced with a financial barrier and/or keen to join but feared their current fitness levels would prevent them taking part. In addition to new participants, the new walk has supported the return of participants who have previously taken part in some of the other walks organised by Ali, but sadly been unable to continue these due to changes in health conditions.
The local Find Your Active community connector helped support the funding and initially set up the meeting with Ali to discuss and explore the local area, as well as express the desire for residents to join a walking group.
The funding has had multiple benefits, additionally sustaining and promoting the original three walking sessions. Participants on these original sessions have received intermittent ‘free’ walks and equipment such as torches have been purchased to support darker evening walks.
Participants who have been attending the walks highlight the importance they have had on increasing their weekly physical activity, the social interaction (support, empathy and fun) and camaraderie which comes from the walks, enhancing everyone’s well-being. The group has developed into a strong community, benefiting from the companionship, and interactions continue outside of the walks as well.