Health Walk Groups
HTSI hosts the Health Walks Project Officer post as part of the Think Nature Health Walks project in partnership with Paths for All and Think Health Think Nature.
The project officer covers rural Highland, supporting existing health walk groups and creating new opportunities for walking in communities, promoting increased physical activity to improve wellbeing and quality of life.
To find out more please contact: Charlotte Mackenzie, Health Walk Project Manager, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: 07385 380756
Health Walks & COVID-19 Update
There is now no limit on the numbers taking part in Health Walks and Buggy Walks. Actual numbers will be decided by the number of volunteers available and the suitability of routes. Hygiene measures should still be followed and it is recommended that 2m physical distancing is maintained before, during and after walks, although this can now be reduced to 1m if the group feels it is appropriate.
Post walk socialising can go ahead with 10 people from 4 households in an indoor public place like a café, pub or restaurant with 1m physical distancing, or 15 people from 15 households outdoors, with no physical distancing.
New Health Walks and Buggy Walks
Most of our walking groups are up and running again. Along with our 13 existing groups, we now have a number of new groups would have started up recently in Lairg, Assynt and on Raasay.
In partnership with CALA (Care & Learning Alliance) we also have a regular programme of Buggy Walks. Groups are now running in Thurso, Kilmallie, Kinlochleven, Strontian, Ardgour, Inverness, Alness, Dornoch and on the Black Isle.
All of our walks are low level, safe, free and friendly and are led by trained walk leaders. Walkers can enjoy a whole range of benefits including increased fitness, improved mood and increased social interactions with local people and the local area. Walking requires no special equipment or expense and is the ideal way for most people to become more active.
Our project is part of a network of community Health Walk projects all over Scotland that organise free group walks every week, and we are always looking for new walkers to join us. You may also be interested in joining one of our groups and becoming a volunteer walk leader. For more information please email: email@example.com
You can download the most recent Newsletters below:
Think Nature Health Walks Resources Backpacks for Health Walk and Buggy Groups
The Think Nature Health Walks project began during the Covid pandemic, which meant that we weren’t able to have regular get togethers or attend face to face events. At times, during restrictions Health Walks and Buggy Walks were not able to meet up at all. However, when this changed I was really keen to meet all of the groups. Even though we had been in regular contact during the pandemic, I thought it was important to meet the walk leaders and walkers face to face, to get to know them and make connections. So I made a plan to visit each group during the autumn and put together some resource backpacks, as a thank you and show of appreciation for all that the groups do within their communities. And to also provide groups with useful walking kit, especially the new groups.
The backpacks included useful items such as first aid kit, sit mats, wildlife book, midge repellent, tick remover tool, clip board, map holder, along with a set of walking poles. I put together 16 of these packs for existing and newly formed health walk groups. Packs for the 9 buggy groups included similar items but I also included 3 larger resource bags containing items for outdoor play including a large tarpaulin/mat, nature and story books, sketch books and pencils, bug nets and pots, fairy doors and finger puppets. These bags are shared resources for groups in Caithness, Lochaber and Ross-shire. The Buggy groups always include activities during or after their walk and use resources such as Bookbug for storytime sessions or adventure trails, so the resources provided by the project compliment these nicely.
The project area covers rural Highland, which includes Caithness, Sutherland, Wester Ross, Skye & Lochalsh and Lochaber, which meant travelling from one end of the Highlands to the other, but it was very worthwhile. It was great to meet everyone and join them on some of their walks and it was lovely to hear of the friendships formed within the groups and the support they had given to each other during Covid. I felt very welcomed by all the groups that I have met and felt inspired by their spirit and love of walking and the outdoors. I felt that the groups appreciated the visits, with the chance to meet in person rather than be just a name at the bottom of an email. They also really appreciated the backpack of resources and I received some great feedback.
Buggy Walk Backpacks
Health Walk Backpacks
Kyle Walk Leaders with their Backpacks
Think Nature Health Walks – Health Walks Co-ordinator
Charlotte Mackenzie, 30/11/20
It’s fantastic to see the amount of interest and increase in the number of people joining health walks recently. Covering rural Highland, the project has seen 7 out of 10 health walks begin walking since lockdown, as well as the development of 6 new groups.
Online Walk Leader training sessions, delivered by Paths for All, during November and December will result in over 30 volunteers being trained and ready to lead new walks in Castletown, Golspie, Fort Augustus, Kyle of Lochalsh, and a further 2 in Caithness and Sutherland early next year. Some of the new groups will be working with local organisations and volunteers to include themed walks focusing on health and wellbeing, mindfulness, nature connection and will include creative elements in their regular health walk programmes.
Recently Think Nature Health Walk members have told us that attending weekly health walks has been a lifeline to them, and in some cases has been the only weekly outing they have had, during a time when many people have felt isolated within their communities.
Health walks are an ideal way of getting regular exercise and meeting up with others outdoors safely. They are permitted under Scottish Government guidance regarding Covid19 and up to 30 people can participate in organised group health walks. Health walks are exempt from the ‘informal social meetings’ guidance and come under the organised, outdoor, non-contact sport and physical activity guidance. For each health walk detailed risk assessments are carried out and physical distancing is maintained during the walks, to keep all volunteers and walkers safe.
Our health walk groups welcome everyone and are set at a pace to suit the walkers. Health walks are led by trained volunteer walk leaders along routes which are low-level, local and are free!
If you would like to join one of our health walk groups across Highland or are interested in becoming a walk leader please get in touch. Details of walks in your area can be found on the Paths for All website.
To find out more please contact: Charlotte Mackenzie, Health Walks Co-ordinator, Think Nature Health Walks.
Think Nature Health Walks
Purpose of project:
To create and develop opportunities for people across the Highlands to walk on a regular basis, creating a happier, healthier, greener environment.
To increase the number of people walking regularly, to improve their health and wellbeing.
How I do this work:
I support a network of Health Walk groups and Buggy Walk groups to organise regular free, safe led-walks within their communities. I provide guidance to existing groups and work to establish new groups across rural Highland. I also promote health walk opportunities, recruit volunteers and arrange walk leader training for new volunteers. In addition, form links within communities and develop partnerships, including health care professionals and community link workers, promoting active travel and green health opportunities.