Walking for Health - get active and enjoy accessible walks with the person you care for

01 May 2019
Walking for Health - get active and enjoy accessible walks with the person you care for

Finding something ‘outdoorsy’ that both you and the person you care for can enjoy together isn’t always a straightforward task, particularly if the person you support has physical disabilities, poor mobility or a condition such as dementia.

Walking for Health 

Free ‘Walking for Health’ organised group walks are available all over Derbyshire this Spring and Summer. Most groups are regular (e.g weekly, fortnightly or monthly) and are led by qualified leaders and supported by volunteers. 

Walking for Health groups include wheelchair accessible, beginner and dementia friendly walking groups that anyone can enjoy. 

Here's some great reasons to give the walks a try!

  • If you and/or the person you support are wanting to get more active, return to gentle exercise or just get outdoors, these walks are perfect as you can choose a walk suited to your fitness levels and/or mobility. 
  • Not only is walking great for both your physical health and mental wellbeing, the groups offer a good way to meet new people.
  • Many walks include a chat and cuppa in a café, either at the end of the walk or half way through giving you the perfect opportunity to enjoy a piece of cake!
  • There are walks all over the county - so you won't need to travel far. Or if you don't mind a ride out, you can try a different walk each week and explore different parts of the county. 
  • The walks are a good way to get some vitamin D, fresh air and enjoy the beautiful countryside here in Derbyshire!
  • May is National Walking Month and the weather is picking up - so the perfect time to give it a go.

The walks are organised by a partnership of borough / district councils along with local organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society, NHS, EMH Care and others.

What are the walking groups like and how do they benefit people?

We joined the Dementia Friendly Walk at Whitworth Park, Darley Dale to find out more and meet the group. This is what we found out…

“The walk was around Whitworth Park, which is a lovely park. The group leader and people joining the walk were all very welcoming and friendly. The format of the walk is like an open book, people who go along chat to each other and strike up conversations. The pace is steady and most people were there in pairs (with the person they care for). On the way round the park we had a look in the little railway station, which was open. There was a display of old photos and railway memorabilia which were very interesting.

We spoke to Howard who is a volunteer who helps to lead the group, he said “it is a great way of meeting people and having a chat, whilst enjoying the fresh air and green spaces.” 

Howard told us about a chap who’d been widowed and then his dog also died. He became very depressed and lonely as a result of this, but he came on one of the other Derbyshire Dales Walking for Health walks, and gradually started to come out of his shell.  He gained in confidence and then became a group volunteer - a real success story.  

We tried to chat to all those who were at the walk - there were about five pairs of people plus four helpers / volunteers. Some of the people attending come every time, and for others it was their first time.

We met a lady called Helen who comes to the walks with her mother on a regular basis. Her mum lives in a care home but Helen brings her to the walks as much as she can. Helen explained her Mum really loves the walks, and the fact that it gets her out into the fresh air. She used to walk a couple of laps of the park, but can only manage a short walk now. The flexibility of the walks mean that this isn't a problem and her mum can do as much or as little as she can manage. 

Another lady we met said she and her husband came regularly. She explained that her husband likes the fact that people come on a regular basis so he can get to know them and have a chat, and he really loved getting out into the fresh air, seeing the birds, ducks and trains.

All of those on the walk had heard about it through word of mouth and said they wouldn’t think to look on the internet for things like this. So it’s important to tell family members and friends these groups exist!” 

If you want to join the Dementia Friendly walk, please see the details below.

How the groups help people with dementia

Helen Aldridge works for the Alzheimer's Society and recently spoke to people with dementia and their carers who access Dementia Friendly walks in the Derbyshire Dales to get their feedback. The group told Helen that they feel the walking groups are vital in supporting their wellbeing. They explained that having walks in Derbyshire Dales / Peak District National Park that happen at the same time, on the same day each week is perfect as it allows them to make them part of their routine. The group said it's important to hear about activities like these happening in their local area - so please tell family members, friends and colleagues about the walks!

As well as offering the opportunity to do some gentle exercise, the groups offer the chance for people to meet others with dementia and their carers can speak to other carers / family members. 

The group leaders in Derbyshire Dales and Peak District have all completed Dementia Friends Awareness sessions and have a good understanding of how to support those with dementia. Many other districts also offer dementia friendly walks - please see their walk listings below.

See what’s happening in your area

Amber Valley 

There are regular organised walks for all levels, including beginners, walks suitable for those returning from injury or illness and dementia friendly walks. See Amber Valley walking group times and dates or contact Jayne Stallion on tel: 07971126383 or email: jayne.stallion@ambervalley.gov.uk 

Chesterfield 

Various short and easy walks including DORA walks for those with experience of mental ill health and Macmillan Move More for those affected by cancer (starts and ends at Chesterfield Royal Hospital). See all Chesterfield walking group times and dates or contact Tina Hensey, tel: 01246 345669 or email: tina.hensey@chesterfield.gov.uk 

Erewash 

Regular short walks, ranging form 1.5 miles (30mins) to 3.5 miles (1hr 30mins) at venues across Erewash. See Erewash walking groups times and dates or contact Amie Brown on tel: 0115 907 2244 ext 4319 or email amie.brown@erewash.gov.uk   

Derbyshire Dales 

Free organised walks of varying lengths and difficulties, including dementia friendly walks which meet at venues across the Derbyshire Dales on a regular basis.

See Derbyshire Dales groups times and dates. All groups that are dementia inclusive are marked with the Dementia Friends logo - although anyone can join the walks. Contact Helen Milton on tel: 01629 761194 or email helen.milton@derbyshiredales.gov.uk 

High Peak

A series of walks for all abilities, from ‘very easy’ to ‘strenuous’. Very easy walks include the Buxton Short Walk, Walking for Lung Health and gentle walks with no stiles. See the High Peak walking groups schedule or contact Sally Curley email: Sally.Curley@highpeak.gov.uk

Miles Without Stiles walks are a max of 2 miles on a well surfaced, accessible paths suitable for wheelchairs – 14 May at Fairholmes and 11 June at Hulme End. Contact Sally Wheal on tel: 01298 84992 or email sally.wheal@peakdistrict.gov.uk 

South Derbyshire 

The Get Active in the Forest Scheme run accessible walks across the South Derbyshire area, including a Dementia Friendly walk every Thursday and wheelchair accessible ‘buggy walks’ at Rosiliston and Swadlincote. See South Derbyshire walks or contact the co-ordnitator on tel 07977439309

North East Derbyshire 

There are a variety of groups across the district, with most including a stop for refreshments. Most walks can be adapted to make sure they are accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. All groups have a social element so you can meet and chat with like-minded people. See North East Derbyshire groups or contact Kelly Massey on tel 01246 217219 or email: Kelly.Massey@ne-derbyshire.gov.uk

Bolsover

Bolsover Walking for Health offers a range of walks from monthly entry level walks (30 minutes) to weekly progression walks (over 90 minutes) from a number of venues across the district. See walking groups in Bolsover or contact Matthew Connley on tel 01246 242359 or email: Matthew.Connley@bolsover.gov.uk

You can see how the Walking for Health scheme has helped people by watching this short video which was produced by Active Derbyshire. 

Other opportunities to get out and about 

The Active Derbyshire website has lots of information about accessible activities in Derbyshire. Check out their website or follow them on Facebook

The Accessible Derbyshire website has details of loads of places you can visit that are accessible to people with disabilities. You can follow them on Facebook to keep up with news about any events or activities.

Last year we blogged about getting out and about and included top tips on getting discounts, transport, support schemes and more. Check it out here

If you know of any more accessible activities or events please let us know so we can tell other carers. You can use the contact form on our website.

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