Most of us enjoy the feeling of wellbeing after a walk in the fresh air. Walking is good for us and studies have shown that it benefits both physical and mental health – but you need to do it regularly. Joining a walking group is an ideal way to make fitness fun, and Barrow has its own Walking for Health group that meets in the Three Crowns' car park every Tuesday at 10.30am. Walkers set off for an hour-long walk of two to three miles, exploring the village and surrounding areas.
The walks are graded Level 1 by the National Walking for Health Scheme and are described as “suitable for people who have not walked much before, are looking to be more active or are returning from injury or illness”. They are held under the auspices of Fusion Lifestyle and Charnwood Borough Council and more information can be found in a brochure entitled Guided Walks in and Around Charnwood 2016 (www.charnwood- leisure.com, or call 01509 632535) and on the website http://www.charnwood.gov. uk/walkingforhealth.
I was invited to join a walk and, being an intermittent walker who rarely does more than two miles, I was apprehensive. Walk leader Heather Dipple assured me that I would get all the encouragement I needed and there was a 'back marker' in the group to help anyone with any difficulties. “We would hate anyone to stay away because they felt they could not manage the walk," she said. "We walk along footpaths, through fields and along rivers and try to pace ourselves to accommodate slower walkers.”
The walk was to Quorn, setting off along the High Street, down Bridge Street, across the slabs, through the park in Quorn, and back again. I am fairly new to the village and I’d never been to Quorn on foot. As we set off , I wondered what I had let myself in for. The pace was fairly brisk, but not uncomfortably so, and what I liked was the friendliness of the group. With everyone chatting and me keeping up a steady patter with my walking companion, who I had met for the first time that day, we were in Quorn before I realised it.
On the way back, my lower back was feeling the strain and I was relieved to catch a glimpse of the Jerusalem Roundabout ahead. “Just a few more steps until the Three Crowns' car park,” I thought, only to find the group taking a diversion along the riverside, at the end of which was the unwelcome incline of Mill Lane, to join up with South Street. But I did it. I made it to the Three Crowns when I didn't think I would manage the big loop to Quorn and back. And I felt good. After the walks, people head off to the village pubs or coffee shops and I joined some of the walkers for a coffee at the Three Crowns. All said they were enjoying the weekly walks, which started in January. They were seeing different parts of the village on foot, I found walking with others a good way to stay motivated and they enjoyed the social aspect. With 20 to 30 people in the group each week, there is a mix of abilities and fitness levels and there are plans to split the group into slower and faster walkers. June Exley, a trained walk leader, says they will be looking at doing that on weeks when there is more than one leader on the walk and she encourages regular walkers to consider the four-hour free training course to train as a leader. All leaders are volunteers.
Walk leaders are trained by Charnwood Borough Council and walkers are covered by Public Liability Insurance. It is necessary to fill in a form if you intend to walk regularly and relevant medical issues should be disclosed. “It is ideal for people who don’t want to walk by themselves and members of the group enjoy the social side,” says June. Walking is something we can all do – all you need is a good pair of walking shoes that can withstand a bit of mud. “It’s very informal and it’s free,” says Heather. “There is no pressure - if you can’t make it for a week or two, that is fine. But the more you walk, the more you will benefit.”
More walks in the Village
The Bishop Beveridge Club holds walks on the first Wednesday of the month. Anyone can join, although the club would appreciate a small donation from non-members. The group usually stops at either a pub or tea room and walks are no longer than four miles, often less. On 13 July, the group will take a bus to Cossington and have a meal at the Royal Oak, before walking back to Barrow via Cossington Meadows Nature Reserve and the river. Details are available from Joyce Noon on 414519 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walks are publicised through posters in the Library, flyers and the Bishop Beveridge Club notice board, as well as the Barrow News in the Loughborough Echo.
Barrow Parish Council plan to hold 10 Rights of Way’ walks, starting in June and culminating in the festive “Plod off the Pudding” walk in December - but walk leaders are needed. Distance is 4 to 5 miles and walks are held in the evening, except for the Christmas walk. There is usually a stop off for refreshments.
For full details visit: www.barrowpc.org.uk/community
Anyone who would like to be a walk leader should email: email@example.com or call: 01509 416016.