Strolling to health

Simply Walk, Buckinghamshire Council’s health and wellbeing scheme, celebrates its 20th anniversary in July.

It started with an inaugural walk in Marlow, attended by local resident and rowing star Sir Steve Redgrave in 2002. Since then it has developed into a popular, ever-growing programme, attracting thousands of walkers on dozens of routes every week.

The idea behind the scheme developed from the Walking for Health initiative pioneered by GP Richard Bird. Simply Walk is the name given to the Bucks version of the scheme.

Walkers of any age and ability are invited to join one of the many walks across the county. Most take place weekly and are graded for their level of difficulty. All walks are guided by a team of knowledgeable volunteers who lead and back-mark the walks.

The aim is to give participants the opportunity to walk for fitness in a relaxed environment. The walks have additional benefits for mental health and wellbeing, giving those who take part access to a social and friendly group of like-minded people, helping to tackle social isolation and loneliness.

Simply Walk currently runs 72 walks a week with just over 2,000 people regularly taking part. The scheme is supported by a team of 237 active volunteers. Over the years the scheme has had numerous highlights including several couples who met on walks going on to marry, charity events and even animal rescues.

Later in July, a picnic will take place at Hughenden Manor to thank the scheme’s volunteers.

Steven Broadbent, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: ‘I am delighted to see the success of our Simply Walk scheme. Since it started in 2002 it has gone from strength to strength. I would like to thank the staff and volunteers who have made this happen and also all the people who have taken part and continue to do so.

‘We are spoilt for choice in Bucks with a vast array of scenic footpaths and beautiful countryside. I would encourage anyone who is interested in taking part to take a look on our website and to find out all the details.’

Earlier this month enthusiasts in Burnham held their anniversary walk and celebration (see picture above.)

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