Walking tall in Welwyn & Hatfield
- Credit: Archant
Hertfordshire Health Walks are free, guided walks co-ordinated by the Countryside Management Service. Assistant projects officer Sarita Bansal outlines new routes to join in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield
It’s the Hertfordshire Year of Walking and what better way to get out and enjoy the summer sun and look forward to the changing colours of the leaves as autumn approaches? Walking is a fabulous way of doing something positive for your health and wellbeing. It is relaxing, reduces the risk of developing heart disease, dementia, cancer and diabetes while giving easy access to the county’s beautiful green spaces and at the same time makes new friends.
The Hertfordshire Health Walks project run by the county council’s Countryside Management Service has gone from strength to strength over the past 15 years. There are now 60 walks held each week across the county with more than 41,000 attendances each year. The walks are led by 250-plus dedicated volunteers who welcome, guide and support walkers of all abilities. The programme caters for a variety of fitness levels, from gentle 20-30-minute walks, which are also wheelchair accessible, up to more challenging 90-minute routes.
A new programme of walks is being rolled out in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, supported by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and local NHS organisation East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which plans and pays for health services in the area. The scheme comprises new walks in each town as well as continuation of the popular walks at Stanborough Park, to the south of Welwyn.
A number of successful taster walks have already taken place in the garden city. One circular route starting from the Cole Green Lane shopping parade in Peartree covers King George V Playing Fields, Commonswood Nature Reserve and surrounding areas. Another route from Campus West explores Sherrardspark, Temple and Brock’s woods and was visited by Fiona Thomson, Welwyn Hatfield Council lead member for health, who is an enthusiastic supporter of the project.
At County Hall, Teresa Heritage, cabinet member for public health said, ‘The continued long-term success of Hertfordshire Health Walks in Welwyn and Hatfield depends on establishing new groups of volunteer walk leaders in this area. If you’re interested in becoming one, we’d love to hear from you. You should be interested in walking for its health and wellbeing benefits, but you don’t have to be super fit. Walk leaders are positioned at the front, middle and back of each walk, so if you don’t fancy being at the front just yet we still have an important role for you.’
Walk leaders must be 18 or over and will benefit from a one-day training course accredited by Walking for Health as well as a free first-aid course, insurance, clothing, equipment and the support of the Countryside Management Service. Some Walk leaders volunteer several times each week, whereas others volunteer every few weeks and the rota can be adapted. >>>
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To find out more about Hertfordshire Health Walks in Welwyn Hatfield and other parts of the county, visit hertfordshirehealthwalks.org or contact the Countryside Management Service at 01992 588433.