Why you should go walking in Lancashire in this winter

Wrap up warm and enjoy the great outdoors

Wrap up warm and enjoy the great outdoors - Credit: SNS Group

Liverpool Ramblers chair Pat Sullivan previews Festival Of Winter Walks activity in Lancashire.

Walking can help combat feelings of stress and Seasonal Affected Disorder

Walking can help combat feelings of stress and Seasonal Affected Disorder - Credit: Paul Davey/SWNS SWNS.com

More and more people are facing the impact of stress, and this can often come into sharper focus during the festive season, when staying on top of all the preparations, and pressures to party and be sociable can increase feelings of stress or isolation.

Fresh air and exercise are a good recipe for relaxation and can be a way to escape life's everyday pressures. If you, or someone you know, is feeling the strain, then signing up for events in the Festival Of Winter Walks could be the perfect gift this Christmas.

The festival runs from December 20th 2019 to January 5th 2020 and is organised by the Ramblers. Groups across Lancashire will be putting on a varied programme of group walks, which everyone will be welcome to join.

Whether or not you've walked before, they'll offer the chance to enjoy the wonderful winter landscape in good company; to relax, unwind, and make new friends.

Visit liverpoolramblers.org.uk, manchester-ramblers.org.uk (or search online for 'Lancashire Ramblers' to find the websites of other, Lancashire-based Ramblers groups) for more information.

If you'd prefer to enjoy our beautiful seasonal landscapes independently, or with friends or family, ramblers.org.uk has lots of route suggestions, just enter your location and search for routes near to you.

Tova and Faigy out on a walk

Tova and Faigy out on a walk - Credit: Tovaphoto.co.uk

Why I love walking

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Busy mum of five Faigy Liebermann joined the Ramblers earlier this year and has found a new lease of life. I run a very demanding ADHD life coaching business, focuswithfaigy.com, and I live with the internal and external challenges of disorganisation, chaos and internal overwhelm on a daily basis, as I have ADHD. My friend Tova Schprecher, who is also a mum of two, joined the Ramblers Greater Manchester High Peaks Area group last year, and started telling me how much she was benefitting.

So, I joined in March. We both wanted to meet new people and get out in the surrounding countryside to de-stress, improve our fitness and mental health and our work/home balance. Walking with the Ramblers is amazing - the scenery around Manchester is beautiful.

My favourite place to walk in winter is Littleborough near Rochdale, in the Roch Valley by the foothills of the South Pennines. When Tova and I come back from a walk we feel energised and refreshed, like we have had a mini-holiday. The stress has disappeared. I tell my children I am going on a Ramblers walk, and I will come back a happy calm mum. That is what they need, and what I need.

Since joining our Ramblers group we have made new friendships, gained confidence, and learned new skills, such as map reading. I hadn't looked at an OS map in over 25 years and Tova didn't know how to read a map. Despite some initial nerves, we've had lots of encouragement from the group to become walk leaders, and plan routes.

Don't wait until you are burned out! Make an appointment with yourself to get involved with the Ramblers' Festival Of Winter Walks. Block out time ahead into your diary. In the winter it's common to feel a bit down or lack of energy. Many people, especially women, suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression. The symptoms can be more apparent and severe during the autumn and winter. A great way to get a mood boost is by walking in the countryside, and spending time with other people.

What walking has done for me

Pat Sullivan, chair of Liverpool Ramblers, explains how walking has helped her.

I joined the Ramblers in 2005, the year I retired and returned to Liverpool, with the aim of taking up hill walking after 17 years living and working in The Netherlands

I had come to the right part of the UK to tackle this aim and Ramblers have ensured I achieve it. Walking in the hills each Sunday became the highlight of my week. I met lots of friendly new people, made good friends and walked in safety, led by a knowledgeable leader. And there were always walks being led during the week too.

Bit by bit I invested in all the right gear, some OS maps and even a compass. Soon I was also leading walks, after some training supported by our Liverpool Ramblers Group. Whether as leader or member of the party, it is always interesting to be walking with a range of people - old and young, local or new to the area, experienced walkers or beginners. Sometimes members' children walk with us. You can find yourself walking along talking to people from many countries - Spain, Italy, Poland, China, the USA to name but a few. Walking together brings us all new friendships, insights and a variety of contacts.

Walking in the hills can also provide a welcome break from stress whether at work or in family or personal life. It helped me a lot when dealing with my mother's decline into dementia. Others I know also find relief from caring for family members whether elderly or very young. It is the walking together that does it and especially in the inspiring countryside which we are so lucky to have here in Lancashire and across the north.

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