Certificate of excellence for walking initiative

group photo of the walking group
Norette Ferns

A walking initiative in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park has received a Certificate of Excellence from Age Scotland.

Walk in the Park is led by Loch Lomond and The Trossachs Countryside Trust and encourages people back to health and fitness while combatting isolation in rural communities. The series of low level walks in four areas of the National Parks started in 2007 and now has over 100 participants in Balloch, Callander, Aberfoyle and Killin.

Many people who take part are referred by GPs and physiotherapists, and others have self-referred themselves. The walks are tailored to suit all levels of mobility and provide help with recovery from operations like hip and knee replacements and offer a safe walking environment for Parkinson's or dementia patients.

The Countryside Trust work closely with NHS Scotland with part funding from Paths for All, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Speaking about the accreditation, Cathy Scott Walk in the Park Coordinator said:

"We’re delighted that the Walk in the Park project has been formally recognised as a great way to vastly improve both mental and physical wellbeing to people living in rural communities. Often people can become isolated living in villages without means of transport to help them get out and about. Our walks provide not only rehabilitation to wellness but also a social network to help people who are on their own and others who suffer with mental illness such as depression.

"We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of Scotland and studies have shown that getting out and enjoying the countryside has a positive impact on health and wellbeing. We take every measure to make sure the groups are inclusive with volunteers walking at different paces to suit all abilities. I’m incredibly proud to be part of this project and to watch members grow in confidence and fitness."

One of the people who took part said:

"This walking group has helped me a lot since I had my stroke. I am not as able as I used to be and find it difficult talking at times. The group and the walk leaders have been a lifeline to me. I can come out for a walk with confidence and enjoy the company."

Another commented:

"The social side of the group is really important. We can share our experiences with the rest of the group. There is a lot of laughter so the social side is so important to motivate regular participants and new members."

The walks are proving so successful that a new group was launched on 4 May in Drymen. The walks are open to anybody looking for regular exercise and good company. 

For more information about the Walk in the Park programme visit www.trustinthepark.org/walk-in-the-park or email cathy.scott@lochlomond-trossachs.org or call 01877 330055