PATHS FOR ALL VOLUNTEER WALK LEADER NEWSLETTER
Inside: • Time to visit the woods • Women’s history walks Plus: quiz, nature watch and walking tips
Footnotes Spring 2012
inter may have been less icy this year but it was certainly stormy! Hopefully falling branches, loose slates and flying bins didn’t stop you getting out and about. Now we can look forward to lots of great spring walks as the days get longer and the weather warmer. Everyone likes a bit of variety – why not try some new routes or have a theme to your walks? How about looking for signs of spring? One of your walkers might help identify spring flowers or birds back from migration. Or maybe they can share their knowledge of local history. And don’t forget to spread the word about your walks – remind old hands and attract newcomers. The weather might help with that too! Tell us about your ideas for making walks more interesting and we’ll share them with other Footnotes readers. We are also interested in hearing what you think about this newsletter – send your thoughts to: firstname.lastname@example.org or the Alloa office.
Foot Loose and Fancy Free Walk4life one group’s route to independence CHANGES Community Health Project in East Lothian runs volunteer led Wellbeing Walks aimed at improving people’s physical and mental health. One of the aims of the project is to encourage people to form their own independent walking groups after they have walked with CHANGES. One such group was established in June 2010, with initial support from CHANGES. Since then, with only one week off in 17 months, this band of twelve walkers has gone from strength to strength. Feedback from the walkers has shown how important and beneficial this weekly event has become. “It’s a life saver. When you retire having something to do – the exercise, social side and chatting – is most 2
enjoyable. The walks have been fun with great companionship, and are a way to keep healthy.” Heather Cameron added: “One new member couldn’t walk very far due to angina but can now walk for well over two and a half hours without aches and pains. The group has a very positive attitude in supporting each other, making an effort to chat along the way. A friendly phone call is always made to anyone who has been unwell to encourage them back.” On their first anniversary the group went for a walk, followed by lunch and celebratory cake to finish off an enjoyable day out. They have had their second Christmas meal together and the group are confident they will be walking together for many years to come!
Ever wondered how far some of your favourite walks are? Well, if you visit www.walk4life.info you can search for walks, map your favourite local walking routes, and keep track of all those miles walked! The website has been concentrating on England (because it is primarily funded by the Department of Health), but the maps work for Scotland too. You can print-out walks on Ordnance Survey colour maps, zoom in to include street names, or zoom out to 1:25,000 scale maps for the countryside. The length of the walk is automatically measured so you’ll know how far you’ve been. You can add photos to the walks too. And you can email your friends the link, so it is a useful way of planning a day out and arranging where to meet.
Over 400 people aged over 75 have started
Footnotes Spring 2012
Can you have too much fun? More than 50 volunteer walk leaders attended our event in Perth Concert Hall in November. The day was a big, fun ‘thank you’ and a chance to network and share ideas.
Stirling walkers STV stars Active Stirling Co-ordinator Tricia Cumming was excited to receive a call from STV asking if they could film a walk and interview some walkers for The Hour show. Cathy and Dot agreed to talk about the walks and the benefits of walking. Tricia said: “The excitement built up as we met the film crew in Aberfoyle for a coffee before filming. I thought the interviewer would ask questions but to my surprise he said “just talk about the group and the benefits – and remember to look at the camera”!” Since she lost her husband last year, Cathy says Active Stirling’s walking network has got her out and about again: “I really enjoyed the day in the Trossachs and I know that my friends and family are very aware how my fitness has improved through walking with the Plean group. I enjoyed the filming and felt quite comfortable
and relaxed about it.” “I walked a lot with my husband but after he passed away last year I didn’t go out as much. I also have a pacemaker and didn’t think I was fit enough but the leaders have great patience and are so helpful. Just come along and try it. See for yourself; get out in the fresh air. It’s good.” Dot from Bridge of Allan added: “I suffered a stroke about 10 years ago and started a local support group. I heard about the walking network and decided to join and encourage other members of the group to join too. There are now a few of us who regularly go on the weekly walks and reap the benefits of the exercise and being outdoors.” “I was nervous about being filmed, but when I saw it on the TV I thought it was great! I hope I managed to convey the benefits of walking and helped others to give it a go!”
health walks in Scotland since last April.
Here’s some of the feedback we received: “Zumba can be unexpectedly enjoyable.” “It’s good to be with people with a common interest.” “The interactive sessions were enjoyable.” “Perhaps too much ‘fun’ – but I didn’t mind that!” We are planning more volunteer events in other parts of the country.
Footnotes Spring 2012
Walkers database – why it matters We hope to have renewed funding from the Scottish Government to continue our work with walking for health groups across Scotland. Building on the success of 2011, we will be training even more volunteers to become walk leaders and encouraging even more inactive people to start walking with their local walking for health groups. Q. In these tough financial times, why does the Government continue to fund Paths for All? A. Because our walking for health projects attract a high number of participants. And this can only happen because we have great volunteers who give their time and energy to lead walks throughout Scotland. Those volunteers are YOU! You give up your time to lead walks, but that is not all. Your role involves many different aspects such as administrator, motivator, leader and friend. The information you collect about walkers on the walkers contact details form (Form 1) is sent to Paths for All. We enter this into the online Walkers database. (No names or personal details 4
are included in the walkers database reports.) This gives us good information about walking in your local project, as well as a national picture across Scotland – which we pass on to the Government. Giving this information to the Government means that we can demonstrate the value of their funding and strengthen support for health walks in Scotland. We hope that 2012 will be a great year for everyone. Thanks to the time you gave to walking projects in 2011, 25 of the 123 active community walking projects recorded information onto our Database. Here are some things we achieved with your help: • 1,690 new walkers joined a local health walk • 55% of these people did so in order to feel healthier • 6,287 walks were held • In total, there were 56,766 attendances on these walks! And this was from the data of only 25 projects – imagine the figures if more projects put their information onto the Database!
The Scottish Government sets demanding targets for Paths for All and in line with the national physical activity strategy ‘Let’s Make Scotland More Active’, there is a huge push to encourage people to be healthier and more active in Scotland. We have introduced a few changes to make the process of collecting information simpler and more straightforward. The forms used to record contact details and physical activity information from new walkers have been reviewed and updated. You may have already seen the new versions. The participation targets set by the Government are hugely challenging but we can meet them – and having this simpler data collection process in place will help. We rely on you completely to record the information of your new walkers on the new forms and pass the forms on to your project coordinators. In terms of information about your walkers, the 3 most important questions for us are: Age, Gender and Postcode, so we would be very grateful if you could pay particular attention to these 3 points. You are a vital link in the chain and together we can make a very powerful case for the benefits of walking for health. So please keep up the great work in 2012 and thanks very much again for being a walking for health volunteer!
More than half of the walkers on health walks are there
Footnotes Spring 2012
Woodland walks Paths for All’s newest partner, the Woodland Trust Scotland, is leading a collaborative project called VisitWoods. The aim is to encourage more people to walk in, and enjoy, woods and green space in their local area. At the heart of the project is an interactive website showing thousands of woods you can visit in Scotland and across the UK. Woods are fantastic places to walk and experience nature whatever the season, and there is growing evidence that access to the natural environment improves health and wellbeing, prevents disease and helps people recover from illness. But lack of information about where to go and what to expect is one of the main reasons why people don’t visit the outdoors.
Forestry Commission / Isobel Cameron
You can change that by posting comments and photos at visitwoods.org.uk – sharing what you and your walking group like about your local wood. Comment on the paths, facilities such as toilets or parking, wildlife you have spotted and your regular walk meeting point. Anything that makes your local woodland special and memorable is welcome – including photos of groups walking there. It’s simple to upload your
photos and comments: find your local wood on the website (search by name or location), register and add your reviews and images to our comments or photo gallery. Your contribution will enable others to decide if a particular wood suits them, promote your walking group activities and inspire woodland walkers across the Scotland.
Miles for Macmillan April Davidson tells us about ‘Miles for Macmillan’: “This is a national walking event and we’re hoping to raise over £1.8m this year. Whatever distance you can manage, every penny you raise will help improve the lives of people affected by cancer.” “Why not get involved? You can find a walk in a location near you and sign up on
the website or you can plan your own route. It’s a great motivational tool to get you active and you can even organise a coffee morning or tea party for the grand finale.” www.macmillan.org. uk/walking
to feel healthier and 44% take part to meet new people.
Footnotes Spring 2012
Inverclyde Globetrotters calling Mission Control Hello down there. The Earth looks great from up here on the surface of the Moon – 238,857 miles away. We landed on 12th January 2012 and after a bit of a breather we’re just about to blast off on the long haul back to Earth and sunny Greenock. At least it’s all downhill! Our Lunar Trek with Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland has been great fun and has generated a ton of good publicity for us and for CHSS affiliated groups across Scotland as well as messages of support from the Prime Minister, our own First Minister and his counterparts in Northern Ireland and Wales! The Lunar Trek was launched on 1st September 2011. CHSS affiliated groups from as far apart as Orkney and Dumfries, a number of local groups from Inverclyde, staff from Glasgow Caledonian University encouraged by Dr Morag Thow, and a few cardiac rehabilitation Phase III classes in and around Glasgow helped complete the successful mission in just 17 weeks. We’ve been having a great time since we first appeared in Footnotes last summer. We’ve now clocked up over 66,000 miles. We’ve walked 6
round the UK and to all European capital cities. We’re crossing the Canadian Rockies at the moment which are simply stunning at this time of year. Next stop is the Great Wall of China. It amazes us where we end up – to celebrate our successful mission we were
invited to attend the Cross Party Group on Heart Disease and Stroke at the Scottish Parliament to tell them about our adventures. This was a great experience and a lot of fun. We even managed to entice another couple of groups to contact us about getting involved. It’s lonely out in space so if there are any aspiring Lunar Trekkers out there who would like to climb onboard and help the Inverclyde Globetrotters on their return leg please contact Duncan Galbraith c/o Mission Control: email@example.com
National Cycle Network on your phone! Our partner, Sustrans, has launched ‘The complete National Cycle Network’ app with which you can access over 25,000 miles of walking and cycling routes. The free app is available to download from Android Market and iTunes and will help people make more of their everyday journeys on foot or by bike. Scotland’s Great Trails – 20 routes and over 1,300
Footnotes Spring 2012
Walking through Women’s history Esther Quinn from the Glasgow Women’s Library introduces Glasgow Women’s Heritage Walks. Sun shining, the group are weaving a path through the Necropolis, Glasgow’s city of the dead, chatting and finding out more about the remarkable achievements of the women buried here. I’m playing my small part as a tour guide in training with the Glasgow Women’s Library heritage walks, talking about forgotten women from history such as Barbara Hopkirk who, by the time she died in 1833 aged 40, had given birth to thirteen children, and Isabelle Elder who played a key role in opening up educational opportunities for women at the beginning of the nineteenth century. A few months ago I had never been to the Necropolis and knew nothing of these heroines from the past. Responding, somewhat hesitantly, to a request for a volunteer guide at Women Making History event at GWL began the journey. Experienced walk guides took me under their wing. Shadowing them on the walks made me more aware of women’s history, the key landmarks and also about the skills of looking after a group on a walking tour. They made it fun and their
enthusiasm was catching. Paths for All courses in Alloa enhanced the training by covering the health benefits of walking and tips on how to do it safely. Volunteer tour guides with GWL are so different from the stereotype of the expert in the museum with a passive listening audience. These walks are out and about in Glasgow, led by welcoming, friendly guides and audience participation is essential. For a new guide it is a fascinating experience. Some of the tour guides, the ‘history detectives’, put together the initial scripts for the walks and did practice runs but the walks are constantly evolving, being refreshed and updated.
Gerry Gavan It is with great sadness that we have to report that Gerry Gavan, Walk Leader for the Castlemilk Group, passed away suddenly at the beginning of November. A much loved character, he did his walk leader training back in June 2006 and, come rain or shine, led the Castlemilk Health Walks
miles of paths. Visit: www.scotlandsgreattrails.org
So, almost two hours after we started the new Necropolis walk, the volunteer guides and the participants are all buzzing as we meander down the inclines ready for tea and a chat. We collect the justproduced leaflets, with map and illustrations as a reminder of the walk… and an incentive to do it again and take along others. Walking, learning about women’s history, socialising and developing new skills is a great combination. twice a week from then on. He took part in filming Paths for All’s training DVD last year and also sat on the South East Walking Network Steering Group, helping to shape and develop the Walking Network across the area. Gerry will be greatly missed. 7
Footnotes Spring 2012 ©Lorne Gill/SNH
and plentiful car parking in Aviemore. Access to Craigellachie is via the path along the village street that leads to the Youth Hostel. There’s a rough path from the Aviemore Youth Hostel, which leads to an underpass beneath the A9 to the reserve entrance.
Crag of the rocky place Scottish Natural Heritage manages some wonderful places – National Nature Reserves (NNRs). We continue our tour with a look at Craigellachie NNR at Aviemore. The grey crags and silver birchwoods of Craigellachie National Nature Reserve are just 15 minutes walk from the centre of Aviemore. The reserve presents an appealing mix of woodland, open glades and tree-fringed lochs. Craigellachie is also one of 9 NNRs within the Cairngorms National Park and, from the viewpoint near the summit, has one of the best views of the high plateau of the Cairngorms. Craigellachie Trail There are a series of woodland trails of 4 km/ 2.5 miles which introduce you to some of the reserve highlights. It is also possible to miss out the viewpoint (stop 5), thus avoiding the steepest and hardest section © Ashworth Maps and Interpretation Ltd 2008 Based on Ordnance Survey mapping © Crown copyright All rights reserved
of the trail. Use the numbered map and directions in the text to guide you round. The start and end of the walks are on level, wide, well-surfaced paths. The paths can be wet at times with loose stones and tree roots. Expect a gradual climb from about 250 metres (820 ft) to just under 500 metres (1,640 ft) at the summit viewpoint. There’s a Tourist Information Centre, toilets
1 Standing at the reserve entrance, you’re very aware of the traffic thundering past on the A9 above. It provides a vivid contrast with the sounds of the natural world that gradually take over as you move farther into the reserve. Look out for a sign promoting a mobile phoneguided walk or ‘Mobitour’ of Craigellachie, which is also available from here. 2 Carry on along the path and take the left fork. You’ll shortly come to the second Mobitour stop. From here you can look up to an impressive crag above. This crag probably gave rise to the reserve’s placename, as Craigellachie is thought to come from the Gaelic for ‘Crag of the rocky place’. If you’re lucky you may also see one of the resident peregrines or hear the mewing calls of a buzzard. 3 Continuing along the path, take the next left fork and, after a gradual climb, the path branches sharp left and gets steeper before levelling out. This brings you onto the buzzard trail which
Up to 16 passes with a vibrating roller are needed to prepare the sub
Footnotes Spring 2012
meanders through the higher section of the wood. You’re now in the heart of the birchwood, which is thought to have existed here for over 140 years. Birch is one of the world’s hardiest trees and would have been one of the first trees to appear after the ice that covered Scotland’s landscape retreated some 11,000 years ago.
4 Continue along the path and turn left when the path meets the access track to the water tank. This track leads to a path, quite steep in places, that winds its way up through woodland to the top of the ridge overlooking the rest of the reserve. From here you can enjoy superb views across the River Spey to the Scots pine forests of Rothiemurchus and Glenmore. On the horizon are the Cairngorms, embracing the largest area of high ground in Britain.
5 Return back down the path and access track, take the second path on the right, marked by a second small waymarker, with a green arrow pointing right, located at the left-hand side of the track. This path leads you through the lower half of the woodland. One of the
reserve’s main attractions is its variety of flowering plants, mosses and lichens. But in autumn you’ll also come across a fine assortment of fungi. Over 70 kinds have been recorded here, many of them linked to birch trees.
6 Carry on along the path and you’ll meet the first of two lochans. This is an old reservoir, which now supports abundant plantlife and is important in the summer for dragonflies. You can still see the old concrete sluice and water gauge of the reservoir, which was built in the mid-19th century to provide for the steam trains using the railway through Aviemore. It was then used as the water supply for the village until being replaced. 7 Continue along the path and take the left fork, followed by the next left again. This path eventually leads you to picturesque Loch Puladdern, where you may spot brown trout around the water’s edge. The clamour of traffic on the A9 tells you that you’re back at the reserve entrance. Take the next fork left to access the path that will take you back through the tunnel to Aviemore.
Other Information The nearest train station and bus stop are in the centre of Aviemore, about 15 minutes walk away from the reserve. You can find out more and download a leaflet about the reserve at: www.nnr-scotland.org.uk/craigellachie/
Springtime quiz Send your answers to the questions below to: firstname.lastname@example.org or the Alloa office by the 16th April. The winner will receive a walking related prize! 1. Name a yellow flower that faces the sun? 2. Spring fever is a real physical condition. True or false? 3. Hold this to stay dry when it rains. 4. Colorful arc in the sky after the rain. 5. Rain gathers in one spot on the ground and makes a? 6. An emerald represents spring. True or False? 7. A caterpillar turns into a _____? 8. In which month do the clocks go forward? 9. What bakery product is traditionally eaten at Easter time? 10. Which day signals the end of Lent? Previous winner: Greta Shephard won a pair of Yaktrax in our winter wordsearch (Missing word: SNOWFLAKES).
base for a good walking path – also suitable for wheelchair users.
Footnotes Spring 2012
Healthy living in Dundee Dundee Healthy Living Initiative (DHLI) works alongside local people and partner organisations to improve health and tackle health inequalities in deprived parts of Dundee. We use a community development approach to health improvement. This has been shown to be critical when supporting people in deprived areas to improve their health and wellbeing. We offer a wide range of opportunities for people to participate in nonthreatening, non traditional, sociable and affordable activities. These include keep fit, tai chi, swimming and walking. There are 10 walking groups and 3 pram pushing groups and walks vary in length depending on the abilities and fitness of participants. Three of the walks take place in Baxter Park, which has a circuit of 1.1 miles and is on a gentle slope. The shortest loop of the park is suitable for people who are new to physical activity or recovering from illness. This walk is slightly slower so it takes around 30 minutes to complete – and is an ideal ‘health walk’. There is a natural cut-off point in the walk for participants who cannot manage to walk to the top slope of the park. Each of these groups is attended by 30-40 individuals and carers. All of the walks allow 10
Even the statue of Desperate Dan in Dundee’s city centre seems to be taking his walking seriously
people with disabilities to take part in a group that is open to anyone from the local community. This helps to address social inequalities, breaking down all kinds of barriers, as well as improving physical and mental health.
“The shortest loop of the park is suitable for people who are new to physical activity or recovering from illness” The other walking groups have existed for 6-7 years. They have membership of anything from 15-40 walkers. One of the big
benefits of the walking groups – besides fitness – is the social contact. A lot of people report increased social activity and reduced isolation as a benefit since joining a walking group. Walks are supported by 20 active volunteer walk leaders trained by Paths for All. There is also annual Heartstart training for volunteers. Recently some of the walk leaders have gone on the Safety Outdoors training, again provided by Paths for All. The project frequently joins up with the Dundee Council health walking project ‘I’m On My Way’ to co-host walk leader training courses for volunteers. Walk leaders have found volunteering worthwhile. They report that as a result of volunteering they have taken part in more social activities, their personal confidence has increased and they are developing new skills. One of the walk leaders stated that they felt the benefits of volunteering far outweighed their time commitment. We are hugely grateful to our volunteers, as without them it would be extremely difficult to continue with our walking groups. Most people find out about health
Footnotes Spring 2012
Risk, roads & reindeer Paths for All trainer Iain Davidson takes some lessons from Scandinavian nomads The Sami people of Scandinavia are the traditional nomads of the Arctic. They possess a fascinating folklore, culture and relationship to the land that can teach us much about risk, hazards and dealing with the unexpected. Far from shying away from risks the Sami understand that simple strategies work best outdoors and that an individual reaches full maturity in life when he or she is able to work with their head and hands, and ‘move walks through family and friends.
within the landscape’. Now I’m not suggesting that leading a walking group in Dundee is like driving reindeer across the tundra but we can draw three good lessons from the Reindeer herders in calculating risks and hazards ‘on the hoof’ as walking group leaders. First lesson is that the trail may be the same but each day makes ‘a new trail’. The sun/moon and seasons change our landscapes. Old trails become new and the familiar catches us unaware as paths turn from mud to ice to snow. We should see the familiar with new eyes and help others to see these changes too. Familiarity really can blind us. Think about that road you cross every day - familiar - but the hazard remains. Make the old new. Secondly, think how the needs of others change. The pattern of the year and the seasons reflects in our moods, our ages and our health. Winter is when many people in Scotland shut the door and hibernate but I
would like more groups to keep walking through winter and then powering through spring with renewed vigour. Thirdly, be prepared; read the weather runes, sniff the air, watch the clouds, have a feel for the temperature. More importantly, watch that weather forecast the night before! Think of your group. Who is cold? Who walks in a t-shirt...in January? Who skipped breakfast? Who is on a crash diet and low on energy? Have the first aid kit in your rucksack alongside your mobile phone, woolly hat, scarf, gloves, emergency chocolate and water. Look after yourself and keep an eye out for subtle changes in both weather and other people. You can visit our own Scottish reindeer in Glenmore Forest Park, Aviemore, or on the tops of the Cairngorm National Park in summer. www.cairngormreindeer.com “Naa Naa” (“Bye bye” in Sami)
Nature Watch Crocus There are about 80 species of crocus – many cultivated for their flowers – appearing in autumn, winter, or spring. The spice saffron is obtained from the hand picked stigmas of Crocus sativus. Crocuses can grow in woodland, scrub and meadows from sea level to alpine tundra. Their cup-shaped, solitary flowers taper off into a narrow tube. Colours vary although lilac, mauve, yellow and white are most common. 11
Footnotes Spring 2012
The Helix The Helix is transforming land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into an exciting parkland and visitor attraction opening in 2013. It includes a central park with a lagoon and outdoor events space. There will also be a new canal link featuring the Kelpies® – two towering sculpted horses’ heads. The project’s ‘Routes to Health’ programme aims to connect communities and encourage healthy outdoor lifestyles. A 12km network of new and upgraded paths has already been created in
the Helix South area – improving and reestablishing connections between Grangemouth, Beancross, Polmont, Lower Braes, Laurieston and Westquarter. There is also improved access to the Falkirk Stadium, one of the main gateways to the central park and canal hub developments. The paths accommodate all types of user, from keen walkers and cyclists to families with buggies and those with mobility difficulties. There is lighting
on all of the key paths and safe crossings are provided by existing underpasses. The paths have proved a popular addition to the area. Regular users include walkers, cyclists and runners from Jogscotland Grangemouth and Forth Valley Disability Sports. Fitness bootcamps regularly take place at Laurieston playing fields, easily accessible by one of the new Helix paths. There are now regular walking groups, led by trained walk leaders, which depart from the Falkirk Stadium. The latest activity is Nordic Walking, which started classes in February with more to follow. The Helix has teamed up with Green Dog Walkers (GDW) to keep paths free from dog fouling. GDW will be holding a Canine Capers event in the Helix area on 15th July 2012. Path improvements in the Abbotshaugh Woodland in Helix North are being implemented during 2012. www.thehelix.co.uk
Contact us Paths for All (Head Office), Inglewood House, Tullibody Road, Alloa FK10 2HU Tel: 01259 218 888 Paths for All (North Office), Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness IV3 8NW Tel: 01463 725 152 email: email@example.com • www.pathsforall.org.uk Paths for All is a partnership organisation, for a full list of our current partners please visit our website:www.pathsforall.org.uk Paths for All Partnership is a recognised Scottish Charity No: SC025535 and a Company Limited by Guarantee No: 168554 incorporated 19 September 1996 at Companies House, Edinburgh, Registered Office: Inglewood House, Tullibody Road, Alloa FK10 2HU.