Healthy walkers . . .

Active Northumberland’s cheerful Health Walks brochure outlines weekly supervised walks taking place throughout West Northumberland, or Tynedale as was.

My ambition was to catch individual walkers arriving outside the Co-op from 9:30 for their designated Health Walk at 10, just to garner a few thoughts from each about their weekly sojourns. And, of course, I could also pop into the Co-op for a few items, thereby doubling up my errands on my trek back and forth from Sparty Lea. Although I was chatting with an inveterate golfer at the check-out, who suggested that he gets enough walking exercise in his sport, I was reminded of that saying attributed apocryphally to Mark Twain, ‘Golf is a good walk spoiled.’ But exercise however you find it has to be good for you: I finished my own energetic shopping with moments to spare; folks were arriving as I stowed the recycled carrier boxes in the back seat.

I chatted at length with Gordon Scorer, who is a trained volunteer for these walks, but who eschews the idea of ‘leader’, preferring to think of himself as the person at the front. In fact, there are 10 trained volunteers who participate on walks throughout Tynedale, and 2 of these volunteers are expected to be present on each walk. They’re First Aid trained and they support each other, and the whole group, on their weekly sojourn.

The walks take an hour, maybe up to an hour and 20 minutes, and Gordon says the Allendale walks typically have from 6-20 attendees meeting at the Allendale Co-op and sometimes picking up more on their way; though the numbers are often weather-dependent, the walks are much less reliant on balmy conditions, so walkers are expected to dress accordingly. Today they’re heading up to Scotch Hall for a foray around the east side of the village.

We were mostly on a first name basis this morning, as I introduced myself as a diarist (‘What’s that?’) . . . perhaps the word ‘blogger’ is more widely understood these days, but I prefer the concept of a daily diary. Carol was helping Gordon, and other members were passing around the sheet to tick their names off. Actually, anyone is welcome just to come along 10 minutes early, register and walk with the group, though some folks come to the walking group by referral through the Health Centre. Elizabeth reminded me of the bell-ringing group that meets at Arnison Close, noting also that since her dog is no longer with her, she can participate in these walks (only assistance dogs are allowed to accompany the group), while Sheila said she enjoyed the social atmosphere and camaraderie of the walk. Gordon insisted he helped mix the walkers up, chatting amiably with each in turn, and being quite jolly and cheerful, but I had no doubt on that score. I chatted with Susan and with Marian, who has been in the area for 18 months, and who reckons that the walks are a great way to get to know her physical surroundings, as well as the neighbours.

Andy Cooper first put me on to the Health Walks group as a potential diary entry, but he and Kay, who are also inveterate walkers in this group, are currently double-booked on another activity so couldn’t be there. But the happy band, including a friendly gentleman who also does a Weardale walk on Wednesdays, were eager to embark, and with brief good-byes, and fulsome invitations to join them (Did I mention that it’s a lovely place to meet people, to have just a little bit of exercise in the fresh air, and that new walkers are always welcomed with good bonhomie? . . . if I missed it, I’m sorry, and I’ll be sure to rectify that!) . . . with these departing missives ringing through the air, and with Elizabeth’s promise to tell the group what the diary will have to say about the walks, the group took off for Scotch Hall and their weekly adventure.

No doubt many of the world’s problems, and even some of their own individual ones, will have been resolved by the end of the walk today. Or, if not on the walk itself, then after the physical exercise, over coffee and cake at the Tea Rooms.

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