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Stepping out to celebrate 30 years of health walks in Peak District National Park

A health walk group in the Peak District.

Striding out into the Peak District countryside, worries and ailments are forgotten for a while…

The benefits of the outdoors for health and wellbeing are now widely-known and, for 30 years, the Peak District National Park has been leading the way with ranger-led health walks.

Free monthly walks are supported by the Peak District Foundation and public health locality funding. They are delivered by our rangers throughout the National Park on easy paths with no stiles. Community transport to and from each walk is available to eligible walkers at no cost.

The 30th anniversary of our health walks was celebrated with a guided walk at Macclesfield Forest.

Learning and Discovery ranger Jo Hanney said: “It’s great to see people enjoying fresh air, nature, exercise and good company in our amazing landscapes.

“Over the last 30 years, health walks have created some very happy memories – and it’s lovely to celebrate this milestone anniversary with so many people. Some have been walking with us for several years, with lots of friendships made.”

Ranger Jo Hanney leads some of the walkers

John Holmes has been a keen walker for 60 years, though his mobility is now limited by Type 1 diabetes. He said: “I can’t drive anymore because of diabetes, so the health walks allow me to keep visiting the places I’ve always loved. I enjoy the company and getting out into the National Park.”

Audrey Foster has enjoyed taking part in health walks for 26 years. She explained: “I love the wildlife and nature – and the fact that the walks are guided by rangers. I wouldn’t know where to go myself. The transport is also a great help as it makes everything stress-free. I feel calmer after I’ve been for a walk – it improves my mental health.”

Margaret Black has been a volunteer ranger for 27 years and accompanies the groups on health walks. She said: “It’s wonderful showing places to people who wouldn’t normally have come out on their own.

“It’s increased my own knowledge of the National Park because I’ve learned from the full-time rangers. They know such a lot and they are able to share that with us.”

The Peak District Foundation’s fundraising development manager Sarah Slowther added: “One of our key aims is to enable more people to experience the benefits of the outdoors, so we’re delighted to provide funding which supports these invaluable health walks. Here’s to the next 30 years!”

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