South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth and Annandale East and Eskdale Councillor Archie Dryburgh joined a local health walk in Eaglesfield on Tuesday to find out more about the project- and urged local people to join their nearest health walk.
Health Walks are held all over Scotland and are supported by the charity Paths for All. A Health Walk is a free, local, low level, volunteer led walk which is accessible to everyone, irrespective of ability.
Paths for All support the 300+ members of the Scottish Health Walk Network and between them they deliver over 650 walks each week across Scotland.
Local Health Walk group, the Dumfries and Galloway Walking Project organise the weekly Eaglesfield walk, as well as weekly walks in Annan, Moffat, Lochmaben, Langholm, Dumfries, Dalbeattie, Castle Douglas, Newton Stewart and Stranraer.
Many of the walks were put on hold at the height of the pandemic and have only recently been back up and running. Colin and Archie are now appealing to local people to support the walks by taking part or helping out as a volunteer.
Colin Smyth said: “It was great to be able to get out and meet the group and local organiser Karen, as well as enjoying the walk in Eaglesfield first hand.
“Walking is one of the best types of exercise and these Health Walks are open to everyone, regardless of their ability, with different levels and distances to suit people’s needs.
“There is also a great social element to the walks, with an opportunity to catch up with others at a time we are all still getting used to being out and about, so it’s great for both your physical and mental health.
“With a number of different walks being organised right across Dumfries and Galloway, I would encourage everyone to think about getting involved and fitting a walk into their week. There are even opportunities for volunteering to help organise the walk on the day.
“At the start of the first lockdown, many people found they had more time and turned to walking as a way to exercise and also to unwind from the many stresses of the pandemic.
“In the past 18 months we’ve lived through huge upheaval in our lives but I know that many people have continued to take a daily walk.”
Archie Dryburgh, who is Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Healthy Working Lives Champion, added: “Walks such as this one around Eaglesfield are fantastic and I really appreciated being able to get out with the local group to promote the benefits of walking.
“Organised walks are also a real opportunity to meet new people, as well as getting some steps in.
“I know some people are still a little wary about getting out and joining groups as we ease out of lockdown, but the walks are safe and short, and are led by a trained volunteer.
“My ward has many fantastic places to walk and I would encourage people to get out and about as much as they can.”
Rona Gibb, Senior Manager at Paths for All said: “Joining a walking group can be life changing. We’ve heard from walkers who have become healthier, happier and more independent thanks to joining Health Walks.
“If you haven’t been active in a while and are looking for some support to get moving, or you’ve missed connecting with people and are looking for some company, our Health Walks are a great place to start.
“I’d also like to say a huge thank you to the amazing volunteers in Dumfries and Galloway, who are leading weekly walks whatever the weather!”