Rediscovering the joys of walking
Kandra believes everyone should get out there and experience the countryside.
(Kandra, centre, in pink, with Surrey Heath Ramblers)
I was born in Bermuda and came to the UK in my mid 20s to study nursing. After 10 years in nursing, I moved into the pharmaceutical industry where I’ve been for the past 20+ years in drug safety where I have a very fulfilling role.
Rediscovering the joys of walking
Back when I was a student nurse, I had a close friend whose parents were members of the Ramblers up north and during our nurse training, we both went on local Ramblers walks together in Hampshire. I’ve always enjoyed walking and still sometimes walk with the same friend.
When I moved to Surrey about 20 years ago, I did look at joining a Ramblers group but the walks didn’t fit with my work schedule. During the Covid lockdowns, when they said we could go out for an hour to walk, I was out there every day making the most of it. And that’s when I realised I’d forgotten how great walking is.
Joining the Ramblers
In February 2022, I happened to have a free Friday and I noticed on Meet Up that there was a Ramblers walk planned near me. I thought of all the reasons why I shouldn’t go. But I convinced myself to give it a try. It was a 5-mile introductory walk so I turned up in my walking boots and my jeans and it was brilliant! Everyone was so friendly and chatty, and I’ve been going whenever I get a chance ever since. I quickly joined the Surrey Heath Ramblers as a member very soon after .
The wellbeing benefits of walking
My initial motivation for getting out and walking again was the health benefits. I had decided I needed a health kick. I’m eating better and my fitness levels are much better. Being out in the fresh air makes me feel great. It gives me a sense of wellbeing that is hard to describe.
But on top of that I hadn’t expected it to be such a social and friendly experience. That was a big bonus.
No matter who you are walking next to, they will talk to you. Some people are retired, some are partially retired but everyone has a story. We are all different and I love walking and chatting to everyone.
I walk alternate Sundays and try to take a Tuesday off work every month so I can join a Ramblers group walk because I enjoy them so much.
Encouraging everyone to get walking
But the best thing so far has been a week away to the Lake District. It was just the best holiday I’ve had in a long time.
I didn’t see a lot of diversity in the Lake District, but I certainly didn’t feel out of place there. We were just all walkers, enjoying walking.
I would urge those from ethnic groups, those who live in inner cities, in fact everyone, to get out there and experience the countryside. People worry that they won’t see people who look like them in the countryside. But being outdoors isn’t about culture or race. People are people and I enjoy connecting with people of all types and cultures. And the more of us who get out there, the more we will see other people who look like us.
I think the Ramblers has a role to play to encourage more people to get outside into the countryside, be those people from an ethnic background, younger people, mums with children. But it’s also everyone’s own responsibility to take that step and join in.
Nick looks back at discovering walking in the countryside, the lack of diversity in the outdoors, and his passion to make sure his kids enjoy the countryside.
Walking the Kent coast for her 70th birthday inspired Helen Wild to begin a journey of annual walking challenges with friends.