Walking for health

In Will’s rural village there are only a few paths into the countryside

In January 2018, when I was in my mid-20s, I had an illness called pulmonary hypertension. It’s a condition where clots build up in the lungs and stop you from being able to breathe. It puts extra pressure on the heart, and I was barely able to walk 100m without oxygen. To go for even a short walk, I would have to take my oxygen tank with me, which as a young man was hard. It was isolating me. So, I had a pulmonary enterectomy which basically cleared out all the vessels around my lungs and they replaced the valve in my heart.  The surgeons gave me my life back! I can’t thank them enough. 


From walking less than 100m to completing a 100km walk 

From not being able to walk 100m, I had to build things up slowly.  I started doing walks that were a couple of miles long.  But I found walking on my own hard.  So, I started looking for a group to walk with.  I went online and came across Stag Walkers, the local Ramblers group who are for younger walkers.  I joined and started walking with them most weekends. Walking improved my fitness to the point that I found 10 miles walks easy, and then in September 2019 I did a 100km walk.   

I count myself lucky still today that I've got a relatively normal life now. I don't get out walking as much as I probably should do now thanks to work commitments. But I still enjoy meeting up with the Ramblers.  

 will leading a group of walkers on a gravel path

The paths where I live

I live in Toddington in Bedfordshire.  It’s a rural village and our access to paths is mixed.  We have the Icknield Way running almost straight through the village and it’s well signposted.  But otherwise, whilst there are streets you can walk on through the village, if you want to go walking in countryside, there’s only a few paths in and out of the village.  And the footpaths around the village are a little bit disjointed and you can end up walking on the road.  Personally, I'm okay with walking along a road if I must. But I imagine for others they would be less keen.  


Knowing where I can walk 

Before my health deteriorated in my mid-20s, I used to walk the dog around the field, and I just walked my set routes.  I wasn't aware of where I could go walking around here. Since becoming a member of the Ramblers, it has encouraged me to find out what paths there are around here, and I’ve got a much better understanding of where I’m allowed to walk and whether it is a public footpath.   


Staying fit and well 

Walking is important to me as a way of being fit.  But it's about more than that, it’s about clearing my head. Especially when you go walking with a group. You have conversations about everything and anything and it allows you to switch off, and step away from the stresses of life and of work. It’s a mental release. 


 A donation could help us: 

  • Protect the places and paths that inspire more people to go walking and bring respite and happiness to many.  

  • Deliver more, sometimes life-changing group walks that tens of thousands of people rely on for companionship or improving their health. 

  • Eliminate the many barriers that shut out millions of people from going walking. 


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