I’m looking forward to taking part in this year’s Festival of Winter Walks with my local Ramblers group. Thanks to Players of People’s Postcode Lottery for making the Festival possible.
I went on my first walk with a local group in March 2017, after recently stopping work.
Looking back, I’ve attempted various things but just haven’t been confident enough to do them.
Outwardly I seem very confident. I’ve always been able to talk to people and have never had a problem speaking in front of large groups of people. But internally was always where I had absolutely no confidence, no self-belief.
The great thing about the walking is that it didn’t seem threatening in any way.
As soon as I joined that group, my confidence just soared and it wasn’t long before I was leading walks myself. The people in my group are so lovely and they have given this confidence to do extra things that I just didn’t have before.
I felt at home with the group really quickly. Everyone was so friendly and chatty – it’s such a relaxed atmosphere, everything’s organised so well that it doesn’t take a long time to settle in.
On only my second walk with the group, I admitted that I had never been to a National Park, or up a mountain. Some of the other members mentioned that they had a trip to the Lake District planned and invited me along.
I have no idea how I plucked up the courage to do it, but I drove the 200 miles on my own to join them and climbed Skiddaw, my first mountain. It was really hard, but that’s the walk that really stands out in my mind; it was after that I got the walking bug. As soon as I got home, I started pulling out maps to see where I could go walking next!
I’m such a cautious person, scared of life – I would only walk the dog where there were lots of other people - but Ramblers is really helping me change that.
My group is so supportive and when I walk with them there is never any pressure. If you need a rest or to slow down, there is always someone who will keep you company.
There are quite a few people involved in the group who haven’t got partners, but who just get so much from the camaraderie and support network that comes from being a part of the Ramblers.
I haven’t had a brilliant time in my personal life recently – it’s been quite hard – but the group has absolutely been my saviour. I know that that’s been the case for a lot of other people too. It’s a real network of friends with shared interests.
I know, if I was ever in that position, I could just put an email out to the group and I would get support straight away.”
You can get involved too. Join a local walk in your area this Festival of Winter Walks.