Walking for Health - Sport England funding

A group of older people walking along a park path

The Ramblers Walking for Health programme has received £275,000 National Lottery funding from Sport England.

The programme works with partners across England to help up to 80,000 less active people a year to get moving through short, regular, led group walks in their communities.

The funding from Sport England will run for 18 months from April 2019 and will allow the Ramblers to evolve the programme.  There will be new investment in data and digital platforms, support for walk leaders, and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders to explore ways to sustain the programme after September 2020.

Ramblers Walking for Health works with 370 local partner schemes including local authorities, NHS bodies, other charities and volunteers to deliver over 1,800 short weekly walks led by 8,300 trained volunteers across England. 

The programme provides physical and mental well-being improvements and works to tackle inactivity amongst the least active groups, including women, older people, and those with long-term health conditions. 

As well as supporting the transition to a more sustainable future, the new funding will help Ramblers Walking for Health support new schemes where there is a local need, and develop new projects in London and Manchester aimed at supporting 50 women into volunteer leadership positions with more flexible roles and development opportunities

Vanessa Griffiths, Ramblers chief executive said:

“Over the past seven years we have helped hundreds of thousands of less active people to get moving and this funding will ensure that this work can evolve. We are delighted to be working with Sport England and partners to take forward and improve this fantastic programme so that it can continue to impact on people’s lives long into the future.”

Sarah Ruane, Sport England’s strategic lead for health said:

“A large focus of Sport England’s work is helping provide more appropriate and supportive opportunities to get active for the 38% of the population who are currently not doing enough activity to benefit their health. Walking could play a major role as it is free and accessible to a large percentage of the population.

“That’s why we’re delighted to be using National Lottery funding for the development of the Ramblers Walking for Health programme which helps people who would like to walk in a group or who may need a bit of extra encouragement.

“The partnership will ensure the Ramblers Walking for Health programme can be even more targeted towards those who currently do least activity and is in a sustainable position for the future.”

The new funding from Sport England is in addition to funding of £88,870 from the Building Connections fund of the National Lottery Community Fund, to deliver Friendship Walks with people who have experienced bereavement.  That 21-month project began in January 2019 and will be delivered in parts of London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol with Cruse Bereavement Care, Ramblers Walking for Health schemes, Ramblers groups and other local partners.

Ramblers Walking for Health is England’s largest programme of health walks. Brisk walking counts towards the 150 minutes moderate activity that we all need to do each week to stay active.  The benefits of regular walking for people who are not sufficiently active are huge including longer lives, less coronary heart disease and stroke, fewer colon and breast cancers, few hip fractures as they age, reduced risk of dementia, reduced risk of depression, less stress and better sleep, and improved mental sharpness and memory.

Terry Aldous

Can you confirm that there is now a charge to all the respective supervising groups that organise health walks. Is this likely to be passed onto walkers. We have always had these walks as free since their inception.


We at West Somerset health walks have now been taken out of the national programme without consultation of the walkers or leaders in this group because Somerset council have decided not to pay this charge. If you have all this funding why have the members been disadvantaged in this way?

Brendan - Ramblers Walking for Health

No charges for schemes or participants have been introduced by Ramblers Walking for Health. Somerset Council took the decision that their schemes would leave the national programme after being consulted on the potential introduction of charges for schemes. This was an option being considered before the funding outlined in the article above was secured.

Dave Windley

Just out of interest did Somerset council tell Ramblers of their intentions?
If so what did Ramblers do to try to persuade them not to fold?
What are Ramblers going to do now to help Somerset walkers?

Viv boorman

Thank you Brendan for clarifying the position.
So are Ramblers going to support walking for health in providing FREE walks? If so for how long?