Every Saturday morning, a group of walkers depart Christchurch Green for an hour’s stroll in and around Wanstead. The social reward is as important as the health benefits, says Paul Turner
Walking in Wanstead was set up 11 years ago by members of the Wanstead Place GP Surgery Patients’ Group because of a training course offered by Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure. We wanted to do something positive for everyone. It is part of the Walking for Health programme organised by Vision’s Sport and Health Team, which is affiliated to The Ramblers Association.
Brian Lewis and I are the walk leaders and enjoy meeting up with the group every Saturday morning, not only for the walk but also to socialise with everyone.
A little about both of us. I work full time, importing and exporting food. I have two cats and I am interested in local history. Brian is a retired Black Cab driver, now spending time with family and researching and leading walks in central London. We are both volunteers and have been trained in walk leading and first aid.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have had a few new walkers join us. “The group is so friendly and welcoming,” commented Lynne. “I thought I knew Wanstead, but Paul and Brian have taken me to many different places I have not been before,” added Linda.
We meet at 10.30am every Saturday morning, just off Wanstead Place in Christchurch Green at one of the park benches. If you are unsure, Vision have given us fluorescent yellow rucksacks for our first-aid kits, which everyone says stand out a mile. There is no charge, except for tea or coffee if you want to join us after for refreshments. You don’t even have to live in Redbridge to join us – we once had someone from New Zealand who joined us for a walk while on holiday here!
We normally try to do a circular walk lasting about an hour, and can get to Redbridge, South Woodford, Leytonstone and Hollow Pond. Every few months, we also try to do an hour’s linear walk to places like Valentines Mansion, Walthamstow Village and Redbridge Lakes, just to do something different, and then we can either walk or get public transport back home.
Vision’s Walking for Health programme also offers free weekly walks for adults at various other parks and open spaces across Redbridge on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Inclusive walks for people living with dementia, mental health illnesses, disabilities, cancer and stroke survivors are also available. All walks are led by fully trained, friendly walk leaders, and provide a chance for you to socialise and participate in small activities at a pace that suits you. Walking has many health benefits, and best of all it’s free. All you need to do is turn up and enjoy the company and the changing seasons.
For more information on Walking in Wanstead and the Walking for Health programme, call 020 8708 0951 or visit wnstd.com/walking