Our February 2021 Walking Workshop

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On the 1st of February we held our first walking workshop. Walking, plodding, strolling, stomping or in some cases rolling; whatever you do and prefer to call it, our workshop was set up so that residents can help us to make it easier for everyone in Calderdale to take that first step out of their doorway.

We believe that walking is the activity with the highest potential to be built into the everyday lives of Calderdale residents. Our workshop was set up to:

  • Develop a walking vision for Calderdale
  • To gather insight from the people in Calderdale who already love to walk
  • To better understand the walking groups, or groups who walk, in Calderdale
  • To understand what mapped routes already exist in Calderdale

Almost 70 people signed up for our first Walking Workshop. What a response! In this blog we will cover what we learned from the first session, and give you details on how you can get involved going forward - together, we can transform walking in Calderdale!

Why you love to walk

We asked everyone why they love to walk, the most prevalent responses included:

  • Helping improve or maintain mental health
  • Connecting with others: friends, family, or just a welcome hello from a stranger
  • Being outside in nature

Walking during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, walking has become one of the most secure ways to get out and be active, as well as travel short journeys.  Responses highlighted many other benefits of walking during the pandemic:

Walking has given me the chance to say hello to someone each day.

Walking has given me a break from Zoom meetings.

Walking has helped me to think about other things.

Walking has let me explore areas of Calderdale I've never seen before.

Walking has helped me understand and appreciate nature more.

Walking has kept depression at bay.

Workshop participants

Vision - What do we want walking in Calderdale to look like?

We asked everyone in the session to share their vision for walking in Calderdale. Ideas included;

  • The wording of any vision must be accessible to everyone
  • Walking should be a way of combatting loneliness and social isolation, a way to bring people together
  • Walking should include walking meetings/phone calls not just a means of getting from A to B
  • Walking should be a way of promoting shared and respectful use of green and open spaces
  • Walking needs safe, easy, and attractive environments

Insight - how can we support more people to step out?

We asked how together we can support more people to step out. Ideas included;

  • Make it fun - Bear/treasure hunts, geocaching, themed walks - local history, nature, music
  • Make it easy – link with bus routes and toilet facilities
  • Make it accessible - what is the minimum kit needed?
  • Make visual walking maps for those learning English
  • Make it sociable – walking buddies or friendly groups and events like Park Run
  • Talk the Walk - sharing your walking story helps others see someone like them getting out and about

Groups - how can we promote walking groups?

Getting started can be the hardest part.  We asked, "what would encourage a non-walker to join a group?". Responses suggested walking with others should;

  • Be social – have a chat, take a sandwich, or get a cuppa
  • Include a beginners group
  • Be welcoming, friendly, and have peer support regardless of experience and ability
  • Be flexible, it could be walking rugby, football, netball, or a walking meeting

More traditional walking groups tend to be easier to find but groups who walk can be more difficult. Thanks to the workshop, we now have more details of groups who walk to follow up on.

Routes - collecting all of the walking routes in Calderdale

There are lots of mapped routes in Calderdale that already exist, but they tend to cater for long countryside walks. We discussed how to find out about some of the shorter more accessible routes that have been developed to help people find their feet. Suggestions of what would help included;

  • Collated up to date routes, including difficulty, length with clear instructions and preferably pictures and downloadable
  • Short walks attached to bus routes – similar to Upper Valley Bus walks project
  • Themed walks or activities that happen to involve walking like, lunchtime walks, visual routes for people learning English or walks from Children’s Centres
  • Urban and countryside walks

This is just the start of the conversation, we need your help!

Join us in developing these areas further. To find out more, or be part of our working groups - email ActiveCalderdale@calderdale.gov.uk and include the workshop headings you’d like to be involved in.

  • Vision  - Help us create a walking vision for Calderdale
  • Insight - Best ways to support people to take a stroll
  • Groups – what do you need to know about groups? How can we collate and share this?
  • Routes – how do we collate and share short and easy leisure or active travel routes?