Although many people enjoy the peace and tranquillity of walking alone, walking can be a very social pastime. It is a great way to get fit whilst spending time with friends and family. However, you can also make new friends whilst walking if you decide to join a walking, rambling or hiking club.
There are hundreds of different walking groups across the country, some operating on a formal basis and some on an informal basis. These include local walking clubs and the National Ramblers association.
There are many different reasons why people choose to join a walking club with a few examples below.
Meet new people
A walking club is a great way to meet new people, especially if you struggle to talk to people in more formal settings. A walking club will put you together with like-minded people, in a setting which allows you to be as conversational as you want. Due to the physical nature of walking it is possible to walk without talking if you would prefer not to chat all of the time.
On the other hand, you are likely to see and do a lot of things on your walk which can inspire conversation if you do want to talk. A wide variety of different people join walking clubs, so you are likely to meet new people from all walks of life.
Try new routes
In order to keep their members interested, walking clubs normally try to come up with impressive new routes for their members to try. This can give you the opportunity to try out interesting new walks that you might never have considered if you were planning your own routes. What is more, walking clubs often arrange walks that are further out of your area than you would normally consider going by yourself. Taking these opportunities will give you the chance to visit areas that you might not have chosen if you were alone. Seeing the area as part of a formally organised route can help to give you a completely different experience.
Clubs will normally have a grading system for their walks, so that members can decide whether routes will be suitable for them. If you are unsure about whether a walk or trip would be right for you, you can speak to the organiser to discuss your concerns.
Walking groups are integral in fighting for improved rights for walkers. In the past, rambling groups have mobilised to lobby for the right to roam in certain areas of land. After years of government consultation, these groups were able to win improved access rights for everyone in Britain. Walkers in Scotland have even greater access rights, as long as they are exercising their rights responsibly.
Walking groups are currently fighting to protect national footpath networks, wonderful landscapes and long distance walking groups. If you have any ideas about how walking could be improved as a pastime, you should join a walking club so that your voice has the best chance of being heard at a national level. Formally organised clubs are regularly consulted by national and local government organisations about potential changes which may affect ramblers. Grassroots club members will normally get the opportunity to speak out.
Joining a walking club can actually help you to build a wide range of different skills. Some clubs run courses to help members to develop their outdoor skills, including map reading, using a compass and navigating based on nature. Those who are willing to take charge of walks will also be able to develop their leadership skills. Alternatively, members who take on a specific role in the club may be able to develop other transferrable skills which can actually be used outside of walking as a hobby.
Walking is a good way to get fit. It strengthens the heart and improves circulation by raising the heart rate to a safe level. Walking also gives people the opportunity to spend time in the fresh air and away from some major air pollutants, like cars and big factories.
If you are wearing well-fitting boots and take the right precautions, rambling will also improve bone and muscle-strength. In general, moderate walking in the UK countryside will not put unnecessary stresses and strains onto the human body, and there are therefore fewer accumulative health risks than those associated with high intensity sports. Being part of a group will help to give some people the additional boost that they need to go for a walk or do a healthy exercise even if they are not feeling completely enthusiastic about working out. The walking group helps to provide a support network that offers assistance and encouragement when needed. Some people are further encouraged to participate if they have had to pay a membership fee to join the club.
Many walking clubs are also insured against damage to property, accident injury and financial loss, and may include member to member cover. If you’re in any way concerned about this, for example if you’d like to know can I claim compensation if you suffered a personal injury because a guide or another member was negligent, or you’re property is damaged by another member and you’re unsure what action could be taken you should check with the club beforehand.