Ramblers Cymru is encouraging people to put their best foot forward and get outdoors to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
Supporting the Welsh Government and Powys Teaching Health Board’s Help Us Help You Campaign, the organisation urges residents of Powys and surrounding areas to explore the picturesque paths, forests, coastal routes, and valleys that connect the county.
Ramblers Cymru Engagement and Communications Manager Brân Devey hopes people will join one of several local walking groups, or simply meet safely outside with friends and family to combat isolation:
“Being active every day has been tough during this period, and for some it is a case of starting again, building confidence and literally putting one foot in front of the other,” he said.
“With the NHS under increased strain during the winter months it is important to be extra careful when out walking, to wear the correct footwear, wrap up warm and take the necessary equipment – know your limitations. The Adventure Smart guidance online is really useful.
“And from a mindfulness and mental health perspective it is vital we keep active; going for a walk does the world of good and you can do so from your front door. It costs nothing and everyone has their own Everest to climb, whether it’s a local mountain, a national park or coastal path.”
Originally from Bethesda, Snowdonia, but now based in Cardiff, Brân added:
“Walking side by side with others where possible is a great way to share any problems you might have, take that time to ask people how they’re really doing and show you care, which could be crucial at the present time.
“All of this will help ease some of that pressure on our hospitals and GPs, but it doesn’t have to mean over-exertion. Being in nature and enjoying the sights and sounds of the local area - the peace and tranquillity - will all play a part in helping you to relax.
“And in Powys, there are so many amazing places to visit, from the Black Mountains to Lake Vyrnwy to the Elan Valley and of course Offa’s Dyke Path and Glyndwr’s Way National Trails.
“As an organisation we have seen so many people discovering the outdoors, venturing outside with their family or ‘bubble’ to take a walk when they might not previously have done so. That’s one habit we hope to see continue because it does make a huge difference to health and wellbeing.”
Chris Jones, 81, is from Garth, near Builth Wells. He is a member of Powys Ramblers:
“I’m currently do walks of five or six miles. For me, it’s about companionship and getting out for exercise. I live on my own so it’s nice to meet people. I like walks with variety so I like a mixture of scenery – valley, watercourses and points of interest along the way.
“There are several walking groups in Powys which you can find on the Ramblers Cymru website. They all run programmes of walks varying in length.”
Louisa Kerr, Head of Mental Health Operations at Powys Teaching Health Board said: “Even a short walk or physical activity outdoors can make a big difference in improving our wellbeing.
“Across the county, we have so many beautiful walks of varying lengths and difficulty levels, so there is something for everyone. And as Brân says, taking a stroll will do the world of good in clearing the mind and introducing feelings of positivity while also having a positive impact on the heart, blood pressure and in supporting healthy weight management.
“It’s the perfect way to self-care and has been a lifeline for many families and individuals throughout the pandemic.”
Visit www.ramblers.org.uk/wales or follow their social media accounts for more news and information from Ramblers Cymru, as well as details of walking groups and routes in your area.
If you are feeling low or struggling, contact the CALL Helpline for confidential listening and emotional support. Lines are open 24/7 on 0800 132 737 or text ‘help’ to 81066.
Please use the hashtags #HelpuNiHelpuChi and #HelpUsHelpYou to support the Help Us, Help You campaign.
FIVE WALKS YOU COULD TRY IN POWYS.
We are spoilt for choice for walks with great views in Powys. Here are our top eight:
Pen y Fan
It might be Powys’ crowning glory. Visit Wales highlight four routes named Gentle, Epic, Quiet and Tough. Choose a hike to suit you: Four ways to walk up Pen y Fan | Visit Wales
Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail
An 800-year-old trail that consists of a great earth bank that runs approximately 176 miles along the border of England and Wales. Don’t worry, you don’t have to take on the full challenge. Walk it in stages or just hop on and enjoy one of the many circular and linear routes on offer. Offa's Dyke Path - Circular and Linear Walks - National Trails
Whether you just fancy a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, Elan has something for everyone. The Elan Valley Trail is a particular favourite with its surfaced paths which makes it suitable for walkers, horse riders and cyclists and is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
Beautiful views of rolling hills abound if you take the stretch from Builth Wells to Newbridge on Wye.
A number of trails from fairly leisurely one-mile circular walks to forest tracks with fairly strenuous climbs. Stunning views of the lake.
Glyndwr’s Way National Trail
Celebrate Welsh cultural and natural history in the footsteps of Owain Glyndwr on this peaceful trail. The trail starts at the Town Clock in Knighton and ends at the canal in Welshpool so choose a stretch to suit you.
Head to the Star Inn near Machynlleth for stunning waterfalls and gorge walks.
If you're looking for a walking trail well away from the crowds, head to Epynt Way. It crosses sections of high moorland and deep river valleys.
NOTES: Ramblers Cymru works to promote walking for pleasure, health, leisure, and transport to everyone, of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, in towns and cities as well as in the countryside.
They offer practical support to get people walking, and to sustain and increase the amount they do, in a variety of ways from led walks through a network of volunteer areas and groups to short urban strolls and highland hikes.