Step into a healthy new year

The growth of a council health walks programme is giving extra options to residents resolving to get active in the new year.

Published: Thursday, 21st December 2017

The programme, run by Cherwell District and South Northamptonshire Councils, offers a free way for people to enjoy the districts’ stunning scenery and make new friends. From January, Hook Norton will host a special mother and baby walk, while the new Whitelands Farm Sports Ground will be the starting point for another health walk in Bicester.

With increasing acknowledgement of the health risks posed by inactivity, national partnership Walking For Health says that staying active can cut the risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes by between 20 and 50 per cent.

Cllr George Reynolds, Cherwell’s deputy leader, said: “Throughout 2017 we’ve had a wonderful response to the health walks and lots of people have commented that it’s made a big difference to their sense of wellbeing.

 “Whether in the early days of motherhood, or indeed later in life, it can be hard to meet new people, so I commend the health walks to anyone who feels isolated as a way of connecting with the wider community and staying healthy and active.

“The programme depends on volunteer leaders, whom the council trains, and the fact that more people are coming forward as leaders is a testament to the amount of goodwill that the health walks are generating.”

The walks are run by trained volunteer leaders, who are there to offer encouragement and support to those taking their first steps on a new route.

The mother and baby walk in Hook Norton takes place on Wednesday, 10 January at 10am, starting from the village surgery. It is also supported by NHS Oxford Health and Bloxham and Hook Norton surgeries. The health walk in Whitelands Farm takes place on Thursday, 25 January at 10am. Both walks will be followed by refreshments (charges apply).

Across the two districts, the different routes come with a range of different lengths and durations to accommodate a range of abilities. The mother and baby walk will last 30 minutes and the Whitelands Farm walk will last 30 to 60 minutes.

Health Walks are offered at a number of locations throughout Cherwell district, including Banbury, Bicester, Kidlington and numerous villages.

People who are keen to train as a Health Walk leader should contact Colin Hull, the scheme co-ordinator, on 01327 322337 or