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Walking for Health handed to The Ramblers

Posted 25 May 2012
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Walking for Health handed to The Ramblers
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Natural England's Walking for Health project has been handed over to the Ramblers, which will vie to get more people to go walking as a means of boosting their wellbeing.

The organisation will work alongside Macmillan Cancer Support in a new Responsibility Deal that will involve creating a national centre to administer the scheme.

Both organisations will make in-roads into the local community, working with representatives from the NHS and councillors, and use these connections to push outdoor pursuits up UK holidaymakers' agendas.

The health benefits of donning a pair of walking boots and exploring the great outdoors have long been known. Not only does regular walking boost cardiovascular health, it has mental benefits too. There is nothing more relaxing than a summer day in the countryside after all.

Walking for Health was first put forward in 1996 by Reading GP Dr William Bird, who began leading regular walks from his surgery. So popular were his forays into the surrounding countryside that the programme was deployed nationally in 2000.

Natural England, the BIG Lottery and the British Heart Foundation all promoted the scheme and by 2005 the scheme had 25,000 members. Six years later and the figure had leapt to 78,000.

Natural England chair Poul Christensen said: "The successful partnership between Natural England and the local walking groups has been at the heart of this programme and we are proud of what we have achieved together over the past 12 years.

"We know this success will continue under the new ownership of Macmillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers."

The Ramblers is also vying to create an English Coastal Path - similar to the recently-opened Welsh Coastal Path.

It is working with the British Mountaineering Council to highlight public demand for more accessible, long-distance routes across the country. The pair have created a petition that they are hoping walkers will sign and help strengthen their case.ADNFCR-2803-ID-801371780-ADNFCR