Ramblers Cymru and NHS join forces to promote the outdoors for mental health

“EVERYONE has their own Everest to climb.”

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 Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTMUHB) Help Us Help You Campaign, the organisation urges residents of Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, and surrounding areas to explore the picturesque paths, forests, coastal routes, and valleys that connect the region.

Ramblers Cymru Engagement and Communications Manager Brân Devey hopes people will join one of several local walking groups or 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.

“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, 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, to ask people how they’re 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. 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 the CTMUHB area there are so many amazing places to visit, from the Coast Path to the Brecon Beacons, and the popular Bunny Walks in Llantrisant we helped set up with the Community Council and Taff Ely Ramblers group volunteers.

“As an organisation we have seen so many benefits, with people 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 mindfulness.”

Brian Morgan, chair of Taff Ely (Llantrisant) Ramblers reinforced the message and said: “There is no downside to going out and having a good walk, except perhaps the cold weather at this time of year!

“Our group is primarily made up of people over 60 but we have a few younger members and the enthusiasm to get back together and out rambling again after lockdown was incredible, we all could not wait to do so and welcomed some new people as well.”

He added: “Walking is good for you physically and mentally, you can make new friends, see amazing parts of this region and there are endless benefits.”

Paul Mears, Chief Executive of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board echoed those words and said: “Even a short walk or physical activity outdoors can make a big difference in improving our wellbeing.

“Across this region 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 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.