Over the past couple of years many of us have turned to exploring the outdoors as a way for us to keep active as well as support our overall wellbeing. This was especially important during the 2020/2021 lockdowns, as it was one of the only forms of activity we could do.
Walking is an accessible and simple form of activity that can be done in groups, with a walking buddy, alone, with a dog, with a pram, fast or slow, by the young or by the elderly.
There are many organised walking groups across Cornwall that cater for people at different stages of their life: new families, elderly, beginners, experienced explorers, hikers, adventurers plus apps for solo walkers.
Walking is suitable for everyone.
Visit the Family Hub for details of your nearest walking group suitable for the whole family.
Any shoes or trainers that are comfortable, provide adequate support and don’t cause blisters will do. Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely. Choose thin layers, which you can add or remove depending on conditions.
If you’re walking to work, you could wear your usual work clothes with a comfy pair of shoes and change shoes when you get into work. For long walks, you may want to take some water, healthy snacks, a spare top, sunscreen and a sunhat in a small backpack.
If you start going for regular, longer walks, you may want to invest in a waterproof jacket and some specialist walking shoes for more challenging routes.
Start slowly and try to build your walking regime gradually. If, to begin with, you can only walk for a couple of minutes, that’s fine. Don’t overdo it on your first day. You can break up your activity into 10-minute chunks, as long as you’re doing your activity.
Begin every walk slowly and gradually increase your pace. After a few minutes, if you’re ready, try walking a little faster. Towards the end of your walk, gradually slow down your pace to cool down. Finish off with a few gentle stretches, which will improve your flexibility.
From walking to the shops or part of your journey to work, to walking the dog and organised group walks, try to make every step count. The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit. Think of ways to include walking into your daily routine. Examples include:
- walking part of your journey to work
- walking to the shops
- using the stairs instead of the lift
- leaving the car behind for short journeys
- walking the kids to school
- doing a regular walk with a friend
- Going for a stroll with family or friends after dinner
Start where you are at
Your first step to being more active is the most important one. If you’re not used to walking regularly, start slowly and at a level that suits you. There are lots of ways you can start to make walking part of your daily routine. Why not start by
- getting off the bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of your journey
- walking up the stairs instead of getting the lift
- sitting down less – take regular breaks from sitting in front of a computer or TV by getting up and moving around.
Then try to
- plan a time each day for you to walk – use a diary or calendar if it helps
- build walking into your daily commute
- walk to the shops instead of driving or getting the bus
- make walking part of your social life
- involve the whole family so you can support each other
- walk your children to school.
Once you start being more active, you’ll have more energy and you’ll feel more relaxed.
Build on it
Once you’ve got used to walking more regularly, you should build up the speed and distance that you walk. Brisk walking is a great way of being active at a moderate intensity. It will make you feel warmer, breathe harder and make your heart beat faster than usual, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.
Why not start walking quickly for a few minutes – on top of what you already do – a couple of days a week?
Once you feel comfortable with that, gradually lengthen your walk by adding a few more minutes each time. Or maybe you could walk a few more days each week.
You should aim to build up to a total of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week.
A public right of way is a route over land which the public has a legal right to use at any time. Rights of way can be found in towns, villages and the countryside. Some paths may be surfaced although most are tracks across countryside owned by landowners. Cornwall Council has a responsibility to maintain and protect 2,765 miles (4,450 km) of public right of way across Cornwall.
Find all Public Rights of Way on the Cornwall Council Website.
Cornwall boasts over a 300 mile section of the South West Coast Path and its sheer variety means that there are plenty of gentle stretches as well as dramatic headlands, steep coastal valleys, sheltered estuaries, busy harbours, intimate coves, moorlands and sandy beaches. It offers something for everyone, not only does it give access to some of Cornwall’s most spectacular scenery, it opens up opportunities to experience and learn about wildlife, history, geology, culture and industry as well as offering a continuous coastal challenge for those seeking adventure and a perfect backdrop for walkers.
For further information please visit the South West Coast Path National Trail Website.
Code of Conduct
As well as following the Countryside Code when you are walking the South West Coast Path or accessing beaches and coastal beauty spots please remember:
Staying safe is your own responsibility, please look after yourself and other members of your group
- Let someone know where you are going and what time you are likely to be back, mobile phone reception is patchy on the coast
- Take something to eat and drink
- Protect yourself from the sun – sea breezes can hide its strength
- Informal paths leading to beaches can be dangerous
- If you are crossing a beach make sure you know the tide times so you won’t be cut off
Keep to the Coast Path and stay away from cliff edges, for your safety please follow advisory signs and waymarks
- Keep back from cliff edges – a slip or trip could be fatal
- Remember that some cliffs overhang or are unstable
Take special care of children and dogs, please look after them at all times
- Keep your dog under close control
- Children and dogs may not see potential dangers, such as cliff edges, especially if they are excited
- Do not disturb farm animals or wildlife, walk around cattle not between them, especially if they have calves
- Cattle may react aggressively to dogs, if this happens, let your dog off the lead
Dress sensibly for the terrain and weather, wear suitable clothing and footwear and be ready for possible changes in the weather
- Check the weather forecast before you set out
- On the coast. mist, fog and high winds are more likely and can be especially dangerous
- Wear appropriate footwear such as boots or shoes for walking on the coast path (not flip-flops)
- Take waterproofs and extra clothing, especially in cold weather
Stay within your fitness level, some sections of the Coast Path can be strenuous and/or remote
- Plan a walk that suits your fitness level
- Find out about the section you plan to walk
- Turn back if the walk is too strenuous for anyone in your group
- Be aware that the surface of the Coast Path varies and will generally be more natural and uneven away from car parks, towns and villages
- Remember that in remote areas or at quiet times you may not see another person for some time if you are in difficulties
In an emergency either dial 999 or 112 for the coastguard.
iWalk Cornwall is a GPS-guided walks app built in Cornwall with a choice of over 290 circular walks. The app takes the stress out of following a route so you can concentrate on enjoying the walk. It:
- bleeps to tell you when there is a direction to follow
- shows where you are on a map, and which way you are facing
- warns you if you wander off the route
- estimates the time remaining based on your own pace and keeps an eye on your phone battery and remaining daylight
- includes lots of information about the heritage and natural history all along the route which automatically adapts for the time of year
Once a walk is downloaded, no internet access or phone signal is needed to do the walk. Search the App Store or Google Play for “iWalk Cornwall” to download it or for more information see www.iwalkcornwall.co.uk.
The Active 10 app developed by the NHS records every minute of walking you do (anonymously). Just pop your phone in your pocket and away you go!
- tracks your steps
- helps you set goals
- shows you your achievements
- gives you tips to boost your activity
Did you know walking briskly, even for 1 minute, counts as exercise? What are you waiting for – take your first steps today!
Below you will find links to a variety of local and national initiatives and organisations, all offering useful advice and resources.
The Ramblers’ Get Walking, Stay Walking campaign
Apply for a free Get Walking pack.
Part of the Change4Life movement, Walk4Life is all about helping people move – and walking is a great way to start!
The interactive website is full of walking routes to try out and also gives you the option to track your progress by recording what you do. plus, if there’s a walk you love, you can upload it to share!
Join the Ramblers
Join a programme of led walks in your local area.
National Trust’s Walk Finder
Find a walk at Britain’s many beautiful National Trust sites
Walking for Health’s Walk Finder
Find a free organised Health Walk to join in your area.
Walk to School Week
Annual initiative to make you think about how your family gets to school!
Schools on the Move
A school-based pedometer promotion for 9-13 year olds, designed to encourage pupils to become more active.
Use poles to make your walking harder and more beneficial.
Wild Food Walks
Re-learn the skills and innate wisdom that is in all of us: to forage, feel alive & healthy, sense, communicate and live more harmoniously.
Walk to Work Week
Take part in this annual green and healthy commute!
Join the Long Distance Walking Association
Join the LDWA to meet other long distance walkers and gain access to information on walking events and long distance walking routes.
Walk England has been established as a social enterprise to work in partnerships across the country to create local opportunities for people to choose to walk, to walk more often, to walk to more places, and to feel safe while doing so. It promotes walking as a way to be healthy, travel and relax – by bringing together and inspiring people who want to walk more, with those health, transport and environmental professionals responsible for supporting their choice.
Walk Jog Run
The Walk Jog Run website is a free and easy way to create a running route or find one from their member running routes. You also have the opportunity to: Calculate Distance; Calculate Pace; Track Calories Burned Walking or Running; and Explore new Running Routes.
Living Streets is the national charity that stands up for pedestrians. With their supporters they work to create safe, attractive and enjoyable streets, where people want to walk. They work with professionals and politicians to make sure every community can enjoy vibrant streets and public spaces.
Walking is the most common form of physical activity during pregnancy and after childbirth. This is not surprising as it is accessible for most people and can realistically be incorporated into daily living.
If you’d like to join other parets and carers on walks in your local area, why not join a Homestart Kernow or NCT Walk and Talk group. These are volunteer-led, informal and friendly groups that meet regularly in a nearby park, beach, field or estate for a walk and a chat. Most, if not all, are suitable for pregnant people, as well as buggies and toddlers. Join as often as you like. Details are usually found on their websites or local Facebook groups.
Not a Walk and Talk in your area? Why not start one up? NCT can support you every step of the way and you can run it as long as it is convenient for you. Find out more by visiting the NCT website.