Winchester Health Walks celebrates a successful first year

The Winchester Health Walks programme is celebrating a successful first year.

Starting off a year ago as a weekly walk through the city centre, Winchester Health Walks has continued to expand, with more-and-more local residents from across the district taking part and new walking routes and groups being established all the time.

Winchester Health Walks was set up by Lydia Lockhart, Winchester City Council’s Active Lifestyles Officer, to encourage the residents of Winchester to become more active - particularly those who do little or no exercise. The programme started off as a short Monday morning walk from the Tourist Information Centre with a small group of people.

Now, over 25 walkers gather each week for a one hour walk covering up to three miles. The route varies each week and each month the group does a ‘bus walk’ where, instead of walking from the Guildhall, the group gets a bus to the outskirts of Winchester such as Abbots Barton or Magdalen Hill and then walks back into the city centre.

Lydia Lockhart, who organises Winchester Health Walks, said: “The walks are getting more and more popular with new people joining us every week. The walks provide people with the opportunity to become more active. It’s also a great way to socialise, with people chatting as they walk and finishing off with a cup of tea in the Courtyard Café afterwards.”

Paula Millar, a regular walker with the group, added: “I find it a friendly group to walk with. I really enjoy coming; it’s a great way to start the week. It’s also a very sociable walk.”

Some of the walkers who have been with the group for a while have said they are experiencing health benefits such as ‘improved fitness’, ‘improved mobility’ and ‘more energy’.

Due to the success of the Monday morning Health Walk and another Health Walk from the Friarsgate Surgery with local GP Dr Niki Wright, Lydia has developed a third walk in the south of the district that goes from Bishops Waltham. The walk started in late October, and regularly sees up to twenty walkers come along to enjoy and explore many of the beautiful scenic routes in the area.  A fourth walk based in Weeke is planned for next year as the programme continues to expand.

Dr Wright, who is involved with the Health Walks from Friarsgate, states: “Walking is the nearest thing there is to a perfect form of exercise and it’s free! You can also walk and talk so it is great for mental as well as physical wellbeing. Winchester is a beautiful city to explore by foot too - we have all found hidden corners we didn’t know were there.”

Critical to the success of the programme is Lydia’s growing team of volunteer walk leaders who help out with leading and ‘back marking’.  Lydia is always keen to hear from people who would like to join this team of people who are doing something to help their fellow residents.

Winchester Health Walks offers a warm welcome to new people of all ages. If you would like more information on any of the above FREE walks or if you are interested in becoming a walk leader, please contact Lydia on 01962 848 725 or email