Westbank Community Health and Care has clocked up an impressive 20 years since it began its programme of organised, daytime health walks for people of all ages and varying abilities. 

Throughout May - National Walking Month - Westbank is celebrating the milestone anniversary of this successful programme of Health Walks that keeps people on the move across our beautiful county.  

Claire Ridge, Westbank’s Health Walks Coordinator says, “Westbank began offering organised walks two decades ago, initially around Exminster, on the southern edge of Exeter. The idea was to offer an alternative to established walking groups where the expectation is that people undertake a fairly strenuous walk for several hours. 

“We all know that walking is good for both our mental and physical health. We wanted to support people by providing sociable group walks suited to their individual fitness and stamina levels, across locations that are easy to reach by public transport. The programme has expanded over the years and we now offer several hundred places each week - and the numbers are growing. Our daytime walks take place across the county.”  

Our walking groups are tailored to suit a variety of people from a gentle 30-minutes to a longer walk at a slightly faster pace. 

The walks are largely led by volunteers and Westbank has around eighty volunteer leaders who range in age, including Dorothy, who is in her nineties and leads the weekly walks around Exeter Quay. Many of our walk leaders are people who have benefitted from the programme themselves and would like to help others to do the same. 

Walkers say that one of the biggest benefits of regularly participating is that  Westbank’s Health Walks not only help with their fitness and state of mind but also their social life, as each walk ends with refreshments and an opportunity to socialise. 

Claire adds, “We have many positive stories about how our Health Walks continue to support local people and we hope the programme will continue for decades to come. We have exciting plans ahead including the introduction of peer-led groups, opening up our walks to people with varying disabilities and expanding our geographical reach to other parts of the county.”

As a charity, Westbank welcomes donations towards the cost of running this programme if people feel they’re able to contribute.