How a simple step can boost mental well-being

Kate, Active Travel Social Prescribing (ATSP) Community Development Coordinator at Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service (NCVS) shares her experience of walking, and the unexpected benefits she has found by taking a more adventurous route in life. 

Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May was Mental Health Awareness Week, which happened to fall inside National Walking Month. The theme for this year is Movement: Moving for our mental health. Regular physical activity has a proven positive effect on people’s well-being, with benefits including stress reduction, improved mood, enhanced cognitive function, reduced risk of mental health disorders, better sleep quality, and increased self-esteem. There's no time like the present to take that first step, get yourself moving, and follow the path towards a better quality of life!


Kate's lifelong love for walking

Walking has always been something I've loved. I spent my childhood family holidays camping in the Lake District, where we'd always have an adventure climbing a mountain or walking around along the lake shores—it was just something we did and something I loved.

Finding Solace in walking

At the start of 2020, walking became an absolute lifeline for me. I was going through a really difficult period in my life (little did I know how much more difficult 2020 was going to get!). One day, I heard Brian Blessed appearing on The Infinite Monkey Cage and he said, 'The greatest danger in life is not taking the adventure'. I made the decision then and there that I was going to 'be more Brian', and I was always going to take the adventure.

My first solo walk was an absolute disaster. I drove to Cromford with a printout of a route I'd found on the internet, managed to get myself totally lost going round in circles on Cromford Moor, and had to resort to Google Maps to navigate my way back to civilisation. I vowed it wouldn't happen again. It did. Only this time, I met a lovely group of people who invited me to join them. I found I really enjoyed walking with the group I had stumbled upon, as it took away the worry of getting lost by myself, and I found it really nice to meet new people. Then COVID-19 hit, and that was the end of my escapes.

Discovering Local Paths During Lockdown

While it was frustrating to be limited to local walks, the restrictions gave me the opportunity to explore paths and places on my doorstep that I never even knew existed. It was really lovely to get to know my area better, and like many other people, I found that the opportunity to connect with nature was a huge support for my emotional and mental wellbeing during the lockdown period. I also used the time to get to know how to use some of the navigation apps available, which was a huge help! It's a shame we didn't have the Travel Well Nottingham routes on Go Jauntly at the time; they would have been useful!

Snowy scenery on a walk Kate took during Lockdown

January 2021 - Lockdown walk along the Nutbrook Trail

Joining a walking group

When lockdown ended, I joined a Peak District-based walking group and started walking with them regularly. As I became more confident, I began to take on more responsibility by acting in a supporting role on walks, progressing to leading walks myself. It's lovely to be able to share some of my favourite routes with others. I love meeting new people, and I've made some great friends over the past four years walking with the group. I've earned the nickname 'Kinder Kate' for my love of dragging people through the bogs and over the rocks on the Kinder Plateau!

Kate standing on Kinder Plateau

Kate heading up to the Kinder Plateau

Adventures in Wales

Walking has enabled me to have some amazing adventures. Last year, Laura (my ex-GreenSpace/Travel Well partner in crime) and I had a trip to Wales where we tackled the epic Crib Goch and Snowdon during one day and the north face of Tryfan the next, even managing to squeeze in a swim in the tarn on our descent, which was a real treat! 

Kate and Laura standing on Crib gouch

Kate and Laura with Crib Goch in the background

Tackling the Wainwrights and climbing

In summer 2020, I started walking the 'Wainwrights' in the Lake District and have ticked off 85 so far. Some members of the walking group introduced me to climbing, which has become a big part of my life, helping to develop my confidence and strength—both mental and physical!

Kate playing on the boulders on Grey Knotts

Kate playing on the boulders on Grey Knotts

Taking on walking challenges

 In February 2021, I took on my first walking challenge, aiming to walk 100 miles in the month. I managed 203 miles (an average of 7.25 miles a day) and raised £306 for charity. Since then, I have completed three more challenges, raising over £800 in total. My latest challenge was by far my toughest: 10,000+ steps every day for a year (made even more challenging by the fact I picked a leap year!) 

I completed the year on Wednesday 24 April 2022, having walked a total of 5,962,035 steps over 366 days.

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The benefits of walking

Walking is something that takes you places, not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Your feet are the vehicle that can get you into places that no car has ever driven through, allowing you to see awe-inspiring views and experience the wonders of the natural world around you. You don't have to go far; the views over Nottingham from St Ann's allotments are a sight to behold. You can soak up the history on a walk around Wollaton Park or Newstead Abbey or find joy in seeing simple things as you walk, like the tiny flowers you find creeping up between the cracks in the pavement. Physically, the act of walking and moving through exercise helps to create endorphins, the 'feelgood' hormones, which can help boost your mood. Combine that with the proven benefits of the outdoors for mental health, and you have a winning combination.

So, get your shoes on and head out for a walk. Oh, and always take the adventure. 

Oak tree at Wollaton Park

The amazing oak tree I never knew about until I had walked every inch of Wollaton Park.

Kate bog hopping width=

There’s nothing better than a bog-hop! (As long as you don’t end up getting stuck in the mud!)


You can view more of Kate's beautiful pictures here.


Start your new adventure

  • Download the Go Jauntly app on Google Play or the Apple App Store - Designed to help people wander outside of their normal surroundings and reconnect with nature. The app includes tips on nearby points of interest, places to eat and public toilets. Kate and Laura (Laura is now expanding walking infrastructure and culture change across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire with Active Partners Trust) helped develop the Travel Well collection of walks that you will find if you search for walks in Nottingham.
  • Download the GreenSpace NG app on Google Play or the Apple App Store - Find out more about local locations with interesting facts and photos, record your favourites and mark where you have been on the in-built map and checklist, then watch your Green Gauge climb!
  • Sign up to receive the GreenSpace monthly newsletter by emailing - Get up-to-date information on what is happening in your area.
  • Browsing The Big Green Book and its Travel Well special editions - Find fun activities delivered by our trusted partners.

Don’t forget to have a seat, have an ice cream, and have a breather. Take a look at this handy map and find out where your nearest bench is.

We would love to hear your walking stories. Do you have a favourite route that always lifts your spirits? Perhaps you're currently working towards a walking goal. Share your stories and photos on social media, and don’t forget to tag @GreenSpaceNotts and @NottinghamCVS. Keep an eye out for our mentions – we may feature your stories in future articles to promote green activities. Let's #GetYourWalkOn and #BeMoreBrian!



Date Posted
Kate walking in the Alexandrina Plantation Nature Reserve (which can be found in the GreenSpace NG app)