For older people who are receiving support, particularly those with dementia, a walking reminiscence session can be a great way to remember the place that walking has had in their lives, and to help them to become enthused about walking again.
We have used reminiscence and other “talking about walking” activities to lead into short local walks, looking at how to improve local streets, and a series of local history walks led by older people.
History and reminiscence walks
You can also use history and reminiscence as the focus for a walk. For people who have lived in an area for a long time, talking about how places have changed and sharing their memories of an area can be valuable both for them and to share with others who are newly arrived, or younger generations.
"A group that walks"
If you’re a member of a group that meets regularly, could you build short walks into the group’s activities? It doesn’t have to take over the normal activities of the group but is a good way for people to start to walk a bit more with people they already know and in a familiar context.
Yoker Super Seniors group decided to have a series of short walks, every other time they met. Members of the group who wished would start the meeting with a half-hour walk, returning to join the rest of the group for tea, biscuits and the scheduled group activity. Members discovered new places, chatted together about their memories of the area, and saw a seal in the Clyde!
If you regularly meet in a particular building, you might be able to use it as a centre to walk from, encourage people to walk to different activities, or share information about local walks with people who use the space.
Giving people simple information about how long it would take to walk to key local places, or an indication of what is within “walking range” of your location can give people the confidence to try walking a journey for the first time. If maps include information about benches, toilets and so on, that can be extra helpful.
Openroute Service has an option for creating a map showing what is within 5 minutes or half an hour’s walk of any location (this is known as an “isochrone map”).
If you or other people who use your venue know about a pleasant walk that leaves from your venue, using a "walk record” form can help to spread the word.
These could be circular walks that groups which use the venue could take together, or routes that people might want to use to walk from their homes to the venue.
Having detailed information about a walking route is particularly helpful for older people with mobility difficulties or who might need to know the location of public toilets.