Over the past two years, we have seen an increased focus on the importance of our physical health and mental wellbeing, which is why we are proud to announce that Beaulieu is sponsoring Heart & Sole Wellbeing Walks - a self-funded scheme that provides 18 different wellbeing walks across Chelmsford. To mark National Walking Month, we caught up with Alan Headworth, Chair of Chelmsford’s Heart & Sole Wellbeing Walks, to find out more about the organisation and the role it plays in the local community.
How long have you lived in Chelmsford?
I have lived here for 35 years – I live in Springfield which is about five minutes from Beaulieu.
How did you first get involved with Heart & Sole?
I’ve now been involved with the organisation for four years. Initially I was looking to do some volunteer work as I had just finished a role at the local primary school. I saw the council had advertised a volunteering role at Heart & Sole Wellbeing Walks and thought I’d look into it further. I initially trained to be a walk leader, and after finding out they were looking for a Chair, I volunteered and here I am.
What do you enjoy about walking?
For me, I love meeting the different people who join our walks. Walking is a very sociable activity and I really enjoy the range of conversations that we have. Because the walks are all about wellbeing, it’s great to see so many different people from our community brought together through a love for walking.
What role does Heart & Sole play in the local community?
We are a very welcoming group and we see around 150 to 160 walkers attend our walks each week across Chelmsford. We often have members who join on their own, and I think it gives them confidence and creates a sense of belonging when they are part of a group like ours. For example, we have one gentleman whose daughter suggested he tried our walks after his wife sadly passed away. He was so quiet when we first met him and now he comes every week and is a very active conversationalist!
What made you decide to include a walk around Beaulieu?
Beaulieu is very close to where I live and the location works really well for us. It offers everything we need – from the good bus routes and great facilities on-site, to the real community feel of the development. Beaulieu is our biggest walk of the week. It takes place on a Friday morning and, on a good day, we will have 40 to 50 people joining us. Some come in via the bus from outside the area and some are residents. It’s perfect because after the walk, walkers can have a coffee at Coffee Squared before heading home.
Why do you think the Beaulieu walk is so popular?
There’s a lot of history around Beaulieu and we incorporate that into our walks. We teach our walkers about the deer park, the kiln, the history behind New Hall School as well as the site’s ties with Henry VIII. It makes the walks more educational and interesting.
What do you like about the Beaulieu walk in particular?
I’ve been walking around Beaulieu for years and I still walk there twice a day with the dogs. I walked there when the site was just arable fields, but it’s much better now because it’s all routed out and it’s a very inviting place to walk.
What would you say to anyone considering joining the walking group?
Come along and give one of our routes a go! Most of our walkers all return, and we are open to all age groups. We have a range of walks which are graded 1-3, so walkers can select an appropriate walk to suit their level. It’s a great way to meet new people whilst also improving your fitness and mental wellbeing!