Case Studies

Get outside, get into nature and make your own discoveries

Balloch views

As part of this year's Self Management Week, we organised a walk on the “bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond”

…to highlight the importance of being active. Physical activity in the form of walking has been shown to improve our quality of life (this link will take you away from our website). There is also growing evidence that connecting with the natural environment can provide many health benefits. There are some great examples in the ALLIANCE document The maximisation of health benefits from making use of green, blue and wild spaces.

With is in mind we agreed to have the walk in the picturesque landscape of Balloch Castle Country Park(this link will take you away from our website). I had never been to the park so I contacted Fran Crumley the Lomond Coordinator for the Walk in the Park project (this link will take you away from our website) and agreed to go along to one of their walking groups to do a recce of the area. After the walking group Fran helped me to map out two possible routes. You can find them here; castle route (this link will take you away from our website) and a less hilly route (this link will take you away from our website). For anyone with limited mobility the scooter station in Balloch offers a range of scooters and wheelchairs and a map of suitable routes (this link will take you away from our website)

As part of the National Links Worker Programme we work in some of the most socioeconomically deprived neighbourhoods. Some of us have established walking groups so we were well placed to recruit potential walkers.

The date was set and it turned out to be a beautiful autumn October day. The sun was shining which accentuated the outstanding scenery. We started off at the Balloch tourist centre and made our way into the park. There were different conversations going on throughout the group. Someone mentioned, “I haven’t been here in over 20 years, I’m so glad I came along ”. Someone else said, “I’ve never been out of Glasgow”. I asked a few people how joining walking groups helps them to self manage, one walker said “I had a serious illness and the group helped me to get my confidence back”. Another walker stated “it gets me out the house, I get to exercise and socialise”. One of the walkers is a volunteer walk leader and said, “the groups help people cope with managing long term conditions and it can help better prepare people for other challenges in their lives”.

We reached the Boat House (this link will take you away from our website) and had some refreshments before the group split and went on one of the two routes. The walkers on the castle route got the chance to take in the breathtaking views after the steep incline up to the castle. The other group on the less hilly route had the luxury to spend additional time in the magnificent Walled Garden (this link will take you away from our website). One of the walkers stated “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world”.  We joined as one group again in the Walled Garden and made our way for the main gates. We passed by part of the Fairy Trail (this link will take you away from our website) created by Patrick Muir an artistic tree surgeon. He has carved magical detailed fairy houses and other works of art from diseased tree stumps. I have since been back to the park with my family and found more of them. It’s a great way to get the kids active and into nature.

Outdoor exercise can make a big difference to our quality of life but it can be challenging to know where to start. If you are looking for a health walk near you check out Paths for All  (this link will take you away from our website). If you would like to get more activity in your life try the free online course Sit Less, Get Active (this link will take you away from our website) from The University of Edinburgh.

As one of my favorite science communicators and author of How to Raise a Wild Child (this link will take you away from our website) Dr Scott Sampson says “get outside, get into nature and make your own discoveries” (this link will take you away from our website).