Get Active: Amble opportunities to get active en route with Newham walking groups

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 March 2015

Reporter Rebecca Cushway with the walking group in Custom House

Reporter Rebecca Cushway with the walking group in Custom House


I'm a committed couch potato; I only run when I'm about to miss a train and as for my "trainers" - they are a pair of battered old Converse.

So when I was asked to join a free walking group in Canning Town, I was relieved that I could ease myself gently into getting active.

Last Friday I joined Chris Crook, who leads the session, and his group of seven avid regulars for their weekly walk.

We set off from Ascension Church, in Baxter Road, and made our way to Newham City Farm.

Kathy Swinney, 75, told me that the group always visit in spring because they like to see the piglets – although sadly none were to be seen that day.

Kathy and her husband Pete, 76, have been regulars since 2006 after Pete suffered a heart attack and stroke.

Kathy said: “The doctors told us about these walks and suggested they would be beneficial for Pete’s heath. They get us out of the house and are good for us.”

It was touching to how much everyone cares about Pete. That day, the walk was shortened as he wasn’t feeling too well and lots of stops were given.

Dan Towner, 40, along with parents Barry and Marilyn, joined the group to support Pete and Kathy.

Dan said: “Dad and Pete have known each other for more than 50 years. Before, we would go to their house for a cup of tea. Now we do this.”

It’s soon evident that walking is good for your social life as well as your health. There was non-stop chatter throughout and the walk is always rounded off with a group lunch.

After we left the farm, we walked through Beckton District Park.

The group go on a different route every week and it has allowed them to see places they “never knew existed.” They also venture outside of Newham and have visited Greenwich and the South Bank.

Chris, 62, a volunteer, has led the walks since 2001 and runs four a week for activeNewham.

He said: “Walking is great. It keeps people healthy and allows people to get out of the house and meet people. It’s not just about getting active yourself but encouraging others to get active too.”

By the end of the two hour walk, I felt initiated into the group and as I said goodbye, it was even cheekily suggested that I ask my boss for Fridays off so I can join them on their adventures.

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