With the focus now on Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham being in local lockdown meaning residents need to stay in their own area until further notice we decided it was a perfect time to look at more local activities. This Saturday is World Mental Health Day and at this time it is more important than ever to look after our mental health. It has been recognised for some time now now regular walking and fresh air is good for our mental health and with this in mind we interviewed Paul Hughes who is born and bred in Denbighshire and has been leading weekly walks for the mental health charity MIND for the last 9 years.
When did you start the walks Paul, how long have they being going on?
Nearly 9 years ago. As part of the Walking Group Leaders Course I was required to lead some walks, the only walk available in Corwen at the time was run by Becky Roberts from the Exercise referral team and she allowed me to tag along, she became too busy so I carried it on, shortly after I was very lucky to get the opportunity for volunteering with the Vale of Clwyd MIND which I did for about 6 years and now I get paid to do it!
What is a typical week like and how do you plan the routes?
I currently do 4 walks a week, Tuesdays it’s Corwen in the morning and Ruthin in the afternoon. Wednesdays it’s Corwen and Fridays am in Llangollen! We are looking to add on 4 more walks a week, 3 with the exercise referral team and a walk in Denbigh.
The routes have all been walked and risk assessed before going, and I decide on the day where we go by who turns up and the weather!
What kind of feedback have you had from the attendees?
The feedback is always positive, all the walkers are fantastic lovely people. They all realise the positive affect that walking has for you, not only physically but mentally and spiritually. Walking for me is the best form of exercise you can do.
What could we all learn about walking and mental health?
There is a growing body of scientific evidence on the benefits of walking and the link with positive mental health. For me when I’m having a rough day, I go out and Mother Nature distracts me from all the negative thoughts, I see flowers, birds, clouds, beautiful scenery and you hear the sounds of nature and before you know it all the negative thoughts have gone and they have been replaced by positive ones.
If people want to get involved how do they get in contact?
Phone – 07770 124874
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind office – 01745 812461
Paul admiring the view.
Can you bring well behaved dogs?
Yes of course!
One last question, who came up with ‘todays post’ pictures?
It was a friend from Shrewsbury who put a picture of a fence post up on Facebook and called it post of the day! I thought it was really funny so went along with it and it seems to have taken off, we have had posts from around the world as lots of the walkers are well travelled and send me pictures of posts from wherever they are on their travels.
At the end of the interview Paul shines with passion for the area and walking, he concluded “We truly live in what can best be described as a “walkers paradise”, within an hour you can be climbing mountains in Snowdonia, walking on the fantastic moors and hills of the Berwyn’s, Aran’s, Arenig’s and Clwydian hills, the Fantastic Wales Coastal Path and Offas Dyke path, the trails of the Dee Valley Way, Tegid Way, Clwydian Way, Hiraethog Trail and the stunning North Berwyn Way! You can also be strolling through wonderful Woodlands, as in Coed Y Brenin, Llandegla Forest and Coed Pen Y Pigyn! Also magnificent lakes, Brenig, Alwen, Tegid and Vyrnwy to name just a few, and also riverside walks along the Dee, Alwen, Clywedog and Clwyd! It is an amazing and beautiful place that we are so lucky to live in.”
Paul is also a Denbighshire Tourism Ambassador and features in some of our films, if you are passionate about Denbighshire or indeed just curious to learn a little bit more about this beautiful county and would be interested in becoming an ambassador please click here.
We can still walk within our local lockdown county, so make the most of those local walking areas or get in touch with Paul if you prefer a guided walk, there are plenty to choose from.