It’s too late for a 2013 London Marathon entry, the sponsored swim at Purley Pool is too far distant, and the weekly 5km Park Runs in Lloyd Park, on Roundshaw Downs, at Riddlesdown or in Banstead Woods might be a little too sharp just yet.
But one way to shift some of the Christmas excess and work your heart and lungs in the sort of gentle exercise which most doctors advocate could be to join in with some of the 34 organised walks being staged nearby in the next week by various local branches of the Ramblers.
There’s a wide range of different venues and difficulty on offer over the coming weekend and into the new year, from a mere 1.5 miles in Beddington Park tomorrow morning (10am start), to a more demanding 11.-miler around Chevening in Kent on Sunday.
Whatever the weather, the Ramblers will be out, most of them in sturdy footwear and waterproof gear, taking in some of the most beautiful countryside in the world, some much needed fresh air and usually some decent company. And there’s often a chance for a decent lunch in a country pub afterwards.
The Ramblers’ website is promoting its Festival of Winter Walks, with a fully searchable set of listings and meeting places; click on the link above to see a sample of what’s available. You do not have to be a member of the Ramblers for your first walk (or three), though they do ask that you sign up if you find yourself tagging along more regularly.
Inside Croydon has an archive of recommended local routes, lovingly devised, noted and compiled by our non-resident rambler Walker Dunelm, and several versions of these routes crop up on the various Ramblers groups’ schedules.
Croydon Ramblers describe themselves as “a large group offering five to six walks a week from three to 12 miles and more”. Making judicious use of Croydon’s excellent local railway links, the group’s walks are not confined just within Croydon, but take in parts of Surrey, Sussex and further afield.
The walks are promoted apart of the Change4Life project, aimed at encouraging healthy eating, regular, moderate exercise, and an all-round better and longer lifestyle.
The Ramblers do carry the following caveat to anyone considering joining their first group walk: “Please make sure that you are fit enough to undertake the walk you intend to join. If you’re unsure of your fitness level, try a short and easy walk first: it’s much better to find a walk a little too slow and easy than to make yourself miserable and exhausted.”
They also advise that their walks are usually off-road in rural areas. “Please have suitable footwear and clothing for the walk you intend to join, and bring some food and drink, even if the walk includes a pub or café break. Leaders may refuse to accept participants who in their opinion are inadequately equipped or unfit. When in doubt, contact the organisers or the walk leader in advance.”
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- Why winter is the time for a ramble in the countryside (guardian.co.uk)