EXMINSTER’S health and wellbeing charity Westbank is celebrating 20 years of its daytime walks. 

The charity, which operates across Devon, started the programme of organised health walks for people of all ages and abilities initially around Exminster.

But the programme grew and throughout May, which is National Walking Month, it is marking the milestone of its programme which keeps people on the move. 

Claire Ridge, Westbank’s Health Walks Coordinator, explained: ‘The idea was to offer an alternative to established walking groups where the expectation is that people undertake a fairly strenuous walk for several hours.

‘We all know walking is good for both our mental and physical health. 

‘We wanted to support people by providing sociable group walks suited to their individual fitness and stamina levels, across locations that are easy to reach by public transport. 

‘The programme has expanded over the years and we now offer several hundred places each week and numbers are growing.’

The walking groups are tailored to suit a variety of people from a gentle 30-minutes to a longer walk at a slightly faster pace.

Largely led by volunteers and Westbank has around 80 volunteer leaders, many who have benefitted from the programme themselves.

Walkers say one of the biggest benefits is that Westbank’s Health Walks not only help with their fitness and state of mind but also their social life, as each walk ends with refreshments and an opportunity to socialise.

Claire added: ‘We have exciting plans ahead including the introduction of peer-led groups, opening up our walks to people with varying disabilities.’