by Heather McKay,
AVA Development Officer,
specialising in Mental Health & Wellbeing
Smiles, laughter and chatter greeted us as we joined everyone for the Grampian 50+ Network Ramblers’ Rendezvous event in July! The rain was on and off, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the nearly 200 cheery walkers who had come together for the first Network “Rendezvous” day since before the pandemic.
Grampian 50+ Network supports walking groups for people aged 50+ in Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Moray. Some walking groups have members in their 90s! The Network received funding from the Scottish Government’s Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund earlier this year, and we were delighted to attend the Rendezvous day on behalf of AVA and see for ourselves the great benefit the walking groups bring to their members.
The attendees had a range of activities to engage in, from going on various rambles to bell ringing and crystal art. We had a chance to see what they were up to and join in with the day.
The craft and music activities were a joy to see. People commented on how they felt “so calm” while they worked on their embroidery or crystal art. And the bell ringers’ rendition of “The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen” had smiles and cheers all round!
One of the walks was guided by an Aberdeenshire Council Ranger, who delighted everyone with her insights about the local birds, bats, moths and wildflowers. Chatting with the walkers, we got a real sense of how happy they were to be gathered together again at the Rendezvous. They told us about their local walking groups, and how much their regular rambles mean to them. Not only do the walks keep them active and outdoors, but the social aspect is just as important. One group is famous for starting its walks with tea and scones, and this reputation has attracted members from far beyond its local area!
If we think about what wellbeing means to us – both mentally and physically – it doesn't come down to just one thing. It’s connecting with others, being outdoors, keeping active, engaging with the present moment, giving. The walking groups who operate via the Grampian 50+ Network encompass all of those elements, and it was clear to see the happiness, warmth and energy of the people involved in the Ramblers’ Rendezvous.