Nightingale Park Strollers
This volunteer-led walk meets at 10.30 am, every Tuesday, unless the weather is really wet or windy. We meet by the gates to the Nightingale Garden in the old bowling green or inside.
Everyone is very welcome. No need to book - just come along when you are in the mood. It is free.
If you arrive late and we have already set off, look for us in the community garden in the former bowling green. This is along the path to the right of the car park. If you are several minutes late, just catch up with us along the path. Sometimes we remember to wear a Sustrans T shirt or Hi-Viz backpack.
After the walk, weather allowing, we enjoy hot drinks and biscuits by the club hut in the garden. This is also free. We have a kitty tin, if you'd like to make a small cash contribution to refreshments. Some people bring cakes or fruit to share but this is entirely optional. We usually wind up by about 12 noon.
History of the walk
We started the walk in January 2015 but were walk-leader trained in the Autumn before by Sustrans (the sustainable transport national charity) who continue to support us. We were the first Sustrans-supported social walk in Cambridge, soon followed by a second one in Newnham and since June 2016, by a new series of County-Council-supported ones in and around Cambridge.
Why do people join a social walk?
People coming on social walks have lots of reasons - maybe to keep active, gain fitness, meet new (or old) neighbours, or just to get in the habit of getting out of the house and experiencing nature at least once a week.
What is the difference between a social walk and a health walk?
We define a social walk as being as important for the chatting and meeting as for the walking - some people who, for any reason, can't walk that day still come along to say hello and we think this is important too.
A health walk, on the national Walking for Health website, needs a different kind of training, with more documentation and the walks might be faster and further. In 2015, it wasn't possible for our volunteers to access training from to start a health walk (how to do it now).
What do I need to bring along?
Wear your usual clothes but good for the weather - you might get hot or cold - and maybe wet. The path surface can get muddy and do wear comfortable shoes. When you first start walking with us we will ask for your full name and the contact details of someone in an emergency. The park often has dogs in it so let us know if you'd like us to keep them away from bounding up to you.
At the start
We will make introductions and take a very quick register (for insurance reasons) and then we can set off. We would love it if you chose to walk with someone you don't already know. But, if you prefer, it is fine to walk on your own. We have lots of regulars now and they tend to wander off in small groups - but always like a new person to chat to. If you'd rather walk on your own that is fine.
How far and how many laps?
The path around the park is about 0.5 miles long and you can do as many laps as you want, at whatever pace.
At a gentle walking pace, it takes about 10 to 20 mins to walk around it once. Please let one of the walk leaders know if you decide to leave early (Sustrans asks for this). There are several benches along the path and also several gates out of the park, in case you'd like to stop to catch your breath or just do part of a lap.
It is a very beautiful park and we tend to enjoy the chatting as much as the walking.
The natural-surface path is lumpy in places and can get muddy so it might not be suitable for all wheelchairs - it also seems to wake up sleeping babies. It seems to be OK for powered wheelchairs. It might be more comfortable to ride on the grass next to it in places.
After the walk
For insurance reasons, the walk starts and ends within the park.
There is a very good trim trail and fitness equipment in the park, and we have been known to (think about doing) a few exercises before and after the walk. We even have a fixed table tennis table by the playground and carry bats and balls in the club hut.
There is a coffee house and pub on Wulfstan Way in case the weather is too wet to gather.
Other Sustrans social walks:
Walk and Talk in Newham. This started on Monday 5 October 2015. It is now held every Monday. Meet at the paddling pool on Lamma's Land CB3 9HX at 10.30 am. The walkers usually do a short walk around the common or streets, spend some time having a snack in the Grad Pad cafe and then some walk back to the starting point. The walk is an hour and easy and suitable for all - wear stout shoes in muddier months. They would love some more volunteer walk leaders and walkers to join in. Details on the Sustrans website.
Abbey: Weds at 10 am, meet at Dublin Suite, Cambridge United Cambs Glass Stadium, Newmarket Rd. Short easy walk (poster).
East Chesterton: Weds 9.30 am (poster).
- Mill Rd: Weds 11.45 am (poster).
Cambridge walks: Maggie's Wallace Walking for Health walk
Friday lunchtimes on the Addenbrooke's site - this might be only for people affected by cancer. Page on Walking for Health website. There is also a walk on Thursday mornings at 10am around Parker's Piece run by the Cancer Help Centre at Shelford - I read in their October 2016 newsletter that they meet at Livingstone's cafe afterwards.
Cambridge walks: Local Health Walks provided by personal health trainers or exercise referral schemes
The local public health funded walks are now provided by Everyone Health Cambridgeshire (webpage on Walking for Health website). In Cambridge there are walks in Arbury, East Barnwell and from Nuffield Road.
Cherry Hinton Community Health Walk - every Weds am 11.30 for about 45 to 60 mins. Newcomers need to come about 10 minutes early to complete a walkers registration form. Meet at the Cherry Hinton Village Leisure Centre - look for health co-ordinator Carol McBrayne, from Better Leisure (01223 240 271). 'All welcome - bring your friends'!
Outside Cambridge: other walks we know about
Milton Country Park - page on Walking for health website.
National Trust walks: 'both walks start at 10 am and last around one hour. Please meet in the carpark just before 10'. Check their websites for more details.
- Wicken walk on Wednesdays;
- Anglesey walk on Thursdays.
Wandlebury health walk - page on Walking for Health website. We hear rumours of a slower (unofficial walk) that happens around the same time too.
Some relevant walking links
- May is National Walking Month.
- 6 January 2015: Press release from Cambridge City Council about fitness sessions for residents of South area (includes mention of this social walk).
- NHS Choices: Wipe out winter tiredness - a social walk would be great!
- Recent review article shows walking groups are good for you too.
- 'Walk outdoors regularly and you could love longer' - article in the Guardian.
- Bike bus explorer - this service finished in March 2016.
Last updated: 9 June 2017