Walkers put heart and sole into it

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By foot... The Northern Southland Walkers celebrates 20 years of friendship and outings last week. PHOTO: JENNY CAMPBELL

“A chirpy lot” have clocked up a few miles in the time they have been strolling the paths and trails of Southland.

The Northern Southland Walkers have been walking together for the past 20 years and celebrated the milestone last week.

Co-ordinator Jo Muir said the group was started by Sports Southland, now Active Southland, in 2001.

“They were busy setting up groups all over Southland,” Mrs Muir said.

Later the walking group took over running the event themselves on the good foundation Sports Southland had laid, she said.

There were about 30 people on the register and they met twice a month for an outing.

“A walk group gives exercise of both mind and body.”

Several generations of walkers came on the outings and walkers ranged in age from about 6 years old to more than 70.

“Age isn’t a barrier.”

A carload from each of the towns of Riversdale, Balfour, Lumsden, Mossburn and Dipton would meet at the chosen walking place.

Being part of a walking group gave people access to areas where they normally would not be able to go.

Sometimes in the winter they walked the streets of the towns.

“You see things on foot that you don’t see in a car passing through.”

People could decide how far they wanted to walk.

“You walk as far as you think you can go, knowing you’ve got to walk back to the vehicles again.”

The group set off together and by the time the slow walkers had turned around and walked back the faster walkers had completed the extra distance and sometimes caught them up.

“It works really well and there’s no pressure on anybody to go over and beyond what they can do.”

The walkers had formed strong friendships throughout the years.

“You’re with people that you wouldn’t meet every day.

“We’re just a chirpy lot.”