Walking has so very many benefits especially in the company of others and sometimes especially in the company of other women. Women who together share stories as they walk , connect and start to feel revived. After a recent holiday one woman once said ‘ she felt hopeful again’.
My own experience was coming to group walking after my partner died – walking solo can be wonderful too- but what I learnt was how important it is to sometimes be with others. Others who can share your pain and joy. Sometimes who are a step ahead of you on your journey and be just that thing that lifts you up.
Today we introduce a new partner to you who brings her new style of pilgrimage walks to WalkingWomen. Pilgrimages that give you that opportunity to try a journey – starting small. This comes days after a very dear friend died of cancer – too young, too soon and leaving another women bereft and in deep,deep grief. We see so many at WalkingWomen but in the midst of all this deep grief and overwhelming loss we see courage,bravery,determination,sadness,laughter, love and that steely nerve to carry on and keep life alive. We bring so many different types of walking holidays to our WalkingWomen community and here we introduce Faye. As always at WalkingWomen we seek out women who are doing wonderful things ..
For 15 years, multi award-winning Yorkshire businesswoman Faye ran a successful communications agency,until the sudden ending of her engagement and death of her father a few months apart caused her to join a trauma recovery community in coastal Kent in 2020, just before the pandemic hit. There she launched her new business ‘Hope Walking’ this summer with the help of Visit Kent and the Kent Downs team. Through Hope Walking, Faye offers modern-day pilgrimages, wellbeing walks for women experiencing times of transition and loss, while utilising all the experiences and therapeutic techniques she has gained to support women.
“It was during my research for my new business I came across http://WalkingWomen.com and was really impressed with their values, service and superb holiday offer. When a mutual friend suggested I contact the new owners Ginny and her sister Sara I did. Ginny had also been bereaved and I believed we would have a lot in common, I took that as a sign. When I messaged her on Linked In, I was encouraged when Ginny came straight back to me and we immediately felt synergy. Not only was Ginny interested in the concept of walking through grief and loss and modern-day pilgrimage, she was also keen to support women-led businesses and extend their UK holidays into Kent. And so our exciting new partnership was born- and our first joint venture, The Way of St Augustine is on Friday October 23rd to Sun October 30th https://www.walkingwomen.com/ww-holidays/11431-2/
These modern pilgrimages have grown out of my own experience of the restorative impact of walking – across fields and in woodland, among the hills and by the sea, alone and in company – as I struggled with and eventually came to terms with a series of challenging life circumstances.
Growing up on the edge of the stunning Peak District National Park, I always enjoyed walking in nature, but I only discovered the deeply therapeutic power of ‘walking myself well’ after my marriage broke down and I endured a succession of bereavements.
Determined not to resort to medication, walking became an increasingly important part of my life, and I was out pretty much every Saturday and Sunday. Several women friends were going through their own difficult experiences: some were separating or divorced and suddenly alone at weekends; some had other caring responsibilities; some were facing menopause and health issues. One by one, they asked to join me, and my first Sunday morning women’s walking group grew and grew. As we walked, the natural environment and the rhythm of our movement would start to work its magic; we talked, sharing what and when we wanted to; we listened and supported each other both emotionally and in practical ways; we started to feel more resilient, able to cope and to know that we would come through safely and indeed stronger.
Time and again, walking has been the means to recovery of my own mental and physical health, enabling me to find hope, strength and a new belief in myself and in life when so much that was precious had been lost. I have created Hope Walking to offer other women the same opportunity to find hope and their own way forward, utilising my own experiences and the therapeutic techniques which have helped me recover.”
Walking in nature is good for the mind, body and spirit.
The physical movement- the very act of choosing to nurture ourselves this way- builds psychological strength. Walking alone is empowering, strengthening and creative. Walking in company side by side allows easier communication and counters the natural tendency to isolate which can ease feelings of loss and loneliness.
It improves our heart and sleep quality, regulates blood sugar, boosts our immune systems, eliminates toxins and increases endorphins, the happy hormones. All things which can be knocked for six by grief. Walking strengthens our bones and muscles, which increases feelings of resilience. The very act of putting our feet down in repetitive motion brings a sense of stability and calmness, while literally ‘grounding’ our most traumatic emotions.
While walking, we can visit meaningful locations and we can gain focus, take control back, and open the door to our emotions, the very motion is therapeutically allowing us to start processing.
I was thrilled to hear Hope Walking has been selected by global travel company Walking Women, to offer the Way of St Augustine in October, a 19-mile two day walk from Ramsgate to the World Heritage Site of Canterbury Cathedral and we are looking at other routes.
We hope women will be encouraged to try this walking weekend out and maybe step forward to others. One woman said ‘ at the start of the walk we were strangers and at the end friends”