Anna with daughter and grand-daughter
Wet and windy, but a warm welcome at Tavistock
By Jo Bishop
BBC Radio Devon listener Anna Kelly takes us on her favourite walk, as part of BBC Radio Devon's 25th birthday celebrations.
Driving across Dartmoor in the mist, wind and torrential rain was not the most promising start for a walk.
But arriving at Tavistock to meet the smiles and welcome of Radio Devon listener Anna Kelly and friends, the weather seemed irrelevant.
What did matter, as I soon realised when I joined this regular walking group was the enjoyment and pleasure they all get from their weekly stroll.
Anna walks with what she described as "a friendly, supportive group, of all ages and abilities."
They range in age from Anna's baby grand-daughter Serenity, pushed by mum Mandisara, to those in their 80s.
Regular and keen attenders from Cornerways residential home are disabled walkers Jeremy, Scott and Gemma, who enjoy getting out and about and meeting new people.
All wrapped up against the weather!
The group set off every Tuesday at 10.30am from the Wharf car park.
As Anna wrote in her invitation: "It is a local route, on the flat, through The Meadows – the local park – full of beautiful trees, alongside the canal going, with chattering ducks and the river returning.
"We skirt Tavistock College and chat as we go. The leader stops from time to time to let the slower walkers and wheelchair users catch up, so there's no stress over the pace.
"We end at the Wharf Coffee Shop for a social chit-chat and refreshments. As I'm 70 and have back problems it's ideal."
The Tuesday group take a variety of routes, all easily accessible and fairly level. From the Wharf we headed past the swimming pool and walked along the edge of the Tavistock Canal through the Meadows.
The weather was inclement to say the least, so we cut our stroll short, returning alongside the River Tavy, but longer circuits to Monksmead and past Tavistock College take up to 45 minutes.
Despite the rain, spirits were high and there was lively conversation throughout.
The River Tavy
Chatting with Anna as we walked, she told me she had recently fulfilled her aim to become a group leader. Until the end of September she was having radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer, so had to put her training off, but with a clean bill of health she was able to do the leaders course.
"I found it really enjoyable," she said. "It was good fun, a lot of common sense and I found it very rewarding."
The Tavistock group is one of 35 in Devon which are all part of a scheme called Walking the Way to Health.
Jo Birbeck is from Natural England, the umbrella organisation which oversees the initiative: "The groups were set up to get people walking in their local community," said Jo.
"It's been such a successful scheme they've mostly become self-sustaining groups.
"Natural England is very keen to not only engage with the health agenda to get people exercising, but also to get people to interact with their natural environment, especially locally in their local communities."
Back at the Wharf Coffee Shop, there was a chance to dry off and relax in the warm over a cappuccino, while my dog Bella enjoyed being fed the crust from Anna's pasty.
"It's not spectacular like I'm sure some of the walks are," said Anna. "But it is very very nice. And the people, the camaraderie and the friendliness is great. We do make new friends and I'm glad to say I've got some new friends from it."
I'd like to think I have now as well.
last updated: 29/04/2008 at 09:22
Anna's Tavistock walk
Start/finish grid reference: SX480743
How to get to the start: Off the A386 Plymouth Road, turning to The Wharf opposite the bus station. Public transport available on bus services to Tavistock. Alight at the bus station.
Distance: Choice of routes from 0.5 to 1.5 miles
Duration: Up to 45 minutes.
Terrain: Mostly tarmac, even surface, with only slight gradients. Wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
Additional information: There is long stay parking at the Wharf, also refreshments and toilets with shops nearby.
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