A national healthy living project encouraging people to walk more has established its first Walking Hub at the University of Stirling.
The campus at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence is the first venue for the Medal Routes project, created by Ramblers Scotland and inspired by the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Medal Routes consist of three circular routes which start and finish from a Walking Hub, taking around one hour for the gold route, 30 minutes for the silver and 15 minutes for the bronze. Hubs are being developed across Scotland and the routes are suitable for all ages and abilities.
Sports staff from the University have joined forces with Active Stirling walk leaders including volunteer Steve MacKinnon to establish a series of these routes across the campus with more outlined for the surrounding Stirling area.
He said: “Knowing the University well, I was confident the area would make a great hub. From the very beginning, the main objective was to ensure all three walks were accessible for everyone so we worked hard to determine routes which varied in length and duration as opposed to difficulty.
“We also wanted to make sure that the campus, which is awash with flora and fauna, could be appreciated at its best so all walks were constructed with this in mind and I think the benefits for the local community will be huge.”
Ramblers Medal Routes Project Officer Jacqueline Ferguson, a Stirling Environmental Science and Outdoor Education graduate, helped to create the set-up at the University.
She said: “I enjoyed many walks around the University campus and I am delighted it is the first Medal Routes Walking Hub. A Walking Hub can be a café, a sports centre, a library, a health centre - the possibilities are endless. The aim for us is to get to know the paths and green-spaces in our local areas and understand the important role walking can have on leading a healthier lifestyle.
“Ramblers Scotland would be delighted to work with many more individuals, community groups and organisations who would like to set up Walking Hubs and Medal Routes in their own areas.”
A recent Stirling study highlighted the important role walking can play not only for physical, but for mental health too. Depression affects as many as one in 10 British adults at some point during their lives and physical exercise is commonly suggested as a treatment option for people with mild symptoms.
Thirty minutes brisk walking is recommended five times a week to maintain good health and Tricia Cumming, Walking and Older People’s Activity Co-ordinator with Active Stirling, believes the campus is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.
She said: “Whilst the University campus is set in beautiful surroundings, local people don’t necessarily know it is accessible to them so this has given us an excellent opportunity to promote both a fantastic green space and healthier lifestyle to the local community.
“Walking the Medal Routes is completely free and without special kit to buy, immediately accessible. It’s important for us that these routes are recognised as something that the whole family can enjoy together.”
Gail Niven, University Sports Participation Manager added: “Working with Active Stirling and Ramblers Scotland, we have managed to create three brilliant routes which everyone can benefit from. The University campus is a unique setting and the Medal Routes project encourages a wide variety of people to visit and enjoy it. This is helping to create a health and physical activity legacy in Stirling which we can all be proud of.”
Medal Routes is a partnership project funded by Paths for All, Scottish Natural Heritage and Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust.