It has been a strong start to the year for the Steps2Health walking group…

On Thursday January 4, a crisp winter’s morning, six Nordic Walkers launched the club’s programme for the year. They shared cars and drove to Johnston, before catching the 349 bus to Merlin’s bridge. They then walked back to Johnston along Brunel’s Trail. They kept up a good pace all the way on the excellent multi-user path, enjoying the quiet peace as they went.

On the following Saturday, there was an excellent turnout of 40 for a walk starting from Neyland Marina. It was cold, but sunny and calm, under a blue bowl of a sky, a fabulous day for a social walk. They walked up Brunel’s Trail from the southern end, looking out for birds and wild fowl. As usual in the winter, they only saw a grey heron, swans and a few mallards. With Manilla’s café still closed after New Year, the yacht club very kindly provided hot drinks for all.

Thursday, January 11 was a glorious sunny day, cold but superb for winter walking. Leader Brian changed the route because of the residual puddles and very muddy going after the recent prolonged heavy rain and flooding. Eight well-wrapped walkers started from Blackpool Mill then crossed the Cleddau river for a walk to Slebech Park and back. They kept up a brisk pace on the level path and managed to avoid the remaining puddles and mud. By the time they arrived at the hotel they were warm, enjoying a coffee stop along the river bank. After the walk, most of the group stopped at the Boar’s Head for a very convivial lunch.

The following Saturday was cool and grey, but there was a strong turnout of 45 for the first town walk of the year. Once again the route had to be changed, this time because of residual flooding on the path from Black Rock to Crossing Cottage, but it didn’t matter. Spirits were high and both groups enjoyed very convivial social walks. Everyone finished at the Scout and Guide Hall for some important pre-AGM business. The two Barbaras were waiting with plentiful supplies of tea, coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits. When everyone was served, the group’s committee members for the year were nominated and Chairman Paul gave a short talk. Everyone went home in high humour after a very enjoyable morning out.

On Saturday 20th, 32 all-weather walkers gathered in New Hedges on a very wet and windy morning. Barbara, backed by Kym, led the Speedies down the road towards Tenby, followed by Donna, Heather and the larger band of Steadies. Heads down against the pesky rain, the Speedies soon turned off towards Waterwynch. The Steadies continued on up Slippery Back to Brynhir, where they turned off towards the M1 path. The Speedies kept up a good pace on the steep path up to Allen’s View, but a few were secretly pleased to have a breather at the top. Both groups continued to the town: many going to the Old Chapel where the usual warm welcome awaited.

On Thursday, January 25, a warm sector sat across Pembrokeshire. It was mild, but damp, grey and drizzly when seven Nordic walkers set off for Pembroke. The flood waters had receded and the mud was back to more normal levels, so they were able to walk the boardwalks through Holyland Woods, something that was not possible earlier in the month, and won’t be for the foreseeable future as the main boardwalk has been closed. Despite the weather they all enjoyed the walk and the lunch that followed.

Saturday 27 was a much better day for walking, bringing a bumper turnout of 45. It was dry and mild, steely grey at first, but brighter later. Kym, backed by Brian, led the Speedies towards the South Beach while Chris, supported by Donna, led the Steadies towards the golf club and Black Rock. By the time the Steadies reached the beach, the Speedies were already out of sight, having disappeared around Castle Hill. The Steadies continued all the way to Castle Beach while the Speedies did a lap of North Beach before finishing at the harbour. Everyone then dispersed and headed for their favourite cafés before heading home.

So, a strong start for the group, as has been said. Now they are looking forward to longer days and warmer weather, with spring around the corner.