Thursday, 1 September 2011

Walking and talking in 2012

That's it. I have finally done it. I am now a trained Walk Leader. I went on a very interesting, well-run and informative course. Much more interesting and well run in fact than I had imagined. And now I am qualified - and most importantly I have the necessary skills to lead a 'health walk'. I’ve learned about things like route planning and setting pace, warm ups and double backs and lots more.

Actually the walks I’ll be offering will be ‘Walk & Talk’ walks - the health bit goes without saying.

I have wanted to become a walk leader for two reasons. The first one is that I LOVE walking. Until April this year I was walking three times a week with a local group. We'd set off at 7.15 in the morning and cover about 3 miles in just under an hour. Brisk, invigorating and enjoyable. Some of the members of the group had been walking together for over sixteen years when I joined them. There was always good conversation and it went ahead whatever the weather (torrential rain would not see that walk cancelled). I enjoyed them so much but sadly this Spring I decided to stop. The timings worked perfectly for me when Evie (my 12 year old daughter) was home educated - I could go, walk, shower and be back before she’d even woken up! But when she started school just before Easter, the timings clashed with breakfast and getting out of the house on time and it’s very important to me to be there to see her off to school. So, I left the group, much to my dismay. One of the things that motivated me to go on the course was the idea of starting my own group at a time that suits me.

The second reason is that while the conversations had always been stimulating on the walks, I had often imagined what it might be like to be walking with a group of like minded women, talking about that which I love talking about most: women’s relationship with food and our bodies. Walking and talking go so well together. There’s something about walking which makes it easier to talk about things that can sometimes be tricky or emotional. A walk and talk group combines exercise, conversation, social contact and fresh air. In my opinion there’s no better way to ensure my physical and emotional health, at the same time.

Sadly Audrey and I are so busy this autumn, what with writing our new book and training a new group of Chocolate Fairies (starting in October) that I do not have a single regular day of the week free on which I can allocate an hour for Walk & Talk time. So, I’ll go by myself for the rest of the year - I don’t talk to myself (!) but it gives my time to think or even to practice not thinking and just ‘being’. And starting in the new year, from Wednesday 11th January 2012, I’ll be leading a Walk & Talk group in Kenwood House, a beautiful park on the edge of Hampstead Heath in North London, from 9am to 10am every Wednesday morning. I’ll be there, come rain or shine, and anyone who would like to join me is welcome. The cost will be £7.50 payable on the day. No need to commit or pay for weeks up front (though anyone who wants to can pay £20 for 4 at a time). There will be a ‘stimulus’ for conversation posted on the forum every week - it will be an article, an extract from a book, an exercise or a worksheet, something of that kind. So we'll be walking and we'll be talking, exploring, learning, growing. This walk is suitable for everyone, whatever your level of fitness. It won’t be so fast that you’re out of breath and struggling to keep up but it won’t be a slow amble either - so something in between. And for those who want to there may even be time for a cup of tea and a bit more talking afterwards.

I’ve been dreaming about this, talking about it, planning it, researching it for so long. I can’t wait!

If you live anywhere near Kenwood House and you're interested in joining me, drop me a line at


  1. Good luck with that, Sophie. I love walking and often take myself off for a ramble round the country lanes and across the fields where I live. I can be gone for hours and it does feel liberating. Hope you get a good take up.

  2. Hi Sophie, I would love to join the group when I can. My only issue is parking. Restrictions start around Kenwood at 10am - would you consider running the group from 8.45-9.45 so that anyone who has to park in a restricted area could get back to the car in time?

  3. Hi Anonymouses! Thanks for the encouragement Anonymous 1 and that's a very good idea anonymous 2. I will make it 8.45 to 9.45 so we can work around parking. I didn't want to make it any earlier so that women who have children to get off to school can do that before they come, so 8.45 sounds good.

  4. Excuse me! £7.50 for a walk in the park? I love to walk and talk in my local area - with people I know and like, but there's no way I would pay for the experience.

  5. Dear Anonymous,
    The Walk & Talk sessions I am offering are far more than a walk in the park with friends, they provide a way of working with the Beyond Chocolate principles at the same time as moving and getting exercise. There is also evidence to show that walking can stimulate conversation. Each week there will be an exercise or worksheet to do and material to read before the walk and to talk about and receive feedback on during the course of the walk. Comments, including disagreement or challenge, are always welcome on our blog posts as long as they are polite and respectful. Sadly yours was neither.


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