Let’s get walking
Back in November 2018 we came across Cumbria Down’s Syndrome Support Group (CDSSG), a small local charity based in Carlisle. We are keen to help small charities, usually run by volunteers, that support great causes and jell with our aims. CDSSG is such a charity. We contacted Cristina Bowman the charity’s secretary and its driving force.
After discussion we agreed to fund three programmes: Singing Hands sessions at Kendal and Carlisle, walk leaders kit and organised walks and monthly multi-sensory sessions with Aura. We are all looking forward to these events which we are sure are just the start of a long term relationship between CDSSG and our charity. So much to come but let’s get started and tell the story of the first organised walk.
I first met Cristina at their group meeting in January when they invited me to their first organised walk. The CDSSG, had been looking forward to this walk event for some time. Talking to the parents, at the meeting, it was clear that they whole heartedly supported this initiative and wanted their families to get involved.
Cristina summed things up beautifully when she said “we want to be going out for walks, getting people more active and seeing new friendships formed between our group members”. Bringing families together through new events help build relationships and often trigger more activities that everybody can enjoy. I was so pleased to join the group for this special day and what a success it turned out to be!
On a bright but cold spring afternoon in March, the first of the nature walks took place at Clapham Nature Reserve in Yorkshire. This was part of a series of events during a week set aside nationally to raise awareness of Downs Syndrome. It is so important that families with Down’s syndrome children know what is available and who to contact. Equally it is vital that the general public’s awareness about Down’s is improved.
The event was expertly managed by Dave and Jan who had recently been trained to become walk leaders.
The group had been working with both Active Fit Cumbria and the Downs Syndrome Association to put together walk leaders training. The training, normally given by Active Fit, had to be tweaked slightly as some people with Downs Syndrome have additional difficulties walking long distances and over rough terrain due to low muscle tone. After lots of preparative work 33 intrepid explorers left from the car park in Clapham after a fun, clear and concise briefing given by Dave from a conveniently placed knoll.
We headed over the river and up towards Ingleborough Cave and Nature trail. Just before the start of the trail we reached an impressive waterfall and many of the team stopped to have photographs taken. Dave then lead us through to the nature trail with Jan making sure those at the back of the group were well cared for and knew where they were headed.
The group were mainly families but I must mention one young lady Beth, from Morecambe, who had wanted to get involved to gain some independence. She had been inspired to get fit and more involved when she had competed in 2018 in the Great North Swim across Lake Windermere, no mean feat for any of us. Her commitment to do this walk together with her engaging smile and sense of humour were a joy. The walk was a gentle assent up to the cave on good paths which enabled those in wheel chairs and with prams easy access to the beautiful scenery.
The path ran through woodland and at times followed a small lake, the spring flowers had started to emerge from their winter sleep and the patches of colour brought great variety to the scene. Near to the cave the lake turned into a stream which was welcomes by all the children either to play on the stepping stones or just throw small rocks into. The walk was 3 miles there and back and was a manageable distance for all – great fun was had by all and we are all looking forward to the next event especially when we see the walk leaders in their new kit sponsored by our charity.
Oh yes, if you who would like to do the walk here is a map with directions. The postcode of the car park at Clapham is LA2 8EQ.
- Leave car park and cross the road to take the old broken bridge across the river. Turn right following the sign to Ingleborough Cave. Follow the road through the village past the church and the waterfall to the gateway marking the entrance to the nature trail (a small entrance fee is payable here in a ticket machine), continue through the gateway onto the nature trail.
- Follow the path as it zig-zags its way up the slope to meet the lake that feeds the waterfall. Continue along lakeside path, you will begin to go up hill and enter the woods.
- Continue along the path in through the woods and past the grotto enjoying glimpses of the hills on the other side of the valley.
- Continue through the gate at the end of the woodland and out into the open and along the trail to Ingleborough Caves.
We will keep you informed what CDSSG, a very special charity, is doing and in particular how future walks and the Aura and Singing Hands sessions work out. If you have a moment why don’t you go to CDSSG’s site to see what’s happening and how you could get involved.