Case Study

Walks for All in Arnside & Silverdale

People with dementia and their carers benefit from accessible walks

Arnside & Silverdale National Landscape delivers a programme of accessible walks, supported by a large team of dedicated volunteers.

These walks are designed to support anyone with access needs who would appreciate a friendly walking group with various route options planned for different mobility levels.

The programme runs weekly from March to mid-December, with monthly meetings in January and February.

Feleena Taylor

People with access needs and their carers are supported to access weekly walks in nature

Arnside & Silverdale National Landscape team launched the Dementia Friendly Walks for All programme in 2019, led by Feleena Taylor of Sylvan Way.

Thanks to funding from Morecambe Bay Partnership the team were able to offer specialist training delivered by Dementia Adventure.

Following a hiatus in 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the programme re-started in 2021. In 2023-4 Walks for All received funding from the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme, and now delivers a programme of 44 walks a year, with weekly walks in the Spring – Autumn season and monthly walks in Winter.

Walks are delivered on a Tuesday morning, with typically 2-4 alternatives offered (walks are suitable for Rollers, Strollers, Striders or Super Striders). The group meets at 10am, enjoys up to an hour long walk and returns to a local café or pub for optional coffee and cake.

Feleena Taylor

Different walk levels are available every week

In 2022 and 2023 the team have incorporated some additional activities, including Woodland Wellness sessions, toasting marshmallows on the campfire, visits to RSPB Leighton Moss (with pond dipping!) and wildflower planting.

Volunteers are offered first aid training, as well as support in understanding the needs of participants who might be living with conditions such as dementia or Parkinsons. Volunteers donate over 1,300 hours a year to support Walks for All, and a strong and caring community has been generated.

Caroline Howard

Walks and fun for all!

Annually, Walks for All delivers:

  • 44 walks in the landscape, with an average of 20-30 participants per walk, plus volunteers
  • Volunteer training in supporting walkers with additional access needs
  • Opportunities for volunteers to donate over 1,300 hours to supporting their community
  • The opportunity for people living with dementia and other conditions to get outside, off road and enjoy exercise, fresh air, all types of weather, nature and a friendly community
  • Options for people with limited mobility and for people who want to reach the summit of our highest slopes (Arnside Knott and Warton Crag).
  • First Aid training for volunteers (including L3 Outdoor First Aid in 2024 – with 11 volunteers signed up for the 2 day course).
  • Walks set in locations throughout the landscape, with 23 different walks available across 9 locations, as part of a rotating programme.
Having cared for my mum who sadly passed away with vascular dementia; it was the fresh air, the smells of the woodland and the exertion, the challenge and often just being in nature and with others that helped dilute the symptoms of dementia.

Feleena Taylor, founder of Walks for All

Feleena Taylor

The walks provide opportunities to socialise as well as to keep fit

The incredible success of the Walks for All is largely due to the work of Feleena Taylor, of Sylvan Way, who initiated and now leads the programme. Feleena is passionate about access for all, and her compassion and dedication are the lynchpin around which a community of fantastically dedicated volunteers has established.

Feleena Taylor, who set up the Walks for All programme, illustrates why getting outdoors regularly is so important for people with dementia:

'I set up my business Sylvan Way to use my Occupational Therapy skills to help support people who were living with dementia to continue to access the beautiful landscape of the Arnside & Silverdale National Landscape. Having cared for my mum who sadly passed away with vascular dementia; it was the fresh air, the smells of the woodland and the exertion, the challenge and often just being in nature and with others that helped dilute the symptoms of dementia.

'I wished to provide this benefit I witnessed to members of our local community and create a group which would become a weekly anchor. The group would encourage social inclusion meeting every Tuesday, in ordinary places like cafes and pubs - not tucked away out of sight. I also knew that I would need a healthy number of volunteers to support people on the walks.

'We were not going to be staying on sealed pavements, I wanted to offer a safe, secure way for our members to challenge themselves and continue to access those beautiful places that are often difficult to reach, as dependence on others increases. It is has been incredible to witness the group expand, members attend who have other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, or a Learning Disability. We stay true to our name and welcome people of all ages, abilities and wheelchair users. Our oldest member is 98, our youngest aged 22 - a quarter of our group are older adults who have been socially isolated, the weekly walk has helped them connect with others.

'It is a huge privilege to lead such a committed team of volunteers to support our inspiring group members to remain connected to our beautiful landscape for a long as they are able to.'

Caroline Howard

One of the volunteers on the difference the Walks for All programme makes:

'My husband was diagnosed with dementia early in 2022 and it was shortly afterwards that we found out about Walks for All. As we both like walking we went along to see what it was like.

'Since that date in April 2022 at The Silverdale Hotel we have never looked back. Everyone is so friendly and as a carer the information I have received has been boundless. So much so that it made me want to reach out to new members and therefore I became a volunteer, signing up at Heron Corn Mill later that year.

'Apart from walking we also meet for refreshments after each walk and this gives us all chance to chat or play games.

'Our leader Feleena is fantastic, and ensures that everyone is looked after, and the walks are safe for all.

'This walking group is the best thing that has happened to both of us and long may it reign.'