Barbara with her friend on a walk

How a Weekly ‘Walk and Talk’ Can Help to Alleviate Stress and Anxiety

Active Devon and Libraries Unlimited have been working together to provide local walks through the Connecting Actively to Nature (CAN) programme. CAN is an exciting collaborative programme that supports and inspires inactive people aged over 55, in Devon, Torbay and Plymouth. Over the last few months, a new walk has been established in Torrington, meeting at the Library on a Thursday morning.

This weekly Walk and Talk, run by Libraries Unlimited and supported by volunteers, has helped Barbara Barton (pictured, left, with a friend) get over a period of anxiety and depression, and settle in her new home town.

The group was started shortly after the final lockdown was lifted to encourage new friendships, promote exercise, gain an appreciation of nature and a sense of wellbeing. Each walk lasts around half an hour and ends with tea and cake in the café next door.

Barbara Barton is a stalwart member of the group, which is usually attended by around 15 people. She and her husband moved from Lancashire to Torrington to fulfil a dream of living in Devon.

“I saw an article about the group in the Torrington Crier community newsletter,” said Barbara.

“I’d found lockdown extremely hard. We’d only moved here in August 2020. It was a long-awaited dream to come to Devon, but not being able to go out and meet people was difficult. I actually started to get anxious about going out, which wasn’t like me at all. I was being treated for high blood pressure and a back problem.”

“I’ve really enjoyed the walks and made some nice friends. It gets me out and it gets me walking. You’re with like-minded people, and, even if you’re feeling a bit anxious or maybe have some physical problems, you know you’re safe and everyone is there to support you. It gives you a reason to get up and get out, and makes you feel better for the rest of the day. I feel like I belong now. It’s done me the power of good and has been a saving grace.”

“I’ve even fulfilled another lifetime ambition to go wild swimming through two friends I made in the group! I was really scared but again I was supported. We went to Westward Ho! and it really was wonderful.”

Seven volunteers are involved in the project which is aimed at alleviating the loneliness and mental challenges of lockdown. Active Devon has provided funding for start-up costs and local Social Prescribers at GP surgeries were contacted. The group has grown the library’s links with the local community, and it’s going from strength to strength.

If you’d like to find out more about the Torrington ‘Walk and Talk’ please click here.

You can also email us directly at for information about Connecting Actively with Nature projects in Devon.