The Wrong ‘Uns Walking Group

Opinion

6th June 2023
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I am an old punk rocker and how this came about is 5 years ago I got diagnosed with type two diabetes, I was told I might be able to control this through lifestyle by losing some weight before being put on medication. But there was virtually no help or information on how to do this, so in true punk d.i.y style I decided to do it all myself. I started off walking a mile a day and over six months increased it to five miles a day, I also eat healthier cutting all the crap food out of my diet, it was quite easy being vegan I just switched to the wholemeal versions of everything as in wholemeal bread, brown rice, brown pasta etc., lots of vegan Indian foods with lentils, chickpeas, and that sort of thing. Within a year I had lost three stone reversed the diabetes and now it is officially in remission.

This encouraged me to keep walking and stay on top of my health. I walk in the countryside around Manchester, and this inspired me to get out as it is great being in beautiful natural places, not only is it physically good for you but it is also great for your mind being in such relaxing and chill surroundings. It can really help reduce stress. As I was out walking so much, I thought, I could start a YouTube channel and inspire others to get outdoors walking to reap the benefits.

I then started thinking about starting a walking group which would be a safe space for us alternative folks, as I knew lots of punks, metal heads and goths who love the outdoors but did not feel they fit into most of the walking/hiking groups out there, which from my own experiences can be a bit “nobby” middle class and judgmental towards alternative folks coming on group walks. So, three years ago I started up a walking group specifically for us alternative lot, the outcasts, the misfits, and the black sheep and called it the “Wrong Un’s” for a laugh. The group has been very successful, we run monthly group walks, it is one of the best free activities out there, we run walks to beautiful countryside locations and interesting places, sometimes visiting abandoned buildings or interesting ruins on the walks. I work out the walk routes in advance and try to offer both easy and more challenging routes to suit different abilities in the group. I try to make sure the walks end at a café or pub where you can get a brew or a nice pint of crisp cider personally. I run the walks on Sunday afternoons, and they are typically between four or five miles long.

The group is a great social activity, and I have found when walking away from pubs, clubs, and gigs (though I like those things) you tend to have some good, interesting conversations. We run the group as a safe space where people can be free from racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other unpleasant behaviors. For me I have to say there is something special about being in a group of like-minded people who have just climbed a big hill and are surrounded by breath taking views of nature. Then sitting in a circle eating and sharing food and drink, probably a very natural human activity that our ancestors would have done in the distant past. 

We need to use our rights to walk public footpaths, or we are at risk of losing them. I can say that I regularly find public footpaths overgrown or fenced off illegally by landowners trying to deny the public using them. I have encountered some landowners who are not happy for me to be using public footpaths across their land, but we need to keep them in public use. One easy bit of direct action that you can do is get a pair of garden secateurs and keep them in your walking bag, then when you encounter styles overgrown with nettles and brambles you can clear them yourself. I have cleared a lot even though it is the landowner's responsibility to clear them, some of them seem happy for them to become overgrown to deter the public.

If you live in the Greater Manchester area there are some great walks around Glossop which is within spitting distance, and you can visit the Globe Vegan pub afterwards for food and a drink, it is a wonderful place. But wherever you are in the world I would urge you to set up your own community walk groups. ■

John

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