News from Co-ordinator Lynne, February 2015

Firstly, those keen eyed amongst you will have noticed a gap in photos and news updates on our website over past months.  We do apologise but changes to personnel and training requirements precluded us from making alterations or additions for a while, but we are now back in action, able to report all your successes (more on this below).

We’ve welcomed Beauly and Maggie’s groups most recently and they have both established very strongly.  Beauly has 4 male walk leaders and we shall be interested to see if this helps over time to recruit more men into a health walk group.  This brings our current total of group walks across Highlands to 30.

Additionally many of our groups are expanding into offering more opportunities to walk on extra days (eg Broadford), extra times on the same day (eg Plockton), extra walks moving on from our SIUH walks which walk leaders have developed themselves (eg at Kilchoan , Strathpeffer & Inverness) and lastly to offer a monthly longer walk (eg Beauly).  It just goes to show how the walking ‘bug’ can multiply in a variety of interesting ways.

Regarding all your lovely photos, as mentioned in the February walk leader newsletter (an online version is available in the newsletter tab – if you want one, just click to view!), we will remove shortly the myriad photos in the SIUH gallery and will replace with one or two for each group, so as to keep it fresh, interesting and easier to navigate.  So, if your group has a favourite photo or indeed takes a new photo that you would wish to be put up, please let us know.  Meanwhile we shall chose the best photos we hold in the office that we feel will suit & represent your group.

We shall be making a start on setting up a Facebook presence for SIUH and have just opened a twitter account on @Partners4W. We shall be learning as we go, on how to make the best of these new opportunities to connect walkers, ideas, successes, challenges and indeed share daily photos we hope.  In time we shall have separate SIUH pages rather than the main partnership for wellbeing pages, which to start will cover both SIUH and the Inverness Transport Scheme.  It’s hard to know how widely these new technologies may be used, and this applied to the plethora of walking apps and other ‘techy’ apps for smartphones that are springing up but one thing seem sure – usage is increasing and they are becoming more used as a means to connect people with similar interests in new ways.  All quite exciting and a little daunting possibly at the same time.  If anyone has particular expertise, interest or ideas on this please do let me know.

The opportunity has arisen to capture group and walker experiences on a short promotional film and we shall be contacting a few folks in connection with this shortly with a view to getting the final film ready for use from late Spring.  Another exciting development.

As ever, any local news & views are warmly welcomed and items can be posted on here, twitter and soon on Facebook!

Happy walking!



Step It Up Highland 1st Aid Training A Great Success!

SIUH is delighted that 47 walk leaders gained certification at 1st aid training courses which were held in group sessions at Ft William on 27th March, Kyle on 23rd April, Inverness on 24th and 25th April.

Walk leaders from Ballachulish, Ft William, Caol, Croy, Plockton, Fortrose, Portree, Broadford, Dingwall, Lochalsh & South Skye, Dunvegan, Waternish, Poolewe, Alness, Tain, Evanton, Nairn and Strathpeffer all benefitted from what proved to be very practical and informative sessions.

The feedback has been universally excellent and the trainers delivery, focused on adding in issues walk leaders may encounter ‘out in the wild’ as well as the core 1st aid.  We commissioned trainer Cory Jones from Outdoor First Aid Limited to do this training for us and from the feedback received, we shall look forward to Cory coming in again to train up other walk leaders in the

Typical comments received were:-

‘The best 1st aid course I have attended. I’ve been in health care profession & I have attended some!’ 

‘An excellent presenter who tailored the content to the conditions i.e. step it up walkers in the environment. Informative and reassuring’ 

‘Thank you for finding such a good & friendly instructor – confidence has improved greatly’


An update from Lynne, your co-ordinator

We have enjoyed something of an expansion of groups and within groups of late which I’d like to  tell you about.

Firstly in Skye, Sue Wood’s development post has now sucessfully concluded with the development of the 3 new Skye groups Waternish, Broadford and Portree.  We are delighted that Sue has decided to stay with us as a valued volunteer walk leader supporting Portree group along with WL’s Niki & Karen (when they are able).

Portree group meets weekly providing there is a WL available to lead from Portree Square (this was changed from the Aros centre early on in the groups development), but if not, the walkers will still walk, albeit not on a formal SIUH walk that particular week.  It’s great we finally have a weekly walk happening in Portree – many thanks to you all.

Broadford group Linda (WL) has held the fort at the in it’s early development, as Gill, the other WL there has had a period of ill health and then holidays (sounds good to us as a way to recuperate!).  Linda has been busy, meeting with local Gp’s, representing SIUH at an information event at the health clinic (with Gill) and also at one of the Living It Up Roadshow events, showing what a willingness to underake a ‘wider’ WL role can look like.

Waternish group has established very well in their local community thanks partly to the efforts of local WL Madeline who edits the local community newsletter and who is ably supported by WL Catherine.

Secondly, Thurso group in Caithness, launched last year, has grown to the point that some walkers will train up as walk leaders very shortly (April) and give them the potential to start to look at varied ability walks, possibly via the SIUH and SIUF model.  Well done to WL’s Stuart and Olivia for all their hard work along this path!

Tongue & Betty Hill group/s may also result from six others in Sutherland joining the new walk leader training in April.

I have continued my audit visits to groups and these have picked up since the new year. A few groups have yet to be visited but are now booked or close to tying down a date. It’s been very uplifting to witness walk leaders in action.  All groups have impressed me with some elements of what they do and some practice has been outstanding making me realise how much groups can potentially benefit from learning from each other. I shall pop a few observations into the next walk leader newsletter.

The opportunities for recent training (refresher training and 1st aid), are giving us chance to meet up in groups and, even if it’s over tea/coffee having a chat, we’ve seen people sharing ideas and discussing opportunities.

So, things are looking very positive for the year ahead, one in which Partnerships for Wellbeing celebrates its 10th anniversary of managing the SIUH and IVTS projects and Strathpeffer group celebrate their own 10th anniversary. Some groups will (or have already!) widen their activities by helping at, or holding promotional events, such as Living It Up Roadshows, the Highland Family Heritage Festival, Tain Tea Party at Tain and lastly there will undoubtedly be groups who wish to tie in a special walk or event to celebrate the commonwealth games during June as promoted by ourselves and Path’s for All.

A busy but enjoyable time ahead!

Kind regards

Lynne Bannister Co-ordinator


SIUH Portree Launch


We are delighted to be able to say that the new Portree group has launched on 7th January 2014 with 7 new walkers and 3 WL’s in attendance, welcome to all! It’s lovely to expand our area a wee bit more on Skye and we’re very grateful to everyone who has made this possible, particularly Sue, Niki and Karen.


Happy New Year SIUH!

Happy New Year to all our walk leaders and walkers – let’s hope this is a great year for getting out and about, keeping and maintaining fitness and flexibility through our regular health walks.

On that, here at Step It Up Highland, we are keen to ensure groups have appropriate linkages through to walk opportunities and information on what your group is likely to see whilst out and about. With that in mind on our links page you will find excellent links through to a range of Scottish Natural Heritage websites: some with information on seasonal sightings of wildlife, a blog,  and a great one where you can zoom in/out on maps of areas to see what special designations places may have (such as areas of special conservation, scenic areas and species sightings within these areas).  This last is slightly more complex to use but is such a great tool once you are used to it.  Please note that areas often only show up as you zoom in and out within the map area you are interested in, as this has caught me out a few times! The link will take you to the interactive map home page and there are tabs to see species or places and it is on the places tab that you can zoom in for area designations.

In addition we are just putting on a link to the ranger service website ‘Outdoor Highlands’, which is very clear and useful with all the ranger information, long distance routes and events coming up via ranger services.

We would encourage you to develop your group links with these excellent partner organisations, as many of you do already! If you need any assistance with this please do call on us in the office and we’ll do our best to assist- as always.  Enjoy our beautiful outdoors and if your group has any unusual sightings (or photos) to share or have been on a longer or different walk we’d be delighted to hear from you and share things with the other groups on our News & Views page!

Kind regards

Lynne – Co-ordinator


Thoughts From Individuals

Chris from Tain saysAlthough I tend to organise the rota for walk venues I like to ask the other walk leaders if they’d like to have a go – I don’t want anyone to feel excluded if they’d like to do it. Then one of our walkers kindly types up the list for us.


Questions And Answers

A walker asks:I’d like to visit other groups now and again and join in their walks – can I and how do I go about it?”

Lynne’s Answer:Yes, this is a request I was hearing at the regional meetings with walk leaders too and I’ve been giving it some thought. It’s a great idea to be able to do this – using the directory will help find the venue, times and give you a local contact name. I shall be devising a short tick box form which groups can use for one off visitors to their groups or for those visiting from another SIUH group to save unnecessary paperwork.








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