Bridges Walk Canterbury

Our first Stepping Out walk of 2019 with participants, carers and the people they care for, came from all over the county and included the Friendly Faces of Kent project from Sheppey, Touchbase Care from Folkestone, our new partners from SOBS charity, a wonderful group that helps people bereaved by suicide. Not forgetting Bernard, the dog, our caring cockapoo who took part in our very first walk back in 2016 and has been our assistance dog and mascot ever since.

We met at the Bandstand

We gathered at the bandstand in Dane John Gardens for photographs, with the guides from the White Cliffs Ramblers conspicuous in their High Vis. Rowena, the Bridges Walk leader, explained in her opening talk that this incredible walk had been devised by her dear late friend, Alan Clewer. It has been created to cross every bridge in the city without traversing the same one twice. The full-version includes 30 plus bridges. Rowena was kindly cutting it down to 21 for us. Which was quite enough.

We took in the wonders of Westgate Gardens which has a 200-year-old oriental plane tree that is believed to be the oldest specimen in the country. It is also rumoured that the trunk has actually engulfed a metal seat which once encircled it!

The Oriental Plane Tree
The Bridges Walk

For fun, and a sense of achievement, as each bridge was crossed Rowena held up the number in question. The walkers zigzagged through parkland, canal paths, city streets and rare byways going over the flowing River Stour in a multitude of different ways. There were a few steps and moments of soggy ground involved so it was not suitable for wheelchairs, which made it all the more remarkable that Steve, in his wheelchair, with his friends from the ever-resourceful Touchbase Care, happily joined in.

Canterbury Cathedral

The short walkers, for those with mobility issues who nevertheless enjoy a good stroll in the outdoors even on a grey day (no rain though), took advantage of the starting venue to explore Dane John Gardens, bursting with snowdrops and crocuses, before climbing up to the top of the city wall. With scenic views in every direction, we could spot Sandra and Brenda (who were running late) and very clearly our destination beyond the shopping centre: Canterbury Cathedral  The Cathedral staff could not have been more welcoming, waving us through the barriers to gaze in considerable wonder at the magnificent building, even with its skirts of scaffolding while it undergoes extensive repairs.

Bernard the Caring Cockapoo, our assistance dog and mascot.


After a wonderful lunch in the Canterbury Lodge, a number of the carers were able to tour the Cathedral – those parts that are accessible to people in wheelchairs – and Bernard, as usual, had his photograph taken in a suitable scenic spot by an admirer, certainly one for his instagram account. @Bernardlovessteppingout. We’re loving the doggy instagram too.

We’re delighted that everyone had such a wonderful day. We would like to thank Canterbury  Cathedral Lodge, Cabline Canterbury Taxis, the White Cliffs Ramblers too. We’re already planning our next walk which will be a walk around the grounds of Leeds Castle, Kent on the 26th March – more details coming soon.

If you are a carer and would like the opportunity to walk somewhere beautiful with the person you look after or simply would like to walk, meet and chat –  sharing experiences, we arrange walks all over the country – so please get in touch with us here.

The first Stepping Out carers walk in Doncaster


Wednesday 11th July 2018

Venue: Cusworth Hall, the beautiful Grade I listed building set in acres of historic parkland with lakes, plantations and pleasure grounds with dramatic views across the town. Managed by Doncaster Council.

Cusworth Hall


A vast cast of 32 carers, the people they care for and staff decanted from the coach from Doncaster city centre into a sun drenched rural scene no more than two or three miles away. Cusworth Hall, set in acres of parkland that include woods, lake and, significantly it would turn out, hills, was a splendid venue for Doncaster’s first ever Stepping Out walk.

With the grit and ambition that seems to characterise so many deeds among Yorkshiremen and women, a party over 20 strong decided to tackle the “long walk” of over 4 miles. Guided by a magnificent team from Doncaster Ramblers, they made a grassy descent down to the lake and then by footpaths and tracks to Sprotbrough before returning mainly along the Trans Pennine Trail.

Among these adventurers was Sandra Wordsworth, 62 from Conisbrough, who has a metal plate and screws in her right leg from two successive falls a few years ago. Despite walking with a stick, she was keen to give it a go. “I’ve always loved walking. We haven’t got a car so my husband and I walk to the bus stop every day into town. I thought it was lovely to walk in the country this time. I thought I’ll give it a try.”


An even greater number of people took the short walk option, which began with John Garbutt discovering a bird’s nest in a wall. He was good at this sort of thing. Only the day before he’d caught sight of three oyster catchers on a golf course in Armthorpe. His daughter Julie, runs the Doncaster Carers Centre, along with her dad and mum Irene, which has become a haven for carers and the people they care for.

Valerie O’Donoghue, 82, met Dennis Wordsworth, 93, there at one of the carers’ coffee mornings following the loss of their respective partners. “We met across a crowded room. I kept having these little peeps,” said Valerie. “Now we’re together and it’s a new lease of life. We’re very happy and very lucky.”

Likewise guided by the Doncaster Ramblers who had recce’d the route in advance, the short walk expedition came back safely. One splinter group set off under the aegis of a Rambler, a descendant of the Vikings it turned out, on a special mission. Not, in this instance, pillaging but photographing the resplendent water lillies.

Lunch was served on the terrace and there was quite a long wait for the return of last of the valiant four-milers. Much of the group were on pudding by the time word reached us by bush telegraph that Sandra was on the last lap up the hill. As she emerged through the trees, accompanied by her – by now – personal Rambler, the whole crowd burst into spontaneous applause. She waved her stick in salute.

Sandra crosses the finishing line

“I think it’s the longest walk I’ve done for ten years,” she said later. “We’ve got two adult children with learning disabilities that we look after at home so it’s not easy to find time to go out to do anything. Life’s a bit hectic. And then about eight years ago I had a bad fall down a set of concrete steps which meant I had to wear a pot from my foot up to my waist. I was in hospital in Rotherham for 17 days and then housebound for three months. A couple of years after that I fell down the stairs at home and rebroke the same leg. That’s when they put in the metal plate.

“It was lovely when everyone clapped me. I’m glad I did it. But I think I’ll do the short walk next time.”


No hill steep enough new