The Healing ministry of health walks

Hello, I’m Revd Lorraine Turner, vicar of St Mary’s, Platt, and on Monday mornings, I’m the ‘tail-end Charlie’ on our parish’s Platt Health Walk. 

This walking ministry is ‘being present’ for people in the gentlest sense, similar to chaplaincy, but the literal act of walking alongside people while chatting about life and faith has a remarkable wellbeing benefit on so many levels. Here’s more about how we got started and how God has blessed our paths.

What is the Platt Health Walk?

Three miles of walking in around 1hr and 20 minutes through the woodland, lanes and fields of Platt, finishing with refreshments in church.

How did it start?

Our social prescriber [learn more about social prescribing here] visited our church café and although the cake was good, she was also interested in finding a base for a health walk. Luckily our church is next to Platt Woods and a health walk seemed a great next step in our church’s community engagement.

Getting Going:

We were really helped in this by OneYou Kent. Their support included risk assessment, training and publicity. It’s not that we couldn’t have done these things ourselves, but having a partner made it much easier. Two of our walk leaders came through the secular local authority connection, another walk leader is a lay person from a neighbouring parish.

What does it bring?

One of our walkers described our walk as ‘a reason to get out of pyjamas on a Monday morning’. This is a light-hearted comment, but it also reflects the significant gain to mental health of beginning the week by rising to a challenge. We usually have around 20 walkers, most of whom turn up come rain and shine. Amongst our walkers are people who are bereaved or carers or new to the area. For our leaders it offers a way to share their gifts and enjoy the walk at the same time. I hear wonderful conversations about coping with changing life circumstances that happen naturally during the course of a walk. There is something about the process of walking as a group that facilitates natural and supportive conversations. It is both easy to talk and easy to be quiet.

“There is something about the process of walking as a group that facilitates natural and supportive conversations.”

Is there a specific faith or missional element?

Yes. Sometimes people want to talk to me about how being in nature helps them feel close to God or talk about unhelpful past experiences of church. Our church building makes practical hospitality possible, access to toilets at the beginning and the end is a real benefit for some. Being part of a group of walkers, looking forward to a cup of tea is an easy way across the threshold of a church building which can then, hopefully, speak for itself. One person, new to the village, was amazed to find a beautiful spiritual space that was open every day. Without the health walk they may never have realised this.

A health walk will not be right for every church but if you have a good base and somewhere to walk around then I think it is a wonderful way to be with people.

Useful links

For more about incorporating walking into your church’s ministry these links may offer inspiration and helpful practical advice:

Set up a health walk (

Why set up a Green Walk | Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Home - We Are Undefeatable – ways to get active whilst living with a health condition

Guide to Accessible Days out in Britain | Motability Scheme

Wheelchair Friendly Walks all around the country with The Outdoor Guide

Christenings Website Weddings Website Funerals Website Life Events Diary Church Print Hub Christenings Website
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