WHEN Dave Scott went along to his very first Nordic walking session, little did he know it would kick-start a love affair with walking in the Hartlepool countryside.
Four years and more than 700 hours of volunteering later, the 72-year-old enthuses about the benefits of the great outdoors and taking part in the Hartlepool Borough Council-led walking sessions.
“It keeps me young,” beams Dave, who is now one of the council’s volunteer walk leaders, leading seven walks every week.
“It gets me outdoors, it keeps me fit, you get to meet so many new people, it brings everybody together, there are so many benefits.”
The dad-of-two served in the Army for 12 years before working at Steetley and Caterpillar, in Peterlee.
He went along to his first Nordic walking session after retirement and it didn’t take him to long realise how much he enjoyed discovering and clocking up miles upon miles in the rural trails around Hartlepool.
He quickly became a volunteer walk leader, a role which involves finding new and challenging routes, completing safety checks and then leading a group of fellow walking enthusiasts.
Hartlepool Borough Council is currently on the lookout for more walk leaders and Dave takes absolutely no hesitation in urging fellow residents to follow his lead and get involved.
The granddad-of-five, who lives in the Clavering area of Hartlepool, said: “When you are younger you obviously work and you do this and that to keep you busy but I wish I had took it up years ago.
“It’s just so fulfilling.
“It keeps me from turning into a coach potato.”
Dave is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing walking routes around the town.
Hart Village, Greatham and Seaton Carew are all starting points for “brilliant” local walks.
Those who are thinking about signing up as a volunteer walk leader in the town don’t need any prior experience and will receive full training.
Dave said the back-up walk leaders get from the council’s sport and physical activity team is “magical”.
“We would love to get out and organise even more walks,” he said.
“But there aren’t enough volunteer walk leaders in the town at the minute unfortunately.
“But I can guarantee that anyone who gets involved won’t regret it, they will absolutely love every minute of it as I have done.”
l The next council-led Nordic walk takes place at 5.30pm tonight at Newburn Bridge car park, Seaton Carew, with sessions also beginning at 10.30am and 5.30pm on Sundays at Hart Village church car park.
For more information amd for details about becoming a volunteer walk leader contact the council’s sport and physical activity officer, Ryan Houghton, on (01429) 284414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.