Rambling Retirees at St. John's GAC


Belfast based St John's GAA club recognised the need to provide healthy activities for members and their families who no longer participated in playing gaelic games and after a little thought, Fit4Life was born.

Fit4Life offered weekly keep fit type activities in our hall to suit all ages but there was still a need for something less strenuous to involve the 60+patrons.

Rambling Retirees began to emerge. The group began in September 2014 with Kevin + Maria Gough undertaking the Walking Leaders course organised by Walking in the Community NI. This excellent course helped them focus on the important elements of setting up the group and off they went.

The walking group started with 6 similar minded people who just wanted to get outside, walk and talk and see the world around them from a different angle, having retired from their jobs. 6 became 12 and 12 became 24 as word spread quickly about the weekly Tuesday walks.

People love the social interaction of the group which includes a variety of people from 50+ to 70+ who all had different jobs in their working life. Their members are not just from the GAA club but as we walk we meet others who ask can they join or have read our blurb on Walking in the Community NI website.

Members tell us how much they look forward to a Tuesday morning, as they know they will walk, as they want to catch up with the group activity.We walk every single Tuesday regardless of the weather from 1st Setember to 30th June.

Maria organises a timetable to cover every 4 months which gives us a variety of walks to see beautiful scenery, flowers and wild life in different locations between Belfast Harbour and Lisburn with a few train journeys out to Helen’s Bay where we walk along the coast to Bangor or climb Divis Mountain, ramble through Colin Glen or climb up The Cave Hill.

However, our greatest achievement has been doing a 119 km Camino Walk in Spain in April 2016.  24 people made this 6 day journey together, through rain drenched paths, roads and mountainous terrine from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostella  (The Way of St. James) This was only made possible by the formation of our walking group the previous year and did wonders cementing our group together.Arriving into the square in Santiago De Compostella will be a lasting memory for our group who started out doing 2km on our first walk (half an hour out and half an hour back) and now they had completed 119km.

Then it was back to our Tuesday routine the following week where no walk presents a challenge to the group anymore!!My message is get out and walk. It is so relaxing as you see the wonder of nature through the seasons.  ‘Walk and talk’ is a great motto as every individual is unique and different with great experiences to relate. But best of all make sure there is a coffee stop on your route………that motivates the group to no end, knowing the craic can be shared as we relax for half an hour.

Article by: (Community Walk Leader) Maria GoughRetired Primary school Principal and Health & Well Being Officer at St. John’s GAC Belfast.

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