A West Dunbartonshire local has featured in an online exhibition recognising people who champion the joy of everyday walking.
Walking has been a lifeline for Carol Young throughout her life for mental and physical health reasons. Now Carol prefers to travel actively to unwind and forget worries whilst doing her bit for the environment.
The 51-year-old’s portrait and walking story is part of Scotland’s Walking Charity, Paths for All’s “Humans of the Walk” online exhibition, launched as COP26 is underway in Glasgow.
The gallery of portraits and personal stories showcase the immense impact everyday walking can have on our health, wellbeing and the environment.
Carol, said: “I’ve always been an active person and before a period of bad health, I got the chance to hike the Himalayas and the Italian Alps.
“In my late 30’s I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and an underactive thyroid which resulted in intense surgery, during this time I also had a family bereavement. Quickly, I went from a fitness-fanatic to feeling demotivated, depressed and in physical pain.
“My long-term friend kept asking me to come out on walks but I’d always come up with some sort of excuse, but finally one night she managed to convince me and we went out on a stroll through the local area.
“After one walk, I could already feel the benefits. At this point, I decided to reconnect with my body and started walking around my local community and gradually began to increase the distance.
“Since then, I’ve rediscovered my love for walking and keeping fit in general – it’s been vital for me to connect with who I am as a human being.”
As Carol’s stamina and health picked up, she started to make the effort to walk to the shops and other local appointments instead of driving, also purchasing an old bike and rekindling an activity from her childhood – cycling enables Carol to explore her local area utilising the excellent cycling network around West Dunbartonshire and use her car less.
This quickly made her look at her own practices and efforts to be more sustainable leading to her making the switch to an electric vehicle.
With walking being a passion and Carol more motivated than ever to reduce her footprint, she made a bold decision to take family holiday’s in the UK rather than abroad. A typical family holiday now consists of appreciating what the UK landscape has to offer.
She added: “Now we take three holidays a year in the UK all of which are walking holidays. We purchased an electric car and once we reach our destination the car stays put and we walk everywhere.
“With all the trappings of modern life it is easy to forget that our body is designed to move for extended periods of time and it was only when I couldn’t that I realised how much I needed it.”
Images captured by the talented photographer Rebecca Holmes and her team, bring to life individual stories of overcoming challenges, connecting to our natural world and feeling our best.
Nine individual stories have been captured in locations all across Scotland from different ages and abilities.
Reducing car travel for short journeys is an important step that Scotland must take to tackle the climate emergency, as car journeys are responsible for 39% of transport emissions.
The charity is determined to promote walking and wheeling as the default choices for short journeys or as part of longer public transport journey to make a happier, healthier and greener Scotland.
Kevin Lafferty, Chief Executive Officer at Paths for All, said: “We can all ‘do our bit’ for climate change by walking or wheeling more often to reduce our carbon footprint, while improving our physical and mental health.
“As COP26 is taking place in Glasgow we want walking to be recognised for what it is – a planet-saving, health-improving force, free and accessible to everyone.
“As a charity, we want to revolutionise the way people use their cities, and stop our spaces from being dominated by cars. Scotland’s towns and cities should be a backdrop for people walking, wheeling, cycling or simply spending time enjoying cleaner, quieter, calmer streets.
“The people who have been featured in Humans of the Walk show just how wide an impact our own individual actions can have – so think of what we could accomplish together.”
Paths for All’s mission is to support people in Scotland to be active every day, everywhere.
The charity works to create more opportunities and better environments for everyone in Scotland, no matter who they are or where they live, to stay active through walking, wheeling or cycling.
To find out more about Path’s for All, visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/