Why I Walk. From Joan Bullivant, our group treasurer, who has Type 2 diabetes

I walk simply because I enjoy walking. I enjoy being outdoors, I find the rhythm of walking relaxing, I enjoy discovering new places and seeing familiar places in a new light. I enjoy being out in different seasons. I like looking at different buildings, scenery and nature and seeing other people's gardens.

I like discovering places that I can go back to visit and maybe take others with me e.g. parks, cafes, pubs, churches, museums, and unfamiliar areas.

I enjoy walking on my own but I also like walking with at least one other person and walking with groups. It is nice to discover things together and to have someone to talk to at times.

I don't need reasons to make me walk - it is a pleasure - but common sense and common knowledge tell me that walking is good for my health and for my stress levels. I am also aware that walking with others is an added bonus for so many reasons, including a feeling of security of not being alone and not always being responsible for choosing a route and finding the way.

I don't really mind about the distance I walk. I go on, and lead, walks of varying lengths and I am a long distance walker but I am also quite happy to do a short walk or even simply amble along, stopping to look at things en route.

Walking is something which is free or does not have to cost a lot of money, although you need to have comfortable footwear. You can walk at anytime, anywhere. It does not require a time commitment in the same way as being a member of a sport's team or an orchestra or choir, for example.

Walking is part of everyday life. It is a free means of travel, can be part of your routine and you can vary your route.

It is a transferable skill. You can walk anywhere once you have a certain level of fitness and confidence. It enhances holidays and days out.

Walking as part of a group gives you a sense of belonging and a shared interest. It can help you to structure your week and regular walking with a group provides an opportunity to get to know people and make friends.

There are many opportunities in the London/Essex area to become a member of a walking group, such as The Ramblers, (with a membership fee). You can also participate in all types of walks which take place at various times of the year which focus on different areas, different themes or different causes and which may or may not involve payment.

Walking in Barking and Dagenham

Within Barking and Dagenham there are various free walks available such as those provided by Walking for Health and Streets Apart.

For walking on your own or with friends or family I would recommend using the Eastbrookend Discovery Centre as your starting point. There is a free carpark and the centre is on the 174 bus route. (The nearest tube station is Dagenham East.)

The centre is an ideal base because there is a cafe, toilets, information panels and leaflets which provide a map and information about all of the Dagenham Corridor. The Barking and Dagenham Park Rangers are based there.

There are paths within easy reach of the centre for you to do short walks and have benches on which to rest or admire the views. There is a self-guided nature trail and opportunities to use the area for much longer walks.