From forming walking groups to offering volunteering opportunities, we help people across communities to discover their common interests and activities.
Find a common interest
The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is full of opportunities for you to find common interests with others or new communities. Whether you’re looking for other artistic-minded souls, or someone to show you bushcraft, a place that’s accessible and friendly, or way to learn about local history, there is something for you.
Experience the Chilterns together
We have carefully chosen our most immersive and memorable countryside experiences to share with you. They cover a diverse set of subjects throughput the Chilterns from painting to wine-making, smartphone photography to backwoods cooking. All of our hand-picked activities will provide you with opportunities to find people with similar interests, learn different skills, gain new knowledge, and make new friends.
Find friends outdoors
When it comes to walking and outdoor recreation there is no ‘one size fits all’ – a gentle amble to one person can be a marathon for another. We all have different needs and motivations when visiting the countryside, and sometimes people can be put off by uncertainty about the state of the paths and terrain, the availability of accessible transport, worries about getting lost, lack of confidence or simply not feeling like the countryside is a welcoming place. For certain physical or mental health needs, the challenges can feel greater still.
Yet, things are often easier and better when done to together! We are lucky in the Chilterns to have a huge variety of outdoor groups aiming to make the countryside more accessible and welcoming to all – health and well-being through nature and landscape is for everyone.
Find opportunities to get together in our Visit section or read on for a flavour of what’s on offer:
Andy Shipley of Natural Inclusion invites you to join a Nature Sense Session and immerse yourself in the season’s sounds, smells and sensations. Building on his perspective as a visually impaired person, Andy works with groups and individuals in natural settings to explore the power of their non-visual senses to open a deeper connection with nature.
Wild Song Walks
Paula Tait of Wild Song Walks is a professional singer and harpist by background. Now a certified nature connection guide, Paula leads gentle Wildsong Walks in the woods around High Wycombe, combining music and nature as a powerful way to help us connect and relax! Come and walk the songline of conkers, acorns and hazelnuts and re-enchant the land with summer songs, spells and stories.
Oasis Partnership charity supports mental health and addiction issues in the Chesham and Amersham areas. Their mission is to improve quality of life by reducing disadvantage, isolation and loneliness, and by increasing skills, confidence and well-being. Supporting people of all ages, it offers a range of services including free weekly walks on Fridays, 11am-1pm, from the Bagnall Centre in Chesham. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 6662747 to book your place.
Reading Association for the Blind
Reading Association for the Blind’s rambling group offers country walks followed by a pub lunch, every other week, for visually impaired members and sighted volunteers. Some hikes will require you to be guided over a stile. Free with a suggested donation of £5.
Walk Works was set up by experienced walkers Liz and Caroline, inspired by a love of walking and nature and a deep belief in the importance of both for peoples’ wellbeing. They offer one- or two-hour weekly walks in the Southern Chilterns and Thames Valley countryside within easy reach of Reading. The focus is very much on sociability, meeting new people and having fun! Usual price £10 person. Search for Walk Works on Facebook or call 07825 251955 or email email@example.com
Dudes & Dogs
Dudes and Dogs is a friendly walking group that aims to improve men’s mental health and well-being. Designed as a safe place for men to get together, walk and talk (if you feel like it – no pressure!). The weekly 60-minute walks take place in the Henley and south Oxfordshire area. Walkers are welcome to bring friendly, well-behaved dogs, but do not have to own a dog to join.
Lindengate Charity, near Wendover, invites you to wander through its six-acre garden and nature reserve. Discover, learn, relax and reconnect with nature on its free Rest & Reflect sessions. The charity also runs a Women’s Wellbeing Group supporting women from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, and a green volunteer programme for under 18s.
Books in the Woods
Books in the Woods is a weekly woodland playgroup, inspired by children’s books, child-led activities and free play. The group is based in Hertfordshire and meets in various locations around the Ashridge Estate and Tring/Berkhamsted area. Search for Books in the Woods on Facebook.
Chiltern Rangers run a volunteer conservation group every Thursday in green spaces around High Wycombe, which is open to all. Volunteering has been consistently shown to improve mental well-being and can be a great way of getting outdoors, meeting like-minded people and improving your own skills.
Path Hill Outdoors
Path Hill Outdoors at Goring Heath is a skilled team of outdoor educators and bushcraft leaders who work with young people who find the classroom environment a challenge. Working with people living with trauma, anxiety disorders or those on the autistic spectrum, they run a pre-school group, family camps, activities for schools and community groups, as well as bookable activities for adults’ wellbeing including a wild women’s group and forest bathing.
Explore & Enjoy
Wheelchair and pushchair friendly walks: The Chilterns has a number of sites with wheelchair accessible trails, and it is possible to hire mobility vehicles at some, including the National Trust’s Dunstable Downs and Ashridge Estate. There are currently few organised wheelchair walks, and we hope to offer more as part of future Chilterns Walking Festivals. Find out more about sites with Access for All.
Find a way to walk, run or ride together
There are lots of opportunities for walking in the Chilterns AONB, whether following a route off our website, or popping to a well-known beauty spot. But if you’re unsure where to start, or want some company along the way, a walking group or event can be just the thing to get you going, give you company and lift your mood.
- Chiltern Explorers is a walking social group on Meetup. They offer a wide range of guided walks across the Chilterns and further afield. Their walks often start at tube or railway stations, or free car parks. They are relaxed and enjoyable, often ending with a well-deserved pub break!
- The Chiltern Society organises a popular programme of walks and rides throughout the year, designed to improve both physical and mental health. Anyone is welcome to join in their half-day, day or special interest walks. Most walks are around 5 miles long and there are 2 or 3 walks on offer every week.
- Chiltern Young Walkers is a friendly and sociable walking group aimed at people in their 20s and 30s. Make friends, join hikes or get social at their regular pub outings and events.
- The Ramblers has lots of information on walking on its website and lists regular events. You can use the search function to find a walk, group or event near you.
- Park runs operate throughout the Chilterns AONB. They provide 5-km (and sometimes 3-km) outdoor courses in lovely settings that will lift your mood as you go. Run at your own pace and with friends and family. Visit the website to find one near you.
- Walking for Health organises hundreds of free Health Walks each week across the Chilterns AONB. These volunteer-led walks have something for all abilities. They are sociable and fun, and you don’t need any special equipment to join in, just comfortable shoes!
Find a way to get involved
The Chilterns AONB faces many pressures from habitat loss, climate change and development. But there are lots of ways that we can all help to turn these challenges into opportunities, helping nature’s recovery and preserving our important natural resources.
We can all make a difference to the environment, whether it’s in a big or small way. From adjusting how we use water to undertaking practical conservation work, collective action can help protect and enhance the catchment that we value.
Get involved – visit our Volunteering Hub
Conservation volunteering not only benefits the natural world, but it also benefits us. It provides a sense of well-being from giving something back to the community and from being immersed in nature. It offers a chance to make new connections and learn new skills or gain new knowledge about the wildlife, heritage and environment of the area. If you want to find out more about volunteering, visit our Volunteering Hub – a place where local organisations and community groups advertise opportunities to get involved.