Q&A with Cornish Ramblings founder Jody Woolcock

Earlier this month, we caught up with Jody Woolcock, founder of the community walking group Cornish Ramblings, to talk to her about why she started the group, what impact walking has had on her own mental health, and what her plans are for 2023.

How and why did you start Cornish Ramblings?
I founded Cornish Ramblings in March 2016 after realising I had been walking the same paths and routes over and over again. I decided I needed to build on my confidence of walking in new locations, whilst finding a way to meet people who were as keen as I was to get out there and have an adventure. Over the months, as it started to grow and attract more and more people, I stopped seeing it as a way for me to make friends and get out more, but used it to help others meet new people, for others to get outside more, and for others to see more of what was right there on their doorstep.

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I’ve met some truly wonderful people who have become friends of mine, I’ve seen places in Cornwall that I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for my walking group, and I get to do something I truly love and have a passion for. But it’s also a way to encourage others to do the same. I love nothing more than hearing people say at the end of a walk “I really needed that”.

Is there a route in Cornwall that you still haven’t done yet but really want to try?
I have recently been gifted an incredible map of Cornwall which I have started using to highlight the areas I have rambled over the years and it’s safe to say, I have seen a lot of my county. However, there are still many places I’ve yet to do much walking. Tintagel, Boscastle, Port Isaac, and Bude are probably the areas I could spend more time exploring. There are also a lot of inland routes still left to discover so I am hoping to ramble around the woodlands and industrial areas of Cornwall.

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What advice do you have for people who want to get out there but are lacking the confidence to do it alone?
Walking together has created such a wholesome community, with friendships and adventures popping up all over the place. Walking groups are particularly great for those nervous about walking lesser-trodden paths — not only will you find people with common interests, but there will also be someone to offer words of encouragement when navigating a steep incline! As a woman, I am more mindful about where I am going and will always let someone know my location. I choose routes where I know I won’t be on my own for the entire time, will share my location with a friend or family member, and make sure to know the exact route before I set off. Joining Cornish Ramblings means you can go for a walk you may not have had the confidence to have walked alone and enjoy it with a group of people without having to think about where you are heading or getting lost.

What is your favourite hidden gem in Cornwall?
I have recently started sea swimming and a friend took me to Pendeen for a glorious walk along the coast which ended in a delightful sea swim in the man-made pool down at Boat Cove. I don’t know if this is a hidden gem, but it is definitely an area that I want to spend more time exploring. The sunset over Pendeen was pretty remarkable too and a place where you can explore and never get bored.

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What are the top three walking essentials that you’re never without?
Firstly, snacks and water! Dark chocolate, nuts and protein bars are my favourites. I usually take two bottles of water as I have a dog — Purdy, also known as the Cornish Ramblings mascot — so need to make sure I have enough for us both. Walking poles have also become a rambling essential (I like the collapsible trekking pole from Trekmates) — having that extra support when navigating unstable terrain or rocky pathways is a blessing. Finally, my first aid kit. Because I take out groups of people, I have to ensure I have my first aid kit (and am first aid trained) in case of any mishaps. In this kit you’ll find everything needed to patch someone up, plus my spare charging bank which keeps my phone fully charged should I need it for calling someone or for taking endless pictures, of course!

Have you got a favourite route that you never tire of walking?
My absolute favourite corner of Cornwall has always been the north coast. Plonk me anywhere between Portreath and Perranporth and I can walk back and forth along that stretch of coast all day every day. My Nan and I share a special affinity with St Agnes and Chapel Porth, so that stretch in particular is an area I spend a lot of time at. And you get some cracking sunsets along that coastline too.

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What do you think are the greatest benefits of walking and what sort of impact has walking and Cornish Ramblings had on your own life?
Without being too dramatic, I can safely say that Cornish Ramblings and walking has saved my life. I suffer with depression and have found myself spiralling down to rock bottom on many occasions throughout my life. And before I started hiking and Cornish Ramblings, I was overweight, drinking heavily, had no motivation in life, and spent a lot of time crying myself to sleep. However, since starting Cornish Ramblings and opening my life up to so many incredible people who have found walking a saviour too, I have found it has been instrumental in getting healthier (mentally as well as physically) and has been a pivotal part in my mental health journey.…it has all had such a positive impact on my life and my mental health and I am truly thankful for the support and love Cornish Ramblings and I receive.

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What’s your favourite season for walking in Cornwall?
Autumn. Without a doubt, my favourite season to go hiking or for a ramble is autumn. When the air is cool and crisp, the ground is full of crunch, the sun is still shining with just enough heat to not overcook you but keep you fairly warm when walking, the leaves are turning, and everything just feels so peaceful. You really can’t beat it and for me, it’s the time of year where I feel my most happiest and content. Adding a walk to my day is the cherry on top.

And finally, what does 2023 hold for you?
The year ahead is full of opportunities and possibilities, and I am looking forward to where 2023 will take me. I have a wonderful collaboration coming up with a company I am so incredibly lucky to have partnered up with — all to be revealed on my Instagram page and in my newsletter soon! I will be focusing on my writing too as I love to share my adventures through my blog, and I also like to share daily what we are up to on social media. I have lots in the pipeline and am looking forward to what’s to come but most importantly, I am looking forward to continuing to get out there with likeminded people who all want to relish in this beautiful county we are so fortunate to have and share.

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