Rural Footprints - Lancashire Business Profile

PUBLISHED: 10:39 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 15:17 20 February 2013

Crook O'Lune

Crook O'Lune

Meet the woman from Hornby whose love of the outdoors has led her to set up her own guided walking business.Words: Amanda Griffiths Photographs: John Cocks

HELEN McKinstry can often be spotted tramping over the fields and hills in the Lune Valley in the company of her husband and dogs and she's all set to become an even more regular sight on the horizon.

In a bid to escape the office and get out and enjoy the countryside she is so proud of Helen, 40, has set up her own guided walking business, Rural Footprints.

The aim is to encourage people with little experience or who lack confidence to walk in the countryside to get out there and enjoy it. 'The walks are for people who want to get out and about and enjoy the countryside other than in the car, people who haven't really got the confidence to pick up a map themselves or to navigate the footpaths on their own,' says Helen from her home in Hornby.

'If they come on a couple of walks with me and then feel confident enough to go it alone, that's great,' she says. 'I've always enjoyed walking. Living here there's lots of walks to do and I've been going on them for many years.

'Basically I wanted to escape the office and cut down on my carbon footprint by working in the fantastic surroundings I live in. 'Everybody seems to go to the Lakes but no-one seems to know about the Lune Valley.'

Of course as well as encouraging people to get out and see the countryside for themselves, Helen's business also encourages health and fitness: 'Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five or more days a week,' says Helen.

'And it's it's much better being in the countryside and the fresh air rather than a sweaty gym. 'I've taken my friends out on practice runs of a lot of my walks. They've all enjoyed them. Many of them couldn't really be bothered to go on their own but if I drag them out they'll all go,' she says.

The business was only launched in April this year so Helen is balancing this with her job as a Rural Estates Manager for Leighton Hall. She says the commute to and from Kendal plus the rising cost of fuel and increasing awareness of carbon footprints alongside the desire to be her own boss in the surroundings she loves was the catalyst to launch Rural Footprints.

With the walking business concentrating on Thursday to Sunday, Helen has four main guided walks on offer, which are approximately three to five hours long.

'I'll be giving a little bit of history on the area and points of interest and encouraging people to bring cameras with them,' she added.

'I've done walks before from maps or guide books and the danger is your head is so far in the book you miss your surroundings. I'm trying to take that pressure off people, so they can enjoy the sights and let me worry about which direction we're heading in.'

The walks vary in lengths and are graded from moderate to more difficult so people can choose which is right for them. With no more than eight in a group they can also feel safe in the knowledge they'll get whatever individual help and attention they need.

Helen is also offering a number of evening walks which take about an hour and a half as well as pub walks (with a good inn at the end for a well deserved drink) and 'singles walks'. I'm not a dating agency, but I thought it would give people the chance to meet like minded people in a relaxed environment. 'The walks range from 5 to around 25.'

For more information about Rural Footprint and the walks on offer go to www.ruralfootprints.co.uk or call Helen on 015242 21122.

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