A KEEN walker and trained mountain leader is planning a series of winter walks in aid of a local charity.

Susan Uttley is inviting anyone who would like to join a small group of people on a socially-distanced, six-mile circular walk around Oxenhope and Haworth.

She is also happy to lead a group of friends or a family on the walk, which will take in the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and scenery made famous in the film The Railway Children.

Susan, who lives in Clayton, is hosting the walk on six dates over the Christmas and New Year period, in aid of Down Syndrome Bradford, a charity close to her heart.

“My sister Wendy and nephew Sam help run the charity, which is based in Bingley, so I would like these walks to help support the group.”

The walks - which will each have places for five people - will offer the chance for those taking part to get some fresh air and post-Christmas exercise and enjoy the countryside.

“We are very lucky in Bradford - we have so much wonderful scenery on our doorstep with moors and river valleys,” says Susan.

“There are also many great places within Bradford itself such as Cottingley Woods, Harden, Shipley Glen and Low Moor.

“I also love walking in Calderdale, particularly around Hebden Bridge, and around Marsden or Holmfirth in Kirklees.”

She adds: “Walking offers the chance to get out in the fresh air and has been so important this year, when so many of us have been at home for long periods, and may have felt isolated.”

While on the walk, she will point out places of interest along the route.

Susan, 58, has loved walking since she was a teenager.

“I started walking for pleasure aged about 16,” she says. “I used to be involved with Bradford Youth Hostel Association (YHA) where we had a walking group. We used to go walking all over the country - Wales, Scotland, the Lake District - it was great. Heading out was always a bit of an adventure and I also liked the social side, meeting people who also enjoyed walking.”

Later, when she was raising her family, Susan would take her three children on walks in and around Bradford and enjoyed planning the routes.

A member of Mary the Mother of God Parish in Wibsey, which includes St Winefride’s Church, Wibsey and St John the Evangelist’s Church in Buttershaw, Susan was asked by the parish priest to run a walking group, which she subsequently set up.

Among the walks she has organised for parishioners over the past few years is a sponsored walk in aid of the disaster fund following Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean in 2017.

“One of our church members belonged to the Dominican Club in Bradford and wanted to raise some money to help. There were 17 people on the walk around Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. It was a great success and everyone really enjoyed it,” she says.

Following that walk, Susan, who works part-time for Bradford Council’s children’s social care department, decided it was time to undertake specialist training to be able to take groups out.

“Beforehand I had to do many months of preparation and then put it all into practice on the course, which was held in the Lake District,” she says.

Susan is now a qualified Summer Mountain Leader, able to take groups into mountains under summer conditions.

After leading walks voluntarily for many years, Susan is hoping next year to start her own business, leading walks for groups including work colleagues, friends or any group of people who want to enjoy a ramble.

“I have for a long time thought about starting my own business and I want to be able to provide a service that people will enjoy and which will benefit them.

“There may be a group who want to climb a mountain like Helvellyn or Snowdon to raise money for charity and need a guide, or a group of colleagues may want to unwind on an away day in the countryside, or a group wanting to celebrate a birthday or other occasion.”

She is also able to take small groups of women wild camping, an activity she enjoys.

*Susan’s walks will take place on December 26, 27, 28 and 31, and January 1 and 2nd.

The cost per person is £10. There are five places per walk.

All proceeds will go to Down Syndrome Bradford.

For more information on the walk, or to book a place on one of them contact Susan at over-yonder.co.uk or on her Facebook page.

She can also be contacted on her mobile 07984 370380.