Society Spotlight banner - Oxford walking society
Society Spotlight banner - Oxford walking society

Society Spotlight: Oxford Walking Club

Izzy Creed is the president of Oxford Walking Club, she’s also a DPhil student studying Theoretical Chemistry. Izzy spoke to us about the walking club and how being able to walk – even when it’s just around the city centre – has offered her and other members of the club a vital lifeline of relaxation and (responsibly distanced) socialisation.

“The walking club has been there for its members in some way or another throughout the pandemic. While there have been different stages, from the entirely remote Trinity term of 2020 to almost everyone being in Oxford for much of Michaelmas 2020 we’ve all been united by our love of walking.

In Trinity 2020 everyone was away but we stayed in touch via virtual coffee mornings and even club nights over Zoom. Early on we set up a WhatsApp chat where people could just chat but also take and share photos from their walks. We had people sharing images from wherever they were in the world. There was also a group of students who were helping to support other members of the Club including those who were self-isolating by bringing them groceries when they couldn’t go out.

In the summer we were lucky enough to be able to meet in person with restrictions around social distancing. We did various walks and I did the entire length of the Thames with some other members of the club joining me along the way. We were also able to do two trips of socially distanced camping where each person slept in their own tent so we were all apart.

Supporting each other through walking

Then in Michaelmas term we were able to offer support to anyone in Oxford. We did night and weekend walks in Oxford with groups of six to begin with. When we were first back for the new term we even had an outdoor barbecue for the Freshers. During the second lockdown we ran one-to-one walks through WhatsApp, we would take one person on a walk around the city, with all COVID precautions and safeguarding – such as telling at least one other person where you were going being adhered to.

Some people find it hard to be on their own and can feel isolated even when they are seeing people such as their housemates. With the Freshers we tried to encourage them to come out on the one-to-one socially distanced walks because there are some people who don’t know the people in their bubble very well or just haven’t been able to make as many friends as they’d like.

During the vacation we continued meeting in twos, even with people bringing along mulled wine and mince pies to make it a little festive. Now we’re holding virtual socials with coffee mornings and pub nights. We’re still running the one-to-one walks within the city and in accordance with the Government and University guidelines.   For those outside Oxford there’s the WhatsApp group where we share our progress.

Taking a break from the pandemic

The great thing about walking is that while much of society has stopped nature never does and it’s nice to be able to get out for a walk, even if it’s around the city centre. It’s a break from COVID and from studying that many of our members have really benefited from.

It’s hard to know what the rest of the year will bring but we are hoping to do a big trip and some people are training for the Pennine Way walk which starts in the Peak District and runs all the way up to the Scottish Border. We managed to run a similar shorter walk in the autumn, walking from Oxford to Banbury raising money for Beat.

When we’re not in a pandemic the walking club usually runs a variety of walks from day trips to the Cotswolds and Chilterns to longer walks like the Pennine Way. There’s no fitness level that members need to participate, the Club is open to all abilities but if people want to take part in longer more challenging walks we’re here to help them train and gain those skills.”

If you’re interested in joining the society or just finding out more, visit the website or contact