Blog: Lou Cullen, NCIM

Home Bristol Walkfest News Blog: Lou Cullen, NCIM

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hello, I’m Lou Cullen and I work for the National Centre for Integrative Medicine as Copywriter and Digital Marketing Manager. I’m also a Nutritional Therapist and mother of three. 

Tell us about your preferred Bristol walking route and why you love it so much

My favourite walk in Bristol has to be Goblin Combe, the views are just epic and I have to keep reminding myself we are still in England! I also love Ashton Hill Plantation for the giant redwoods and the wild garlic – there is so much in spring, when it flowers it looks like it’s snowed! I live right by the Downs too so a lot of time is spent there, either walking or jogging. I never tire of all these wonderful resources in the city and through the seasons I still pinch myself that all this is on my doorstep. You can’t beat Leigh Woods and Clifton Down in autumn, the colours are just too beautiful. In April and May I love Ashton Court for its views over the city and the sound of skylarks which nest in the grass. And of course Priors Woods in spring for the bluebells. I also love walking around the harbourside in the summer, it feels so vibrant and it’s lovely to watch all the small sailing boats and stand-up paddleboards.

How long have you been walking there and when did you first discover it?

I am relatively new to Bristol having moved here five years ago so I discovered a lot of new walking routes during lockdown which forced me to look for more local walks rather than driving further afield. I was delighted to find all of this within our amazing city and as a family we make a point of visiting all our favourite walks at certain times in the year. 

 Who normally accompanies you on your walks?

I tend to have my family with me when I walk, but I do like to meet friends for a walk sometimes which is a habit we got into during the forced solitude of lockdown. There is definitely a social aspect to walking for me!

How do you feel when you’re out for a walk?

Walking for me is incredibly important and as I get older something I have come to rely on for my mental health especially when I feel overwhelmed. 

Does it change your state of mind?

I find walking, especially in green spaces, so calming and de-stressing: I can literally feel my shoulders coming down as I begin a walk, especially when walking among trees. I feel myself craving some green space if I’ve not been able to get out and about more often. But sometimes it’s just the act of walking itself, the rhythm and the quiet, meditative pace. 

 Have you experienced any health benefits from walking?

It’s been shown that our levels of dopamine and serotonin increase when we walk and I can certainly say that is true for me. Whilst I normally walk with my husband and three young children I usually find a time whilst they are playing to quiet my mind and reflect on the nature around me. I do think it keeps me fit too, I walk my children to and from school every day through our leafy local park and try to walk to all the various activities we have through the weekend rather than relying on the car. I read that walking through the woods we breathe in phytoncides which trees emit to protect themselves and this helps boost our immune system. I love the concept that walking is good for all parts of our health!

 Do you have any particular kit you take with you when you’re walking? If so, what do you take and why?

When I walk the only thing I take with me is some water (and perhaps a snack for the children). If we’re going for a longer walk we might pack a picnic so we don’t have to cut the day short but I like to travel light! 

 What tips would you give to anyone thinking about getting into walking? 

My strongest advice to someone wanting to get into walking is think about what you want to get out of it. For me, being immersed in nature and ‘getting away from it all’ is very important but you might love walking round the city or learning more as you walk so walking tours might suit you better. My final piece of advice is don’t underestimate the power of a short walk. Walking doesn’t have to be an all day event. Try incorporating more walking in your daily life, ditch the car and feel the benefits!

Anything else you’d like to mention?

I am incredibly lucky where I work as NCIM’s clinic rooms are based at Ham Green House in Pill just outside of Bristol, where the Penny Brohn Centre is also located. The grounds here are just spectacular and have views over the River Avon to Shirehampton all the way down to Avonmouth so we love to use our lunchbreaks to walk around the gardens and admire the views and the ancient trees. It’s an incredibly healing space and we always try and encourage our patients to try a walk here if they have time after an appointment.

Fri 10 May 2024
Last Updated
Fri 10 May 2024