Lothians pensioner prescribed ‘walking cure’ by GP does 1000 miles in a year

Jim Snodgrass with the chair of his local Ramblers club. Picture: Contributed
Jim Snodgrass with the chair of his local Ramblers club. Picture: Contributed
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A pensioner from South Queensferry who was prescribed regular walks by his doctor to improve his health is celebrating after racking up more than 1,000 miles in less than a year.

Jim Snodgrass, 81, was given a step-counting watch by his daughter last Christmas and set himself the target of completing 870 miles before the year was out.

He thought this was a suitable milestone, being the distance from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, but after catching the walking bug he upped his aim to doing 1,000 miles by Christmas Day.

The Lothians pensioner said he was “over the moon” when his watch told him he had hit his target earlier this month during a walk in the Dundas Estate.

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Mr Snodgrass, who has had a series of serious health problems including cancer, hearing loss and a heart bypass, puts his remarkable achievement down to a simple chat with his GP in 2014.

The pensioner had been seeking mental health support following the death of his wife Sheila, and his doctor replied: “Why not join your local Ramblers group?”

Mr Snodgrass took the GP’s advice, and has since seen dramatic improvements in his health. His doctor once insisted on seeing him every two weeks – now his check up is every six months.

“It is honestly just amazing how much walking has helped me,” he said. “The walk leaders and members have all really looked after me, and my health has improved so much.

“One Ramblers friend says that I’m the only person she knows who gets younger every year.”

Following his heart bypass, Mr Snodgrass was told he should never let his heart rate rise above 120 to 130bpm, but his doctor now encourages him to reach 170bpm for short spells during walks.

As well as regularly walking at the Hopetoun, Dalmeny and Dundas Estates near his home, his involvement with the Ramblers has taken him walking in other parts of Scotland.

He has so far completed routes in St Andrews, Callander in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park and Blair Atholl in the Cairngorms national park.

Mr Snodgrass also started volunteering as a walk leader with the South Queensferry group, guiding fellow Ramblers along some of his favourite local routes.

“I’ve always been shy and quiet before finding the Ramblers,” he added. “I’m so chatty now, and love going away on trips with them.

“I’m truly a different person. In fact, when I’ve met people I haven’t seen in a few years they keep asking what’s got into me!”

Although he turns 82 next month, the pensioner – who insists on never counting everyday walks to the shops as part of his total – has already set his sights on doing another 1,000 miles in 2019.

This article was first published on our sister website, iNews