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Matt Day

Matt lives near Ilminster with his wife and two teenage sons. He loves to cycle and also runs and walks. He is a Social Prescribing Link Worker in the NHS, connecting people with activities, groups and services that improve their wellbeing.

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Tell us about yourself

Why do you love getting outside in Somerset?

Somerset has such a diverse range of beautiful countryside which gives a huge number of options to get outside and explore. We fell in love with the area on a cycling holiday to the Quantocks many years ago and that’s still our favourite place to get outdoors. But we’ve also discovered some lovely walks close to home around Ilminster and we regularly cycle on the Levels. Getting outside in Somerset always boosts my mood.

Can you tell us a little more about any outdoor activities you love in particular, and how you got into them? 

I try to do some activity every day, either cycling, running or walking, but sometimes I’m really not in the mood so it’s not always easy. I’ve loved cycling since I could ride a bike. It’s the sense of freedom you get, moving through the countryside at your own pace, under your own steam. I much prefer to exercise outdoors – you don’t get to experience the weather and nature in gyms! I always feel better after outdoor activities from the boost of the endorphins and also feel less stressed. When I’m exercising I often think of solutions to problems.

Running suits if I’m short of time – I rarely do more than 30 minutes (5Km) but it’s a good workout. I got into it by using the free NHS Couch to 5K App.

I also like getting out on the water on a kayak at Langport or in the sea when I have the time.

Where are your favourite places to go outside in Somerset? 

On road, there’s lots of great cycling nearby – into the Blackdown Hills for some nice climbs from Staple Fitzpaine or Corfe or onto the Levels for easier loops. A regular circuit of mine is to Burrow Hill – a 45 minute ride with a short sharp hill halfway.

The Quantock Hills are my favourite place to ride off-road. Being up on the top with the huge sky and great views is invigorating and dropping down into the combes is exhilarating. Park at Triscombe Stone or Crowcombe Car Parks, or start from the bottom for a serious ride!

When our kids were younger we would use traffic-free routes such as the Chard-Ilminster path or the Bridgwater-Taunton canal; we need more of these in Somerset so it’s great to see the Rail to Trail project making progress.

For walking, the northern part of the Quantocks and Horner Wood on Exmoor are my favourites.

What advice would you give to people who want to get outside more? 

Just go for it – you don’t need expensive kit. A pair of trainers is all you need to start running. If you’d like to walk with others, the Health Walks are a good place to start – easy guided walks in many towns and large villages across the county. You can buy affordable used bikes on Facebook & Ebay, and there are some friendly social cycling groups like Cycle Somerset as well as cycling clubs for more serious riders.