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Get Active Wandle Valley!

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Get Active Wandle Valley

Interview with Project Co-ordinator of Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust

One You Merton Digital Marketing Officer Mike Carveth recently went to interview Anna Desogus who is the Project Co-ordinator of Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust.  The interview took place in Morden Hall Park, where the Trust’s office is based:

Mike: Hi Anna, it’s great to meet you, especially in the beautiful surroundings of Morden Hall Park. So what is Get Active Wandle Valley? And what kind of activities do you offer?

Anna: Get Active Wandle Valley is a program run by the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust and funded by Sport England, four boroughs of London (Merton, Croydon, Sutton, Wandsworth) and the National Trust. Within the Get Active programme we offer a variety of activities for people of different ages. We want to help people get active and stay active and encourage them to use the wonderful green spaces within Wandle Valley Regional Park for physical activity. Our sessions take place across Merton, Sutton, Wandsworth and Croydon.

We offer sessions such as group walks, instructor led exercise at outdoor gyms, family bike rides, running sessions and yoga classes. In 2017 we have also offered some more unusual disciplines like archery, fishing, pickleball, walking football and touch tennis and we hope to bring some of these back in spring this year. All our sessions are very beginner friendly as we are particularly keen on helping those people who are currently not very active.

Mike: That sounds really good. It seems like there is a range of things going on throughout the year. Are all your sessions free?

Anna: Most of them are, I would say about 90% of the sessions are completely free to the participants some of the sessions have a £1 or £2 fee.

Mike: Can people turn up on the day? Or do they need to book in advance?

Anna: Yes, it’s fine to just show up! If it’s your first session, just remember to come a few minutes early so the leader of the activity / coach can have a quick chat with you.

Mike: That’s great. Do you have different activities through the year? Are there certain activities that are consistent throughout the year?

Anna: As we really want people to get into the habit of regular exercise we try to offer things continuously rather than in very short blocks so most of our sessions run throughout the whole year. Having said that there are certain activities which may require a large outdoor space so you can’t do everything in the winter.  I would say the busiest seasons are spring and summer.

However, we are dedicated to offering different activities throughout the winter as well.  I think when it’s dark and cold outside, it’s so much easier to train with a group and be active with a group rather than on your own.

Mike: It’s also difficult to keep motivated in the winter as well…

Anna: Exactly, so people really see the benefits of being part of a group in the winter in particular.

Mike: Can you tell us what your plans are for 2018?

Anna: We will continue with the different bike rides, running groups and our forever fit classes which are walks plus exercise at the outdoor gyms. We are looking at bringing back some activities from last year such as golf in the park which was very popular and is a really great chance for people who have never played golf to have a go at it.  We have also started a weekly yoga session in Mitcham and are looking at offering BMX sessions later this year too.

Mike: Earlier you mentioned the Wandle Trail, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Anna: Yes, so the Wandle Trail is a wonderful 12.5 mile route, from East Croydon Station to the Thames Path in Wandsworth, near Wandsworth Town train station. It is mainly traffic free and it’s great for cycling, walking and running. The trail mostly follows the Wandle River and runs through different green spaces and parks. The Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust have worked hard over the years with partners to improve the Trail and we will continue to secure investment to make the Trail safer and more accessible for more people to enjoy, through our Gateway projects. We have free Trail maps available at our office in Morden Hall Park, just next to the Snuff Mill. You can also download the map here: Wandle Trail map

Mike: What would you say to someone who is interested in coming along to a Get Active Wandle Valley activity, but has never been and is not sure what to do?

Anna: Well I would say please don’t worry that you will be the most unfit, biggest or slowest person to attend. We are very inclusive and very beginner friendly.  The instructors, activators and coaches are all trained to support inactive people in the early stages of becoming active.  It’s really a very friendly and supportive environment and our participants have all expressed fantastic positive feedback so far.  We have been very pleased about how we have been able to contribute towards people making some important lifestyle changes.

Anyone who is sitting at home thinking it will be too hard or too fast should not be worried. Come along and tell the instructor it’s your first session and you will be well looked after and you’ll have a good experience for sure.

Mike: So would you say Get Active Wandle Valley has something for everyone?

Anna: Yes we have 4 main groups of activities – beginners exercise which caters for complete beginners, fit families where the whole family can take part in the same activities, Forever Fit which is for anyone aged over 50, which is mostly walking and gentle exercise outdoors and finally we have Club 150 which are our activities for young people aged between 15 to 25.

Mike: It all sounds great Anna. So if anyone is interested is it best to visit your website?

Anna: Well first of all check out the timetable below for all the details about the sessions we currently offer! Here is our website: Get Active Wandle Valley

It is currently undergoing some updates and might not have all the latest info on it until mid Feb, so it’s best to get in touch with me on anna.desogus@wandlevalleypark.co.uk OR 07809 458 494 if anyone has any questions.

We do regularly post about our sessions on Twitter and Facebook, so do follow us there!

Twitter – Wandle Valley

Facebook – Wandle Valley

Also, if you want to learn more about the various things to do and places to discover within Wandle Valley Regional Park please visit their website: Wandle Valley Regional Park



Day Time Activity Venue Cost Notes
(Gentle Hatha Yoga Class)
Vestry Hall
336 – 338 London Road, Mitcham,
£2.50 per session Open to all ages, all levels, beginners welcome. If you have a mat, please bring it with you.

Practicing yoga can help improve strength and flexibility. It can also help you relax and become mentally stronger.






Forever Fit


Meeting outside Ravensbury Park Medical Centre,

Ravensbury Lane, Mitcham


FREE Session for participants aged 50+.

The walk lasts between 30min and 60min depending on the weather. At the end we stop at a café for a coffee or tea and a great opportunity to chat!

Stay active and meet friendly local people!


WED 11:15AM – 12PM Forever Fit


Meeting outside Ravensbury Park Medical Centre,

Ravensbury Lane, Mitcham



Session for participants aged 50+.

This low-impact, gentle exercise session outdoors will help you improve mobility, strength and flexibility. We sometimes use the outdoor gym equipment or resistance bands brought by the instructors.

If you exercise with this group regularly you will quickly see the results and notice that you are feeling stronger and more confident when doing various everyday activities.


WED 6:30PM – 7:30PM MORDEN RUNNING GROUP Meeting in front of the entrance to Morden underground station FREE  

Open to all ages. And you don’t have to be fit already to join! Beginners welcome!

This is a mixed level running group open to everyone! The sessions include various forms of training – some repetitions of shorter loops, some exercises to improve running technique and of course breaks to catch your breath!

Don’t worry if you think you are unfit or very slow! You will be able to train at your own pace!