On rail trail for mental health

Kathryn Tall, of Dunedin, is walking the Otago Central Rail Trail to promote mental health...
Kathryn Tall, of Dunedin, is walking the Otago Central Rail Trail to promote mental health awareness. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
Walking the Otago Central Rail Trail will be a mental health journey for Kathryn Tall.

Miss Tall, of Dunedin, decided to walk the length of the rail trail one year on from the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown to recognise the ongoing mental health challenges for some people.

She will be sharing her journey on social media and plans to walk largely unassisted, camping out under the stars at times, as well as some overnight stays.

The walk will be a visit back to familiar territory, as she recalled growing up in Alexandra until leaving high school.

Her journey began on Friday in Clyde, walking to Alexandra, then to Chatto Creek, Omakau, Poolburn, through to Wedderburn and Ranfurly and Hyde before being picked up by her son.

Walking the 152km trail was a chance to encourage others to stay strong and spend time outdoors.

Whether it was a long journey like hers, or a simple walk to the end of the road or around a local park or waterfront, getting outside was a reminder that mental health was about "putting one foot in front of another".

Small steps could lead to keeping strong and positive.

Her experience during lockdown included a period of disrupted routines as the shop where she worked was closed, as were many others, she said.

Spending time alone was also a chance for reflection and, as the region remembered one year on from lockdown, it was a reminder that mental health was about staying on the rails and keeping safe.

Miss Tall said she was struck by the kindness and hospitality of people who would help her with accommodation during her journey for some overnight stays.

Growing up in Alexandra she appreciated the importance of "leaving only footprints in Central Otago", so she was travelling light and would be carrying all waste with her until it could be disposed of appropriately.

• To follow her journey, search for Staying On The Rails - A Walk to Recognise Strength in the Face of Adversity on facebook.

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