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Ruthin to Moel Famau

7th May 2023

South Manchester Muslim Walking Group was set up in 2018 to help encourage people to take a more active lifestyle, bring families together and also to encourage families to meet with other families. We started small with just my wife Shahla going on walks together inviting all from South Manchester and beyond, Muslim and non-Muslim to go for a walk!

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We gradually invited friends and family to join us on walks which are family-friendly from simple flat walks to more challenging ones including Snowdon, Scafell Pike and…..We now have over 350 people who have been on walks and over 1300 people follow us on facebook. We are helping people to prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, stress, obesity & mental illness especially after covid19 with people joining us from as far away as Leeds & London too. We have an admin team with Amna, Furheen, Rizwana, Taiba and myself keeping it all running smoothly arranging free walks every Saturday and Sunday. 

I am a General Practitioner in Hyde, Tameside, a semi-rural area just outside Manchester. I met with Professor Rajan Madhok a few times until he retired in 2010 and moved to Ruthin. We kept in touch, talking about the problems of the NHS and how they could be resolved. The NHS is like a big tanker - turning it around will take a lot more than just talk.

Following a recent discussion, I asked what he had been doing since retiring. To my surprise, he explained he had really enjoyed walking up mountains near where he lived, finding it a liberating experience and an opportunity to think deeply about how to fix the NHS.

So it seemed natural for us to bring a group over and under his expert guidance with Tony Rex, a good friend of his, to show us Ruthin to Moel Famau during the Coronation weekend.

We all met in the car park in Ruthin and started our long arduous journey with a description of the beautiful town, voted the best in Wales by the BBC. There were some breath-taking views of the countryside as we began to climb up towards Moel Famau 

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If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together

It was a grueling experience even for some of our more experienced walkers. As we climbed up the mountain, it seemed to give more and more, encouraging us to keep going, the excitement ever increasing and with it sapping our energy. It was a battle of hearts and minds as we helped each other along. It was not a race to the top but a challenge for us all to go together as a team.

The youngest member of our group today was Khadhija, aged 6 years old, wearing her coronation T-shirt. She just seemed to keep going, remarking her secret was the push pop she was sucking, giving her the extra energy she needed.

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We eventually reached the top and what a sight that was to behold, not to mention the sense of achievement. The views across the land were simply stunning. We had come on a good day when visibility was excellent and the weather fair. Khadhija was the first to reach the summit!

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Lunch was at the top and what a beautiful view of the world around us as well as an opportunity to pray.

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Khadhija was having a wonderful time taking it all in her stride

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Then we started the gentle climb down.

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Here is Rajan and myself grabbing a quiet moment together amongst this wonderful backdrop as we wondered how the NHS would survive.

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Coming across a field of bluebells gave us a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature’s beautiful colours

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We headed back to stop off at Rajan and Helen’s place where she had prepared food and drink fit for a King, Queen and their entourage. It felt like heaven..

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We walked back through Ruthin seeing some wonderful old houses and streets.

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We even managed to see preparations for a street party in celebration of the Coronation.

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Eventually, we arrived back at the car park with thanks to Rajan, Tony and the whole team including the children as well - all with happy faces and a real sense of achievement.

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How did everybody feel after the walk? We always ask for feedback:

  • One of the best social events I have been to

  • Refreshed, energised with a sense of accomplishment

  • Very satisfied.

  • Accomplished

  • Very tired and very satisfied

  • Exhausted but elated.

  • It was amazing Alhumdulilah

  • Very grateful to Rajan for spoiling us with a great walk and hospitality.

  • Amazing atmosphere, lovely caring people, nature, climbing mountains, it was just perfect.

  • Amazing

  • I had an amazing day meeting amazing people.Its been a meaningful activity surrounded by kind hearted,motivated people.Im looking forward to be able to join again soon

  • Absolutely amazing walk, So many emotions from exhilarated, extremely ecstatic, over achievement. I really felt we gelled as a group making some very strong friendships. All helped each other, looked out for each other, walked up to the top, prayed Dhuhr and then came back down. One got cramp in their legs, another needed their back to be massaged which quickly resolved and allowed them to continue walking, another person came last minute with trainers, we crashed a coronation party, saw the oldest timber house in Wales, incredible views of Wales at the top, sat in a field of bluebells, had a wonderful tea fit for a King and Queen and a Garden Party with tea and coffee, cakes and sandwiches and scones with jam too! Came home very pleased, having felt I had accomplished a mission and a half!

And overall, what did people think?

  • Beautiful

  • Great walk, great company, bonus food at the end

  • Amazing day.

  • This walk was exceptional ! The effort Rajan, Tony and Helen went to was another level :)

  • Beautiful people with beautiful souls

  • The walk was tough due to the heat and my own fitness level however we kept going as the group was amazing and supportive. Brilliant achievement by all especially the kids and young ones…well done everyone!!

  • Thank you Amir Bhai and Shahla Bhaji and please continue to be you and do such a great job in encouraging people to come out and walk :)

  • A totally awesome walk with a superb afternoon tea courtesy of Rajan and Helen.

  • Awesome experience

  • This is a long, arduous and challenging walk. That makes it even more enjoyable and satisfying, great opportunity to really gel together and enjoy some wonderful countryside / hills

So finally I guess you may ask, how many steps did we do?

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Little Khadhija managed 42,595 steps in one day walking for over 5 hours whereas I managed 27,000 steps having walked 11.7 miles! Not bad for somebody who had only started walking 5 years ago.

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Listen to Sheikh Afnan Alam talk about the benefits of walking from an Islamic perspective

The NHS is for the people and if we look after each other, we will look after the NHS too!

Thankyou Rajan, Tony and all the members of South Manchester Muslim Walking Group for making it a very special day. To find out more about the group, visit, find us on facebook or complete this form to join now 

We look forwards to meeting you on a walk! 

Amir Hannan

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Ruthin to Moel Famau - A memorable walk

A shortened version of the above article was published in the Welsh regional newsletter - Views from Friends

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