Out of office – Robert Witton on national parks and weekend walks

Robert Witton discusses why living in Plymouth helps him to maintain a healthy work-life balanceRobert Witton discusses why living in Plymouth helps him to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Please introduce yourself

I studied dentistry at the University of Birmingham, qualifying in 1999. After that, I spent my formative clinical years in the military as an army dental officer.

After leaving the army, I spent a short spell at Portsmouth University. I then moved to the southwest to undertake specialist training in dental public health based at the University of Plymouth Peninsula Dental School.

I enjoyed it so much I have never left. I’m now the director of community dentistry in the school and a consultant in dental public health in Devon and Cornwall.

I am also the current chair of the British Dental Association Dental Public Health Committee.

The beauty of the southwest

Dentistry is a stressful profession and none more so than during a global pandemic, having interests outside of dentistry is so important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. I am lucky to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country and one that offers so much opportunity away from work and the stresses of dentistry.

I live in Plymouth, sandwiched between the Dartmoor National Park on one side and the southwest coastal path on the other. Consequently, I really am spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor activities. I try to go out walking every weekend. During the summer I swim most days so I have some exercise and escape from work pressures.

There are so many walks to choose from the difficult decision is choosing where to go. One of my favourite coastal walks links together two small Cornish fishing ports – Looe and Polperro. These provide for a dramatic rugged coastline and a number of beautiful beaches along the meandering coastal path. The promise of a drink in the pub at the end of the walk is also a strong motivator.

What do you enjoy about it?

I have always found something very relaxing about walking in the natural environment whether that is on Dartmoor, with its stunning views from the top of rocky outcrops, or gazing out at the sea from the coastal path. Like most people, I work from an office most of the time. The opportunity to get out into the fresh air and beautiful scenery of the southwest has a positive impact on my outlook, mindfulness and energy levels.

I always feel refreshed and raring to go when the alarm clock buzzes on Monday morning. Well, most of the time anyway…

Would you recommend it to other people?

Yes I would. If you enjoy the natural environment and like to feel fresh air in your lungs plan a trip to the southwest. It’s ideal for a weekend, a short break or a summer holiday. More information can be found at: www.dartmoor.gov.uk and www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk.

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