The National Trust is holding its first ever National Festival of Walking this October half-term, with at least 50,000 people expected to take part.
More than 32 million people – that’s two thirds of the UK adult population - plan to head outdoors to enjoy an autumn family walk, new research has shown, whilst over 16 million say it’s the season’s beautiful colours that makes autumn walking so special.
The National Trust has partnered with a leading health insurer PruHealth to organise around 1,000 events all over the country, from barefoot walks to silly walks, adventure walks to wildlife walks between October 22-30.
There will also be more than 800 free walking routes available to download from the National Trust website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walks.
Dr Katherine Tryon, head of clinical vitality for PruHealth, added: “The Walking Festival is a great way to get active with the whole family, and there are walks to suit all fitness levels. “Government guidelines recommend we walk 10,000 steps a day, and just 30 minutes of brisk walking each day can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, maintain a healthy weight, improve self-esteem and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
“The average walk at the National Trust is three to four miles, which is approximately 6,000-8,000 steps – well on the way to reaching the target while having a fun day out.
"When you’re healthy, you can get more out of life – come along and see!”
In the North West there are walks taking place across the region – from Cheshire to the Lake District in Cumbria.
Debbie Peers, press officer for the Trust said: “The Walking Festival has been planned to appeal to walkers of all ages and abilities, with the aim of getting everyone out and about into our glorious countryside. "We've got the West Wirral Wander (26 Oct) – a 7 mile walk led by a National Trust Ranger, exploring Thurstaston Common, Caldy and the Dee Estuary. To book call 07771 706925. At Dunham Massey walks include ‘Two Villages’ (29 Oct) which takes a look at the villages surrounding this great estate – Dunham Town and Little Bollington; and ‘The Wider Estate’ which goes outside the park walls and looks in detail at the land surrounding the mansion and park.
Both are free (normal admission applies), and run 10.30 – 1.30pm.
On the other side of the county, Lyme Park’s Explore the park with Freddy the Fox will appeal to younger visitors and families as they follow Freddy’s trail around the estate, woods and meadows, and find out about the wildlife which lives there.
The trail runs 22 – 30 Oct, 11am – 4pm and is free (normal admission applies).
Meanwhile, the strange and intriguing world of fungi will be explored at Quarry Bank Mill (22 – 26 Oct), daily at 10am. Head out with a Ranger to search for fungi in Styal Woods and learn about their vital role in the woodland ecosystem.
Included in the ticket price (£10 adult/£5 child) is a bowl of delicious Mushroom Soup and traybake. Booking is essential on 01625 445845.
At Alderley Edge you can enjoy a stroll through the autumnal beech woods – pick up ‘The Wizard Walk’ leaflet or download the pdf at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/alderleyedge. Alternatively try the circular walk through the woods from the Edge to Hare Hill Garden (approx 2 miles) – download this walk at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walks If you’re in the Lake District over half term, check out the Trust’s new website at www.ntlakesoutdoors.org.uk – where you’ll find lots of great outdoor experiences to enjoy from walking to rowing a boat on Windermere!
There’s more information on all the Trust’s Walking Festival events at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walkingfestival.
People can also log their own favourite walks on an interactive map on the website, with a debate on the best things about autumn walking taking place on the National Trust’s Facebook pages or on Twitter using #walkfest from October 20.