Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Step and Snap makes its autumn return

STEP AND SNAP - Colchester Walk to Work Week's photography competition.
Send us your pictures of your walking during the autumn walk to work week, 25-31 October 2010.

This is an unusual competition; there are no rules, only the possibility of some prizes and awards, and just a little small print.

What are we looking for? Images taken on your walk to work, or when walking anywhere in Walk to Work Week. It can be the big picture of the landscape, or the fine detail along the way. It can illustrate a specific location, or it can promote the concept of walking for transport. It can be sharp or abstract. Your pictures can make a point, or be fun, or, better still, be both. It's up to you. In our "wrong way round" competition we will devise potential categories and awards according to what images we receive.

What happens later? We want to use your images to promote walking in Colchester . We are having another local promotion in 2011, and would like to stage an exhibition of your photographs. If you want to get involved in any way with the walking project or the photography competition, please get in touch.

The small print. Please send your images and information to by Wednesday 3rd November 2010. They must be your own pictures, taken during walk to work week 25-31 October 2010. You retain the copyright of your photos. We are permitted to use them to promote walking in Colchester, giving you the picture credit.

Remember, STEP AND SNAP is just for fun.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Autumn Walk to Work Week 25-31 October 2010

They said "it's crazy to promote walking with the evenings get darker". They said "no way should you promote walking when it's turning chilly". But we say walking is a year round activity, to be enjoyed whatever the date. And to celebrate walking in normal clothes rather than t-shirts and shorts, we have a walking week at the end of October (Monday 25th to Sunday 31st), and here's the first announcement of our programme.

Tuesday 26 October. "Walkers' Breakfast" for people at North Colchester Business Parks. Meet-up from 7:30-9:30 at Chef's Eating House. The Seedbed centre, Wyncolls Road, Severalls Industrial Park, CO4 9HT.

Wednesday 27 October. "Chilly Hilly Fields" picnic lunch. Hot vegetable soup will be provided, after a 1km led walk. Depart from outside Mercury Theatre at 12:15 sharp, to the bench overlooking the Colne valley at Hilly Fields. Scarves may be needed.

Saturday 30 October."Stockwell Strollers" walking group. Meet at The Castle Inn, High Street, at 8.30 for a 9.00 start. It will be a 10 mile walk in the morning to The Albion at Rowhedge and a 4 mile stroll back along the river after lunch, back at The Castle by about 4.30. For more information contact Alan Hardy at .

Sunday 31 October. "Walk the Walls" led history walk, 3km round the town's walls, led by local history enthusiast Jess Jephcott. Leaves Balkerne Gate at noon, about 90 minutes.

ALL WEEK it's the return of the "Step and Snap" photography competition, more details soon. Plus there are several "Health Walks" during the week - see Colchester Borough Council website.

"Colchester Walk to Work" links with "Walk Colchester"

"Colchester Walk to Work" is here to promote walking as transport, especially looking at the journey to work. Some of the work is promoted through Colchester2020 Travel Plan Club, and some is the personal passion of your page host Andrew Budd.

And there's "Walk Colchester" , a green community mapping initiative, launched in 2010. The picture shows a Walk Colchester/ Colchester Walk to Work event in walking week in April. Walk Colchester's main aims are to record and protect Colchester’s paths, parks, woodland and open spaces, and to promote enjoyable, accessible, informed pedestrianism for walkers of all ages and abilities. Have a look at their website, and join the cause.

We're considering joining forces as we share much common ground, and could do even better for walking in Colchester by working more closely together. Plus Walk Colchester are inspirational and lovely people, and who wouldn't want to work with people like that? Watch out for news of our joint working.

Colchester Walk to Work's shoes are on again.

For followers of this particular blog trail, your host is back from his backpacking trip in Scotland in May. Four days cross country from Glenelg on the west coast to Invergarry in the Great Glen. Since then, at Colchester2020 Travel Plan Club, we've been busy with car sharing schemes, bus promotions, train discounts, car clubs, cycling for transport and health, smarter driving .... oh yes, and running the club. BUT NOW, WALKING IS BACK!!!!!

And lots has happened since May. Our first Walk to Work Week in April went well, with lots of media interest in the idea of promoting walking as transport, and for fun and good health too. The two Colchester walking maps have proved to be very popular, with repeat orders from most of our distributors, and very good feedback from our customers.

"YES, BUT WHAT'S NEXT?" I hear you say. Well, walking is for all seasons, not just for summer, so we're going against the grain and promoting winter walking, starting with a "winter walk to work week", Monday 25 October to Sunday 31 October. During the week, we'll be launching a media campaign, and will be having some special events.... and that's the subject of another posting.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Gone for a walk.

Colchester Walk to Week's over, and your blogmaster is going for a walk. I'm backpacking in the Scottish Highlands, and will be completely out of touch, so no stories from me on here for a while. This is a picture of my solo tent, early one morning east of Knoydart, last May. Much as I enjoy my walk to work, a change of scenery is welcome. And happy trails to you too.

Bench Monday is back

Bench Mondays are back! Here's a reminder of the rules: The pictures should be taken on a Monday, and show feet and a bench. Faces and views in the background would also be a welcome option. And, even better, a story to go with it, about yourself or the special place. Get in touch at We look forward to hearing from you.

Outdoor art

You don't have to go to an art gallery to see works of art. Arts, crafts and designs are all around us. Let us salute the efforts of the road liner in Balkerne Heights, who has very neatly lined round the traffic calming. It must have made a change to his usual work for the guy (and I'm guessing it was a man) who did this. There he was anticipating another week shuffling along the gutter, mile after mile of straight lines, and he gets sent here. Lovely curving shapes round the traffic calming, reminding me of the parallel lines on the canvasses of Bridget Riley, that I had admired at Tate Modern a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Walk to Work Challenge

Walk to Work Week is over, and all my walking trips have been registered on the national website . I believe we have the rest of the weekend to use the website, before it closes and they share the results - and award the prizes.

We've done well in Essex, and even better in Colchester. I can only give our own results at Colchester2020 Travel Plan Club, where the two of us who jobshare have done 35.4 and 13.0 miles during the week. We've had walks to and from work, walking meetings and lunchtime strolls. When we get more results from Walking Works we'll share them on our blogspot.

Walk to Work Week over - what next?

Walk to Work Week's over, and it's time to put up our feet. Our picture shows the Walking Party last Wednesday. But we rest only until Tuesday, then it's back to the task!

We've had ten events, hundreds of followers, and thousands hearing about walking for transport in Colchester. So what do we do next?

The plan was always to continue promoting walking during the summer as opportunities arise, then have another re-launch of local walking for transport in the autumn.

Meanwhile, please get in touch with your comments on our campaign so far, and keep coming back to our blogspot, there will be new stories right through the summer....

Thursday, 29 April 2010

You'll never walk alone?

Thanks to Alan Hardy for his talk today at Castle Park bandstand. A small audience enjoyed his tales of life afoot, starting with his excitement as a young boy, when Everest was first climbed. (1953 for those who want to estimate Alan's age without chopping his leg off and counting the rings.) Young Alan imitated the adventure by putting a stick in the top of a pile of rubble on a demolition site. Alan expressed concern that today's young people are not given the opportunity to explore and play like that, and so may never get the bug for adventure outdoors.

Alan chatted about his hikes across the Scottish highlands, and in the Himalayas. But it wasn't all about walking and fording rivers, it was about people he met on the way, and a bit about food and drink - well you do get an appetite don't you?

The audience were interested in the differences between solo trips, and walking with another person or in a group. Alan had no particular preference; each option had its advantages and downside. Walking alone meant that you would see more of the natural world; groups of people make more noise and smell, which means less animals and birds to see. Besides, some people are driven crazy by their own company after a couple of hours! The audience enjoyed Alan's company for 45 minutes. Look out for him giving illustated talks to local groups after the summer.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Hiking Hardy tomorrow lunchtime, 12:30 Castle Park

A quick reminder for tomorrow's "Hiking Hardy" talk at Castle Park bandstand. It starts at 12:30, will last about half an hour, and we get the chance to ask questions and chat with Alan afterwards. Castle Park is looking great this time of the year, and we're right by the Park cafe, so take in a stroll, a talk and a cuppa tomorrow lunchtime.

Step and Snap competition underway

Entries for our photography comp are coming in. Click on "Step and Snap" at the right for more info about our fun competition. Pigeons optional.

Voting with our feet - we joined the Walking Party

Another brilliant day, as the sun shone on our Walking Party. About fifteen people met at the War Memorial, and we made our way along the town streets, through the green link over The Moors, along the riverside path and over the railway footbridge to the Uni. Most of the party were associated with the University.

But some were simply along for the pleasure of the walk, uninfluenced by the prospect of a super cooked breakfast on the Uni campus. It was great to meet some of the project supporters; there are some talented people working on the Walk Colchester project - more about that next week.......

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Foot Feast - our perfect picnic pitch

Team meeting in the conference room? No thanks, when this lovely open space is ten minutes away. The weather and setting were perfect for the first Foot Feast, and six representatives of town centre businesses met at The Mercury for a short stroll in brilliant sunshine over to Hilly Fields. With a rooftop view of the town's northern aspect, we had the perfect backdrop for our picnic lunch.

Thanks to Ewan and team at Whybrow Chartered Surveyors and Andrew from Big Swifty Associates for supporting the event.

Walk to work week isn't just about walking to work. For many of us it would not be possible, but maybe we can get some walking in during the working day? A lunchtime stroll could be an option, or a team meeting on local green space?

CW2W received several apologies for non-appearance at our event, some saying the weather was so nice that they had gone to the beach for a picnic. Absentees, you missed a blissful picnic, and the Whybrow team proved to be splendid company and lots of fun.

Vote "Walking Party" tomorrow

Tomorrow is "Walk to Work Wednesday", and some individuals will be stepping out many miles from home to the office in a massive attack of solo walking fever. But for those who are more sociable and relaxed, join in with our "Walking Party" for a stroll from the town to the Uni.

We meet at 08:00 at the Castle Park gates by the war memorial. For most of the route we will follow a green coridor, and expect to arrive at the Uni around 09:00, where there will be cafes for your refreshment. Vote "yes" to the Walking Party" tomorrow.

Foot Feast today - Hilly Fields, meet at noon at Mercury

See you later, this is our picnic spot! The sun is shining, the ground is dry, the company will be good, and I am bringing some creme caramels for you.... Meet at Mercury theatre at noon, for a short walk to this blissful spot.

Walk to Work Challenge - now live!!!!

The national "walk to work challenge" is now live, and people in Colchester are joining in. If you would like to take part it's not too late to register. Walk to work week is 26-30 April, and the weather forecast is great! The national Challenge is run by Living Sreets/Walking Works, and they have set up an entertaining website where we can log our trips, win prizes, and compete with others (if that floats your boat!).

Just as a reminder, click onto . If you haven't registered, follow the links; we are in "east of england" "essex". When I last looked there were about 15 Essex employers on there, and around ten of them are based in Colchester.

If you have registered you can now log your trips. The website was so busy at times yesterday, that it stalled a bit, but was fine when I tried to use it. It's encouraging that so many are taking part.

Map Grab yesterday - some still left!

Our Map Grab happened yesterday, and we had great fun meeting the public and some of the project's followers. We has a small stall at Mountain Warehouse, who had kindly agreed to host us. Their shop in the High Street, nearly opposite the Town Hall, has a comprehensive range of hiking and walking gear. Thanks for visiting our Walk to Work Week stall, and chatting with us; we have some good ideas for how we can take our project forward in 2010.

"Colchester Walking Map" is already proving popular. There are two leaflets at present, covering North Colchester and East Colchester. Both sheets include North Station, and East also includes the town centre. The maps fold out to A3 size, and there's lots of information and links to further travel and health information.

The map is the result of teamwork. Design work was funded by North East Essex Primary Care Trust, recognising that encouraging people to become more active can help address the growing obesity problem, and the extra demands for health care that come with that. The designers were Steer Davies Gleave, working on information supplied by "Colchester Walk to Work", "Colchester2020 Travel Plan Club" and "Walk Colchester". The printing was funded by the Travel Plan Club, to help our community to reduce traffic congestion and our carbon footprints, and to contribute to the wellbeing agenda.

Contact us if you would like a copy of the maps, or pick them up at the Visitor Information Centre at the corner of High Street and Queen Street.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

walking and visionaries

This is based on an article by Linda Cracknell from her which is an interesting project, and always a good read. Linda writes:

"I'm very grateful to a reader for drawing my attention to Fieldwork, a collection of essays by Ronald Blythe (CW2W note - Blythe lives at Wormingford), and in particular to ‘John Clare and footpath walking’ written in 1995. The essay explores the role of paths (as opposed to roads and newly-forged ways) and our fairly recent but diminishing legacy of walking as a way to get somewhere which also becomes an incidental route towards learning. It draws attention to a peopled countryside, the fields as one-time places of social intercourse, where routes of work met and crossed. The sense of travel along shared paths and social routes is very precious, when so much of our recreational walking now seems to suffer from both its deliberateness and its anticipation of relative solitude.

During the recent months of snow, I was intrigued to hear of a change in ‘normal’ patterns. A woman living a mile or so from the shop in Strathtay (where most people get to and from home entirely by car) told me how she and her neighbours, unable to get their cars out, established a new ritual. Each would walk the mile along the river to the shop, returning together, and finding that they enjoyed the unaccustomed pace and company. This would have been the natural way not long ago for rural dwellers, but I suspect now spring is here, and the roads are clear, it will be a rarity again.

John Clare walked both for his travel to work – lime-burning or ploughing – and for his poetry, in order to look, to solve problems and to scribble furiously as he stopped in dips and hollows in the land. The effect of walking on a creative mind is profound, as Blythe says in this essay, ‘a great amount of our best poetry, novels and essays smell, not of the lamp, but of dust, mud, grit, pollen, and, I expect, sweat.’But more interestingly for me, Blythe highlights how the experience of walking touches everyone: ‘.. it touches us because we are all descended from the walking men, the walking women, the walking children: and not so very long ago either.

Sometimes we forget that it wasn't only the poets, novelists like Hardy, who had these wonderful ideas as they walked….. Certainly, these long walks to work, these long walks to school, these long walks with a friend, these long walks just to get out of the house, etc, were part of a pattern of life of people right up until the modern age. Whilst it happened, their minds ticked over in an extraordinary way. Because men and women haven't all been able to write, or paint, or make music about certain things, it doesn't mean they haven't experienced them...’

I particularly love Blythe's idea that countless people, not just writers, whilst on the way to work, or at work itself, were unwittingly visionary. And I love this line: 'It was the landscape being articulated in their heads, via their normal work practices. ' Walking is a great leveller – it democratises the visionary and gives everyone the opportunity to learn. But with the loss of these simple ways of getting around, I can’t help wondering what else we’re losing".

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

26-30 April 2010, Fully Detailed Programme

Monday 26 April, MAP GRAB all day from 08:00, Mountain Warehouse, High Street, Colchester

26 - 30 April, STEP AND SNAP photography competition

26 -30 April, WALK TO WORK CHALLENGE starts, www.walkingworks/walk-to-work-week-2010

Tuesday 27 April, FOOT FEAST picnic at Hilly Fields. Meet outside Mercury Theatre at noon.

Wednesday 28 April, WALKING PARTY led walk from Castle Park gates (war memorial) 08:00, to University of Essex

28 April, WALK TO WORK WEDNESDAY - tell us your stories about your walking journey to work

Thursday 29 April, HIKING HARDY 12:30 lunchtime talk at Castle Park bandstand, by local celebrity walker

Also happening during the week:

27, 28, 29 April HEALTH WALKS, various times and locations
28 April TODDLE WADDLE, High Woods Country Park, 11:00
29 April GHOST TOUR, 2+ hours on foot from outside the Town Hall at 19:30, cost £7

For events in CAPITALS, click on "walk this way for" to find out more about each event.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

BBC Essex features Colchester Walk to Work

Did any of you catch Dave Monk's morning show on BBC Essex yesterday? He featured our walk to work project, and we chatted away about the potential for walking to work, at least for some of the people some of the time. We also discussed town planning, and how as a society we use cars so much, with little use of alternatives for some of our trips, compared with the modal split between cars, buses, bikes and walking in some of our neighbouring countries on mainland Europe.

The interview went well until my landline phone started ringing when I was live on air using my mobile. Dave invited me to answer it, but I threw it outside into the laundry basket and got on with the radio job.

I put in a plug for this blogspot, as the definitive source of full up to date detailed information, and we had a rise in visitors to the site. We hope for more local radio coverage over the next few weeks....

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Walking map photoshoot

Thanks to our great modelling walkers! It has been a super week for walking, with the longer daylight and sunny weather. Here are some Health Walkers, and friends of Colchester Walk to Work, at Middle Mill, helping with some promo photos.

Some pics will be used on the soon to be launched Colchester Walking Map. The cartographers are finishing design and plotting, now having full information about routes, text and photos.

From now on we will be concentrating on promoting our walking week events, and we look forward to meeting many of you over the next few weeks.

Talking about walking can also be dangerous

The "Hiking Hardy" event in Castle Park on Thursday 29 April is shaping up. Not only do we have a celebrity speaker, we have a venue confirmed, and a RISK ASSESSMENT. Quite rightly, we have to consider carefully what we have planned, and what could go wrong, so this is not a "elf and safetee gone mad" rant.

Alan will meet us all at the Bandstand in Castle Park, please be there for 12:30. Alan may be familiar to some of you, as he is a regular speaker at local clubs and societies. But "Hiking Hardy" is a bit different to his more usual format. With his evening shows, he chats to his audience, with a backdrop of his super collection of slides. (Yes, he does "magic lantern", he shines a powerful light through a piece of transparent film; he hasn't yet gone digital.) In Castle Park it will be different. Last week I asked him about what he had planned, to help me with the risk assessment. He replied:

"Demonstration of use of crampons for climbing up and over the band stand roof and sharp pointed ice axe to arrest slip down far side, followed by a climb of the north face of the Castle and abseiling down using the sacred tree as an anchor. And finally opening the Middle Mill Sluice Gates to create a torrent to demonstrate the art of river crossings. And if I can find a friendly farmer to erect an electric fence ... Enough to go on?"

I think ???? he's joking????? My risk assessement was "public disorder" and "people tripping over", bascially things that can happen anytime, anywhere. The question is, will we need crowd control, as it's a free event and no booking procedures? We have capacity for thousands. Alan is walking to our event, as part of his training for a backpacking trip, coast to coast across the Scottish Highlands in May. I look forward to hearing his tales.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

A dozen W2W supporters model for Walking Map

Sunshine was booked and delivered for our photoshoot today. About a dozen "walk to work" supporters responded to an appeal for models to appear on our walking map and leaflet. Photographer Dave Higgleton took pictures at the Hospital, Station, University Quays and Dutch Quarter, illustrating some of the great routes to walk in Colchester. Thanks to our supporters for turning out today.

Last week, the first draft of the walking map and text was completed, and sent to the cartographers, and we look forward to the first proof coming back soon. Some of today's photos will be used on the map.

Our aim is that the map will be ready for launching at our "Map Grab" event at Mountain Warehouse on Monday 26 April. We hope you like it.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The Challenge website is OPEN

At last we're in April and the national walk to work week challenge website is open. We can now register ourselves and/or our companies. The website should be user friendly, but it's too early for "Colchester walk to work" to share any advice, as we don't yet know. However, as a tip, we're in "east of England" region, and in "Essex". (Unfortunately there is no separate category for Colchester, as Colchester Borough Council is not a unitary authority. However, this debate is for another day and webspace....)

It's Easter and there's still the possibility of snow. But in three week's time, it will be walk to work week, the sun will be shining and spring will be all around, probably.

Sign up now for the website, so that we're all ready in advance of the week, and join the "colchester walk to work" Facebook group if you haven't already. We expect there will be a live forum for comments and latest news on all our walk to work week events. Full details of events WILL also be on this blogspot, so keep coming back.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Ramblers' Association, Colchester

The Ramblers' Association has a successful group in Colchester, with a full calendar of events. Have a look at their website for details of what they offer.

They have an active walks programme throughout the year with walks on both Wednesdays and Sundays. During the summer Colchester Ramblers also have Friday evening walks to gently ease you into the weekend. Walks are of various lengths and duration, being a good mix of circular and figure of eights. If you've not walked before contact one of the Colchester Ramblers' committee to get advice on which walks are best to start out on. They also have an active social group which plans trips to cinemas, ten pin bowling and visits to London. To see what countryside walks are currently planned, check their website.

Walk to Work Challenge, 26-30 April

Leave the car at home for the week. Living Streets and Walking Works have set a national challenge for us all to try more walking to work. And Colchester is joining in.

Walking Works have set up a personal calulator which will soon be available on . This will be for businesses, departments and individuals to enter, and is likely to attract a lot of support. Don't worry if your personal totals are going to be modest, it's about taking part, and you can contribute to your team. High mileages are NOT necessary, just doing it is what counts.

And it's not just about the journey to work, it can be the lunchtime stroll, walking on business, or the walking meeting. We are hoping for media coverage, and we look forward to you signing up.

Toddle Waddle, 28 April, High Woods Country Park

Walk to Work Week isn't all about office workers who maybe need to get a bit more exercise. We recognise that "work" takes place in many forms and locations. This event is aimed at the parents or carers of young children.

The Toddle Waddle is a regular led walk run by the High Woods Country Park Ranger Service. It starts at 11:00 and finishes at noon, with tea and coffee available afterwards. It is free, with no need to book, and starts from the Visitor Centre off Turner Road. The visitor centre is on several bus, walking and cycle routes, and has a car park.

For more info phone 01206 853588, or contact, or see

Walk to Work Wednesday, 28 April

OK, this is the Big One. We want as many people as possible to walk to work on this day. If you can only do it one day in walk to work week, it would be great if you chose Wednesday. Share your stories of epic walks to work, or rolling out of bed and strolling round the corner.

The picture shows a signpost on National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 1, at the Moors, Hythe. NCN routes are also important for walkers; about half of the NCN route users are on foot. And you don't have to walk all the way from Harwich to Hull.

For Walk to Work Wednesday, nothing is organised by your Colchester Walk to Work team. This is your event, solo, or with neighbours or with colleagues. Plan your own routes, timings and teams. And please let us know what is planned, and how you get on.

And as an alternative for those that really do want to be led, check out and join the town to gown Walking Party on Wednesday.

Walking Party - town to gown, Wednesday morning 28 April

Who wants to join our "Walking Party"? On Wednesday it's Walk to Work Wednesday, and individuals will be heading from home to work on their own route.

But some people like to join in with others. A "Walking Party" will make its way from the High Street to University of Essex, with participants including local experts on history and nature. The party details have yet to be announced, the event probably being led by web consultants AWS and University of Essex.

It should be a fun and interesting event, and we will find out lots about the route and accessibility, on our journey. The picture shows one of the signs on the Colchester Town to Sea Trail, which will be part of the route of our "town to gown" walking party.

And there are cafes at the University for our refreshment after our walk. I can smell the coffee, even now.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Map Grab, Monday 26 April, Mountain Warehouse

There is no sneak preview of the new map on here! Colchester Walking Maps will be launched on Monday 26 April at Mountain Warehouse, the outdoors shop selling funky clothing and equipment, opposite the Town Hall. Come and meet some of the Colchester Walk to Work team, and collect your first edition Colchester Walking Map. We will also have information about Colchester Walk to Work Week events.

We will be around from 8:00 am, so you can catch us on your way to work on Monday. We hope to meet you, hear your walking stories and persuade you to take part in our events - our Walking Party, our photography competition, our walk to work challenge, Health Walks, our picnic, Ghost Tour and the Hiking Hardy talk.

And please join our Facebook group "colchester walk to work".

Health Walks, Country Parks, 27 - 29 April

We have five Health Walks during Walk to Work Week, at some of our wonderful Country Parks. On Tuesday morning 27 April it's at Cudmore Grove, East Mersea, and on Wednesday morning there are walks at Gosbecks and Tiptree Heath. Thursday 29 April has a morning walk at Salary Brook and an afternoon stroll at Hilly Fields.

All walks are free, and are designed for people of varied ability, including complete beginners. Walks range from half to two miles long. For full up to date information about all Health Walks please go to or call Linda Acland on 07506 695546

Ghost Tour, from Town Hall, Thursday evening 29 April

The Colchester Ghost Tour explores the past that other tours can't reach.

Colchester's Master Storyteller, Mr Derek Wray, presents a journey through the Dark Ways of Ancient Colchester, in search of the Life, Love, Death and Abominable Hauntings.

Meet outside the Town Hall in Colchester's High Street at 7.30 p.m. on 29 April. (Derek's tours run through the summer, not just in Walk to Work Week.) Just turn up - no need to book.(Please Note - The tour is a theatrical experience and requires a minimum audience of 6 persons to happen. Over 18s only.) £7 per person, this walking tour lasts 2 to 2 1/2 hours. We finish in a Haunted Public House, where there is opportunity for you to have a drink, while Mr Wray tells the stories of the Dread Events in the very room where they happened.

Mr Wray, Colchester's very own Master Storyteller, is a lost soul condemned to walk the streets and bye-lanes of Colchester telling all of its macabre past. He will guide you through the legends, history and unnatural manifestations of ancient Colchester, Britain's oldest recorded town. It is also home of Britain's oldest pubs and ghosts. What a history - pagan, Roman, Saxon, centre of the Peasant's Revolt, English Civil War - all involving buckets of blood and guts! See

STEP AND SNAP, photo competition, 26-30 April

Welcome to STEP AND SNAP, Colchester Walk to Work Week's photography competition. Send us your pictures of your walking during the week.

This is an unusual competition; there are no rules, only the possibility of some prizes and awards, and just a little small print.

What are we looking for?
Images taken on your walk to work, or when walking anywhere in Walk to Work Week. It can be the big picture of the landscape, or the fine detail along the way. It can illustrate a specific location, or it can promote the concept of walking for transport. It can be sharp or abstract. Your pictures can make a point, or be fun, or, better still, be both. It's up to you. In our "wrong way round" competition we will devise potential categories and prizes according to what images we receive.

What happens later?
We want to use your images to promote walking in Colchester. We are having another local promotion in the autumn, and we may have an exhibition of your photographs. If you want to get involved in any way with the walking project or the photography competition, please get in touch.

The small print.
Please send your images and information to by Wednesday 5th May. They must be your own pictures, taken during walk to work week 26-30 April. You retain the copyright of your photos. We are permitted to use them to promote walking in Colchester, giving you the picture credit. Remember, STEP AND SNAP is just for fun.

Hiking Hardy, Castle Park, Thursday 29 April

"Hiking Hardy" is giving a talk as part of national Walk to Work Week. Alan Hardy is a local celebrity walker, and brings tales of his Himalayan treks, backpacking across Scotland coast to coast, plodding the footpaths and pavements of north Essex, with a sprinkling of philosophy along the way.

Come and meet Alan on Thursday 29 April, starting at 12:30. The event will be held in the peace and beauty of Castle Park near the Bandstand. Alan will share some amusing tales of his adventures from far and near, finishing around 1:10. He will be happy to take questions afterwards.

Put it in your diary now. No booking, no charge, just turn up. Bring a picnic, or use the Park Cafe nearby. Thanks to Alan for supporting our local walking week. And don't be shy, ask him about his "special trowel".

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Walking can be dangerous

It's official. Walking can be hazardous to your health. A London Borough recently produced a list of ideas to help their staff with health and wellbeing, and to address the obesity epidemic. Included in their list was the suggestion that people could use the office stairs rather than the lift.

A risk assessment of the suggestions was undertaken, and the advice that people could use the stairs was taken out, as the stairs are hazardous. I sought clarification, and was asked not to say which authority this was. When pressed, they couldn't say whether the risk was the stairs themselves, or the possibility that staff might overdo it before becoming fit for the task.

The signs in my photo are at Rowhedge moorings, from the riverside public footpath, warning us about the potential for falling off, or tripping over. Walking is such an extreme sport.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Foot Feast, Hilly Fields, Tuesday 27 April

Join us for the Foot Feast at Hilly Fields, on Tuesday 27 April, as part of Colchester Walk to Work Week. We will meet at 12 noon outside the Mercury Theatre, to leave at 12:10 for a half mile walk to Hilly Fields.

Bring food for the Pedestrians' Picnic; some for yourself, and some to share. And if you've got a big appetite from your walk to work, maybe you can pack a little more food in your Hiker's Hamper.

We have booked good weather for our picnic event. Indeed, according to studies from the University of Made Up Stuff, statistics show that 27 April always has sunny weather. Put it in your diary now, and don't miss it.

walk to pre-school Bench Monday

CW2W follower Jules took this picture on her way to pick up her three-year old from pre-school. It was a lovely day today, so she went the long way round via Hilly Fields, before collection time. Thanks for the picture, to add to our Bench Monday set.

Walking to and past Philip Morant School - what next?

It's not about tree huggers. It's about how we, as a society, got to the situation where walking has become marginalised for many years, and how we respond to a new opportunity to encourage walking as part of a new development.

The Green (between Norman Way and Irvine Road)could soon have a new access to Philip Morant School (PM) constructed across it. A letter was sent to PM from CW2W last month, copied to local cllrs, and shared on this blogspot. The school has not replied. We have had support from local councillors Beverly Davies, Wyn Foster, Sue Lissimore and Lyn Barton, and from our MP Bob Russell.

CW2W is not here to cricticise individual people or authorities, it is here to play its part in creating a better environment for those on foot. But ultimately it's Philip Morant's new development; and they could make proposals that are as good as possible for walkers and cyclists going to their school, or passing through the area, or they could make other modes of transport the priority. They could make development plans that will benefit the school and not worry about anything beyond their fence, or they could play their part to come up with a plan that is good for the school, good for the community as a whole, and take a strong lead in promoting Active Travel.

For many years as a society, we have done our best to make life easier for motorists by addressing congestion, we have done something to give priority to public transport, and we have just started to invest in cycling (only about £10/head, which is a start after years of almost total neglect). But what has been done for those who walk for transport? There has been an assumption that we can look after ourselves, and that we'll get by. Meanwhile we are inheriting an environment that has become hostile to our safety, and we have created streets that make walking a steadily less pleasant experience.

So Philip Morant, what do you propose to do to help make walking a better experience for your pupils, staff and neighbours?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

If breastfeeding offends you, put a blanket over YOUR head!

The Facebook group "If breastfeeding offends you, put a blanket over YOUR head" has 212,206 members tonight. Our Facebook group "Colchester Walk to Work" has considerably less.

I am certain that many of the breastfeeding FB group members are not breastfeeders themselves, they simply believe in the principle. Some people have contacted "Colchester Walk to work" to say that they haven't joined our Facebook Group as they don't walk to work. Hey there, you can support us, even if you can't walk to work; maybe you just like the idea?

"Colchester walk to work" is keen on any kind of walking, to anywhere, for any purpose, at any time. We are not here just for hard-core walking purists who conveniently live half a mile from their workplace. We're here for anyone who can incorporate some or more walking in their life, or who supports the vision of more people getting around on foot.

The breastfeeders' campaign is not just a club for those doing it; it's to spread the word about something they are passionate about, and to overcome obstacles that sometimes make it difficult.

So let's do our bit to help people in Colchester who want to make our town more pedestrian friendly. Join up and recruit for our Facebook Group. Thanks for spreading our word.

Friday, 26 February 2010

An advance peep at our Walk to Work programme

Get your walking shoes on, ready for the first "Colchester Walk to Work Week" 26-30 April. Here's a sneak preview of some of the events.

We will have the launch of the Colchester Walking Map, full of places and ideas. In national Walk to Work Week, we will have a programme of events in Colchester.

During the week there will be a Workplace Challenge, and we are planning for dozens of local businesses and departments to take part as hundreds of people enjoy the fun. There will also be a photography competition, a series of led theme and health walks, picnics, talks and displays.

Major employers are expecting to run events in their organisations in addition to the public events.

• Mon 26 April
Walk to work challenge starts, using personal calculator on

"Step and Snap" Photography competition starts

"Map Grab" Information stall and maps launch in Mountain Warehouse.

• Tues 27 April
"Foot Feast" Colchester walk to work picnic on Hilly Fields. Bring and share your food and drink.

Health Walk, Cudmore Grove, (East Mersea).

• Weds 28 April
“Walk to Work Wednesday” if you can only do one day a week walking to work, plan to make it this one! Join in with our special "Walking Party".....

Health Walk, Gosbecks Archaeological Park

Health Walk, Tiptree Heath

Toddle Waddle, High Woods Country Park

• Thurs 29 April
"Hiking Hardy" talk by local celebrity walker, to be confirmed.

Health Walk, Salary Brook nature reserve

Health Walk, Hilly Fields nature reserve

Colchester Ghost Tour, in the evening, if you dare.

• Fri 30 April

OTHER DATES AND EVENTS TO BE PLANNED. Please let us know what you would like to see, or can organise yourself.

Don't forget our “colchester walk to work” facebook group.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

MP supports Colchester Walk to Work's letter to Philip Morant

Extracts from Bob Russell's response:
"What a brilliant letter! A voice of sanity in a world going mad. What is happening to secondary schools in Colchester is outrageous - and will do nothing for children's fitness and the linked issue of obesity. Your excellent letter deserves the widest publicity, which I trust it will generate.

Congratulations. I really am impressed. Let's hope that the nonsense of the new road will not happen; nor the diversion of the footpath cum cycle route. It need not be so. Assuming the worst, then the obvious solution is to leave the current direct route and fence it on either side. If the Wivenhoe Trail at East Bay can be accommodated within an existing allotment site (a route fenced through the allotments) then a similar arrangement can likewise be done for the land between the two ends of Norman Way .

All best wishes. Yours sincerely - from Bob Russell, MP for Colchester"

Thanks Bob for your interest in this issue, and our project to support pedestrians in Colchester. He also indicated that he would like to meet up with "Colchester Walk to Work" - come back again to this blogspot for news of this story.......

Monday, 22 February 2010

A letter to Philip Morant

Dear Philip Morant School, your school is a leader in green travel. The biggest group of pupils arrives by foot. Your proportion of young people cycling to school is very high by UK standards. Even amongst those scholars who arrive by car, it is often a parent dropping them off on the way to work, and not the reviled "school-run personal taxi-service" that many are quick to comment upon.

Philip Morant School, St Benedict's Catholic College and Colchester County High School for Girls were all built in a quiet area away from the main roads, making the walk and cycle to school a better option for many. It is a matter of shame that for over thirty years, between the three schools and Colchester and Essex Councils, nobody has been prepared to provide better quality paths for those who have chosen to get to those schools under their own steam, and for local people passing through the area.

But what about the future? Everyone is flexing their green credentials, showing how they are helping promote walking and cycling to school. And the latest issue is the new road access to Philip Morant School. One of the last public green open spaces in this area will have its character changed once the road is built. But what about the details? It is imperative that the new access is built to reflect the current dominance of green transport, and to meet the three schools' and our society's aspirations for even more people to take part in Active Travel. Hundreds of pupils and the local community pass through this green area every day, between Irvine Road, Norman Way (north and south sections)and the three schools.

With the new road coming into this safe sanctuary for walkers and cyclists, who will have priority? Will it be the hundreds of people on foot or bike, or will it be the dozens travelling by car? This already is a good area for walking and cycling, and it can be made even better. There is much talk about promoting green travel, but we are judged by what we do.

So Philip Morant, how about providing a decent footpath and cycle network around your school; wide routes, with a good year-round smooth surface, and good forward visibility. (You know what we mean, like the sort of quality facility you would provide if you were building a road access.)

How about giving absolute priority for those on foot and bike, and passage to cars only when there are no pedestrians wanting to cross the route of the new access road?

Or will it be business as usual, with relatively poor routes for walkers and cyclists, where priority is given to motorists?

"Colchester walk to work" looks forward to some creative design to improve access to these schools for all modes of transport, or will it just be all about cars?

Notes: Copy of letter sent to Philip Morant, St Benedict's and CCHS, CBC and ECC members and officers, and local papers.
"Colchester walk to work" wants to see better routes for pedestrians, to encourage more journeys to work, school, business or leisure by those on foot.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Crouch Street in the future?

Crouch Street's in the news, and people are talking about what sort of place it should be. It's one of my favourite streets, with a fantastic mixture of small and medium sized shops and businesses. At one end it starts with the award winning Adnams pub, the "Hospital Arms", and the excellent "Curry India" restaurant, and it ends with another pub, "The Bull", and many other places to eat. And in between, many other businesses worth looking at and supporting.

It's definitely an important walking street, and all life can be seen there. At different times of the day there are different crowds. The snap above was taken around half past three, and there are swarms of school children excitedly meeting up and chatting together. It's something that most adults don't experience any more, with our fragmented and complex lifestyles. Wouldn't it be cool if we could all have a fifteen minute break from our routine, and have a chat with our mates on the street corner?
So what's the future for Crouch Street? Let's have a little look back first. This was the main road into Colchester from London before Cymbeline Way was built in the 1930s. Southway didn't come along until around 1970. When the car first became more affordable in the 1960s Crouch Street became very congested and unpleasant. I can remember Wellesley Road being a through road connecting to Crouch Street, and the east part of Crouch Street to Head Street being log-jammed with cars and buses.

In the early seventies Balkerne Hill became a dual carriageway, and Crouch Street was severed in the middle, with only an underpass for pedestrians. Across the country, the thinking at the time was that people would drive to town centres, and park at multi-storey car parks on the (never completed) ring roads. Walking for transport was considered by much of the population, and the authorities, to be a thing of the past. But the people of Colchester who still wanted to walk along Crouch Street were not happy with being forced underground, so the current (poor standard) signal crossing was retro-fitted to the main road.

Times have changed, and we are looking again at the design of the public realm. Hopefully the importance of walking will be given priority, as customers on foot are very important to the businesses at Crouch Street. I contacted Colchester Borough Council recently, and they expect that some town centre proposals will be put forward for discussion this spring. I look forward to Crouch Street becoming an even better street, and hope that some of the less attractive aspects of the street scene can be improved. Make sure your voice is heard when the ideas are made public.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Sustrans ranger at Roman River valley

Tell us about your walk to work, and we can can feature it in the "my walk" section of our walk-to-work blogspot.

Your blogmaster does some voluntary work for Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity that is behind the National Cycle Network. See . Sustrans' vision is a world in which people choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment. They are very keen to support walking; indeed most of their routes are equally popular with cyclists and walkers.

I'm one of the Rangers for the route from Colchester towards London, and I did a litter pick today (and I'm pleased to report there was very little). I usually bike there, as I sometimes carry a spade and secateurs for ditch work and trimming, but this time I decided to leg it from home. It's not my paid job, but I think it qualifies as a journey to work.

So here I am at my outdoor office at the bench by the River Roman, and here's my "bench monday" photo.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Let's get planning Walk to Work Week, 26-30 April

It's green for go - the Ampelmann symbol from old East Berlin. So what will we do in Colchester for Walk to Work Week? At a national level Living Streets have announced the date for walking week 2010, and are offering promotional resources for participants. We have yet to plan the details of events in Colchester, but so far we have a workplace challenge, a photography competition, and events around the launch of the Colchester Walking Map. The project will be promoted through this blogspot, the "Colchester walk to work" facebook group, through the Travel Plan Club network, and through the local media.

But we will need some stories to tell, so share your ideas, and we'll shape the programme together. What would you like to see happen in Colchester, during April? Have a look at Living Streets' website for inspiration; they are the national charity for pedestrians' interests.

Who's backing Colchester Walk to Work? Colchester2020 Travel Plan Club

So who's behind this "Colchester Walk to Work" Campaign? Your blogmaster works part-time for Colchester2020 Travel Plan Club, part of the Colchester2020 Local Strategic Partnership.

What's Colchester2020? Colchester2020 is working with many partners to ensure our borough is a great place to live, work, study and visit. Colchester2020 wants Colchester to excel as a regional centre where there are opportunities for everyone to lead healthy lives and to achieve their full potential. To succeed we need to focus on making sure we have a strong local economy and that we continue to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint. For more information please look at We have priorities for Business education and employment, Healthy lifestyles and affordable housing, Heritage culture and leisure, Safer neighbourhoods, and Transport. The key priorities for transport are reducing congestion, changing travel behaviour and improving the transport infrastructure. The website gives more detail in the Action Plan.

What is the Colchester2020 Travel Plan Club?
The Travel Plan Club tackles congestion and reduces carbon emissions by helping Colchester businesses and organisations to reduce the amount their staff rely on the single occupant private car. It does this by offering Travel Plan Club members help and support to introduce a workplace travel plan for their organisation. There's more information about the Club if you follow "transport" links through the Colchester2020 website.

What's a Travel Plan? A Travel Plan offers staff information, incentives and support to encourage them to use sustainable travel options These can range from incentives to travel by bus or train to providing information on timetables, cycle and walking routes, offering cycle training and promoting other options such as car sharing, car clubs, and flexible working.

Who belongs? Membership of the Travel Plan Club is open to any organisation whether large, or small, private, public, academic, charitable or from the voluntary sector, who is interested in reducing its carbon footprint and supporting its staff in using sustainable transport. As well as receiving advice and support, they also benefit from collective negotiation and lobbying power with the transport providers and local/national authorities, and access to discounts, established incentive schemes and marketing material. Currently, Travel Plan Club members collectively employ and represent more than 11,000 staff in Colchester, and another 19,000 students.

What's all this got to do with walking to work? Put simply, walking covers many of the themes that our community has said is important. Wellbeing, traffic congestion, the environment, accessibility, neighbourhoods, leisure........ In the past, the Travel Plan Club have focussed on public transport, car sharing and cycling. Walking has lots to offer many of us, so for 2010, Colchester2020 is supporting the Colchester Walk to Work project. Come and join us.

Andrew Budd, Colchester Walk to Work

Who might be walking around Colchester? Tell us your stories, so we can see who's steppin' out. I'm Andrew Budd, your blogmaster, leading the Colchester Walk to Work 2010 Campaign. I'm passionate about walking in so many ways. I love walking to get from A to B, I like the fresh air, exercise and feelgood factor. I enjoy what I see on the way, the big sky, the townscape, and the little details you discover on the route. And, maybe best of all, bumping into people and saying hello.

What sort of trips and when?
I often use walking as transport; sometimes to work, sometimes at work, and also for my personal trips. I do it for business trips, shopping trips, family strolls, and also for leisure. I positively enjoy the four seasons (often all in one day!); indeed summer is the time I sometimes slow down with my walking. I really don't mind the cold, or the rain, but I would prefer less grey skies. One of my favourite sayings, and I picked it up in Denmark, is "there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad suits". So watch out for me whipping out my bright red waterproof at the first sign of rain.

Where do you walk?
Anywhere! I'm happy enough walking to the corner shop, or trekking on a backpacking trip in the hills. If I ever take the car anywhere I always pack a folding bike and a pair of walking shoes to explore the area. Wherever you are on foot, there is ALWAYS something worth seeing.

Favourite places in Colchester?
  • Trinity Street - I love the buildings, and the peace from traffic.
  • And Crouch Street too, a great street for walking, chatting, browsing and shopping - I look forward to the street being improved, to better link the two halves. Confession time - I worked as site engineer when the new road was built that cut Crouch Street in half in the seventies.
  • High Woods Country Park, the changing seasons in a rolling rural landscape, yet so near the town centre.

Tell Colchester Walk to Work about yourself, and your favourite places. Contact me at

Thursday, 4 February 2010

What did you see when walking to work?

Celebrate our street life. Priory Walk, Colchester. I almost felt sorry for this mannequin, practically naked outdoors in February.