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.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Stockwell Strollers

Looking for a walking group? Here's one for you - The Stockwell Strollers. An informal club, named after their first meeting place, The Stockwell Arms pub (currently closed), in West Stockwell Street. The organiser is Alan Hardy (above) a backpacker who regularly walks coast to coast across the Scottish Highlands, but is equally at home on the rights of way of Colchester and Tendring.

They usually have a walk on the last Saturday of the month, right through the year. During winter it's usually a morning walk of around ten miles, but most of the year it's a day walk, usually stopping for lunch at a country pub.

What are they like? They are a welcoming and friendly group, with about fifty on their e-mailing list, and typically around 10-30 turning up. I occasionaly join them and enjoy their company. Alan and Brian kindly supply tea and coffee for the mid-morning break. And what's the demographic? Men and women, mainly aged 40 plus, and they walk at a reasonable pace, but will not leave anyone behind.

For more information about The Stockwell Strollers contact Alan at

If you have a walking group and would like to be featured on this website, please contact me at

Monday, 1 February 2010

Bench Monday

For the regular bloggers out there, you will be familiar with the "Bench Monday" idea. Some bloggers like to show their feet on a seat, wherever they happen to be that Monday. So here's mine!

I came back from town the long way today, by the wonderful footpath route that runs paralell to Lexden Road, over Hilly Fields, Lexden Meadows, Lexden Park and Endsleigh open space. It's one of my favourite routes, and I look forward to hearing about your best routes as this project develops.