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. www.colchester-ramblers.ccom.co.uk/

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 www.walkingworks.org.uk/walk-to-work-week-2010 . 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 countryside@colchester.gov.uk, or see www.colchester.gov.uk/countrypark.

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 www.colchester.gov.uk/healthwalks 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 www.camulos.com/ghost/ghost.htm

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
colchesterwalktowork@yahoo.co.uk 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.