The South West is known as a top walking region, and new research confirms that the region’s residents are making full use of what’s on offer with 81 per cent of adults in the South West regularly walking. 10 per cent of South West respondents walk over 50 miles per month, increasing to 14% of respondents in Gloucestershire and in Cornwall, twice the national average of 7 per cent. Despite this, according to the survey’s findings, 60 per cent of people in the South West still wish they got out and walked more.
As walking makes 87 per cent of people in the South West happy (and 75 per cent describe a feeling of euphoria on reaching the summit of a walk or an amazing viewpoint) the National Trust wants to support people in their desire to get out walking more. To celebrate the launch of The Great British Walk annual walking festival this weekend, the National Trust has revealed the top ten secret trails that can only be accessed by foot, including one in the South West.
The top ten ‘secret discovery’ walks each offer something unique: In the South West, Trelissick in Cornwall has been chosen – a place that many know well, yet this walk takes people off the well-trodden routes.
The top ten secret discovery walks are:
1. Trelissick, Cornwall: This walk leads you much further into the estate than many usually venture to a secluded, iron-age fort.
2. The White Cliffs of Dover: The land acquired by the National Trust last year is now opened up to the public for the first time.
3. Minnowburn, Northern Ireland: The Giant’s Ring is the largest henge and stone circle in Ireland and lies near Belfast.
4. Erddig, Wales: A walk tracing the love story between two of Erddig’s family servants taking in rarely visited parts of the estate.
5. Sizergh Castle, south Lake District: Hidden and hard to find – the secret here is a 1,600 year old yew tree.
6. Sparrow Dale, Sheringham Park, Norfolk: Often overlooked by visitors, Sparrow Dale’s a hidden valley perfect for wildlife lovers.
7. Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland coast: Many visit the castle but few walk around the back to see the breathtaking views.
8. Malham Waterfall, Yorkshire Dales: The path leads to a magical waterfall where walkers will discover a secret cave.
9. Stowe, Buckinghamshire: Explore never before seen parts of the Stowe estate – including a secret garden hidden for many years.
10. Attingham, Shropshire: A path, newly opened up allows visitors to share a rare view of the front of Attingham House.
People in the South West stated the best things about walking are the places or things they discover en-route, and that it offers space to think. (84 per cent agreeing with both these points.) 93 per cent simply enjoy the feeling of being in the fresh air. 78 per cent say the best thing about walking are the memories made with family and friends – this is notably special for respondents from Dorset, with 91 per cent focusing on this benefit. 88 per cent of respondents from Devon picked the sense of being ‘revived’ as particularly important for them, versus 75 per cent regionally.
Nine out of ten (91 per cent) agreed that the majority of children walk less now than when the respondents were children, with just over half (56 per cent) stating they walked more as a child than they do today. A similar number (58 per cent) said they wished their children got out and walked more and 71 per cent said that they would like to go on more family walks together. This was particularly heart-felt amongst Cornish respondents, 83 per cent of whom wanted to go on more family walks together.
59 per cent of respondents in the South West said it feels like ‘cheating’ to not complete a walk. People in Somerset and Wiltshire feel this particularly strongly, with 72 per cent of respondents from these counties agreeing with this attitude.
The notorious British weather is a barrier for many in the South West. 29 per cent revealed they do not walk as much as they’d like due to the unpredictable UK weather. 41 per cent of respondents in Dorset and Cornwall focused on this. However people in Gloucestershire and Devon seem more resilient, as only 14 per cent and 19 percent of respondents respectively in these counties blamed the weather for not getting out walking.
Steve Burgess, Visitor Services Manager at Trelissick commented, “We’re delighted that Trelissick was selected as one of the top ten British Walks, and we hope The Great British Walk this year encourages people to experience new places on foot. With 64 per cent of people keen to get out and walk more, and 89 per cent agreeing walking is one of life’s simple pleasures, hopefully our top ten list shows there is something for everyone to enjoy in the outdoors. We’ve got hundreds of easy to follow walks around the country available to download so are hoping the public will join in and get exploring.”
Dr Katie Tryon, head of clinical Vitality at PruHealth, sponsor of the Great British Walks commented: “Walking is a wonder therapy that stimulates all the senses and can transform your life. It’s a wonderful way to relax, relieve stress and help lift your mood as it encourages the release of serotonin, the natural feel good chemical, as well as endorphins, known as happy hormones. It can also re-energise you and help you sleep better. Most of all it’s just a great excuse to get outside and explore the world around you, discovering new surprises along the way and what’s more, it’s free.”
Following the success of last year’s festival, in addition to the ten new secret discovery walks there are now also 205 downloadable walks on the National Trust website with over 400 properties taking part in organised walks and over 2,000 walking events.
The National Trust is encouraging everyone to join in with the campaign, get out for a walk and share their walking photos on twitter, instagram and facebook at #GBwalk
Go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greatbritishwalk to find out more and download a walk. Join the thousands of others celebrating the Great British Walk with the National Trust this autumn.