1st September saw the start of Guildford Walking Festival – a month long series of free walks in and around Guildford Borough. Walks have been organised by a whole range of organisations and walking groups – including Surrey Hills Society (SHS) who are also joint sponsors of the festival. Of the fifty or so walks scheduled, ten of them are organised and/or led by us – a significant percentage!
The Society has always had a strong focus on getting the public out into the Surrey Hills and local communities so it should not come as a surprise that we have been strong supporters of the walking festival for some years. However, in recent times that involvement has grown significantly. For a good number of years, our then chairman – Christine Howard – formed part of the organising team but when the chairmanship of Walkfest was vacated, Chris stepped up and got the organisation back on track.
Helen Barnsley, representing Guildford Borough Council (GBC) was already involved but is also an active volunteer for SHS – particularly helping at our external shows and on our own walks. Other SHS members have also taken on various organisational roles: Jeff Holliday from our Events team, Pete Lambert organising and leading walks, Ken Bare helping to produce the brochure and as author of the Walkfest Blog, Steve Peacock – who undertook much of the mapping and walk development of our Tales of the Tillingbourne project – is leading a walk as is our new Chairman, Gordon Jackson.
All of the events with which we are involved are appearing on the Events page of our website and it was good to see a number of our members turning up for the launch walk on the 1st – clearly the advertising is working.
With Guildford Mayor, Richard Billington, cutting the tape to get the festival off to a start, this first event was a gentle stroll from Spectrum Leisure Centre. It took in nearby ancient woodland, WWII defences and then followed the paths around Stoke Park to discover some of the lesser known features. The 24 attendees thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the warm sunny weather and everyone discovered places and facts that were new to them whilst benefiting from fresh air and gentle exercise.
Why not take a look at the Walkfest programme at www.guildfordwalkfest.co.uk or pick up a brochure from Guildford Tourist Information office in the High Street, GBC reception at Millmead or various other locations across the town. Walks vary from less than a mile – for example Town Guides walks and many of the Walking for Health events – through to a small number of long distance walks along sections of the North Downs Way. There is even a sponsored walk on Saturday 28th September from Guildford to Dorking in aid of Guildford Street Angels – led, as you might expect, by SHS.
There really is something for everyone and as it says in the Walkfest advertising – Keep Healthy, Keep Walking.