A network of walking routes and trails between railway stations are being developed that will feature in a new website.
To help seasoned walkers, walking groups, transport planners, and anyone else interested in becoming involved in developing the walks, a workshop is being held in Worcester on Saturday, 9 March.
Green travel writer Steve Melia came up with the idea for RailWalks.co.uk, and he has now been joined Andy Stevenson of Point2Guides, who has linked it to his research at the University of Worcester, and Kieran Seale, creator of Walk by Rail in the Chilterns.
The group has extensive experience and knowledge of mapping and walking long-distance routes while encouraging green, sustainable travel. Other partners joining the initiative are Slow Ways and Community Rail Network.
The new website will allow communities to share insights and local knowledge, upload existing routes, and develop new trails. Once launched it will help raise awareness that rail is one of the greenest travel methods.
More details on how communities can get involved will be explained at the workshop, and how they can feature their own walking routes on the website.
The workshop will include a hands-on session, and anyone interested in can join the mailing list and sign up at www.railwalks.co.uk.
Steve Melia said: “Over the past 15 years, I have walked across most of Southwest England and much of the rest of the country by public transport, mainly by rail. I had no idea how easy it is, and how much of Britain you can walk by rail, until I moved to a city, gave up the car and started doing it. I've walked through wild, remote and wonderful places and that gave me the idea for a national network.
Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network said: “Many people don t realise the scope for using our rail network to explore Britain on foot, and making use of our wonderful, often little-known, community railway lines is a great way to do this. I'm passionate about it, knowing the sense of enjoyment, empowerment and freedom that walking adventures can bring, and the importance to our climate and local places of shifting journeys from car to rail. Hence, we re delighted to be working with RailWalks.co.uk to encourage more people to take greener, healthier journeys by rail.”
Andy Stevenson said: “After helping to create ‘Rail Trails Worcestershire‘, a series of freely-available recreational walking guide materials, I was delighted when the idea of a larger UK-wide network of rail walks was suggested. The positive reception to our walks in Worcestershire showed me there's real potential to extending this concept nationally. I've always loved the countryside and walking since I was young. My research at the University of Worcester examines how walkers use visual guide materials, so this new project covers all bases for me.”
Kieran Seale said: “Walking in the countryside brings great benefits for physical and mental health. There are many advantages to using public transport you don t have to end the walk where you started, so you can see much more as well as the obvious environmental benefits. This network has the potential to bring countryside walks within the reach of millions of city dwellers. It is a really exciting initiative.”
Dan Raven-Ellison, founder of Slow Ways, said: “Slow Ways is a giant grassroots initiative to create a national walking network that connects all of Britain's towns, cities, villages and national landscapes. We'd love to add every train station into that mix. Like people across the country, I love walking from station to station to get outside and explore places. This inspiring project will make it even easier for more people to share that joy.”