Half a mile from the city centre, Diglis is a former brownfield site on the banks of the River Severn. The development of new homes on this previously derelict industrial site prompted a complete renovation of the riverside.
A footbridge installed in 2010 completes a circular walk to the centre of Worcester, with paths on both banks of the river creating direct, safe and attractive routes to the city.
The council has invested heavily in improving the greenspace around Diglis in recent years, recognizing the area and its network of walking and cycling routes as increasingly important to local residents.
Celebration event (Credit: South West Images)
Once a run-down and neglected part of Dumfries, this neighbourhood has recently been transformed by an injection of funding. The community developed their own innovative solutions to problems they had identified in the area. This included the creation of five civic spaces with street furniture, cycle parking, noticeboards and planters; street lighting upgrades; new street signs and the addition of places for people to stop and rest. The improvements mean residents of all ages can now walk between amenities and public spaces in a safe and pleasant environment.
Residents of the neighbourhood, which comprises Queen Street, Brooke Street, Cumberland Street and McLellan Street, have now come together to form a constituted community group. This offers access to funding and grants to help maintain the improvements and build on the project’s legacy.
One of the greenest and most walkable urban areas in the country, this London borough contains 58 parks in an area of just 7½ square miles, ranging from Hackney Marshes (which has the largest concentration of football pitches in Europe) to the Local Nature Reserve of Springfield Park, not to mention historic Clissold Park and its neighbour Abney Cemetery.
Public planning has focused on active travel, transforming Hackney through policies such as a borough-wide 20mph speed limit, car-free housing developments and reduced pavement parking. Widening pavements and removing street furniture has also shifted the balance in favour of pedestrians and cyclists. In fact, Hackney now has one of the highest active commuting rates in London.
“As a Hackney resident with no garden, and a freelance writer who spends most of the working day chained to a desk, I find a walk around the block that takes in a park, or at least a patch of green here and there, is essential to my sanity.”
Travis Elborough, author
The Old Town is full of listed buildings and quaint streets criss-crossed by narrow ‘twittens’, Victorian passageways that today form charming pedestrian routes between main thoroughfares. In keeping with the historic feel, public areas are sympathetically lit.
Traffic is light and priority is given to pedestrians in some areas, including the main link to Hastings Town Centre, George Street, which is a designated pedestrian zone for most of the day. The area’s compact nature and lack of parking encourages people to make journeys on foot.
Walkers also have plenty of leisure options, from the three-mile long promenade to the green spaces of Hastings Country Park.
© Clem Rutter (CC BY 3.0)
Nestled in the Upper Eden valley, Kirkby Stephen is a Walkers are Welcome town with attractive historic buildings and cobbled yards. Amenities are easily accessed by pedestrians, with well-maintained footways. The town also has links to long-distance trails including Wainwright’s Coast to Coast and Lady Anne’s Way.
It’s the little touches that make this town particularly enjoyable to explore on foot, from the large planters lining the streets to eye-catching displays of herbs and vegetables. A particular highlight for residents and visitors alike is the Poetry Path, which celebrates the beautiful Eden Valley and describes the area’s farming heritage through a series of inscribed stones, placed along a network of ancient lanes.
Frank’s Bridge dates from the 17th century and is popular with families, providing a safe space for children to feed ducks and enjoy picnics. The Northern Viaduct Trust Path also offers an accessible all-weather route along a disused railway.
Newtown is an historic, friendly and attractive riverside town, with many green spaces to enjoy. It is situated in a river valley on the upper Severn. Two footbridges cross the river, giving pedestrians easy traffic-free access to shops and other facilities. Many residents use off-road walking routes to take children to school, visit the town centre or reach public transport connections. A popular route into town runs along the Montgomery Canal.
The town council has also installed bilingual street maps at seven locations around the town, helping people to find their way. The surrounding hills are in easy reach via an extensive path network. A highlight for walkers is the Severn Way, a popular long-distance trail.
Photo © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)
Despite recent regeneration, you can still discover centuries of history in the City of Salford, which is best explored on foot. Look out for listed monuments as you wend your way through the city’s ancient byways including an iron age fort, a hanging bridge and a section of the Bridgewater Canal.
And don’t miss the Barton Swing Aqueduct. The area is also full of cultural highlights, from MediaCityUK at Salford Quays to the People’s History Museum and the Working Class Movement Library. More than half of Salford is green space, giving residents and workers plenty of opportunity to enjoy an urban walk.
Salford City Council has recently worked with volunteers to transform old railway lines and canal paths into walking and cycling routes, further opening up the city’s green spaces. As part of this project, Manchester and Salford Ramblers have helped to create the Salford Trail, a 50-mile walking trail within the city boundaries, which opened in 2017. By the end of 2018 the council aims to have more than 28km of paths suitable for walkers, bikes, pushchairs and wheelchairs, allowing people to get from place to place more easily.
“As well as The Fall, Manchester United, Shelagh Delaney and John Cooper Clarke, Salford can boast unexpected delights for the urban walker. Here you can find diverse and fascinating environments from wooded Peel Park to the misty stretches of the Ship Canal along rivers and canals, through country parks, fields, woods and moss lands via footpaths, tracks and disused railway lines. It’s a place of character and even charm.”
Stuart Maconie, broadcaster and Ramblers president
Situated on the edge of the Peak District in the Upper Don Valley, Stocksbridge is a former steel town that now boasts Walkers are Welcome status. Much of Stocksbridge is subject to a 20mph speed limit. Pavements are maintained and streets are well lit. Numerous paths lead directly to the town centre, while other walking routes criss-cross the town. In many cases, walking is the quickest option for making a journey.
Many streets are lined with trees, hanging baskets decorate buildings and planters have been placed at each of the entry points to the town. Interpretation boards provide local information to visitors. This all helps to give walkers an enjoyable experience.
For those looking to walk further afield, the Trans Pennine Trail passes close to the town. This coast to coast route is popular with walkers and cyclists alike.
“Walking the Transpennine Trail towards Barnsley is an unglamorous stroll, but it cuts through history like a knife. Here we are walking by sites from the Industrial Revolution and the post-industrialisation that knocked this place for six, and still reverberates like a struck gong. Walk by the site of the Oaks Colliery disaster – still the biggest mining disaster in UK history – and pass over Stairfoot Roundabout, where all those railway lines used to converge.”
Ian McMillan, poet
© Copyright Oliver Dixon (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The Town Moor is a unique green space in Newcastle, popular with dog walkers, commuters, runners, and even roller skiers. Despite its urban surroundings, this green lung has been protected for public use since the 12th century. Criss-crossed by well-lit, surfaced paths, people continue to use the moor at night and through the winter months.
It offers something for the whole community, with a mix of formal parks, allotments and sports facilities. It also plays host to regular events, including Europe’s largest travelling fun fair and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
“In the heart of the city, a stone’s throw from our civic centre, shopping streets and universities, Newcastle has a fantastic green lung, ancient grasslands still grazed by cows in the summer months, an easy route to healthier living and an attractive walking route whether you're going into the city or just for the pleasure of exploring this vast green oasis. Newcastle's Town Moor is largely flat, criss-crossed by paths and bicycle routes and a real pleasure in any season.”
Chi Onwurah MP, Newcastle upon Tyne Central
© Copyright Robert Lamb (CC BY-SA 2.0)
When Walthamstow Village gained funding from Transport for London to improve the area for walkers and cyclists, a ‘mini-Holland’ initiative was developed to help people feel safe enough to make journeys on foot. The project aimed to reduce the volume of local traffic, improve road safety and make the area more attractive.
By installing new crossings, widening pavements, planting trees and creating new public spaces, pedestrians are being prioritised and walking is now a popular choice.
An unexpected gem in Walthamstow is the Walthamstow Wetlands. This 211-hectare site teems with wildlife, offering Londoners the rare chance to encounter nature.
“Walthamstow Village is an outstanding example of a great walking neighbourhood. Shops and culture spill out into the street, making the village a more tranquil and enjoyable place to walk. It's a great example of how the heart of a community can be transformed.”
Daniel Raven-Ellison, urban explorer