From pigs, parks and parakeets to Pokémon and potatoes, there’s something for everyone during the latest Greater Manchester Walking Week.
Taking place from 17-25 February, the Winter Walking Week will offer over 100 free guided walks in Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.
Coordinated by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), with support from many local walking groups and charities, the nine-day event aims to showcase all that the region has to offer on foot.
Comprising a mix of easy to challenging, urban to hilltop and educational to simply stunning treks, the schedule has something to cater for all interests, ages and abilities.
The event will also coincide with most schools’ half-term break and there are plenty of activities to appeal to young walkers, such as meeting the pigs of Haigh Woodland Park, discovering the birds and wildlife of Fletcher Moss or finding out what Pokémon, potatoes and Alexandra Park have in common.
This year, participants are also being encouraged to share their walking experiences via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the #TfGMWalking hashtag.
Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, said: “There are a wide variety of fantastic, free events to get involved with during Winter Walking Week.
“I’d encourage people to lace up their walking boots and explore some of the region’s stunning scenery and interesting past.
“If you’re unable to make a led walk, then why not boost your daily footstep count elsewhere, perhaps by taking a walk at lunchtime, between classes or lectures or even making part or all of your commute on two feet?
“Walking briskly for 20 minutes a day can have many health benefits and if we start to switch short car journeys for walking we can help to cut congestion and improve the air we breathe.
“I hope that, by taking part, people will be inspired to continue walking regularly after the event has ended.”
Rochdale resident Charlie Hill claims that walking regularly has not only boosted his fitness, but has also helped to provide structure to his life following early retirement in 2016.
He and his wife were first introduced to the walking festival events by a friend and, after attending several led walks, developed the knowledge and confidence to plan and take part in more challenging walks.
He said: “The Walking Festival came at exactly the right time and has given us a great flavour of all the different walks and groups in the area. We’ve got confidence now to use footpaths rather than just walking on the roads. I’d have never done a six-mile walk on my own.
“I’m more likely to walk now, for example, from the train or bus station or to meet friends at the pub. Before my wife would take me in the car, but I prefer walking now.”
TfGM coordinated the first ever Greater Manchester autumn walking week, which ran from 21–29 October 2017 and saw more than 1,200 people across the region try a led walk. A survey of participants found that:
• 39% hadn't been on a led walk in the last 12 months
• 79% claimed that attending a walk as part of the autumn walking week has encouraged them to walk more
• 93% claimed that they would be likely to attend another led walk in Greater Manchester
The full Winter Walking Week schedule is now available on www.tfgm.com/walking and printed brochures can be found at libraries, leisure centres, GP surgeries and tourist information centres across Greater Manchester.
Funded by the Department of Transport, the Greater Manchester Walking Week and annual Walking Festival is part of TfGM’s Active Travel programme, encouraging people to walk and cycle more as part of their daily routine.