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Walk This May

Put a spring in your step with National Walking Month and Walk to Work Week.

Written by . Published on May 9th 2013.

Walk This May

SAY ciao to your chair and make the most of National Walking Month. Organised by Living Streets, a charity that aims to stand up for pedestrians, National Walking Month encourages people to make walking part of their day. As part of National Walking Month, 13-17 May will be Walk to Work Week.

Thirteen percent of people drive to a gym which is less than a mile away from their home.

It seems we are all becoming a nation of couch potatoes. The number of children walking to school has dwindled from 55 per cent back in 1991 when I was scuffing my school shoes on the streets of Durham, to 43 per cent today.

SlobSofa Surfer

More unexpectedly, it seems that all those sporty gym bunnies are also wearing out their trainers on the accelerator rather than the asphalt. Nearly half of people who go to a gym which is under two miles away, do so by car. Thirteen percent of people drive to a gym which is less than a mile away from their home.

All this physical inactivity sounds pretty ominous. We need exercise and the lack of it is one of the world’s biggest killers. Coupled with the fact that Britain is the fattest country in Western Europe according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), we really need to get out there and put our best foot forward.

Walking is a popular pastime, at least in theory, but a quarter of British adults now walk for less than nine minutes a day – and that includes the time walking from the house to the car. Not very far. The figures from this YouGov survey, commissioned by Ramblers, the walking charity, also show that almost half of us walk for less than 120 minutes a week, which, unless we are doing other exercise too, is not enough to stay healthy.

However, a brisk, half-hour walk a day keeps the doctor away. Regular physical activity like walking helps protect the body from many illnesses and conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, obesity, the most common type of diabetes and many cancers.

Sale Water ParkGreen Spaces - Endorphins agogo at Sale Water Park

Walking outside, particularly in green spaces (don’t worry – Manchester has its bucolic side too – see below) can also have a positive impact on mental health as well as making people feel more in touch with the local area around them. More people out walking on the streets helps deter crime and makes places feel safer. The more people use parks and green spaces, the more likely it is that money will be spent to preserve, maintain and improve them. As well as healthy bodies, walking can also help to create healthy, happy places to live. And healthy wallets because, above all, walking is free.

There are many places to get out and about in Manchester, whether you want a short stroll or something more challenging. Here are a few of my favourites:

Irwell Sculpture Trail

The Irwell Sculpture Trail wends its way through the Irwell Valley from Bacup down to Salford Quays. Whilst it is possible to do the whole walk in one go, catching the Witch Way bus to Bacup, at 33 miles, it is most definitely not for the faint-hearted. However, the walk is split up into different clusters so you can just have a crack at one or two of them and save the rest for another day.

The Ordsall and Chapel Street clusters can easily be completed in one go, mixing countryside with the benefits of city living. If you start at Imperial War Museum North, you can see Casuals, the first of the sculptures at Salford Quays, then over the bridge to the Lowry and on to Media City. As you walk round the quayside, there are six sculptures in all and my favourite, Factory Girls, is last of all on Merchant’s Quay.

Taking a break from a foot circumnavigation of the QuaysTaking a break from a foot circumnavigation of the Quays

The trail follows the Manchester Ship Canal to the town centre (after a detour to Ordsall Hall to relax in the gardens and see the sculptures) where you can have lunch at Spinningfields or the Mark Addy before carrying on to Chapel Street in Salford. The canalside walk is a great mix – trees, blossom, coots and moorhens, greenery with an industrial feel as well and the odd blast of colourful graffiti lending a riot of colour.

For more details about the route, click here.

Mersey Valley

There are a maze of paths that criss-cross Ivy Green, Chorlton Ees and Sale Water Park. Many of them are easily accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs.


Mersey ValleyThe alternative to the Number 23

Just a quick hop, step and a jump away from the pubs and bars of Beech Road in Chorlton, Ivy Green is just off Brookburn Road by the Bowling Green pub. The paths meander through fields and meadows, along brooks and even by the River Mersey as the name suggests.

Although it’s just metres away from civilisation, the place is a haven for wildlife with flowers, butterflies and herons preening on the banks. You can stop for a drink at Jackson’s Boat, a riverside pub with plenty of outdoor seating and there is also a visitor centre in Sale Water Park with a café.

If you’re feeling more energetic, you can follow the path along the River Mersey to Didsbury which is a lot more scenic than taking the number 23 bus.

A Manchester Confidential Tour

These mainly take place in the city centre and are gentle strolls through learning, looking and enjoying Manchester under the expert hand of a qualified tour guide. Here are some tour ideas.

Manchester city centre tourManchester city centre tour

You can download a map of the area hereIf you want more ideas about places to walk in Manchester, Ramblers provide routes coupled with information about what you will see en route. To find out more, click hereTo take part in Walk to Work Week or register your workplace, click here.

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Penny CloustonMay 13th 2013.

I'd have to recommend the Fallowfield Loop as there are few roads to cross, is well sign posted and hasart along the way.

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