Preparations are underway for Wolverhampton's sixth annual walking festival - with residents invited to put their best foot forward for a choice of more than 30 free walks.

The Wolverhampton Walking Festival 2016, from Saturday 7 May to Sunday 15 May, promises to take people off the beaten track to explore different parts of Wolverhampton and the surrounding area - and with walks for people of all ages and abilities, there's sure to be something for everyone.

Among the highlights are guided walks around local beauty spots including West Park, East Park, Pendeford Mill, Northycote Farm, Bantock Park and the Smestow Valley, the annual Walking for Health Challenge Trail and a spectacular 29 mile, weekend long ramble around Wolverhampton.

The festival has been organised by the Wolverhampton Healthy Lifestyle Service and the City of Wolverhampton Council in partnership with a number of other organisations and gets underway on Saturday 7 May with the Walking for Health Challenge Trail - encouraging people to test themselves against a 4, 7 or 12 mile way marked course starting from WV Active Aldersley.

On the same day, people can enjoy a 2 hour stroll around Bantock Park's Tree Trail or take a 5 mile walk along the Greenways and Pathways of Penn.

On Sunday 8 May, there will be a 9 mile walk from Wombourne to Trysull, a 90 minute Health Walk from Himley to Baggeridge and a 2 hour stroll round West Park to discover the history of Wolverhampton's premier Victorian Park.

East Park is the venue for a mile long health walk on Monday 9 May, while there are no less than 5 festival activities on Tuesday 10 May, including a 90 minute health walk around Mops Bridge Loop, an 8 mile circular walk around Kinver and Enville, a 3 hour ramble along the beautiful Smestow Valley, a toddle waddle around West Park for parents and young children in pushchairs, slings or toddling and finally an evening slideshow about the South West Coastal Path presented by Wolverhampton Mountaineering Club.

The action packed programme continues with 5 more events on Wednesday 11 May, including a 2 hour history walk through Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, a mile long health walk in West Park, a four-and-three-quarter mile evening walk in Codsall and a short walk around the city centre to discover some of Wolverhampton's historic buildings. Also on 11 May, people are invited to have a go at Nordic walking with a free taster session in West Park.

Attractions on Thursday 12 May, include a chance to meet the Birds of the Smestow Valley with a 2 hour stroll and short health walks around Northycote Farm, Wednesfield and Penn. More strenuous pursuits will be offered through the Wolverhampton Figure of Eight Walks, which start from the city centre and cover either 3 or 7 miles - people can also do both walks and complete 10 miles.

A 6 mile walk will discover Tettenhall and beyond on Friday 13 May, while on the same day there will also be a 3 mile health walk around Pendeford.

The festival concludes over the weekend of 14 and 15 May with the Wolverhampton Ring, a 2 part, 29 mile walk circumnavigating the city along old tow paths, disused railway lines and footpaths. People can either tackle the whole lot or a particular section, depending on their fitness levels. Day 1 totals 15 miles and will take participants from Merry Hill via Penn and the Sedgley Beacon to Wednesfield, while day 2  is 14 miles and goes from Wednesfield to Merry Hill via Northycote Farm and Pendeford.

Also on Saturday 14 May, there will be a 2 hour walk revealing the history of East Park and health walks at Bantock Park and in Bushbury, and on Sunday 15 May there is a mile long health walk in West Park, a Junior Bird Watch at Northycote Farm for children and families and a sponsored 2 mile walk organised by Guide Dogs for the Blind around West Park.

All walks are free, although places on some walks need to be booked in advance. Everyone is welcome to take part; under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Ros Jervis, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health, said: "The Wolverhampton Walking Festival offers a fantastic range of walks to suit all ages and abilities - there really is something for everyone, and I'd urge people to pull on their walking boots and take part.

"Walking can improve your health and happiness, so it's also a great way to get or stay in shape and also discover parts of the city you may not have seen before."

Hayley Scott, of Wolverhampton's Healthy Lifestyles Service, said: "The festival walks are a great opportunity to meet some friendly, like minded people and see some of the local beauty spots and hidden green parts of Wolverhampton and surrounding areas. Everyone is welcome, and best of all, the walks are totally free."

For more information on the 2016 Wolverhampton Walking Festival, please call the Wolverhampton Healthy Lifestyle Service on 01902 444246 or freephone 0800 073 4242, or log on to Type=links;Linkid=6775;Title=Walking for Health;Target=_blank; to download a copy of the brochure.

The Wolverhampton Walking Festival is organised by Wolverhampton's Healthy Lifestyle Service, part of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, and the City of Wolverhampton Council with the assistance of Wolverhampton Ramblers Association, Nordic Walking UK, Wolverhampton Mountaineering Club, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Wolves Community Trust and Wolf Mountain.

  • released: Tuesday 12 April, 2016