Guest Post: Best foot forward on the Birmingham Urban Walk Out

Editors note: To celebrate special places in this blog, we wanted to be able to give you the reader a range of posts that would demonstrate just how the National Trust is achieving this in a variety of different ways.

For us that meant not only writing pieces ourselves but also asking for a number of guest bloggers to tell us about what they do for the Trust, what brilliant events they have took part in and finally what makes their particular place so special.

Today’s post comes from Cat Philpott, a Marketing and Communications Consultant for the Trust team in the Midlands region. Within this we have invited her to discuss Birmingham’s recent ‘Urban Walk Out’ on the 4th November 2012, one of many events that took take within the National Trust’s second annual walking festival, and how it made her, and many other participators, discover and love this area even more.

Best foot forward on the Birmingham Urban Walk Out

“When the National Trust launched its second annual walking festival to celebrate the great British countryside, it might seem a little odd that we in the Midlands decided to organise a walk that started in south Birmingham – it’s not exactly the Malvern Hills, after all.  Our idea, however, was to show how close some truly fantastic areas of open countryside spaces, which our founder Octavia Hill was all about valuing and preserving, are to Birmingham’s urban sprawl… by walking there.

I’d imagined a long slog through housing estates and high streets before finally making it out to fields and trees, but I was amazed to find that virtually all of the eleven miles from King’s Norton to the Clent Hills were off-road, taking in parks, canals and a nature reserve.  In fact, the start of the walk was at Millennium Green, an urban park where volunteers from the National Trust’s GAP project had built a natural play area using wood gathered from the Clent Hills.

(Left to right) Dean Taylor-Bryant, King’s Norton Children’s Centre, Allan Dowling, Catch 22 and GAP volunteer and Nick Morton, National Trust Volunteer on the final leg of the Urban Walk Out. ©National Trust/Fiona Bridges

 

I was also truly impressed that more than 40 people, mainly from youth organisations that the Trust works with in south Birmingham, actually turned up to join the walk on a cold, rainy morning when they could have been in bed.

Walking along the Birmingham to Worcester Canal. ©National Trust/Nick Morton

What was really special about the day wasn’t just the scenery (although the view back over Birmingham from the Clent Hills was pretty spectacular).  It was hearing that some of the young people who joined us hadn’t ever walked more than a couple of miles before, or talking to Dean from King’s Norton Children’s Service about the huge difference he thinks the National Trust is making to local children’s lives by helping them connect with nature.  And of course the stoic fashion in which one misguidedly attired walker took the demise of her beloved Ugg boots after a particularly muddy stretch.

View from the Clent Hills looking north towards Birmingham. ©National Trust/David Noton

And the best thing about the day?  For me it’s that, despite some moans about sore feet and tired legs along the way, feedback from the partner organisations has generally been “when can we do it again?”

Blog post by Cat Philpott, Marketing and Communications Consultant for the Midlands region and Jamie White, Media and Communications (Press Office) Intern.

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