D1.1 Walking the Fanns

Project Status: In Progress

Delivery Partners/Stakeholders: Thames Chase Trust

Thames Chase Walking Group are delivering guided walks
Walks leaflets are being mapped and researched by volunteers and a graphic designer
Researching new routes and making note of any paths that can be improved or need clearance.

The project has two components
1. A programme of targeted path improvements
2. A volunteer-led walking programme relating to heritage, nature and health.

The ambition is to connect more people with the history of the built and natural environment throughout the Land of the Fanns area and beyond. The project builds on a Thames Chase programme of mapped walks that encourages all ages and abilities to explore the natural environment of East London and South West Essex. This volunteer-led effort has included conservation work to improve access to footpaths by upgrading their physical condition and replacing stiles with gates or staggered fences, providing improved signage, mapping the routes with distance, quality, hazards, places of interest and expected time, producing leaflets containing historical information of the landscape and buildings along the way, and leading guided walks using the produced leaflets.

1. Targeted path improvements
The first project component will concentrate on the path network itself, and by means of path research and survey work, identify where historic routes exist and the extent of improvement required. This survey work will create volunteering opportunities that bring local heritage experts and volunteers together in a collaborative effort. This outcome of this process will help inform the path regeneration programme by helping target improvements where they are needed.

This component of the project will overlap with the Designed Landscapes (B2.1), Community Mapping (B2.2) and the Connecting Historic Landscapes (A3.2) projects, all of which feature volunteer surveying the improvement of access. This project will provide new access complementing these other initiatives, focussing on locations that open up access to new parts of the landscape or where a community can be more easily linked to the landscape around them. The path improvements will be delivered over 3 years from Year 2 so that the incremental improvements can be celebrated annually at the yearly conferences and through new walking routes.

2. Walking programme
The second project component will help link walking routes to the various interpretation projects within the Scheme, underpinned by walk leader training so that a walking programme can be take place. This project will concentrate on creating a guided walk experience, complementing other interpretation projects such as the app (C1.1 Digital Heritage), Land of the Fanns book (B1.1), leaflets (C1.2 Promoting the Land of the Fanns), Connecting Historic Landscapes (A3.2), River Catchments (A3.2), Rediscovering the Lost Fens (A2.3) and Interpreting the Fanns (B4.1).

The walks will include historical routes, nature walks and health walks.

Heritage walks
This component of the project will concentrate on historical routes and their destinations to enable walkers to better understand this fascinating landscape and its influence on the social and political history of East London and South West Essex. This will involve consulting with local authorities, history groups, managers of heritage sites and buildings and professional historians as well as members of the community. By developing a historically focussed network of paths that lead people through the landscape story, the project will help them to understand the historic sites and buildings and how they connect. Shorter, circular routes focussing on local heritage will also form part of the network and be delivered locally, e.g. Bedford’s Park.

Nature walks
This part of the project will concentrate on routes of ecological interest to enable walkers to better appreciate the natural environment on people’s doorsteps. Thiswill involve consulting with local authorities, nature groups, managers of environmental sites and professional ecologists as well as members of the community. By developing a naturally focussed network of paths that complements the heritage walk project, the project will help people to understand the natural significance of the environment today.

Health walks
Overlapping with the heritage and nature walks, the project seeks to promote the use of the Land of the Fanns landscape for physical activity, building on local health initiatives in East London and South West Essex. It will support the heritage walk and nature walk projects by developing routes that connect communities to their respective walk networks. All walking routes developed by the Scheme will be available for health-based walking initiatives.

This component of the project will involve consulting with public health bodies and environmental organisations that seek to link positive health outcomes with the environment. Once routes have been identified, they will be way marked and cleared as appropriate.

Thames Chase Trust, Pike Lane
Upminster, Essex RM14 3NS

01708 642970

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