Suffolk: Walkers step out to launch festival

RAMBLERS and outdoor enthusiasts gathered at Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds on Saturday to mark the launch of this year’s Suffolk Walking Festival.

Now in its fifth year, the festival takes place over the next three weeks and features 39 guided walks around different parts of Suffolk.

The event has been developed by Suffolk County Council’s Discover Suffolk Project in conjunction with a number of district councils to promote both tourism in the area and healthy activity.

According to Suffolk County Council’s countryside access development manager, David Falk, the event is getting bigger each year.

He said: “The festival has really grown since we started, not just in the number of guided walks we offer, but in the areas where they are distributed.

“Previous festivals have focused on the heart of Suffolk, but this year we have incorporated a number of walks based in the west, and next year we will include walks from the Suffolk Coast.”

Guided walks in this year’s programme include a stroll around Lakenheath Fen RSPB reserve and a tour of Victorian architecture in central Ipswich to a walk in Polstead to trace the history of a famous murder and a ramble through Brandon Country Park. The schedule also includes a 70-mile, five-day ‘Challenge Walk’ across the county, which started at Flatford Mill yesterday and finishes in Mildenhall. Mr Falk is leading the walk and people are invited to join him for however many days they would like.

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Also at the festival launch were leader of Suffolk County Council, Mark Bee, and former Olympic discus thrower Bill Tancred, who is now chairman of Suffolk Sport. Mr Tancred spoke to the audience about the health benefits of a stroll in the country.

He said: “Research has shown that a brisk walk each day is good not just for your physical health but also your mental health as well as your memory, so I urge you to take part in as many of these walks as you can.”

Visit for full details of the festival.