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walking bus stop signIt’s all aboard for children in Medway as the number of youngsters using the Walking Bus service doubles. Almost 1,500 youngsters now take part in the project – up from 734 previously – and there are 47 active routes.

The Medway Council scheme is a fun, healthy, and safe way of travelling to school. Powered by good, old-fashioned legwork, the children and volunteers walk in a group along a set route, picking up or dropping off ‘passengers’ at specific ‘bus stops’ on their journey to and from school.

The rise in users was boosted with a ‘Hedgehog Hike’ and ‘Social Netwalk’ event during International Walk to School Month where 17 schools in Medway took part. Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, councillor Phil Filmer, said: “We’re delighted more and more children are taking part in this scheme.

“It’s a great way for children to get to school, helps encourage them to be safe on the road as well as having health and environmental benefits.”

A walking bus can be easy to set up and must have a minimum of two adults per route (often staff or parents); an adult ‘driver’ at the front of the bus to and a ‘conductor’ at the back of the bus, ensuring that a ratio of one adult to every six children is met.

Younger children and babies transported in pushchairs or buggies may join the walking bus if accompanied by their parent or carer.

To find out more about individual schemes in Medway, email travel.safety@medway.gov.uk or visit http://www.kmwalktoschool.co.uk/

In a separate success, Medway Council has now issued 40,000 reflective tags to schoolchildren to help them stay safer on their journeys to and from school. The tags, which can be attached to backpacks, bags or on clothing, helps make children visible in headlights up to 150m sooner and it makes children up to 15 times more visible in daylight. Community wardens have helped deliver the tags, which were funded by the council’s Public Health department.

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The City of Rochester Society’s popular conducted walking tours of the historic City began again on Good Friday, 29th March and continue, every Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, public holiday and festival day until the end of October. The tours start from the Visitor Information Centre in the High Street at 2.15pm and last about an hour and a half. They are the ideal way for visitor and resident alike to get to know something of Rochester’s wonderful heritage, on a gentle afternoon stroll. These tours are free of charge, but donations to Society funds are always welcome.

The Ramblers will be hosting Great Britain’s biggest ever short walks festival from 4 – 11 May in a drive to get more people discovering the wonder of walking in 2013. This festival is supporting Britain on Foot, a campaign to encourage more people in Britain to get active in the great outdoors. More

As thousands of people headed out walking this bank holiday weekend, some of England’s greatest national walking treasures are at risk – warns Ramblers as they launch their appeal for National Trails.

From the peace and quiet of the Wolds Way to the buzzing city life of the Thames Path, from the rugged hills of the Pennine Way to the spectacular coastal views of the South West Coast Path – National Trails offer some of the best places to walk in the country. However, under new government proposals these treasured pieces of England’s natural heritage are to be handed over to hard-pressed local authorities and voluntary groups. If these proposals go ahead, it will leave the Trails without an organisation to champion them nationally, posing an enormous risk to their quality. More

1 September – 4 November

Chilly mornings, golden colour, soft sunshine – autumn is the perfect time to rediscover everything that is wonderful about the British countryside, but sometimes we need a little inspiration and help to get us started! More

A Walk in the Woods Week 27 October – 4 November 2012
This autumn, the Ramblers are holding a festival to celebrate British woodland and encourage families to enjoy the simple pleasure of a walk in the woods. A Walks in the Woods Week runs from 27 October – 4 November, with free led walks taking place across Great Britain, it’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the colours and wildlife of local woodland in the crisp autumnal air – and keep the whole family active this half term. More

Qualified Nordic Walking instructor Louise Bastable, from Hucking near Maidstone, is bringing Sunday morning Nordic Walking sessions to Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest in Kent – part of the Forestry Commission. More

Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest is holding a major Forest Discovery Day on Sunday 11th September, as part of the Forestry Commission’s national celebration of UN International Year of Forests. As well as creating a fun day out for everyone, this is a chance to show how trees, woods and forests play a vital role in everyone’s life. More

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