September is all about going back to school, back to work, harvest suppers, and the start of cooler weather. It is one of the best times of the year to enjoy getting out to appreciate the autumnal colours of red, gold and brown. September is also walking festival month and Guildford’s Walkfest is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy both the towns, villages and the countryside in the area.

Chris Howard, Chairman of the Walkfest Committee said “We thought long and hard about whether it would be feasible to continue with the festival this year in the light of the COVID pandemic. However, after studying the advice and Government guidelines, the committee felt promoting walking this year was more important than ever. The health benefits – both mentally and physically are well documented. After Lockdown it is also important to get people feeling confident about being out and about again.”

Guildford Walkfest Committee is made up of all the main walking groups in the area including Walking for Health, The Ramblers, Surrey Hills Society and Guildford Town Guides, as well as a host of smaller groups and individual walk leaders. The Committee felt it was important to continue with the festival, but keeping strictly in line with Government guidance on hygiene and social distancing. The walks are all designed to be safe, socially distanced and consist of up to 15 attendees, plus a leader and back marker. This allows larger groups than previously anticipated but also enables each walk to easily break out three groups of five plus leader, if the guidance changes back to the original 6 in a group.

The Committee were also incredibly grateful to have the support of their key sponsors again this year. James Avery, Director at Bevan Wilson Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinics said that his company was delighted to be again supporting the festival. ‘’Walking is an excellent form of exercise that we recommend to many of our clients. We are happy to support the well- being of our local community through this initiative.” Other key supporters are Guildford Borough Council, Experience Guildford, Pathfinder Guides, Surrey Hills Society, Guildford Financial, Genesis Vitality Life Insurance and C&H Marketing.

Unlike previous years, all participants will have to pre-book their walks. The Guildford Tourist Information Centre is taking bookings for walks where specific groups do not have their own booking processes. This is to comply with the Track and Trace Guidance and to manage the groups safely.

So, if you have found you have enjoyed getting out walking during Lockdown, then Walkfest will enable you to explore a little further in a safe way. If you have not yet tried walking as a free form of exercise and enjoyment, then this autumn is good time to strike out and try something new. Walks vary from a slow amble to whole day walks and even one night time walk along the North Downs Way.

The free festival runs from 1st September to 30th September and there is something on nearly every day for you to enjoy.

CLICK HERE for full list of walks.