Falkirk’s delight as it walks away with a UK title

Falkirk has walked away with the title of Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood 2019.

It has been revealed by the Ramblers, following a public vote to find the most walker-friendly urban neighbourhood in the UK.

The Scottish town beat nine other contenders across England, Scotland and Wales to take the crown, with an impressive 20% of the vote1. Well-known for the Helix Park with its iconic giant horse sculptures, the Kelpies, Falkirk stood out from the competition thanks in part to a remarkable 383 miles (617km) of well-maintained and signposted paths, making it a fantastic place to get around on foot.

Wraight Shepherd, chair of Stirling, Falkirk & District Ramblers, nominated Falkirk for the award.

He said: ‘We are really proud that Falkirk has won the Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award. It’s a testament to the commitment of the council working together with local communities that Falkirk has been transformed in recent years into a place that is enjoyable and easy to walk around, building a real culture of walking.’

Several great initiatives to prioritise walking also contributed to Falkirk’s triumph. Taking every day journeys on foot has been made easier and more and enjoyable thanks to efforts by the local authority to widen pavements and create more off-road paths. Well-linked routes around the town’s shops, services, bars and restaurants means people can easily walk to the places they need to go.

Crucially, Falkirk residents have great access to nature, with every community well-served by parks and green spaces. A planning standard introduced by the council means states that every house should be within 400m of an open space, now reduced 300m for new developments. And those who want to explore more widely can do so on foot from the town centre, with many routes linking up areas of town and countryside in an interesting and unique way.

Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive of the Ramblers, said: ‘Congratulations to Falkirk, a very worthy winner of the Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award. Our vision is of a country truly designed for walking, where everyone is encouraged to walk whenever they set out on a journey, whether they are popping to the shops or going to work. Falkirk is a fantastic example of how this can be achieved.

‘Walkable neighbourhoods bring not only the physical and mental health benefits of walking and being able to access green space; places where people walk regularly also have more connected communities. Making it easy to choose walking over driving helps to reduce congestion and improve air quality too, bringing us one step closer to our zero emissions target.’

Dennis Canavan, former Member of Scottish Parliament for Falkirk and vice president of Ramblers Scotland, said: ‘Falkirk is an excellent place for walking. What we’ve achieved here through improving the path network has brought more people to the area and encourages local people to get out and enjoy what’s around them. It connects communities, with people walking to school and to work. The local community has gone out of its way to encourage walking and to make local, neighbourhood walking more accessible.’

The Ramblers Best Walking Neighbourhood Award, now in its second year, celebrates the best of everyday walking; neighbourhoods where local authorities and community groups have improved local streets and routes for walking and with good access to green space. The south London neighbourhood of Brockley took second place, while third Milton Keynes came in third in the public vote.

The Ramblers is also asking councillors to sign up to their Charter for Walkable Neighbourhoods, which sets out five things that councils can do to make neighbourhoods better for walking.

To find out more about the Charter for Walkable Neighbourhoods, visit: www.ramblers.org.uk/walkingneighbourhoods.