National Trust regional chief takes the autumn air at Blickling to celebrate walking festival
National Trust chief Richard Powell rounded off a week of events marking the charity's inaugural Walking Festival yesterday with a hike round one of north Norfolk's most beautiful open spaces.
Mr Powell, East of England regional director with the trust, tramped through Blickling Park, near Aylsham, with golden leaves underfoot, golden sunshine above and hailed the festival an 'overwhelming success'.
An estimated 10,000 people of all ages have tackled everything from a 'little amble' to a 'jolly ramble' or a 'big challenge' at Trust properties across Norfolk during the half-term school holiday.
'The Trust wanted to show people that we're not just about a lot of old buildings. We also have massive stretches of coastline and countryside – and walking it is also good for your health,' said Mr Powell.
'People have come out in their hordes.
'Our walk at Sheringham Park was completely swamped. The car park and the overflow parking area were both full.'
He was joined for a two-mile guided morning stroll in the extensive parkland around the Trust's Blickling Hall stately home by Norfolk members of the Institute of Directors.
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The festival, which has seen events taking place at 180 sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between October 22-30, will continue over Christmas and into the new year and will be back again next autumn when the Trust in the East of England will be marking a hat-trick of centenaries: the death of Wisbech-born Octavia Hill, one of the National Trust's three founders; the Trust's ownership of Blakeney Point, on the north Norfolk coast – Norfolk's first nature reserve; and the building of five-storey Horsey windpump, near Great Yarmouth, now in the Trust's care.
Mr Powell plans to celebrate all three anniversaries during next year's festival by walking some 200 miles along the coastline of his region, from King's Lynn to Southend in Essex.
A popular feature of this year's festival has been the giant picture frames in the landscape at a number of Trust properties, including Blickling. Walkers have been using them to frame and photograph their groups and favourite views, posting them on the National Trust's Facebook page.
'The festival's shown me the passion people have for walking and it's raised awareness of the Trust's many different places,' Mr Powell added.
Details of downloadable walks, a walks 'app', and a competition can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gonewalking