Greater Manchester Walking Festival 2017 – A Huge Success

The third GM Walking Festival took place throughout the whole month of May 2017. This year’s festival included walks from a variety of themes such as travel, health, leisure, culture, history and heritage. They were delivered by range of established walking groups, community groups, local authority services and charities including many from the Get Active ‘Walk this Way’ Programme..

New for 2017 

GM Walking Festival Steering Group

Following feedback from the 2016 GM Walking Festival, a decision was taken to create a steering group which would assist with decision making and overall coordination of the festival.

The steering group members were representatives from the following groups and organisations:

  • TfGM
  • GreaterSport
  • Living Streets
  • The Ramblers
  • Walking for Health
  • Get Active Team – Bolton Council
  • Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles
  • Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP)

Walk submissions

Drawing upon the expertise of the many walking groups in Greater Manchester, organisations and walk providers were invited to submit details of any led walks which met all of the following criteria: open to the public, taking place within the Greater Manchester boundaries, running during May 2017. The groups contacted ranged from Walking for Health schemes, Local Authority services, Ramblers groups, community groups, charity groups and tourism guides.  A total of 348 walks were included in the festival programme.

Festival launch

The festival was launched at HOME:MCR on 24th April and brought together representatives from the various walking groups, sponsors, Local Authority districts and walking charities.

The launch was an opportunity for walking groups, festival supporters, health and physical activity leads, council representatives and other interested parties, to celebrate the start of the festival together. It also provided a networking opportunity for everyone to meet before the festival started.

After presentations, attendees of the launch went on a led walk around Manchester city centre courtesy of Manchester Guided Tours. This gave everyone a taster of the festival and provided a great photo opportunity which was used for the press release.

Posters and brochures

15,000 paper copies of the brochure along with 1,000 A4 posters, 2,000 A5 flyers and 3,000 A6 postcards were distributed across Greater Manchester to a variety of venues including: Visit Manchester, HOME:MCR, tourist information centres, leisure centres, libraries, community centres, doctor’s surgeries, pharmacies, hospitals, bus stations and Travel Shops. 144 A1 posters, 6 6-sheet posters and 26 landscape posters were also displayed at Metrolink station platforms throughout the network.

News coverage

In March the festival got national newspaper coverage in ‘The Telegraph’, when it featured in an article on ‘Britain’s 10 best Walking Festivals’. In April a Press Release was sent out to all local media contacts and newspapers. Also in April, Cllr Chris Paul (Walking and Cycling Champion for TfGMc) was interviewed about the Walking Festival on BBC Radio Manchester.




The below table compares the total number of groups which were involved in this year’s festival, the number of walks delivered and the number of participants on a led walk to the previous festivals.






No. of groups involved




No. of led walks delivered




No. of participants






Key findings from the participant’s surveys includes:


  • 65% of respondents are aged 60 or over
  • A gender bias is evident with 65% of respondents being female
  • 51 people are interested in being trained as a walk leader
  • 45% attended a walk in a different district to where they lived
  • Over three quarters reported to walk for both pleasure and exercise at least once a week.  However, for around 10% they either rarely or never walk for exercise; indicating that the festival has successfully motivated such activity.
  • 20% reported that they don’t exercise for the recommended 150 minutes per week, indicating that such walks are a vital means of boosting physical activity for some
  • 69% of participants said they attended a walk for physical health benefits, 56% for mental wellbeing and 28% to encourage me to walk more
  • 99% said they were very satisfied with their walk
  • 96% stated that they are likely to attend another guided walk in Greater Manchester.


Walk Leaders


Key findings from the walk leaders include:


  • 75% of walk leaders who took part in last year’s festival thought that the 2017 festival was better this year than last years
  • Over half of leaders think that there has been an increase in interest in their walking group since the festival
  • 95% think that the walking festival brochure had the greatest impact in raising awareness.
  • All (100%) say their group would be interested in taking part in next year’s festival or other TfGM walking events.


Feedback – summary


Below is a snapshot of some of the comments from the participant’s survey:


  • ‘Excellent variety of walks, friendly people, very welcoming.  Hope there will be another next year!’
  • ‘I wish to get fit and progress to Level 2/3 walks in future. I have arthritis – hips, knees, back. Exercise is good for me, so I am pleased that these walks are available for me to enjoy’
  • ‘Very impressed with the range of walks on offer’
  • ‘I have been on 4 of the walks in different areas and have enjoyed each one. I hope there will be another Walking Festival next year’
  • ‘It’s a great idea to encourage people to get active’
  • ‘I think it is an excellent idea to encourage people to get out into their local environment. For myself it’s brilliant to find other walk’.


Below is a snapshot of some of the comments from the walk leader’s survey:


  •  ‘There was a definite sense among my walkers of how good it was to have the Walking Festival again, how much they love it, and that it was ‘bigger and better’
  • ‘Looking at the brochure, this year’s event has include a wider variety of different types of walks, which was identified at one of the early planning meetings’
  • Carragh and Angela have kept everyone in the loop which has maintained everyone’s interest in the festival. Personally, I think they both show great passion and commitment for both the festival and promoting walking as a whole, and are great ambassadors for TfGM’
  • ‘We had up to 30 new people across our four walks on one of the walks and every walk on the other days had more new walkers than we would expect on a non-Festival walking day’
  • ‘We delivered 16 walks in this year’s festival and we had 290 walkers, 72 were brand new walkers to our group. We’ve never attracted so many new people before so thank you!’


For the Get Active team it was great being involved in the walking festival through the steering group as well as delivering a number of health walks.  It’s strengthened our links with other local walking groups in the Bolton area and we are now able to signpost individuals who wish to progress with their walking.  It’s a win win situation!!

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