THE Swindon Festival Of Walking gets under way on Monday and residents are being urged to put an extra spring in their step.

A host of free walks has been planned during the festival, which runs from May 14 until May 24, and will cater for all ages and abilities.

Besides being a great way to get some exercise in the fresh air, it’s also an opportunity to discover Swindon’s many beauty spots and see wildlife.

Walks range from two to five miles in urban and rural locations.

Businesses are also encouraged to get involved in Walk To Work Week, which runs from May 14 until May 18.

Even if walking to work isn’t practical, you can still step out for lunch and walk to meetings in the vicinity.

Following hot on its heels, Walk To School Week takes place between May 21 and May 25, with schools promoting safe walking.

On Wednesday, May 23, pupils from five primary schools will be walking from the Cenotaph to the Big Screen in Wharf Green as part of the Olympic Torch Relay festivities.

Walking is suitable for all ages, abilities and fitness levels and it is an activity which can also help reduce the risk of developing conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Walking has helped Trevor Day, 61, from Sparcells, after he suffered a heart attack in January. He joins the Haydon Health Walk on Thursdays.

He said: “I was introduced to the walk as part of my rehab and it has been a great way to build my confidence and fitness.

“I’ve always enjoyed walking because it’s social – everyone talks and you make friends.

“Everyone supports each other so you can stretch yourself or take it easier. Walking works wonders for the body and soul – I would recommend it.”

Leaflets on events are available at libraries or call 01793 465413. To view the routes visit