Help Falkirk win Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood 2019 title

Who needs Abbey Road? Stirling, Falkirk and District Ramblers simply used the Kelpies to recreate one of The Beatles most famous album covers!
Who needs Abbey Road? Stirling, Falkirk and District Ramblers simply used the Kelpies to recreate one of The Beatles most famous album covers!

There’s now just a matter of days for Bairns to help Falkirk land a national accolade.

The town is one of only two in Scotland, Elgin being the other, to have made it into the final of Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood.

Mapped out...local Ramblers group chairman Wraight  Shepherd is hoping to corral more votes for Falkirk.

Mapped out...local Ramblers group chairman Wraight Shepherd is hoping to corral more votes for Falkirk.

Compiled by walking charity The Ramblers, Falkirk was selected thanks to its 383 miles of well-maintained and signed paths, wide pavements and many easy to navigate routes.

But it can’t win the title ... without our readers’ help.

And Stirling, Falkirk and District Ramblers chairman Wraight Shepherd is now canvassing for more votes.

Explaining why, he said: “Hastings won the vote last year and got a lot of publicity as a result.

On the move...local ramblers meet every Sunday to enjoy the great outdoors and there's plenty of beautiful walks right here on their doorstep.

On the move...local ramblers meet every Sunday to enjoy the great outdoors and there's plenty of beautiful walks right here on their doorstep.

“We’d love to see the same effect here in Falkirk – the more people who visit, the better it is for the local tourism industry.

“As a group, we agreed Falkirk was the best place to nominate thanks to the regeneration it has enjoyed in the last 30 years.

“In that time, the number of footpaths in the town has trebled using the remnants of Falkirk’s industrial past – such as lades, disused railways, and the canals – to forge an incredible network that takes you right across the district.

“It’s an area that is on the up and up and we want to celebrate that.

“But the voting closes on Sunday (June 30) so we really need Herald readers to make their vote count.

“It’s really easy to cast your vote online but you can only do so once for each email address you have.

“People can vote for more than one town, if they wish. We just hope they’ll take the time to vote for Falkirk.”

The local Ramblers group is invested in the outcome, not only having nominated Falkirk but also taking part in a promotional video to encourage people from far and wide to vote.

Dennis Canavan, former MSP for Falkirk and Ramblers Scotland vice-president, also features in the campaign video.

Wraight said: “We spent a day with a professional filming team at the Wheel and Kelpies to produce the 90-second video.

“We’re hopeful that it will encourage people, both near and far, to vote for the town.”

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, July 10.

If you think Falkirk deserves the accolade, vote online before the closing date on June 30 at www.ramblers.org.uk/vote.

Meantime, Wraight is keen to shake off the Ramblers’ sedate and elderly image and entice more people along to the weekly Sunday walks.

He said: “We have around 170 members who are part of a much bigger Ramblers family – 6500 in Scotland and 110,000 across the UK.

“Our walks vary from an easy C, to a more strenuous B+, but they all include beautiful views, together with points of local interest.

“An easy walk usually attracts around 30 Ramblers, both from our group and further afield but we’re keen for more people to join us.

“Anyone can come to one of our walks as a taster to try it out. You don’t need to know anyone; just turn up and you will be made very welcome.”

This Sunday, an easy C walk is planned, the Great Battlefield of Bannockburn, assembling at 9.30am at the visitor centre car park.

And the following week, there’s a more challenging B walk in Glenshee, leaving Lindon Avenue Car Park in Stirlingat 9,30am on July 7.

Wraight also praised former chairman Colin Thompson, who stood down at the AGM after five years of sterling service, for having the foresight to set up a group for younger walkers.

He said: “I was honoured to be elected and will do my utmost to continue Colin’s very good work.

“That includes the young ramblers group which Colin set up and continues to lead.

“Ramblers aims to encourage walkers of all ages and abilities. One of our great strengths is the diversity of our membership.

“Colin realised younger members liked to walk faster and go further so he set up the group, with support from the staff team in Edinburgh.

“It’s encouraging younger people to join our ranks.”

Wraight also wanted to thank the volunteers who give freely off their time.

He added: “We’re very lucky to have 14 walk leaders who know how to get the most out of their favourite walk and keep everyone safe.

“We often resemble a wolf pack as we’ll have a leader at the front, back and often in the middle too!”

Wraight worked on regeneration projects with Falkirk Council until he retired three years ago.

He decided to rejoin the Ramblers at that time and roped his wife Kim in too!

Visit www.ramblers.org.uk/stirling-falkirk-district to find out more.