Northamptonshire is criss-crossed with paths and by-ways, woodland trails and tow-paths – veritably a walker’s paradise. Over the past year, the pandemic has resulted in even more people taking to walking for exercise, realising how much joy and contentment a walk in the countryside can bring. Many people, however, are hesitant about walking in the countryside on their own; this is where walking groups come to the fore. Northamptonshire Shamblers have, for over 15 years, been providing safe walks throughout the year for its members.

Walks take place on the third Sunday of the month from January to November. Every walk is led by a walk leader, who will have done a reconnaissance in the preceding days and will give a brief description of what to expect, often with an account of places of interest and historical notes. These walks tend to be between 4.5 miles to 5 miles in length and, depending on terrain and weather, take about 2 to 2.5 hours with a stop for a snack at roughly the half way point. When the days lengthen, an evening walk of about 3 miles in distance, lasting 90 minutes or so, takes place on the fi rst Thursday of each month from May to September.

The Northamptonshire Shamblers believe in stopping to enjoy the view, smell the fl owers, admire the stately houses, take photos and pace themselves, so even the slowest walker does not get left behind; in fact, a back marker ensures no one does get left behind. The walks usually start and fi nish at a pub, giving the opportunity to use facilities before and after the walk.

Many enjoy lunch and a drink after the walk, which supports our valued pubs and gives people a chance to talk about the day’s walk. The Northamptonshire Shamblers also provide special events for its members - a picnic walk is held during the summer and a special torch-lit walk is held before Christmas, with mince pies and mulled wine. In June, the group organises an Away Day to places such as Woodstock and Blenheim Palace, Wells next the Sea and Holkham Hall.

In 2019, the group went a step further with a weekend of walking in the lovely North Yorkshire countryside. Dorset and the Jurassic Coast was the intended destination for 2020; however, this is now, fi ngers crossed, going ahead in September 2021 and the Gower Peninsula is the intended destination for 2022 .

Guest walkers are warmly welcome to try a walk or two before committing to joining. Guest pay £2 towards the cost of insurance, and full membership is only £8 per year.

Northamptonshire Shamblers