Practical notes preparing and choosing a route
We find distance should not be more than 4.5 miles (6.5 km) long. Walking as a group is always slower than walked individually, plus we regularly stop for prayer reading and reflection. As guide a route walked individually, at a good pace, that may take an hour, can take up to 2 ½ hours to walked as a group with Walk Church.
Hand held GPS devices are very useful. I use a Garmin GPS 62S. (available on eBay for about £100 second hand). As well as giving an accurate distance, they are invaluable in working out tricky location of footpaths. Ordnance survey maps both paper and online are essential, but have issues. They are they’re not always accurate, and when using OS maps on a phone or handheld GPS devices there are limitations as to how far in you can zoom in. Openstreetmap.org is an important free open source resource. On Garmin devices these maps can zoom in for much greater detail, but here to there are limitations, in many areas not all public footpaths are listed.
Location for walks:
Walk Church generally always starts from a church, and ends back at the same church. Historically churches generally find themselves at the heart of a good networks of public footpaths.
Choose a route varied in scenery. Points of beauty, special landscape features, views, valleys or water features are so good to include, not only for their visual interest, but they can be incorporated into prayers, reflections, and meditations. Look out for ancient features such as earth workings, and old tracks.
Good photos can so important for publicity.
A Church welcome
A welcome from a local church and congregation always enriches any gathering of Walk Church. Sometimes local churches are able to put on refreshments after the walk. The tricky element, is asking someone to have things ready for when the walk finishes. It’s always difficult to be accurate about the length a walk takes, but most last 2 – 2.5 hours.
An important question to research and address. Not all churches have toilets. Other options can be public toilets, if they are cooperative pubs, coffee/tea houses.
You will need to think where people can park cars. On a average allow for about 10 cars.
How many people to expect?
This varies on weather and time of year. Generally we get an average of 15 at any one gathering. But it’s been as many as 35 which is too many, at which point the group needs to be split in two. We now ask people to let us know their intentions, to get a feel for what the numbers are and whether we need to prepare for the group to be split.
Any route that is not a public footpath, needs permission.
These notes are work in progress. Please let me have your corrections or comments.