Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Walking in the foot steps of Octavia Hill

Octavia Hill - Photo (c) National Trust

How about getting out and taking part in the National Trust's Great British Walk festival by embarking on one of 12 brand new trails in England and Wales which celebrate the life of its founder Octavia Hill (above)?

Social reformer, environmental campaigner and one of the founders of the Trust, Octavia Hill spent her formative years in the East End of London.  Her life was dedicated to social reform, campaigning to save green spaces and was herself an avid walker.  She set up the first ever housing association, was an advocate of the importance of learning and was the founder of the Army Cadets.  Along with Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Rawnsley she helped to found the National Trust in 1895.  Octavia Hill died on the 13 August 1912.

Ranging from a couple of miles to ten miles these walks reflect the diversity of the early sites acquired by the National Trust between 1895 and 1912.

From the jaw dropping beauty of the Lake District to the coastal gem of Morte Point in north Devon and the rolling countryside in Kent, these walks capture Octavia Hill’s passion for the countryside as places of discovery, reflection and a space to recharge the batteries.

Hindhead Commons - Photo (c) National Trust

Five of the walks featured include:

  • Brandelhow in Lake District – this new 3.5 mile walk will follow in the footsteps of Octavia Hill who visited this beautiful landscape during the Trust’s campaign to buy Brandelhow in 1902; its first property in the Lake District.
  • Hindhead Common in Surrey – a brand new trail around this famous and much loved common which is rich in wildlife such as Dartford warblers, Nightjars, dormice and silver-studded blue butterflies
  • Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire – a newly created 6-mile walk at this world famous nature reserve, which is home to more than 8,500 species, will capture the spirit of a site acquired by the Trust in 1899
  • The Kent Countryside – a two-part figure of eight ten-mile walk in the heart of Kent taking in Toys Hill, which was given to the Trust by Octavia Hill, and the church at Crockham where she is buried.
  • Morte Point in north Devon – a 2.2 mile circular walk around one of the first Trust sites in the south west of England with stunning views along the north Devon coast.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: "Walking rejuvenates both body and mind - something Octavia Hill and her sisters knew well. They were passionate walkers and would often take long walks in the countryside.

"These Octavia trails link the early jewels in the Trust crown and show some of the best places to enjoy the great outdoors and get that little bit closer to nature."

All of the walks can be downloaded for free from the National Trust website.

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