Around 50 people – including MPs, MSPs, councillors, community groups and local Ramblers volunteers – attended a celebration event at Callendar House – involving speeches and a group walk.
Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy revealed that the triumph will be marked by five new plaques at key attractions at The Helix, The Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk town centre, Canada Wood and at Callendar House itself.
Falkirk won the award by claiming an impressive 20% of 12,000 public votes to elect the most walker-friendly urban neighbourhood in Great Britain.
It beat nine other contenders from across England, Scotland and Wales to take the crown. Well-known for the Helix Park with its iconic giant horse sculptures, the Kelpies, Falkirk stood out from the competition thanks in part to a remarkable 383 miles (617km) of well-maintained and signposted paths, making it a fantastic place to get around on foot.
Several great initiatives to prioritise walking also contributed to Falkirk’s triumph. Taking every day journeys on foot has been made easier thanks to efforts by the local authority to widen pavements and create more off-road paths. Well-linked routes around the town’s shops, services, bars and restaurants mean people can easily walk to the places they need to go.
Crucially, Falkirk residents have great access to nature, with every community well-served by parks and green spaces. A planning standard introduced by the council states that every house should be within 400m of an open space, now reduced 300m for new developments. And those who want to explore more widely can do so on foot from the town centre, with many routes linking up areas of town and countryside in an interesting and unique way.
The Ramblers’ Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award, now in its second year, celebrates the best of everyday walking; neighbourhoods where local authorities and community groups have improved local streets and routes for walking and with good access to green space. The south London neighbourhood of Brockley took second place, while third Milton Keynes came in third in the public vote. Elgin in Moray also finished in the top ten.