Falkirk beat nine other strong contenders across England, Scotland and Wales to take the crown, with an impressive 20% of the vote. Second place went to the south London Borough of Brockley, while Milton Keynes came in a close third.
Wraight Shepherd, chair of Stirling, Falkirk & District Ramblers who nominated Falkirk for the award, said: “We are really proud that Falkirk has won the Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award. It’s a testament to the commitment of the council working together with local communities that Falkirk has been transformed in recent years into a place that is enjoyable and easy to walk around, building a real culture of walking.”
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 and more and enjoyable 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 means people can easily walk to the places they need to go.
Falkirk residents also have great access to nature, with every community well-served by parks and green spaces. A planning standard introduced by the council means states that every house should be within 400m of an open space, now reduced 300m for new developments.
Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive of the Ramblers, said: “Congratulations to Falkirk, a very worthy winner of the Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award. Our vision is of a country truly designed for walking, where everyone is encouraged to walk whenever they set out on a journey, whether they are popping to the shops or going to work. Falkirk is a fantastic example of how this can be achieved.
“Walkable neighbourhoods bring not only the physical and mental health benefits of walking and being able to access green space; places where people walk regularly also have more connected communities. Making it easy to choose walking over driving helps to reduce congestion and improving air quality too, bringing us one step closer to our zero emissions target.”