Flit Valley Walk
Written by: Stephanie Stanley
This project aimed to complete both physical works and education and communication tasks to make the Flit Valley more accessible by foot, and better understood by local communities. In addition to a targeted 8km of footpaths improved, interpretation boards and carvings were added to create a greater understanding of the natural and cultural heritage of the Flit Valley.
The project aimed to use volunteer and young people groups to assist in the works, but unfortunately due to Covid-19 restrictions the young people groups were unable to assist in the project.
An extensive engagement effort was made, with a community consultation event, school sessions, an open day, and 2 display exhibitions.
In total, the physical works has meant that 12km of footpaths have now been improved due to the project. 18 way markers have also been installed, a 500% over delivery on the initial target. 30 volunteers were also directly involved in the project works, which was nearly double the amount that was first anticipated.
We are also proud of the 2 guided walks that were held, as they allowed the community to explore the Flit Valley and for the walk leaders to disseminate their knowledge about the area’s heritage and wildlife. Similarly, the community engagement activities at Flitwick Market, Flitwick Library, Flitwick Youth Club, and local schools allowed us to spread information about the Flit Valley and Greensand Country to potential new audiences
Benefits to People
With the variety of people and communities involved, from volunteers, stakeholder groups, schools, and members of the public, the project has brought together people and allowed their knowledge to be shared. In particular, the collaboration of cultural and natural heritage volunteers and experts has given the project the ability to inform the local community of both aspects simultaneously.
Benefits to Heritage & Landscape
As a result of the walk, the heritage along the walk is now better recorded and thus it is better understood by those that use the walk. A brief history of sites such as Flitwick Mill and describing archeological finds helps to connect the user of the walk to how the landscape was used throughout history. Equally, descriptions of the birdlife connect local communities to the wildlife around them.
This therefore breeds greater appreciation of local heritage, and thus affords it a greater importance in the minds of the local community if it is at risk.
The physical works to footpaths have provided the necessary remedial work to make the route across the Flit Valley accessible, thereby allowing more direct interaction with the landscape. Furthermore, the creation of both artwork and interpretation now contextualise the landscape in wider historical and natural understanding.
Challenges & Lessons Learnt
Covid-19 prevented further engagement with students and youth groups.
‘It was great to hear positive feedback from people who attended both the Festival and Launch events which positively raised the profile of the walk. Many commented that they liked the thought of a new route to try which incorporated other green sites along the way, e.g., the Two Moors Heritage and the John Bunyan Trails.’
‘We are proud of how the boards look and how these ties in with the leaflet style.’
‘An additional success would be the development of FTC’s Community Services Officer who has contributed significantly with the community engagement activities for this project. Working on this has increased her confidence and experience with project management. Her knowledge of the Flit Valley Walk is brilliant and adds to the legacy requirements of this project as it means other staff are informed about the route should the public have any enquiries.’