The Big Walk is back and this year will see four people embark on four routes in each of our four nations. We're on the hunt for walkers up for the challenge of a lifetime, walking more than 250 miles over 21 days across the UK from Morecambe in Lancashire, back to their home communities.
The intrepid wanderers will be visiting and celebrating community projects along the way, helping to shine a light on the extraordinary things that ordinary people are doing in their own neighbourhoods.
Comedian and presenter Jo Brand, no stranger to a walking challenge herself, presided over the starting ceremony last year. She says: "I was delighted to be invited to launch The Big Walk. The atmosphere was amazing. Despite the weather gods raining down on us, we were live on The One Show and the walkers couldn't wait to kck off. Last year there were so many negative things going on in the world, it was nice for three weeks to be able to shine a light on the incredibly determined walkers and the diverse communities all over the UK coming together to welcome them passing through. I urge anyone to consider stepping up for the challenge this year...if nothing else it's the perfect excuse to eat cake all day as you potter along!"
The Big Walk, an idea from the Eden Project delivered together with the National Lottery, kicks off in mid-May. Four walkers will head from the geographical heart of the UK - Morecambe - to their respective homes in each of the four UK nations. Finishing simultaneously on Sunday 3 June, the walkers will all make it back in time to join The Big Lunch, the biggest community led celebration in the UK.
Peter Stewart, Eden Project Executive Director, says: "We were overwhelmed by the response to the first ever Big Walk. All along the routes, people and communities came out to welcome the walkers and talk about projects in their own neighbourhoods. At a time when we need reminding of the strength and positivity society is capable of, we were able to show that community spirit is very much alive and flourishing all over the UK."
Josh Quigley was one of the walkers that took part last year, walking to Scotland. He says: "The walk was amazing. I loved it because it was so social. Every day I met the most incredible people. They threw open their doors and shared their stories with us and fed us the most incredible food. I'd like to think that as people become more aware of The Big Walk and the idea grows in scale, people will see the impact they can have and more will take action and make connections with the people in their neighbourhoods. Taking part in The Big Walk was a life-changing experience for me and one I'm so grateful to have been given."
The end of The Big Walk last year culminated in The Big Lunch, with 9.3 million people taking part in over 96,000 events. That's over 14% of the population. "As a symbol of humanity, positivity and community, The Big Lunch shines. No matter where you live in the UK, " concludes Peter "you need only take a look at these events to see that community spirit is everywhere and it's so easy to join in and be part of it all."