Northamptonshire based walking group that created a community of thousands

After attending a doctor’s appointment which gave shocking results, Dave Askew realised that he needed to change his lifestyle.

Dave Askew, founder of Northamptonshire Walks (Image credit: Abby Titmuss)

He rediscovered his love of walking and started to explore his local county, Northamptonshire.

Following a suggestion from his daughter that he should upload his walks onto a blog, the website now known as Northamptonshire Walks was created.

A Facebook group was later made.

From the very start of this venture Dave’s mantra has always stayed the same “If one of my walks has helped just one person, then it’s all been worthwhile.” Now the Facebook group has 25,000 members and there are 165 walks.

Walk 19: Sywell Country Park (Image used with permission of Pradeep Rajguru)

The coronavirus pandemic increased the number of members rapidly. Susan Watkins joined during 2020 and said that although she enjoyed walking “lockdown made me get out and walk to get out of the house more.”

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The ethos of the group is simply to be kind and the Facebook page is testament to that. Members post photos and share their experiences of the walks they have done as well as interact with others.

The group has been growing virtually over the past year but now as restrictions are starting to ease Dave has plans to start mass group walks as well as a road trip around the county. This will allow members to meet each other and ask questions to Dave through a Q and A session.

Walk 140: Barton Seagrave & Wicksteed Park (Image credit: Abby Titmuss)

Although the group continually interacts with one another on social media there was a barrier stopping them from recognising each other when out walking.

To combat this and maintain the community that had been created Dave came up with Northamptonshire Walks hoodies.

These have been extremely popular with members and often make people’s days especially as they are hand delivered by Dave and his wife. There are plans for more branded merchandise with a recent roll out of polo necks and ideas of water bottles and dog neckerchiefs likely to be in place soon.

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The Facebook community is extremely strong and there is a focus more on enjoying yourself whilst being outside rather than a competitive nature of who can complete the furthest distance. This kindness and support is in place due to the example set by Dave.

The appreciation of Dave’s support has not gone unnoticed by people. He was recently the winner of the Taylor Wimpey coronavirus community initiative and received £1,000. This award was given to him following nominations.

Like with many of his achievements, Dave is extremely humbled. The group has enabled him to make a difference and help people but also both mentally and physically help himself.

Walk 21: Harringworth Circular (Image credit: Abby Titmuss)

With any award and financial contributions that have been generated by the group, the money is put straight back into Northamptonshire Walks as it is a key criterion of Dave’s to make the group as accessible to people as possible.

Walk 67: Brackley Town Centre (Image credit: Abby Titmuss)

There have been amazing things that Dave has been able to do thanks to the group such as regular spots on radio stations and a chance to go down to the House of Commons when coronavirus restrictions ease to talk to MPs.

Despite such a growth in the group, Dave continues to engage and support every member.

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Abby Titmuss

Abby Titmuss

Journalism Student at the University of Salford