Feet first – walking in Reading
December 6, 2022
Many of our occupiers love The Blade’s location in Reading, and enjoy the opportunity to stretch their legs in our nearby green spaces. Once a week, our friends at Walk Works run an organised walk in Reading for occupiers to join. Caroline Gratrix, founder of Walk Works, explains her motivation behind setting up the group.
Walk Works was founded in April 2021 – a Covid keep! My walking partner Liz and I walked a lot together during the permitted lockdown times, finding a passion for discovering new routes. We always felt amazing after having a chat on a good walk and wanted to share our experience with other people. Initially we walked in woodlands and countryside, thinking that quite a few people wouldn’t enjoy doing that on their own, or may not want to decipher maps and apps. We set up an event, had one walker on the very first walk and have grown steadily from there. Today we walk in the countryside and across Reading.
Nature as inspiration
Our walks are all inspired by nature. Liz and I love being outside, especially as we are naturally curious and love finding new places. Being outside makes everything feel better and we both find that very inspiring; there are not many problems that a good walk can’t put into perspective! Human brains work faster when our bodies are moving, so it’s a great way to meet with friends or colleagues to chat through challenges. You’re also not making eye contact, so your thoughts are free to flow without any level of intimidation.
We now run woodland walks bi-weekly, every other Friday. We also offer a lunchtime walk from Reading town centre every Wednesday. The lunchtime walks encourage town centre workers to take a break from their desks, come outside, move and chat, and have been amazing. It’s lovely to be part of showing people new places and to watch them talk and become friends. We’re very proud of the communities we’re building through our walking events. In 2023 we’ll be adding corporate days and half days, taking teams out for working walks. The aim is to help people reconnect with their team, enjoy being in nature together, and even add in a pub meal or brewery tour!
Why join in?
What’s brilliant about walking and talking is that you can properly catch up with a friend as you go, or move around the group with relative ease. Stopping at agate or to cross a road gives you a natural break to engage with someone else. It’s so different from being at a meeting or a meal where there’s just a few people sat with you to talk to, which may leave you feeling you’d like to chat to more of the group. On our woodland walks we try to build in a stop for a cuppa and a chat as a group – it’s another really nice way of bringing people together. We’ve watched many good friendships flourish which is heart-warming, and lots of our walkers have also collaborated in professional capacities and found new opportunities. It’s such a win/win with exercise, a mental health boost and new friends! Typically our woodland countryside walks tend to include 16-30 people, with our town centre sessions taking 10-20 people. The walks aren’t tours, but if we have something to show or tell we do like to stop and point things out.
Walking in Reading
Reading is such a great mix of new and old. There are the stunning, historical Abbey Ruins, and walking down Broad Street and Friar Street gives a great opportunity to look up at some magnificent old buildings. Another landmark is the site of what was the biggest biscuit factory in the world - Huntley and Palmers. There’s also a thriving independent shop scene, as well as the amazing views over the River Thames and Kennet and Avon Canal - who doesn’t love to walk alongside water!
Reading has a big heart – it’s a humble town with a seriously strong sense of community. Today it’s a very multicultural place and wonderful to walk down an old street of terraced houses and come across a beautiful temple or mosque. And there’s a thriving heritage and arts culture with investment in the town growing by the day. Come on a walk and see for yourself.
Find out more about Walk Works at www.walkworks.co.uk, www.linkedin.com/company/walk-works/, on Facebook @Walk Works or Instagram @walk.works.